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The other day I had to get a new vocal microphone for my home studio.

Now I have always heard about the Shure SM7b vocal microphone and it’s awesome vocal qualities.

So this was a sure buy for me but then I heard about the AT2020 vocal microphones.

This got me thinking, wanting to know between the shure sm7b vs at2020, which of these two microphones is actually better for you to get.

So in this article I will be reviewing both microphones, telling you what I like and what I don’t like and showing you where you can get these microphones at a very good price.

Check out my buying guide on the best condenser microphone for vocal

Shure SM7b Review

This is a legendary microphone that has been used by musicians and audio engineers for years.

It is the top choice for most people because of it’s reliable performance, rugged construction and noise attenuating technology that ensures you get crisp, clear recordings when used.

If you are looking for something as a beginner then this microphone is really not for you.

It is ideal for professionals and studio engineers that have been in the game for a very long time and want crisp clear sounds to their recordings.

It’s uniform frequency response with the flat frequency range selected is ideal for any type of recording you want to achieve.

The SM7b is a costly microphone and when you get this mic you are paying for two things – it’s professional performance and its unique rugged construction.

This is one microphone that reflects the company’s attention to detail and prioritization of premium construction.

It comes packaged with a unique noticeable mutable frequency response illustration at the back that allows you to select one of three responses unique to your desired output.

It comes with a brilliant yoke mounting mechanism that allows you to mount and remove it from your favourite mic stand

It’s pre installed pop filters ensure that all plosives and fricatives are eliminated from your recordings.

Shure also provides it A7WS detachable windscreen that also helps in reducing plosives and provides a bassier tone

This mic comes with lots of advanced internal hardware that protects the cartridge and other components.

It’s internal air suspension shocks reduce mechanical noise and hums emitted from your studio monitors.

Without a doubt this is a brilliant vocal microphone that delivers crisp, clear audio recordings when used in your studio.

What I Like

  • Reliable performance and awesome sound quality
  • Premium rugged construction
  • Pre installed pop filters
  • Detachable windscreen for clear sounds
  • Flat frequency response microphone

What I don’t like

  • It’s a bit costly
  • Not ideal for the beginner studio engineer

Audio Technica AT2020 Review

If you are looking for a microphone that is affordable and also of high quality, the AT2020 is your best option.

Priced at around the hundred dollar region, it is a reasonable investment for a great mic.

It comes with a cardioid pickup pattern that makes it ideal for capturing vocals and delivering clear vocals

One unique thing about this mic is that the polarity is designed to be most sensitive directly in front of it.

This makes it ideal for capturing vocals and for studio use.

It is very well-manufactured with some great design decisions. 

The grille has great durability and because it is quite often the part of a microphone that is most susceptible to damage it has been protected. 

It has a framework that sits on top of the grille which helps keep it safe from accidental knocks, taking the pressure off of the grille itself.

It employs neodymium magnets to create its pick-up patterns. 

The diaphragm is well-engineered with realistic, well-tuned frequency response. 

It is sensitive but not overly so, this allows it to withstand high sound pressure levels (up to 144 decibels). 

So if you like to belt out a huge soulful chorus it can handle the dynamics like a pro. 

It measures 0.63-inches and does a surprisingly good job, despite its smaller surface area.

It comes packaged with a frequency response of 20Hz – 20KHZ which makes it ideal for dealing with spoken word.

Its SPL handling and response also makes it very good for recording instruments and other musical equipment.

This microphone is extremely solid, weighing in at 12.1oz — so solid in fact that I couldn’t find a way into it to take a peek at the electronics! 

The cast metal is quite thick and chunky, and a tough wire mesh protects and screens the capsule. 

A secondary layer of finer mesh helps reduce popping but, as always, you should still use a proper external pop shield when recording vocals. 

The open-circuit sensitivity of the mic is 14.1mV/Pa, which is comparable with other studio vocal mics, though the quoted noise figure is just slightly on the high side of average at 20dB. 

The maximum SPL is a hefty 144dBSPL at 1kHz for one percent THD, so there’s no worry about very loud sounds such as close-miked horns. 

This equates to a dynamic range of 124dB at 1kHz and maximum SPL. 

Phantom power is required, and there are no battery options.

What I Like

  • It is inexpensive
  • Very well engineered
  • Ideal for vocals and instruments
  • Cardioid pickup polar pattern
  • Very good diaphragm sensitivity
  • Authentic dynamic response which captures the details and nuances of all recordings

What I don’t like

  • It has some background noise which can be eliminated by using a vocal compressor

Comparisons of Specs and Features

1. Sensitivity

The most important thing when getting a microphone is to ensure that the sensitivity of the mic is okay and that it captures audio signals very well

Comparing the SM7b and AT2020, the SM7b shines in audio quality and sensitivity more than the AT2020.

Coming to this qualification, I placed both mics on a stand and spoke into the mics from the different sides of the mics.

What I noticed is that the SM7b was able to deliver clear audio even when I spoke into the mic from the back.

This was not the same with the AT2020 as the sensitivity of the microphone is only unidirectional and not multidirectional

In my opinion, the Shure SM7b wins in this case for me.

2. Cost

In terms of cost, the AT2020 is cheaper than the SM7b microphone, but is that a basis for it being better.

Here is what I think – when it comes to buying equipment, especially studio gear, you generally get what you pay for.

The SM7b microphone is well built and an awesome microphone with no expense spared for cost.

This is what makes it a clear choice for me in this situation.

3. Appearances

Both microphones are made with the best of materials which makes them very durable and portable.

For me I could not really pick out a clear winner between both microphones when it comes to appearance.

They are both sleek and built with premium materials

My verdict

In terms of audio quality both microphones deliver exceptional audio sound.

They both boast solid build quality and are made from durable materials.

But in my own opinion I will choose the Shure SM7b Microphone over the AT2020 because of the extra crisp audio quality it delivers.