Over the past few years, USB mics have been INCREASINGLY popular for home recording, singing, recording music, recording instruments, and recording vocals.
Throughout the evolution of the microphone, there have been numerous best picks out there, and we’re about to review one of the best-known USB microphones in the market today!
Introducing the Rode NT USB and the Audio Technica AT2020 USB!
At the end of this article, you’ll be able to determine which microphone is best suited for YOUR recording needs!
Rode NT USB Overview
The first USB microphone under our review is the Rode NT USB.
Before diving further into the ins and outs of the Rode NT USB, let’s take a look at its main features and determine what makes it stand out from the rest.
- Polar pattern: Cardioid polar pattern.
- Headphone output: USB cable.
- Address type: Side.
- Frequency response: 20Hz-20kHz
- Direct mix control.
- Audio interface.
- Cardioid condenser USB microphone.
- Includes pop filter, pop shield, tripod desk stand, and USB cable included.
- Headphone mix control.
- Headphone output that is high power for zero-latency monitoring.
The Rode NT USB mic is one of the BEST audio quality mics out there.
From its main features down to its pros and cons, you can see that the Rode NT USB is a definite competitor!
The Rode NT USB provides quality materials, but it also offers you a HUGE advantage with its sound quality.
Let us look closer at the Rode NT USB specifications that were eye-catching.
The cardioid pattern of the Rode NT USB offers a crispier and brighter sound quality to the mic.
The audio interface of the USB mic makes it even easier to connect it to your laptop’s software, such as the Mac OS. This microphone is also compatible with the Apple iPad!
You don’t need any additional audio interfaces because USB connectivity is all you need. Easily transfer your home recording to your computer with just a few clicks!
The tripod desk stand is less affected by the vibrations that may occur as you are recording.
The Rode NT USB mic DOES NOT come with a gain knob. Despite this, there are still two controls that you can optimize for sound recording.
Moving on to the Rode NT USB build quality, the microphone has a sleek black-metal design that fits your aesthetic! This mic was clearly built for the task!
- Includes warranty.
- Superb sound quality and audio clarity.
- A plug-and-play sub microphone.
- Rode NT USB microphone receives less noise.
- Includes freebies (pop filter, pop shield, tripod desk stand, storage pouch, and ring mount).
- The desktop stand is not collapsible.
- Only has one polar pattern.
- No gain dial.
The pros of the Rode NT USB are listed above, and we’ll be talking your ear off about why these microphones are just great!
Rode NT USB comes with freebies that you’ll surely enjoy; we’re talking about a pop filter, a storage pouch, and a ring mount.
Another thing to love about the Rode NT USB mic is its audio clarity and quality! There is also a direct mix control between the mic input and the source output.
Lastly, the Rode NT USB is portable, and you can easily set it up with ease; just plug and play!
The downsides to this are the pattern, so its sound range is limited and the gain dial isn’t included. This means no adjustments are easily made, and no collapsible stand.
Audio Technica AT2020 Overview
Next, we’ll be reviewing the Audio Technica AT2020 microphone.
Like the Rode NT USB, this microphone is also known for its audio quality and recording performance!
But let’s see what makes the Audio Technica at2020 stand out from Rode NT USB.
And we’re going to give you just that for Audio Technica at2020!
- Element: Cardioid condenser USB microphone.
- Polar pattern: Four polar patterns.
- Frequency response: 20Hz
- Weight: 0.76 lbs
- Max SPL: 144dB
- Output Impedance: 100 ohms
- Signal to Noise Ratio: 74dB
- Self Noise:20dB
- Requires +48V phantom power.
The Audio Technica AT2020 microphone is VERY impressive!
The microphone is versatile in terms of its performance and build. Audio Technica takes on a more vintage look, perfect if you’re down for that aesthetic.
We’re also taking note of the flexibility of this Audio Technica microphone, thanks to the cardioid pattern of the mic and its utilization of a medium-weight diaphragm.
Some other great features of Audio Technica are mix control and volume control.
- This allows you to blend in your pre-recorded audio with your mic signal.
- On the other hand, the volume control can help you take control of every situation, especially in moments wherein you need to re-route to a pre-amplifier.
It’s likewise important to take note that Audio Technica does not come with a USB cable but rather, the source output comes from an XLR connector.
This technically means that Audio Technica is quite similar to an XLR microphone. Audio Technica also offers XLR version microphones.
- Includes stand mount and a microphone storage pouch.
- 2-year warranty.
- A highly versatile mic.
- Durable mic construction.
- Supports different software.
- Contains a gain control.
