Best Settings for AT2020 USB & XLR Microphones [Pro Guide]

(Last Updated On: June 20, 2023)
Tips on AT2020 mic setting for better sound quality.

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If you’re looking for a high-quality, affordable microphone, check out the Audio-Technica AT2020. It’s a high-end cardioid condenser microphone that has swiftly gained popularity as the standard mic for home studios all around the globe. This microphone is very simple to set up with your PC since it is available in configurations with either XLR or USB connections.

With the USB connection model, you only need to hook the USB cord to your PC or laptop, then go to the preferences menu and navigate to the Sound and Audio Devices. There you will readily detect the new hardware. You only need to set as your default recording device the AT2020, and you’ll be good to go. 

On the other hand, if you use the AT2020 XLR Microphone model, your connection will require an audio interface to let you connect the microphone to the computer (any operating system like Mac OS, Windows, etc…) or your instrument.

Recommended Settings for Audio Technica AT2020 USB & XLR Microphone for Optimal Recording Quality

In case you’re anxious about setting up your Audio-Technica AT2020, be assured that it’s a breeze. The AT2020 has a headset mic stand adapter with a threaded base for secure attachment. This microphone’s mount stand pivots, letting you adjust it exactly how you want it. After mounting the Audio-Technica AT2020 microphone on its stand, you can use our instructions and advice to get the best possible recordings. You can also purchase a shock mount for this mic, which will keep it from moving about during recording. The condenser AT2020 microphone needs roughly 48V phantom power to function.

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone, Ideal for Project/Home Studio Applications,Black

Adjust Mic Gain

In most cases, you have to change the mic’s gain. By doing this, you can find the sweet spot—the perfect compromise between the loudness of your voice and the microphone’s sensitivity. This ensures that you get the best possible recording quality from the software you’re using. Somewhere between -18dB and -6dB is a good range level.

Since the mic doesn’t have a gain knob, you will need to tweak it in your DAW. If the DAW doesn’t include a gain adjustment feature (which is unlikely), go to your computer’s Control Panel and select Sound. Afterward, click on the recording tab.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 has a maximum SPL rating of 144dB and an effective resolution of around 12 to 13 bits when used up close with your singing voice at 90 to 95 dB SPL.

It’s important to remember that the AT2020 is a very sensitive microphone, so gain staging and keeping a safe distance from excessively loud sources are mandatory for protecting the mic and getting the best possible recordings.

Keep in mind that there is no “one size fits all” recording setup because it all depends on what you’re recording and the environment of the recording. You may need to play around with the gain settings on your Audio-Technica AT2020 before you get the sound you want or access the audio settings on your computer to adjust your microphone’s sensitivity so that it picks up sound at just the proper headphone volume.

Set Up USB Microphone Connection

The USB microphone cable included with the Audio-Technica AT2020 allows you to quickly and easily connect this microphone to your computer. Once you plug this microphone into your computer, it will be instantly recognized and set as the default microphone for recording. You can also double-check your headphone volume control settings to make sure the AT2020USB+ is selected as the audio output device.

Configure EQ Setting for Editing

You can experiment with different compressor settings to find one that works well with your EQ and allows for smooth editing. Adjust the equalization gain of the compressor to -1dB. It is recommended that any sounds below 100 Hz be removed since your voice will not go so low, so it is helpful to eliminate background noise below 100 Hz, which are primarily low-end background sounds and noise.

Normalizing to -1dB allows you to boost the level without risking clipping the signal. If you’re gaming and want your microphone to be heard clearly above the game’s audio, turn down the volume to -12 dB or lower.

Check out our article on the best microphone for recording by Become Singers.

Set Up Your Software Levels

You must correctly set your microphone level if you want your Audio-Technica AT2020 to operate at peak efficiency. To avoid your computer’s input being overloaded, set it as high as you comfortably can. As soon as you hear distortion or the recording program displays high peak levels, lower the mic volume.

Controls on the front panel allow you to adjust the mic’s volume. You can also lower it in the recording program as well. In addition, the mic’s gain can be increased through the audio interface or within the recording software itself.

If you want to get the most out of your Audio-Technica AT2020 condenser microphones, in addition to our prior advice, you can try the following:

Set the Mic at the Right Distance

It’s important to keep in mind that the Audio-Technica AT2020 is a condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. The ideal distance between the microphone and your mouth is 6 to 8 inches, and the pop filter should be placed about an inch away from the microphone. If the pop filter is far enough when speaking at a typical volume, the gain should reach about -12dB.

Set the right mic distance by simulating the loudest sounds you expect to make when recording; this will help ensure that the audio signal does not clip or reach 0dB. If it does clip, you can increase the gain to avoid distortion. If you want, you can even record the microphone on a separate channel from the game’s audio.

Microphone Positioning

The microphone has to be on the axis with the person doing the talking or singing. If you do it this way, your microphones will have a perfect frequency response.

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone, Ideal for Project/Home Studio Applications,Black

In addition, the mic has to be in front of the instrument it is being used to record. To find the ideal site for your microphones’ performance, you should experiment with placing them in various locations.

How to Lower Down the Gain on AT2020?

It will be useful to remember that each setup is unique from other setups. It will be helpful to toy with your AT2020 levels to hit the right gain level. You can open on your computer the hardware and tinker with the levels. Moreover, you can turn down your microphone’s sensitivity and get to the right sound pickup level. Besides, your OS will be a factor in setting up the gain.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use the AT2020 to record vocals, instruments, or both?

Yes, the Audio-Technica AT2020 can be used to record both musical instruments and vocals. The mic's cardioid polar pattern, excellent sensitivity, and wide frequency response allow for crystal-clear recordings of vocalists and a wide variety of instruments, including acoustic guitars, pianos, drums, and more.

What are some methods to optimize the AT2020's audio performance?

Try to place the AT2020 6-8 inches away from the singer or instrument to get the best sound quality. You can also use a pop filter to cut down on plosives, improve the room's acoustics to cut down on reflections and use post-processing methods like EQ and compression to enhance the sound even more.

Can I use the AT2020 in a professional recording studio?

Yes, you can use the AT2020 in a studio setting. Although it is a cheap microphone, it captures sounds quite well and is widely used by professionals in both home and commercial recording studios. It can pick up a wide range of frequencies and accurately reproduce them, making it a valuable microphone.


The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a great option if you’re looking for a high-quality microphone at a reasonable price. It’s durable and provides excellent sound quality. Plus, it works wonderfully for making audiobooks and podcasts.

The AT2020’s flexibility is remarkable. In addition, the Audio-Technica AT2020, with a little tweaking, will deliver high-quality audio recordings. Whether your home recording setup is complex or simple, the AT2020 will help you achieve a professional sound.

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