Are you looking for a professional-grade condenser microphone but having trouble navigating the complicated world of microphones?
Did you choose the Audio Technica (AT) series because of its strong reputation but you’re struggling to tell the difference between the two?
It’s actually a pretty common problem, and companies don’t do a great job of honestly explaining the difference between the two. After all, they always want you to buy the most expensive model.
In my 20+ years as a musician, I’ve seen it over and over again. But I’m here to help!
What you need is a detailed review of the Audio Technica mics, AT4040 vs. AT2035 .
You can save your frustration and confusion by looking at how the different features are sorted and impact the actual usability of the two microphones.
Read on for a direct comparison, breakdown of features, and overview for each microphone below.
In this section, we’ll look at the important info you need to make a buying choice with confidence. We’ll look at the pros and cons, differences in features, and offer brief explanations on what the features mean.
Pros And Cons
This section directly compares the pros and cons of the two microphones in the most applicable terms possible. Refer back to this chart when making your buying decision.
|● Excellent sound quality for studio-style recordings
● Easy to use
● Very durable and light-weight
● Cardioid pattern picks only the sound you want it to
● Signal strength ideal for sensitive recording
|● Higher price
● Handles loud sounds slightly worse than the AT2035
|● Great sound quality
● Easy to use
● Cardioid pattern picks up only the sound you want it to
● Handles loud sounds well
● Medium price
|● A little heavier
● Signal strength may be too strong for top-notch sound quality
Difference In Features
In this section, we’ll look at a quick chart comparing the features of the two microphones. This is meant to be a quick look at the technical aspects of the microphones.
The pros and cons shown above were pulled directly from the specs in this section along with user experiences. In the next section, we’ll break down what these features mean and how they can impact the use of a microphone.
Note: A quick, user-friendly translation for each feature is included in the table in parentheses below the specs.
(Better signal control for studio)
(Standard recording pattern; captures sound from the front only)
|Frequency Response||20Hz – 20kHZ
(Professional range of high and low pitches)
|20Hz – 20kHz|
|Dimensions||6.69” x 2.10”
|6.69” x 2.05”
(Slightly smaller, maybe easier to use)
(Weighs less; may be easier to carry)
(Low amount of ambient sound from running the mic)
(Lighter, tougher, quality metal)
(Standard, accurate output)
|Selectors||Flat, roll-off; 10dB pad
(Gives some control over Max SPL)
|Flat, roll-off; 10dB pad|
(Best for studio recording and sound quality)
|Dynamic Range||133 dB, 1kHz at Max SPL||136 dB, 1kHz at Max SPL
(Range of volume difference the microphone can record)
|Max SPL||145dB||148 dB
(How loud of sound it can record before peaking)
As you can see, the two microphones are similar in many ways. They’re both made by Audio-Technica and are the same type of microphone.
The devil’s in the details, and the small differences are where you see a change in usability.
Explanation Of Features
In this section, we’ll briefly break down the features into language that anyone can understand. If you’re looking for more information on how microphones work, read on.
For those who just want answers to the comparison question, use the charts above and the overviews below.
In layman’s terms, the impedance of a microphone refers to the voltage and power of the signal put out when using the microphone.
Higher impedance means a stronger/louder signal being put out. A lower impedance results in a weaker signal.
This doesn’t mean a higher impedance is automatically a good thing. The cable and amps will also have an effect on this as well.
Too much of a high impedance will create a sound you have no control over and could get distorted easier.
Too low and your sound won’t be projected well.
For condenser microphones (see below), you’re mostly going to be using these in studio settings. Having a lower impedance may actually be more ideal.
The lower signal can be better controlled and edited than one that comes in too strong.
Both the AT4040 and AT2035 have lower than average impedance, but the AT4040’s 100 ohms may be better than the AT2035’s 120 ohms.
Read more about impedance in WhirlwindUSA if you’re interested.
The polar pattern of a microphone refers to how and from what direction the sound is picked up. There are pros and cons for each type of polar pattern, but the most common type is cardioid.
Both the AT4040 and the AT2035 are cardioid microphones. They don’t have the ability to change this pattern, but for studio recordings this isn’t a problem.
Cardioid microphones pick up sound from the front of the microphone. The shape of the pattern is roughly a heart which is where the name comes from.