- No mic mount.
- May suffer during high sound pressure.
- Diaphragm quality performance of the mic.
- Doesn’t have a headphone jack.
- Recording from a loud sound source is a no.
All the more reason to love the Audio Technica AT2020 is that the microphone supports Mac OS and Windows.
The added gain control helps you easily adjust your voice records in an INSTANT.
BUT you can’t accurately tell how much gain is dialed in by just one look.
The AT2020 also offers a 2-year warranty, granted that there are any manufacturing defects.
The downside to this item is that it may not be able to hold up its performance during high sound pressure recordings. The diaphragm quality performance is also something to look out for.
To add, this version of Audio Technica doesn’t have a headphone jack with volume control but the Audio Technica USB plus does!
Performance Review: Rode NT USB vs. AT2020
So, out of these two best microphones, one is the MOST WORTH IT.
We’ll be looking closely at the pricing, build and design, and sound quality of the Rode NT USB and the Audio Technica AT2020.
Rode is much pricier at $169 than the Audio Technica, which is priced at $99
The Audio Technica is your safest bet if you are leaning towards a budget side mic.
The price of both shouldn’t be the end when choosing a microphone for you. So stick around for 2 more comparisons; this will probably help you out even more with your choice!
Build and Design
The Rode NT USB comes in a sleek black color, similar to the Audio Technica.
Rode has two controls on the side which are for the headphone volume. These are very much useful for zero-latency monitoring.
The overall build of Rode, after learning much from its competitors, like the Blue Yeti, has a more mindful design.
Audio Technica on the other hand is a fairly sturdy mic. Although, it does lack a mute button which some users may look for.
The Rode NT USB sounds a bit darker than the Audio Technica. Despite this, it still does a good job of making sounds more natural and clear.
Because of this, the Rode has been known to catch and make even the tiniest of bops very clean! With a frequency response of above 10hz, it sounds really crisp!
On the other hand, Audio Technica provides depth and a smooth high for those who are thinking of recording sounds for YouTube videos and the likes.
The frequency response of the Audio Technica ranges from 10-16,000 kHz which helps your recordings crisp and very direct!
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have any more burning questions about these two great microphones, you can refer to the following section!
Does AT2020 Pick Up a Lot of Background Noise?
The pickup pattern of the AT2020 offers reliability, as it doesn’t capture much ground noise to help you work and record more efficiently!
Is the AT2020 USB Better Than the Blue Yeti?
There are some perks with the AT2020 and some perks as well with the Blue Yeti.
The Blue Yeti allows you to record in a bidirectional pattern, while the AT2020 does not. This means that if you are interested in podcasts, the Blue Yeti is the definite choice.
But looking at the overall performance and build of both USB microphones from the previous sections, it’s safe to say that the AT2020 is much better than the Blue yeti.
Is Rode NT-USB Good for Voice Over?
A definite YES!
The Rode NT USB is GREAT for voice-overs. This is because of the mic’s proximity effect, making it capture the lowest and highest frequency response.
This is very practical during meetings, podcasts, interviews, and whatnot.
How Do I Stop My Mic From Picking Up Background Noise?
The proper way is to fix the settings and the environment you’re in. We’ll give you a rundown on how to do this.
First, check your surroundings. Turn off any appliance that may cause disruptions or any unwanted noise that your mic can pick up.
A few examples of these would be:
- The electric fan.
- The air conditioner.
Second, speak up and direct. If you project your voice properly, this may help reduce the amount of ground noise that is picked up.
Third, set up your room. You can add in some noise-cancelling equipment within the room to avoid ground noise.
Fourth, add in some pop filters. Pop filters add in a great deal; why? Because this helps prevent popping sounds that help eliminate the explosion of sounds.
Fifth, buy a shock mount. Shock mounts prevent any vibration and shakiness that mics can experience when on a flat surface. This helps efficiently reduce unwanted noise from below.
Final Verdict: Rode NT USB vs. AT2020
Now that we’ve got it all covered. It’s time to know the real deal. Which mic is superior?
You can’t really go wrong with either choice as they both have their respective strengths and weaknesses, depending on your use.
Use Rode NT USB If…
You enjoy recording a voice-over, vocal recordings, podcasts, and the likes.
If you are leaning towards mics that are sleek and on the pricier side but for the right reasons, this is the mic for you!
Use AT2020 If…
You are interested in recording for music production, musical instruments such as an acoustic guitar.
This is also a good choice if you are looking to save some money.
You should also check out the AT2020 XLR microphone. These also offer other great deals that you may want to check out!