Audio Technica AT2020 vs Shure SM7B – Which is better? (2021)


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Shure and Audio Technica are two of the best-selling brands in today’s market. One of them is a legend while the other one is a new hot sensation. They both have their pros and cons.

If you are looking for quality and use a mic for studio and on-stage recording, you need to go for the Shure SM7B. For home studio applications the Audio Technica AT2020 is a better option. Both Audio Technica AT2020 and Shure SM7B comes with a cardioid polar pattern.

Sound Quality

Audio Technica AT2020

If you are looking for a decent performance without spending much, this microphone is indeed a good choice. This mic comes with a high level of SPL handling and a well wide dynamic range.

The sound quality it can produce is good enough for home studio applications. It comes with a low noise level of just 20 dB and a maximum sound pressure level of 144 dB. You are looking at the industry standard for affordable home studio condenser microphones.

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The mic also comes with a wide dynamic range when it comes to handling different frequencies. Whether you are working with low to mid-level frequencies or mid to high-level frequencies, this mic can handle both pretty well.

Audio Technica has equipped it with a small-diaphragm that does a fine job in handling a wide range of frequency response ranging from 20 Hz to 20 kHz. If you are looking to record vocals with this mic, you won’t be disappointed. And similar is the case if you are recording any instruments.

Shure SM7B

This microphone is a high-end product for on-stage and in-studio usage. As it comes with professional quality components you won’t have to compromise on sound quality. But this mic also comes with a limited proximity effect. Therefore, it is not going to be very effective when it comes to handling low-frequency sounds.

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The direction of this microphone and its placement has a role to play because it is a cardioid microphone. And with that, you can conveniently use this mic to record instruments. However, we would recommend you should use this microphone to record vocals. Because it can handle those low frequencies sound very well when you hit the sweet spot.

This microphone can also handle mid to high-range sounds if you get the microphone as close as 2 to 3 inches to the sound source. Due to its versatility, this mic is a good choice for a wide range of applications.

It not only can handle sounds with different frequency levels but can also eradicate any electromagnetic hum and reproduce a clear sound with its pop filter. This is one of the features why you should consider it for professional studio-quality sound.

Build Quality

Audio Technica AT2020

Most of the condenser microphones you will find on the market are fragile in construction. But that is not the case with the Audio Technica AT2020. This microphone comes with a sturdy construction due to its all-metal body and design.

It can certainly take on a few bumps and hits as well. But we will suggest you keep it safe from such impacts so it can keep performing for a long time. Right over the capsule, the company has placed a durable wired mesh.

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The mic also comes with a stand mount. You can conveniently place it on the stand and use it if you don’t like to hold the mic in your hands.

It requires 48V phantom power to run the condenser within. It comes with a smaller diaphragm which means the mic will be more responsive and this is a quality you will mostly find in high-end microphones.

The small-diaphragm ensures quicker transient response as well. But overall, the mic is built like a tank and can certainly handle a few impacts. The only issue is that it has a black finish which can be scratched.

Shure SM7B

When you hold this microphone in your hand you will see it is a massive unit. This microphone is something that is not designed to be used as a handheld device. And for that reason, you should use it with a stand or hanging mechanisms.

The moving-coil dynamic mic means you will have to compromise a bit on its weak capturing tone. But this microphone is going to be the best option when using it in live performances.

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As we have just mentioned this is a massive microphone, it still has a very compact design. The all-black design of this microphone is extraordinary and looks pretty sleek. Interested in buying a durable microphone you don’t need to look any further.

But most of the dynamic mics come with solid construction and this mic is not different either. The company itself has a history of producing long-lasting quality microphones that are considered to be industry-standard. So, it is certain this mic is going to last for a long time because it comes from Shure.

Controls

Audio Technica AT2020

The AT2020 comes with inbuilt volume control and a headphone jack. It allows you to monitor this microphone’s delay with absolutely no delay. This microphone also comes with a mix control feature to blend the sound produced by the microphone with a pre-recorded audio.

The microphone also has a blue LED light on it and shows this mic is receiving power from USB. There is a dial control present on the microphone for headphone volume. And each of these controls is very comfortably accessible.

The microphone also comes with a USB connector to connect it directly with your PC or Mac without any issues. This mic is designed to handle high sound pressure levels that top out around 144 dB with sturdy construction. It means there is not going to be too much component noise within your recordings.

Shure SM7B

There are only two controls present on this microphone. One of these controls is for handling bass roll and the other is for controlling presence boost.

