Audio Technica AT2005USB review: What is it?
In 2014, when the Audio Technica AT2005USB was launched, dedicated USB microphones were nowhere near as popular as they have become in 2021. Back then, it was XLR or bust. But the world has changed, and new types of users have emerged who couldn’t care less about sample rates or frequency spectrums. Podcasters, streamers, gamers and even ASMR ‘artists’ often want simple, straightforward ways to get voices into their computers, and could potentially be put off by the thought of needing dedicated cables, audio interfaces, monitor speakers and the like. Not to mention the knowledge or understanding of input gain and noise floors. USB, however, has democratised the process of recording speech thanks to simple, plug-and-play operation.
The Audio Technica AT2005USB was, at the time, a trailblazer packing in both USB and XLR connectivity and showing superb potential to appeal to a broad range of studio users. USB for those people who just wanted something simple that they could plug in and start using, and XLR for those who had a broader set of tools for recording and performing. Now, however, there are loads of great options if you’re looking for a USB/XLR mic, from big names like Shure and Blue. So does the Audio Technica AT2005USB still cut it? In this review we’ll highlight what it does well, and point out the cases in which this inexpensive dynamic mic will perform at its best. There are some minor gripes, but nothing which we’d file under deal-breaker. Let’s get started.
Audio Technica AT2005USB review: Performance & Verdict
If there’s one thing that goes in the microphone world’s favour, it’s that they never look dated. The Audio Technica AT2005USB backs this up immediately, with its simple, elegant “black cylinder with a black metal grille” aesthetic that will offend precisely nobody. It has a nice weight to it - not too heavy but not flimsy - although for reasons we’ll go into later it’s best suited as a desktop mic rather than something you’ll go out into the field with. On the body, you’ll find a plasticky on-off switch which, if we’re being picky, we didn’t like. This kind of control is usually seen on much cheaper mics and in our experience is usually one of the first things to start going wrong. It is at least sturdy enough now but may end up causing problems down the line.
To the bottom of the mic are a Micro USB connection, an XLR input and a 3.5mm headphone output. You’ll also find a small wheel used to control the volume being sent out to the headphones. This is only really pertinent to people solely using the USB functionality, as XLR connections will likely be going to a mixer or audio interface with its own headphone outputs, but it’s a nice feature to have.
Spec-wise, the Audio Technica AT2005USB is a dynamic mic, as opposed to the more common condenser type you’ll see at this price range. This makes it more ideal for speech and vocal performance, rather than music or for recording instruments. It also means, if you’re using the XLR connection, that you’ll need a mixer or audio interface with decent preamps in as it’ll need a decent bump of gain to be heard clearly. The benefit of it being dynamic, however, is that you can give it some meaty input gain without too many problems from background noise as a result. The same can’t be said for condensers, but then dynamics lack that sensitivity and nuance. Horses for courses.
As you’d expect, it employs a cardioid pickup pattern, meaning it rejects noise from outside a specific axis which again highlights its speech and vocal credentials. It would have been beneficial to have some kind of inbuilt shock-mount system, as it doesn’t react brilliantly to being handled, but for the price that is to be expected. But, as we said, this is a mic that will realistically be on a desktop stand or a proper mic stand so this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
So who is the Audio Technica AT2005USB for? Essentially, it offers a quick, versatile step up for any podcasters, streamers, vloggers and budding voice-over artists who will gain the most from its enhanced speech recording capabilities. Musicians will probably look elsewhere, but for recording speech in the studio, or on stage, the Audio Technica AT2005USB is a decent, inexpensive option.
Audio Technica AT2005USB review: Hands-on demos
Instrumental Music Center
Audio Technica AT2005USB review: Specifications
- Type: Dynamic
- Frequency range: 50 - 15,000 Hz
- Resolution and sample rate: 16 bit up to 48 kHz
- Connections: Micro USB, XLR, Headphone out
- Controls: On/off switch, headphone volume control
- Weight: 454g
- Contact: Audio Technica