Audio-Technica has long made well-regarded pro microphones with prices to match, but also has a growing presence in the prosumer realm, creating products at more retail-oriented price points intended for bedroom producers, content creators, streamers and the like. In recent years, A-T has been engaging the podcasting world with its AT2020 and AT2035 condenser mics, and now has stepped it up even further with the introduction of the AT2040 hypercardioid dynamic podcast microphone.
Costing a very reasonable $99, this XLR mic does a nice job of providing its target users with a microphone attuned to the spoken word, while also landing under $100, thus attracting customers for whom the top feature is the price point. At that cost, yes, it’s entry-level, but it’s “good” entry-level, providing a decent product for those who will only ever buy one mic, while providing a solid first experience for emerging audio pros who will dive deeper into the company’s product ranges in years to come.
Out of the box
Right out of the box, the AT2040 makes a good first impression — it has a sleek design that looks good on camera, whether it’s a video podcast, work-from-home environment or Twitch stream. (The priority, of course, is how it sounds, but visuals are a valid concern for on-screen content creators.) The black finish isn’t easily dinged or scratched, and at 5.72” long and nearly 22 oz., it has a real heft to it.
Pulling it out of the box, it simply feels like you’ve purchased something of significance. The thick metal casing and strong grille are joined by a hard plastic AT8487 mounting clamp already attached, so it’s clearly made to withstand some abuse. The AT2040 is solid enough that if you accidentally bang it around, it will put a dent in your desk rather than the other way around.
Rounding out the accessories in the box are a threaded adapter for the clamp and a mic pouch.
The AT2040 sports a hypercardioid polar pattern that does a nice job, even capturing the voice at a moderate distance and off-axis up to 90° (with the expected change in timbre, of course), as happens with users who aren’t disciplined about staying on-mic or perhaps don’t want the mic blocking them on-camera. However, when used like a proper broadcast mic, the AT2040 captures the voice very naturally; its large diaphragm gets the low-mids warm and out front, while the highs are curled back to provide shape but not rough edges.
One place where the mic particularly shines is its handling of plosives — pop filtering is provided by a multistage foam mesh windscreen inside, and it yanks plosives’ impact right down. The AT2040 does pick up stray clatter from usage, however. While there’s integrated shockmounting to reduce that, the mic is still best left untouched once it’s in a mic stand or boom, as handling and cable noise are readily picked up.
In all, it’s a solid first microphone; for many of its intended users, particularly the podcaster or streamer, this is all the mic they’re ever going to need. Meanwhile, for aspiring audio pros, it will make for a positive introduction to the Audio-Technica brand.