Are you interested in hopping in on the podcast or audio recording game?
Do you need a new microphone that meets your specific situation’s needs?
New microphones can be tricky to find because there are so many, and they’re expensive. As a music teacher for over 10 years and a musician for over 20 years, I’ve played around with a lot of microphones in my day.
And I’ve learned there are a lot of great ones out there…and a lot of junk.
Still, even two great ones such as the Blue Yeti and AT2020 aren’t exactly the right ones for any situation. It can be hard to pick the right one on your own, and then you’ve wasted your money.
But you’re not alone! I’m here to help!
In this article, I’ll go over the Blue Yeti vs. AT2020 with an in-depth comparison of the two to help figure out which one may work for you.
In this section, we look at the main difference between the two models and how they may impact your use of the mic. We’ll focus on features and specs in a way that anyone can understand, and later on dive into a deep overview of each product.
Here is a quick list of the features of each product. Start to think about which features are most important for your situation.
|AT2020||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Blue Yeti||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
From this table, you can see that the two microphones are pretty compatible. The main differences you’re going to see are their user-friendly quality for new sound recorders and the sound quality from the microphone.
Both microphones record good sound, but the AT2020 is far ahead of the Blue Yeti, which isn’t to say the Blue Yeti is bad at all.
On the other hand, the Blue Yeti’s USB output makes it really easy to use compared to the 3-pin system from the AT2020.
Differences In Features
The different pros and cons are pulled from the following features and specifications. Take a look at this quick chart for a specific comparison of the two products.
Note: We help you out by including some hints as to how the features affect the usage in parentheses below the spec.
For more details on what these features are, read the section immediately following the table.
|Sample Rate||44.1 kHz||48 kHz
(Gathers more sound info)
|Polar Patterns||Cardioid||Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
(More ways of collecting sound)
|Frequency Response||20Hz – 20kHz|
(How much high and low is picked up)
|20Hz – 20kHz
|Dimensions w/ stand||162 mm X 52 mm|
|120 mm X 125 mm X 295 mm
|Compatible||Mac and Windows||Mac and Windows (all)
(Easier to work with computers)
|Material||All-metal body and stand|
|Metal body and stand
(Slightly lower price than AT2020 usually)
|Ports/Output||Integral 3-pin XLRM-type|
(Clearer sound, truer to sound in real life)
|USB mini B, USB 2.0, 3.5 mm headphone jack
(Works with headphones, easy to use with computers)
|Selectors||None||Volume, LED mute, Gain, Pattern
(More control and fine-tuning sound)
|Microphone Type||Polarized Condenser|
(Best for studio usage)
(best digitization rate of sound)
|Max SPL||144 dB|
(Handles loud sounds better)
Here are some quick explanations on how these features affect the use of the microphones.
The sample rate refers to how often per second a sound is sampled. In general, a higher sample rate corresponds with a clearer sound with all other features being equal.
In this case, the Blue Yeti has a slightly higher sample rate. This is due to the output system of USB. However, this system has other drawbacks.
Polar patterns refer to how the microphones pick up the sound. A microphone could pick up sound from every direction, but this is seldom what you want.
More pattern selections mean more versatility in specific ways you can use the sound. Cardioid patterns collect all sounds from in front of the mic and is the most common type of polar pattern.
For more details, check out the Blue Yeti overview below.
In this area, the Blue Yeti has a clear advantage with four different polar patterns available whereas the AT2020 has only the one.
Frequency response refers to the range (high and low) the microphone is able to pick up. This includes any sympathetic vibrations when an instrument plays.
In normal terms, a wider frequency response means the microphone records a sound closer to how the instrument or voice would sound in real life. More depth, better quality.
Both of these microphones have the same frequency response which puts them at a tie in this area.
Dimensions w/ stand
This stat may not be a deal-breaker, but if everything else is equal, you can consider how big or small the microphone is and how it fits into your physical setup.
Here the AT2020 has a slight advantage of being a little smaller, though not by much.
As with dimensions, the weight of the microphone may help you decide which mic is best for you. If you want to travel with this mic a lot, you may want to look for a lighter product.
The AT2020 is slightly lighter and easier to handle than the Blue Yeti.
Microphones can be compatible with different types of computers. The more compatible they are, the easier they are to use.
While both microphones work with any system, the Blue Yeti may have an advantage. No programs or drivers are required to plug and work the Yeti.
The AT2020 needs another program to work.
Most microphones are either made of metal or plastic of some kind.
Plastic microphones are a little cheaper usually, but they sacrifice some sound quality and durability.
Metal microphones generally capture sound better and are more durable, but they also cost a little more.
Both are made from metal and are quite durable.
