Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP review: "I was disappointed with the lack of depth"

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP on a gaming desk in front of a streaming controller and monitors
(Image: © Future / Alex Berry)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP is not a fundamentally bad USB microphone, it’s just not an impressively good one either. £149/$169 pits the AT2020USB-XP against some of the best microphones for streamers and other brands are simply delivering more for this sort of money. While this is a step up from the most basic audio solutions and doesn't sound half bad, it just isn't our strongest recommendation.


  • +

    Solid, metal build

  • +

    Small form factor

  • +

    Included stand


  • -

    Underwhelming sound

  • -

    Vocals sound shallow and distant

  • -

    Onboard processing isn’t effective

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The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP bucks a bit of a trend for the brand. Despite a rich history and decades of experience, you won’t often find Audio-Technica logos scattered throughout many streaming setups these days. Their microphones are a staple across the professional audio scene, of that there's no doubt. The latest refresh in the 20 line hopes to find a place in your home as opposed to a studio, however.

The AT2020USB-XP is the youngest sibling in a rather large family. The original AT2020 launched in 2004 and nearly two decades on the fourth iteration lands with a few new tricks up its sleeve. At £149/$169 this USB-C condenser microphone has quite a heritage behind it, but does it have enough to challenge some of the best microphones for streaming and gaming?

Design & Features

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP runs with a pretty pared-back aesthetic. The all-black metal body is solid and sleek, broken up only by a handful of indicator LEDs on the front and a surprisingly punchy RGB glow behind its grille. Not a whole lot has changed from a design perspective since the original AT2020 from 2004 and that’s not necessarily to its benefit. There’s a fine line to walk between looking classic and looking dated and I fear the USB-XP drifts a little too far towards the latter.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP's mute button

(Image credit: Future / Alex Berry)

At just 142mm long and 52mm wide the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP won’t demand much room in your setup, although when bolted onto the included stand it does grow to a wider footprint. The stand itself looks nice enough but is all plastic and feels a little cheap as a result. A rubber base does stop it sliding around though and I found it perfectly stable while testing. There’s only one real mounting position with about 90 degrees of tilt forward and back but with most of the AT2020USB-XP’s 375g weight sitting towards the bottom of the mic, it never toppled over.

Cleverly, Audio-Technica has included a small channel through the base to neatly house the included USB-A to USB-C cable. While this is certainly a practical piece of design, it does come with the caveat that the included wire is noticeably thinner than the average one you'll find. Annoyingly, most other cables I tried wouldn’t fit. In fairness, the majority of streamers will look to do away with the stand entirely and the AT2020USB-XP does include an adapter in the box which should offer near-universal compatibility with mic arms. I had no issue bolting it to my Elgato Wave Arm, but without any kind of shock mount it was particularly prone to bumps and knocks on my desk.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP from the bottom, showing the mic's conection ports and noise cancelling buttons

(Image credit: Future / Alex Berry)

A touch-sensitive mute button is a nice addition to the front of any microphone and in testing I found it was sensitive enough to avoid missed touches when adjusting the mic's position and so forth. Triggering the button also changes the RGB glow from blue to red, so there's no chance of accidentally spending half your stream on mute without realizing it. Two thumb wheels on the front offer control of the latency-free monitoring offered up by the 3.5mm jack on the back and while this kind of onboard control is nice to see, the wheels themselves feel very off the shelf and something you’d expect to find on a non-brand knock off unit rather than a new entry from a premium brand.


Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP with its included pop-filter

(Image credit: Future / Alex Berry)

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP is a great example of the simplicity offered by USB microphones - connect a single USB Type C cable and you’re away. The downside to this can be in the sound department though. A lot of the time you get what you’re given, and that’s largely the case here. 

For streaming and podcasting the AT2020USB-XP sounds fine - it just isn't particularly impressive or memorable in any area. The overall sound was clear with no distortion or digital artifacts, but I was disappointed with the lack of depth to my voice and didn’t feel it carried any broadcast or studio feel. That’s not to say I sounded bad, this is a sizeable step up from one of the best webcams or built-in laptop microphones but creators looking for a real bump to their audio quality are likely to be underwhelmed. 

A condenser microphone offers greater flexibility in terms of pickup area, not needing so much direct attention and making it a better choice for more animated streamers. The tradeoff however is a sense of roominess to the sound and a lack of proximity which is the overriding vibe with the AT2020USB-XP. The microphone’s cardioid pickup pattern should focus on the area directly around it but I found my voice seemed distant with a lot of other environmental distractions fighting for attention.

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP on mute, showing the red indicator light

(Image credit: Future / Alex Berry)

Audio-Technica does offer a couple of onboard processing tools to help overcome this but I found neither really offered a sizeable improvement. Automatic gain control should assist in regulating overall output levels and while I never needed to boost the volume in OBS it also failed to protect against peaking which the AT2020USB-XP seemed particularly susceptible to at close range. There is some level of plosive rejection thanks to the included clip-on pop filter and this did help the mic to perform better with a noticeable drop in plosive distortion with it fitted.

The three levels of onboard noise reduction also offered small gains, but they never really translated into big wins overall. Increasing the intensity via the button on the bottom of the microphone itself did start to soften the clacker of my keyboard but even on the highest setting it was far from filtered out entirely and the quality of my vocals also suffered as a result. Moreover, there’s no supporting software on offer like there is for the likes of the BEACN Mic and its companion BEACN Mix Create. Unlike the RODE XCM-50 or Elgato Wave:3, you’re left to fend for yourself in OBS to make EQ tweaks or introduce external processing.

Should you buy the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP?

Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP's operating lights, including a Blue RGB light through its grille

(Image credit: Future / Alex Berry)

The Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP is not a fundamentally bad USB microphone, it’s just not an impressively good one either. For a brand with such a history of top-flight audio the shortcomings here leave it trailing the competition in a particularly contested category.

£149/$169 pits the AT2020USB-XP against some of the best microphones for streamers and in this head-to-head other brands are simply delivering more at an equal price point. Especially in the last few months, we've seen new USB-C mics come from Logitech G, SteelSeries, and more, so the weight class is fully stacked against Audio-Technica.

The audio here is a decent step up from your laptop’s built-in microphone, so if you're just looking to make clearer callouts for your friends, they'll no doubt thank you for your investment in a bespoke mic. If you're a content creator looking for a professional finish, however, you'll be disappointed if this isn't your first mic.

How we tested the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP 

I added the Audio-Technica AT2020USB-XP to my streaming and gaming setup as my primary microphone. Over the course of a few days, it was used across live streaming, Discord calls, and dedicated test records both attached to the included stand and bolted to an Elgato Wave Arm.

If you'd like to read more about the ways we test the latest technology, gizmos, and gadgets for our reviews, take a gander at our Hardware Policy.

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More info

Available platformsHardware, PC
Alex Berry

Alex is a streamer who has been creating gaming content for over a decade, streaming on Twitch regularly across the last five years. With a degree in film and a background in sports media, you'll find him jumping between 60,000 seat stadiums and his Animal Crossing island (where he's growing pears, in case you were wondering).