Caridoid has risen in popularity for its ability to reduce the picking up of extra sound around the microphone. You could have three mics on stage in a line, and they would pick up very little of each musician or speaker from the other two.
Note: Changing the gain through your recording program will increase the heart-shaped bubble the microphone picks up. It will also make things closer to the microphone sound louder which may increase the chance of peaking (see Max SPL).
For microphones, the frequency response is the range of high and low pitches the microphone can pick up. Cheaper microphones won’t be able to capture sound at a wide range of highs and lows.
A good frequency range can also record sound truer to the actual instrument or voice being recorded. Even a low pitched instrument such as the bass guitar will resonant on some level at higher frequencies, so a wide frequency response capture more of the finer aspects of the sound.
For these two microphones, both use the professional range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz (or 20,000 Hz). This range is considered one of the best available and will suit essentially every need.
The dimensions of a microphone aren’t really make or break, but they can help you determine which to get if the two microphones are close.
A smaller microphone may be easier to pack and carry around while a larger one may be easier to handle. You may also want to consider any existing mic stands or mounts you already have and if the new microphone would fit.
The AT4040 and the AT2035 are so close the difference is almost non-existent. The AT2035 is slightly smaller, so if you’re limited on space, this may be the one for you.
As with the dimensions of a microphone, you don’t want to base your whole decision on the weight of the microphone, but it can make a difference.
Lighter microphones are easier to transport, but you need to watch out for their construction quality because generally, the lighter microphone is more prone to breaking (although not in this case).
The AT4040 is the lighter microphone despite it being slightly larger than the AT2035. This is due to the higher-quality metal used in construction (as we’ll discuss below).
The noise of the microphone is how much sound from the air and running of the microphone is picked up. This noise is referred to as “white noise.”
Cheaper microphones pick up more white noise overall which can result in the fuzzy sound you may have heard from at-home tape recorders back in the day. The lower the noise, the better.
Today’s microphones have very low noise volumes, and the ATs are no different. Both come in at a stellar 12 dB of noise when running.
This leaves you with a better dynamic range at the end of the day (see below).
The material of the microphone is important in the function and durability of the microphone. Usually, microphones are either made from plastic or metal.
Plastic microphones are cheaper and lighter, but they’re often more breakable and the conductivity of the material results in poorer sound quality.
Metal microphones are more expensive and heavier, but they do have better sound quality and durability.
Both of the AT mics are made from metal which is the most common choice for professional-level condenser microphones. But not metals are made equal.
The AT2035 is made from a standard steel-based body which results in a tough exterior with good sound.
The AT4040 uses a nickel-plated brass which is lighter yet tougher than the standard material of the AT2035.
More importantly, the brass conducts sound clearly and purely. This gives the AT4040 a clear edge in sound quality.
This is part of why brass is commonly used for instruments.
When it comes to quality, you usually pay for what you get. Cheaper microphones can save money, but you’re often sacrificing sound quality, durability, and options.
Fortunately, both the AT4040 and the AT2035 are quality microphones. As such, they cost a little more than the budget models.
The AT2035 comes in around the middle price point for comparable microphones. This doesn’t reflect it’s great quality, however.
Buying the AT2035 would be a safe choice for amateurs and professionals.
The AT4040 isn’t the most expensive microphone out there, but it does cost a good amount more than the AT2035. The step-in quality is well worth it, though.
But if you’re on more of a budget, you won’t be disappointed by the AT2035.
Though, for true professionals who are looking for the best, the AT4040 is the clear winner for quality, but not price.
Microphones (particularly condensers) need a way to connect to the amplifier or sound recording equipment. Both of the ATs in this article use the professional-grade XLR 3-pin system.
The XLRM 3-pin is now standard for high-quality sound recording. It may be a little more difficult to get plugged into a computer, but if you’re looking at these two mics, you’re not looking for a plug and go mic.
You want a high-quality mic like these ones, and the XLRM is the way to go.
If you’re looking for a plug and go microphone, you may be more interested in our Blue Yeti Vs. Blue Snowball: In-Depth Comparison.
Selectors can change how your microphone functions. While they’re nice to have, if you have a good recording program, you can do a lot right from that too.
Both of these Audio Technica mics have the same selectors. First, they have a flat, roll-off switch for easy on and off.
Then, both also have a 10 dB pad. These are useful for more control in how loud or soft the sound taken in is.