If you’re on a budget, you need to keep costs in mind. For those who don’t have a lot of audio gear, a cheaper mic may be better because you need to pick up the extras.
Both of these microphones are close to the same price (although there are often deals, so check current prices regularly). The AT2020 is usually a little bit higher priced than the Blue Yeti.
The ports and output refer to how the microphone connects to the recording device (often a computer or mixer). While you may not realize this, the way the microphones connect have a huge impact on the sound quality and usability of these products.
USB outputs are much easier to use. They just directly plug into computers and away you go. Some USB microphones, such as the Blue Yeti, don’t even need to download drivers to use them.
3-pin XLRM outputs aren’t as easy to use (although they’re really common with microphones), but the quality of sound is very pure and true to the sound in real life
Some mics, like the Blue Yeti, have extra ports. The Yeti has a 3.55 mm headphone jack.
This is useful because you can listen in to your recording as it happens and catch any problems right away.
This is the biggest area of difference between the two microphones.
The AT2020’s output gives it hands-down better sound quality, but the Blue Yeti is more versatile.
The amount of selectors and options available on the microphone gives you more control in sound. There can be anything on there, really, but these are some common items:
- Polar Pattern Selection
Selectors aren’t needed to make a good microphone, but if you like easy ways to tweak your sound, you may want selectors.
Both of these microphones are condenser microphones. The other option is a dynamic microphone which is usually used for live performances.
Condenser microphones are favorites of studios because of their large frequency response, better ability to handle larger sounds in small spaces, and delicate machinery.
Both Yeti and AT2020 are 16-bit microphones. This means they sample audio at a 65,536 sample rate.
As of this writing, 16-bit is considered to be the best bit rate for a microphone. Higher bit rates could be better (24 is the highest currently).
However, since most listeners use portable technology, such as phones, headphones, computers, and smaller speakers, it’s common not to use 24-bit. These portable devices can’t play them to that higher level.
SPL stands for sound pressure level. The max SPL refers to the highest decibel amount a microphone can handle before it distorts.
The higher the max SPL, the more volume (decibels) the microphone can handle. In this area, the AT2020 is the clear winner.
For sound examples, check out this video demonstrating audio from both microphones.
The AT2020 Review
- The price/performance standard in side address studio condenser microphone technology
- Ideal for project/home studio applications; The noise level is 20 dB SPL
- High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility
- Custom engineered low mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response
- Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source. Output connector: integral 3 pin XLRM type
The AT2020 is one of the best condenser microphones on the market. What makes it even better is its medium price.
This microphone is a studio-quality microphone at a much lower price.
Material And Design
Not that looks need to matter, but the AT is finished in a speckled black and comes with a sleek-looking Audio Technica case for easy and safe transport.
The AT2020 is made from all metal. This actually improves sound slightly, but more importantly, it makes the microphone very durable.
For all this, it’s still a light and fairly small microphone making it great to take on trips where you need to record.
It does come with a simple mic clip to hold it, but if you wanted you could purchase the Streaming and Podcast pack which includes a mini-boom stand and high-quality headphones.
The output connector is an Integral 3-pin XLRM type output. This output isn’t as easy to use as a USB one, but the sound records clearer for it.
This kind of output works with two of the pins reading the vibrations of the sound and then transmitting the sound through the cables electronically.
The AT2020, for all its strengths, doesn’t offer any selectors or options for changing the sound right from the microphone. In fact, you can’t simply plug and go with this microphone either.
Its biggest drawback from a user standpoint is how this microphone needs an accompanying program to use properly.
Some of the programs available for recording and editing are free and offer some great ways to change the way the sound is recorded. Obviously, those programs that cost some extra dough are better, but the free will do the job.
At first, there’s a bit of a learning curve with using this microphone to its fullest potential, but once you’ve spent time with it, it’s not so difficult.
This microphone can work with any Windows or Mac, but as we said above, you will need to download a program and find a soundboard to handle the 3-pin output. This is a little more inconvenient, but the sound quality is much higher for it.
The high max SPL (sound pressure level) means that it can handle loud sounds without distortion making it ideal for group and instrumental recordings.
The wide frequency response of 20hz to 20kHz will pick up most standard sounds as close to the original as possible.
As a condenser microphone, its polar pattern is locked in at cardioid. This pattern means that it picks up sounds from the front of the microphone only, which reduces accidental pick up and improves the isolation of desired sounds.
The only drawback of the polar pattern is that there’s only one option. Some other microphones will offer different choices, but if you had to pick one, cardioid is considered the best and most versatile.
With all of these design features and capabilities, you’re looking at a medium-priced microphone of exceptional sound quality. It’s better than the Blue Yeti that when it comes to sound quality, they just can’t compare.
Who’s This Mic For?
