Over the past few years, USB mics have been INCREASINGLY popular for home recording, singing, music, instruments, and vocals.
Throughout the evolution of the microphone, there have been numerous best picks out there, and I’m 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 best suits your recording needs!
So, if you’re confused between these two amazing mics, read on!
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’s dig further into this mic’s eye-catching specifications.
The cardioid pattern of the Rode NT USB offers crisper and brighter sound quality to the mic.
The audio interface, on the other hand, makes it easier for you to connect to your laptop’s software, such as the Mac OS. Plus, it’s also compatible with the Apple iPad!
I also like how it doesn’t require additional audio interfaces because USB connectivity is all you need.
You can easily transfer your home recording to your computer with just a few clicks!
It’s additionally a good thing that the tripod desk stand is less affected by the vibrations that may occur as you record.
Moving on to Rode NT USB’s build quality, the microphone has a sleek black-metal design that fits your aesthetic! This mic was clearly built for the task!
One downside, however, is that the Rode NT USB mic DOES NOT come with a gain knob. But despite this, there are still two controls you can optimize for sound recording.
- 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, so I’ll be talking your ear off about why these microphones are just great!
Rode NT USB comes with freebies you’ll surely enjoy; I’m talking about the pop filter, storage pouch, and ring mount included in the package.
Another thing to love about this 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 set it up with ease; you only need to plug and play!
However, the major downside is the pattern. Its sound range is limited, and the gain dial isn’t included, meaning adjustments will NOT be made easily.
Additionally, the desktop stand of this mic is not collapsible. This might be a minor con for me, but it’s still worth highlighting for extra information.
Audio Technica AT2020 Overview
The next product I thought is worth comparing side-by-side with Rode is 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.
- 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.
I’m also noting the flexibility of this Audio Technica microphone, all thanks to the cardioid pattern and 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, volume control can help you take the lead in every situation, especially when you need to re-route to a pre-amplifier.
It’s likewise important to highlight that Audio Technica DOES NOT come with a USB cable; rather, the source output comes from an XLR connector.
This technically means that Audio Technica is quite similar to an XLR microphone. Yet, Audio Technica also offers USB-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 its support on Mac OS and Windows systems.
It also has an added gain control that helps you adjust voice records in an INSTANT. But you can’t accurately tell how much gain is dialed in by just one look.
The AT2020 offers a 2-year warranty, granted that there are any manufacturing defects.
The downside to this, however, 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.
I’ll break the Rode NT USB and the Audio Technica AT2020 down based on pricing, build and design, and sound quality.
Let’s try to see which of them has an edge on each category.
Rode is much pricier at $169 than the Audio Technica, which is priced at $99.
The Audio Technica is your safest bet if you lean towards a budget-side mic.
But for me, the price of both shouldn’t be the end when choosing a microphone. It could be one thing for some, but let’s see if it’s worth trading with other factors.
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.
After exploring its other competitors like the Blue Yeti, I think the overall build of Rode is more mindful.
Audio Technica, on the other hand, is a fairly sturdy mic. However, it lacks a mute button which some users 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, 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 flip side, Audio Technica provides enough depth and smooth highs for those who record sounds for YouTube videos and the like.
The frequency response of the Audio Technica ranges from 10-16,000 kHz, which helps your recordings appear 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?
Despite being a cardioid mic, the AT2020 does pick up background noise. Hence, you’ll need to exert some effort during post-editing.
Needless to say, the pickup pattern of the AT2020 is still reliable. If you want your life to be easier, a room with good acoustics does the trick.
Is the AT2020 USB Better Than the Blue Yeti?
There are some perks with the AT2020 and some with the Blue Yeti too.
The Blue Yeti allows you to record in a bidirectional pattern, while the AT2020 does not, meaning that if you are interested in podcasts, the Blue Yeti is the definite choice.
But looking at the overall performance and build of both microphones, 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. I’ll give you a rundown on how to do this.
First, check your surroundings. Turn off any appliance that may cause disruptions or unwanted noise your mic can pick up.
A few examples of these would be:
- Fan or airconditioner
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 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 on a flat surface. This helps efficiently reduce unwanted noise from below.
Final Verdict: Rode NT USB vs. AT2020
Now that I’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, given that they both have their respective strengths and weaknesses.
I HIGHLY suggest you consider a microphone that suits your register, budget, and how you intend to use them.
Use Rode NT USB If…
You enjoy recording voice-overs, vocal recordings, and podcasts.
If you are leaning towards mics that looks 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 and musical instruments, such as an acoustic guitar.
This is also a good choice if you are looking for a reliable device that could save you a few bucks.
You should also check out the AT2020 XLR microphone. These also offer other great deals that you may want to check out!
January 2, 2023 – minor formatting edits