We review the Audio-Technica AT2010 and find out if a microphone released back in 2007 is still a worthy investment today.
Released back in 2007, the AT2010 offered artists looking for condenser style sound quality with an affordable upgrade from dynamic microphones. What it also did, was to take a studio condenser microphone and put it on a live stage.
So what did they do to make this possible?
Well on first impression to most of us it may not even look like a condenser microphone! And this appearance actually has a lot more to do with it than you may first think. So let’s get to it!
When you first see the AT2010, it looks like a cheap knock off of an SM58 dynamic microphone that will do a good job as a home Karaoke mic, but that’s about it. So why then did Audio-Technica choose this style?
It really comes down to the intended use of the mic, and the AT2010 is intended for the stage! The form factor of the AT2010 follows the traditional styles of the SM58 microphone since they are easily the best for live performance. They can be held easily and further more, can be mounted to, and unmounted from a mic stand with ease.
The form factor also required that the condenser (microphone sensor) be orientated such that it picks up sound waves from inline with the rest of the mic (as pictured above). This design serves two purposes:
First, this orientation of the sensor means that it is less susceptible to damage if the microphone is dropped since the fixture is far more rigid than that of a studio style microphone.
Secondly, this helps focus the condensers polar pattern making it more direction which we will discuss more later.
While a flat frequency response in most situations is ideal, Audio-Technica have again made it very clear where they want to position this microphone.
Looking at the response graph above you can see that the line is basically a slope showing less sensitivity in the lower frequencies and more in the higher frequencies. This essentially EQ’s or colors the audio signal it sends out, coloring it in ways that benefit a live performance vocalist. The signal has the lower frequencies “removed” so that if any background rumble is present where the singer is, it won’t be picked up. The higher frequencies where the human voice (around 90 Hz) has a slight reduction to remove muddiness from the audio signal. And the higher frequencies are ‘boosted’ to give a shiny/sparkly sound to the voice.
This type of EQing or coloring of an audio signal would normally be done in post-production and a lot of time can be spent on getting it right. In a live performance situation there is not the time for this and so a microphone like the AT2010 that does this naturally is ideal.
If you are unfamiliar with Polar Patterns you can read more about them here and head down to Jargon>Direction. But the quick and short of it is that the Polar Pattern tells us from what directions the microphone will ‘listen’ to. Below we see the AT2010’s Polar pattern.
So as you can see from the above graph the AT2010 is a very directional mic picking up very little signal from either side of the microphone and almost nothing from directly behind. This can be interpreted in two ways with the first being that the microphone is ‘sensitive’ to use meaning you have to be very close to it and directly in front of it for it to ‘hear’ you speaking/singing. So if you were to have this microphone setup for a live speech with the speaker not holding the microphone then it may be hard to hear them. This setup could also see very loud and very quiet speaker volume as they move their head from directly in front of the mic to facing away from the microphone and back again.
The second way you could interpret this is that this microphone only picks up what you throw down it! This means that say if you are in a noisy environment like a live band, this microphone won’t pick up the drums playing behind you, or the audience screaming in front of you for example. Again we see how the AT2010 has been designed specifically for a live performance setting.
As pictured above another great use for this (and any other highly directional microphone) is in sampling live instruments in stereo. In this case you would have two of the AT2010’s paired together on an instrument in different locations when recording the samples to give a stereo effect. You will likely use another different microphone as mono/center sampler to give the samples an anchoring point.
Let’s Hear it!
OK so now that we know about the microphones specifications let’s hear what it sounds like!
Our first recording comes from the YouTuber blackberryblossom / CARE MACHINE and here we get a great comparison between the AT2010 and other microphones to compare the listening experience.
You can definitely hear the boost in the higher frequencies of the AT2010 when compared with the other microphones. The bass is good and not too boomy especially when we hear the spoken voice recordings.
Our next recording comes from YouTuber Stanton Nichols who gives us a great comparison between the AT2010 and the AT2035. From about 1:20 onwards you get some singing vocals and then what can be achieved when effecting the signals from the two microphones.
OK conclusion time. The AT2010 is a great live performance condenser microphone. It is built like a tank and has everything you need from a live microphone. The signal is colored, so in no way does it have the best/ the flattest frequency response curve out there. And you are going to need to be conscious of where the mic is in relation to the sound source you are recording. Since its polar pattern is less forgiving than most.
But overall and especially for the price, you can’t go past the Audio-Technica AT2010 for value for money and a subjectively great sounding microphone. And so, it gets a recommendation from me.
So, what do you think? Is this a great mic for you? Let us know down in the comments if you think it is and how you would put it to work. Or not quite convinced? Check out current pricing here and the official data sheet here.
Anyway if you liked this review hit that like button below and if you didn’t leave us a comment telling us why and don’t hold back. We can take it lol.