With the help of both these controls, you can conveniently alter the frequency response of this microphone and work in the range from 50 Hz to 20 kHz. Therefore, you won’t have to do much to record from the sound sources, especially vocals as it is a cardioid mic.

Moreover, it can conveniently handle and max SPL of up to 180 dB. It also means that the mic is going to be very sensitive while handling low-frequency sounds.

And the best part is, you don’t have to use any special controls to access these features. Your SM7B comes with all these features inbuilt.

Other Things to Consider

Price

Audio Technica AT2020

When you have a look at the features you will think this mic might come with a huge price tag, but that is not the case! The AT2020 is not an expensive microphone by any stretch of the imagination.

Audio Technica has used high-quality materials in the construction of this microphone. The entire unit is made of metal and can take a few hits as well. That is something not very common with a condenser mic.

It also comes with a sturdy mount that can hold it in place. The mic is not heavy either and has a small diaphragm. So, the overall size is not going to be difficult to handle.

Audio Technica has also provided it with a black finish, so it looks premium quality. But you don’t have to pay much for it. This microphone is a pure blend of form and function and you won’t have to break your bank to get it either.

Shure SM7B

When it comes to quality, Shure is second to none. The products of this company are designed for performance durability. This company has been producing microphones that are considered to be industry-standard. So, if they come with a price tag, you generally won’t be bothered. And this microphone is also one of such quality products.

Shure has used high-quality metals in the construction of the exterior of this product. There are a few hints of good quality plastic. This microphone will last for a long time to come because it is designed to take on rough handling. All the controls on this mic are very smooth to move and they give you a premium quality feel.

All the components inside the mic and the hanging mount of the mic are built sturdily and with quality materials, for which you are paying a nice price. The performance of this mic is something that requires to hit the sweet spot. Upon doing so, you will get the best output you can ever imagine. This microphone is a complete package provided if you use it properly.

Size

Audio Technica AT2020

The weight of this microphone is well under one and a half pounds and its dimensions are 9.6-inch x 9.6-inch x 2.6-inch. This microphone has a huge side but it’s not going to feel too heavy in your hands. However, you still won’t have to hold it and use the stand mount.

This mic comes with a small-diaphragm inside the capsule and is extremely sensitive. So, the mic can conveniently handle different frequencies without any issues. Despite being small, this mic is not designed to use as a handheld unit and comes with a stand mount.

As it is a cardioid mic, it will be better for you to use it with the stand, so it doesn’t capture any background sounds. However, if you have plenty of experience using this mic, you can always use it as a handheld unit.

Shure SM7B

The SM7B in comparison is a massive microphone that comes with dimensions of 7.47-inch x 3.78-inch x 5.81-inch. This is something you cannot use as a handheld unit because it weighs around 1.75 pounds.

If you are looking for a unit you can hold in your hand and move around conveniently, this is not the one you should go for. This mic also features a lithium polymer battery which further contributes towards its heavyweight construction. It is designed to be used with a stand or a hanging mount and that’s the best way you can handle it.

Another significant factor that contributes to its overall weight is, it has an all-metal construction. But it comes with a mount to hang. And with its all-black finish, it looks pretty nice as well.

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Pros & Cons

Audio Technica AT2020

Pros

  • Cardioid condenser mic that handles different frequencies pretty well.
  • All the controls are very easy to access.
  • Sturdy construction and looks pretty nice.
  • Budget-friendly and durable cardioid microphone.

Cons

  • This microphone doesn’t come with a pop filter.
  • You need it to be very close to the sound source to eradicate any self-noise.

Shure SM7B

Pros

  • The mic can produce a very consistent and natural sound.
  • Conveniently handles different frequencies easily.
  • Excellent choice for recording vocals and a fine job for recording instruments.
  • It also features a pop filter.
  • You can also add a windscreen for more clarity and less noise in the sound.

Cons

  • SM7B is an expensive mic.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly cardioid condenser mic, the AT2020 will work better for you. It has a sturdy construction and doesn’t feature any complicated controls.

But if you want professional sound quality when recording your vocals and instruments, you need to go for the SM7B. You won’t be able to use it as your handheld unit but it performs like a professional piece of equipment for recording different frequencies with high-quality output.

Shawn Shepherd

Hi, I'm the owner of the Hifi Guide and have been an audio lover enthusiast for over 16 years. I have a Bachelor's degree in Sound Engineering and I work on producing content for the Hifi Guide in my spare time. My love for audio stemmed from my Dad who was an audio technician, and now I share my knowledge here on this website!

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