The AT2020 may not be for everyone though. It’s higher-priced and a little trickier to use compared to the Blue Yeti.
That being said, it excels in many situations including the following:
- YouTube recording for serious endeavors
- Recording music such as singing, rapping, or using instruments
- Voice-over work
- Professional podcasting
- Audio recording for film or videos
Blue Yeti Review
- Custom three-capsule array: Produces clear, powerful, broadcast-quality sound for YouTube, game streaming, podcasting, Skype calls and music
- Four pickup patterns: cardioid, Omni, bidirectional, and stereo pickup patterns offer incredible flexibility, allowing you to record in ways that would normally require multiple microphones
- Onboard audio controls: Studio controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and microphone gain put you in charge of every level of the recording and streaming process
- Legendary Blue Broadcast sound: Makes the professional difference for recording, streaming and building your audience
- Unique position able design: Adjust and pivot the microphone in relation to the sound source to optimize your sound quality
For a long time, Blue has stood on top of the world of microphone and sound companies, especially regarding USB microphones.
The Yeti is one of the most popular models because of its good sound quality, variable features, and affordable price.
Material And Design
The mic is made from all metal which improves its sound, yes, but it also makes it very durable. This microphone can stand the accidental bumps. The Yeti is available in black, silver, or white.
The bottom of the Yeti has the USB mini B. This USB is common and very easily connected to the computer. In fact, you don’t need to download anything to use the mic because the drivers are contained in the mic itself.
On top of this, the microphone has a 3.5 mm headphone jack. This is nice to have because you can wear headphones and hear exactly what the Yeti is picking up as it records.
You can catch recording errors before you’re finished to save some time.
Most models don’t have this, especially the cheaper ones.
One of the best features of the Blue Yeti is its simple but effective selector options. These help you to tweak and supplement what you’re doing to get the recording you want.
The Yeti includes a headphone knob; its purpose is to adjust the volume of the headphone as you record. As we discussed before, this helps you to listen to your recording as you do it.
This microphone also includes an LED mute button to stop picking up sound, but keep recording. This is useful for those who don’t want to shut the whole mic down, but just stop the input for a while with live streaming, for example.
The back of the Blue Yeti has two dials for gain and pattern selection. This is the feature that really makes this mic stand out from others.
Most microphones need the help of a program to change this with normal microphones, or you have to edit it later on.
Gain controls the decibel level for the USB mic’s input. If your sound data keeps peaking or distorting, you can lower the gain.
While this is nice, the polar patterns are a truly great feature. Many have no options, but this mic includes four.
The four polar pattern options for sound recording are as follows:
- Cardioid – This captures the sound from in front of the mic. It’s good for all general recording sessions.
- Stereo – This pattern focuses on sound from the left and right directions. Music recording often uses this setting.
- Omnidirectional – For this pattern, the mic picks up sound from every direction. This is really useful with podcasting at a round table.
- Bidirectional – The pattern records from the front and behind. Useful for interview-style recordings.
For easy use with computers, the Yeti is fully compatible with all operating systems on Windows and Mac. This means you can literally plug it into any of those computers, and you can use it right away.
You don’t even have to download any drivers. You’ll never be stuck without a recording option because your computer is down; just borrow someone else’s!
Normally, you can expect a USB mic to sacrifice sound quality for easy usage when compared to other microphones due to the digitizing nature of the USB, but the Blue Yeti still sounds clear and true to the source materials.
The sound quality can satisfy all but serious audio professionals.
Who’s This Mic For?
The Blue Yeti may not be for everyone, but most people who purchase it will be completely satisfied. Even some professionals will like its sound quality.
The main people who enjoy this are those who don’t want to mess around too much with sound editing but just want a quality recording quickly and with little effort.
These people may enjoy the Blue Yeti:
- YouTube recording for easy, quick, and quality sound
- Recording music such as singing, rapping, or using instruments in smaller groups
- Amateur/Semi-professional podcasting
- Any recording while traveling
At the end of the day, you need to pick one and either one is fine. But that being said…
If you plan on doing any serious recording and collecting audio for sound quality (such as a professional podcaster or musician), the AT2020 is the clear winner.
While it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles and is a little tougher to use, the sound quality is head and shoulders above the Blue Yeti.
However, if you just want a great, easy microphone to plug into your computer and use, the Blue Yeti is a great choice. It’s so easy to use and it does have a lot of options included. You may even save a few bucks.
I hope you found this information helpful in picking the Blue Yeti vs. the AT2020. Now go buy one and start recording!
If you still would like to research further for more options, make sure you will check out the following posts, where you can read find side by side comparison of different microphones, similar to what you just read:
Also you can read this article, for another comparison of Blue Yet.