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

(Last Updated On: December 11, 2022)
Tips on AT2020 mic setting for better sound quality.

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If you’re looking for an affordable microphone of high quality, you better check out the Audio Technica AT2020. The AT2020 is a quality cardioid condenser microphone that has quickly become the go-to mic worldwide for a home studio. This mic comes either in XLR or USB connection models; hence, it is pretty easy to set up with your PC. 

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 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 for Optimal Recording Quality

If you are a bit worried about setting up your Audio Technica AT2020, just take a deep breath and relax, for it is quite easy to set up. The Audio Technica AT2020 comes with a threaded mic stand mount that you can attach firmly. This mount stand pivots, allowing you to make the precise placement for this microphone. Once you’ve set up this microphone on its stand, you can follow the guide and tips below to improve your recording result with your Audio Technica AT2020 microphone. You can also get a shock mount for this mic. The AT2020 condenser mic requires around 48V phantom power.

Adjust Mic Gain

In most instances, you must adjust the gain on the mic. In this way, you can hit the sweet spot or the ideal balance of your voice’s natural volume and the mic’s sensitivity. Doing this helps you record at the software’s quality level. This range level is somewhere between -18dB and -6dB

Of course, you will not find gain adjustment on the mic. So, you need to adjust the gain on your DAW. You will find this gain adjustment feature on the software, depending on the DAW you are using. If you can’t find any gain adjustment feature on the software, you can then go to your PC’s Control Panel and select Sound. Afterward, click on the recording tab

Since the Audio Technica AT2020 makes use of fixed gain before the signal enters the converter, you will not see any max SPL rating on its spec sheet. Its max SPL rating, of course, is 144dB. The Audio Technica AT2020 will clip at around 112 to 115 dB SPL

If you are using the Audio Technica AT2020 at close range using your singing voice at 90 t0 95 dB SPL, it will have an effective resolution at around 12 to 13 bits. However, at a moderate SPL of around 70 to 76 dB, you will find the digital resolution at about 10 bits.

Set Up USB Connection

Since the Audio Technica AT2020 comes with a USB cable for easy connecting to your PC, you can quickly attach this microphone to your computer using the standard USB cable. Your software will identify with ease this microphone once you have connected it to your computer, and your computer will make this microphone your default sound source for your recording. You can double-check the control settings to ensure that your sound source is the AT2020USB+. AT2020USB+ comes with a built-in headphone jack and a XLR cable that can be used to connect it to an audio interface.

Configure EQ Setting for Editing

When it comes to configuring your EQ setting to ensure that you can do good editing, you can tinker with the compressor settings. You can set the compressor setting EQ to -1dB. It is advisable to remove any sound that goes lower than 100 Hz. Of course, your voice will not get that low, so it will help to remove those sounds lower than 100 Hz because they are mostly low-end background sounds and background noise. 

You can also make your voice clearer by tinkering with other EQs. If you normalize it to -1dB, you can make your sound loud enough and increase its volume without necessarily clipping. When it comes to game audio, you can set it at -12 dB or even less to ensure that your microphone will be heard over that of the audio.

Set Up Your Software Levels

If you want optimum performance for your Audio Technica AT2020, you need to make the right adjustment to your microphone level. It should be high as it can be, sans overloading your computer’s input. You should turn the mic volume level down once you hear or listen distortion or if the recording software indicates high peak levels. 

You can turn the mic’s volume level via the control panel settings. You can also tone down the volume via the recording software. Moreover, you can boost the mic’s gain through the control panel or through the recording program. If the acoustic input doesn’t change dramatically, you don’t need any further mic level adjustments.

Besides the abovementioned tips on how to optimize the use of your Audio Technica AT2020 condenser mic, you can also do the following added settings adjustments and recommendations for optimal use of your Audio Technica AT2020:

Set the Mic at the Right Distance

One characteristic of the Audio Technica AT2020 that you must bear in mind is its polar pattern. It is one of the condenser microphones, and works best when it is 6 to 8 inches away from your mouth. The pop filter should be around an inch away from the microphone. When talking at a normal level, the gain should hit around -12 dB if pop filter is at sufficient distance.

When setting the right mic distance, mimic the loudest possible sounds you will make during recording, and make sure that the audio signal doesn’t clip or hit 0 dB. You can adjust the gain a bit if it does clip. You can also ensure that the mic is recorded into a new channel different from that of the game audio.

Microphone Positioning

You should ensure that the microphone is positioned in line or on axis with the one who is speaking or singing. In this way, you will achieve the ideal frequency response for your microphones. Ideally, the microphones should be placed in front of the one who is speaking or singing. 

Moreover, when miking an instrument, the mic should be directly in front of the instrument. You should try different placements for your mics to get the sweet spot for optimal performance.

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 Audio Technica 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.


As one of the best mics among the market’s affordable mics today, you should consider the Audio Technica AT2020 as one of your best options at hand. It is durable, and it produces a clear and clean sound. Moreover, it is perfect for recording and podcasting. 

The AT2020 offers awesome flexibility. Besides, with the right adjustments, the Audio Technica AT2020 will provide you with great-sounding recordings. Whether you have an elaborate or simplistic home studio setup, you can always ensure yourself a professional result in your recording using the AT2020.

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