For years, I’ve used Blue’s ‘Snowball’ microphone for just about everything, from chatting with friends while gaming to recording episodes of the SyrupCast. It’s served me well across a variety of uses, but I recently retired it for Audio-Technica’s new AT2020USB-X microphone.
The AT2020USB-X is a cardioid condenser microphone that works over USB that boasts 24-bit/96Hz sampling. It also features a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring and a capacitive mute switch that, frankly, turned out to be a game-changing feature for me.
Now, I’m no audio expert, but in my time with the AT2020USB-X, I’ve been impressed with its output. You can hear it in action in SyrupCast episode 266 (and I’ll likely continue using it as my main podcasting mic). For comparison, here’s a SyrupCast episode where I use the Blue Snowball.
2That said, at $219 in Canada, the AT2020USB-X is much pricier than the $99.99 Blue Snowball. It is a better microphone and boasts a higher sampling rate than the Snowball, plus I prefer the AT2020USB-X’s USB-C connection to the USB Type-B port on the Snowball.
Still, it’s hard to beat the value proposition of the Blue Snowball, which I’ve found to be a consistently strong performer for the cost. If you’re looking to start a podcast, I’d recommend value microphones like the Snowball, while long-time podcasters looking to improve their audio game might want to start considering higher-end options like the AT2020USB-X.
Hands down my favourite feature of the AT2020USB-X is the built-in mute button. ‘Button’ is doing a lot of work here — it’s a capacitive touch button and offers no tactile feedback, which might prove frustrating for some. Still, I loved being able to quickly and easily mute my microphone while recording a SyrupCast so I could grab a drink of water or cough without disrupting whoever was speaking. Sure, I could mute the microphone on my PC, but having the button right there was super convenient.
Furthermore, muting the AT2020USB-X swaps the blue LED to a red glow, adding a fun visual cue.
The mute button will, of course, be quite handy beyond podcasting applications. With the wide variety of virtual meeting software out there, it may be easier for some just to mute their physical mic rather than try and mute themselves in Teams/Meet/Zoom/whatever other meeting software. I also appreciated being able to mute the mic when I wasn’t using it without digging through Windows 11’s awful audio settings.
You can check out the AT20202USB-X on Audio-Technica’s website, where it’s available for $219. Alternatively, it’s on Amazon but at a higher $247.98.
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