Budget Chinese-made condenser microphones have invaded the home recording market, making it affordable for pretty much anyone to own one. However, picking one out can be difficult due to the large variety and lack of information and reviews. Audio Technica, a renowned name in recording, has delivered a set of quality microphones at an absurdly low price point with the AT2041 studio pack.
The pack contains 2 microphones; the AT2020 which has already created quite a buzz with budget home recordists and the AT2021 which is exclusively available in this package.
While many mistake the AT2020 as a large diaphragm condenser (ldc), it's really a small diaphragm condenser (sdc) in an ldc's casing. Its sturdy metal chassis feels heavy for its size and could probably take quite a beating before incurring any significant damage. Tonally, the mic is on the crisp side making it extremely effective to bring out the pick attack of an acoustic guitar or the sizzle of cymbals. The mic has a wide cardiod pattern that won't work well in a typical untreated bedroom home studio environment for vocals. Results were mixed for electric guitar and bass. It really didn't work at all on bass; there was no low end oomph. A quick look at the mic's frequency chart confirmed my suspicion of a significant roll off of bass frequencies. On electric guitar, it paired well as a room mic with a SM57 as a close mic complementing the beefy mids of the SM57 with a nice spacious open sound.
The AT2021 contains the same diaphragm as the AT2020 but is housed in a standard SDC pencil type body. The mic feels fairly rugged, but I wouldn't want to drop it on its end. Tonally, the mic shares many of the qualities of the AT2020 yet seems to have a tighter pattern response.
The AT4041 Studio Pack offers up a good pair of mics at a great price.