If the microphone is peaking due to the Max SPL being reached (see later section), you can either change the gain or turn on the dB pad.
Changing the gain will alter how large the polar pattern is and can make the microphone stop picking up the musician or speaker if they’re too far away.
Turning on the dB pad gives you a little bit more range without too much distortion or loss of sound quality, and it avoids the problem that comes with changing gain entirely.
By using a gain control of the program or amp you use along with the dB pad, you could get quite a bit more of SPL range on your microphone.
There are two types of microphones: condenser and dynamic. While both types can technically be used in any setting, they each have their own specific strengths.
Dynamic microphones specialize in projecting live sounds. They’re most useful for live performance situations.
Dynamic microphones come in different types, but they usually are made of metal and have few selector options. They can also handle loud sounds well and often have strong impedance and signal strength.
Condenser microphones are usually more complicated mics. They have more electronics and are more prone to breaking.
However, they have more abilities to record the sound in a pure form and one that can be edited more effectively. For this reason, the condensers are the microphone of choice for studio recording.
The AT4040 and AT2035 are both condensers, so they’re perfect for recording in a studio or home studio setting.
The dynamic range of a microphone refers to the difference between the ambient white noise and the Max SPL of the mic. This range demonstrates what the microphone can pick up for recording sound.
In layman’s terms, the dynamic range is how loud or soft the microphone can pick up. The larger the range, the better the mic can handle a loud and soft song.
In this category, the AT2035 actually wins (even though it’s cheaper!), so if you’re music or sound has both extreme loud and soft, you may want this mic.
However, the AT2035’s range is at 136 dB while the AT4040’s is at 133 dB. The difference is quite small and chances are that you won’t actually notice the difference much.
Note: To calculate the dynamic range, you take the noise of the mic and subtract it from the Max SPL.
Example: AT2035; 148 db (Max SPL) – 12 dB (noise) = 136 dB dynamic range.
According to LearningDigitalAudio, both of these numbers are probably more than the average listener can handle easily. In most performance situations, the following groups use this dynamic range:
- Orchestra – 50 dB
- Chamber Music – 30 dB
- Rock Music – 20 dB
So the 100+ dB range may be unneeded.
Note: This is the range (loud and soft) of the music. Rock music is louder overall but tends to stay louder.
Max SPL (sound pressure level) refers to how loud a sound the microphone can handle before it distorts. Both the ATs have a higher Max SPL, so they work just fine with loud sounds.
That being said, the AT2035 does have a slightly higher Max SPL at 148 dB compared to the AT4040’s 145 dB. But the difference is small.
Audio-Technica’s AT4040 microphone is one of their best condenser microphone models. As such, it comes at a higher price but also with a sound quality that’s hard to beat.
The microphone is made from nickel-plated brass. This metal is not only durable but lightweight.
Best of all, the metal helps produce some of the best sound quality recordings you can find.
The microphone is sleek but not designed to be held. This is fine for studio recordings where you want it mounted.
In fact, Audio-Technica provides a case and mount to protect the microphone and ensure that it’s being used to its full potential.
The microphone itself is black and looks very modern. The AT logo is tastefully stamped not to detract but add to the style.
The AT4040 uses the cardioid polar pattern. This pattern captures sound only from the front of the microphone.
This is the standard and most popular pattern for microphones. It works well in almost every situation.
The sound quality of the AT4040 is hard to beat. There are so many features involved that add to its great sound capabilities.
With the brass metal construction, modern XLR 3-pin output, 0.8” diaphragm, dynamic range, frequency response, and more all add to an amazingly true sound.
One of the best things about the AT series is how many bundles they come with. For those on a budget, you can get multiple important audio accessories all for under their normal price.
All of the bundles with the AT4040 and other items. Here are some of the bundles available with the AT4040.
Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Mic w/Pop Filter and (2) 20′ XLR Cables – This bundle includes the microphone, standard mount, case, pop filter, and 2 twenty-foot XLR cables. Pop filters are useful for further reducing white noise picked up by the microphone.
Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone with 10ft XLR, Pop Filter, Shockmount, Hard Case, Cleaning Kit and 1- Year Extended Warranty – This bundle is similar to the last one with only 1 ten foot XLR cable. But you’re also getting a nicer case and better mount designed to work better with the mic along with an extended warranty.
Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone with Samson SR850 Studio Headphones, Shockmount, Hard Case, and 6Ave Cleaning Kit – This bundle swaps out the extended warranty and cable for a set of quality headphones and nice cleaning kit. The 5-year manufacturer’s warranty still applies.
Audio-Technica AT4040 Condenser Microphone with Zoom UAC-2 Audio Converter and Cable – This is probably the best of the bundles depending on what you need. While it strips out some of the extras from the others like cleaning kits, headphones, and cases, it adds a very important item you need to get the most out of the mic.
With mics using the XLR output, you’re going to want a soundboard to control the sound and then put into a computer or whatever you’re using. With this bundle, you get an XLR cable and the easy-to-use Zoom UAC-2 Audio Converter.
This bundle will basically instantly set you up for instant studio recordings.
Who’s This Mic For?
This microphone is for anyone who wants professional-level studio recordings. The price may scare off those looking for more of a hobby, but the sound quality can’t be beaten.
Here are some people who may enjoy the AT4040:
- Studio musicians
- Recording artists
- Professional podcasters or speakers
- YouTube content creators
Audio-Technica’s strong reputation has been built on its quality audio products from the top-of-the-line through its budget options. While the AT2035 isn’t a budget item, it’s professional-level sound at a medium price point may be just what you want.
With all-metal construction, you can expect the microphone to have great sound quality. While not as nice as a brass baffle like the 4040, the design records sound in a pure way.
This same construction makes the 2035 durable, but AT still provides a case and shock mount for extra protection. This same mount also helps you use the microphone to its full potential.
The shape and design of the 2035 are similar to 4040, but the 2035 is slightly smaller which makes it the slightest bit easier to transport.
As with all AT mics, the style is sleek and modern with the AT logo stamped tastefully on the front of the mic.
The AT2035 uses the cardioid polar pattern which is standard for all microphones in today’s age. This pattern’s ability to pick up sounds isolated from the front only is ideal for studio and live performances.
Compared to most other microphones at a medium-price range, the AT2035 is going to be considerably higher due to its metal construction, XLRM output, wide dynamic range, impedance, and frequency response.
In fact, with a large Max SPL and an additional 10 dB pad, the AT2035 slightly beats the 4040 with loud sounds.
In a head-to-head in 99% of scenarios, however, the 4040 will win. But for those using a lot of the loudest sounds, you may actually prefer this one.
Although the difference in dynamics is very small between the two.
As with the AT4040, the AT2035 can be bought in bundles with other audio products. The benefit of these bundles are getting more products at a lower than normal price.
All bundles come with AT2035 microphone on top of the other items.
Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone Bundle with Boom Stand, Pop Filter, XLR Cable, and Austin Bazaar Polishing Cloth – On top of the normal case and mount, this bundle includes some useful but not game-changing items. However, if you don’t have these, this is a great buy.
The addition of the XLR cable, pop filter for reducing white noise, and polishing cloth are nice. But the boom stand can make your recording experience much nicer.
Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone Bundle with Pop Filter with 2 Layered Mesh and 10-foot XLR Cable – For this bundle, you get the normal case and shock mount, but you also get a higher quality pop filter with a standard 10-foot XLR cable. This is nice for a couple of extras at a discounted price.
Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Studio Condenser Microphone with Knox Gear Pop Filter & Boom Arm – This bundle is a big chunk of a streamer’s dream. With the normal case and shock mount, you’re also getting a very nice pop filter and standard XLR cable.
But the attachable boom arm is what makes this bundle. It attaches your microphone easily and securely to basically anything, but streamers and podcasters will love how you can connect it to your desk or work area.
Who’s This Mic For?
Professionals will love the AT2035, and amateurs will love the professional sound quality at a more affordable price. Only those looking for the absolute best in-studio recording may be disappointed.
Here are some people who may enjoy the AT2035:
- Amateur or emerging studio musicians
- Recording musicians
- YouTube creators
I hope you enjoyed this AT4040 vs. AT2035 in-depth comparison. The two microphones seem like they’re very similar, but there’s actually a decent difference in their sound quality.
The AT4040 costs more, but the “truth” of the sound is clearly better. When you record using this mic it sounds just about as close to live as you can get.
However, the price jump is considerable and in most cases, the difference in sound quality won’t be a problem, even for professionals. So, unless you want the absolute best sound, the AT2035 is going to work more than well.
Enjoy your purchase and remember, you cannot go too wrong with either of these.