The Audio-Technica AT2035 cardioid condenser microphone was developed for critical home and professional studio applications, as well as live performance. Solidly built, it delivers exceptional sonic detail with very low noise.
It’s equipped with a switchable high-pass filter that rolls off bass frequencies below approximately 80 Hertz (Hz). In addition, a switchable 10 decibel (dB) pad lets you record even the loudest of instruments.
Included in the package is a custom shock mount. It’s made of plastic but feels very durable. Also provided is a padded protective pouch.
The AT2035 is a large-diaphragm (.96-inch) condenser microphone. Condenser mics are considerably more sensitive to sound than dynamic mics, so they’re often preferred for recording, especially for vocals and acoustic instruments.
However, they’re also more fragile and are easily damaged if dropped. So they’re not often used in live performances where there’s a chance they could get knocked around.
The AT2035 has a cardioid polar pattern.
A microphone’s polar pattern is its sensitivity to sound coming from different directions. The name simply means that the response is plotted on a polar graph, like looking down on the Earth at the North Pole.
A cardioid pattern resembles the shape of a heart or apple, with the center dimple facing away. It is most sensitive directly in front (“on axis”) and somewhat less sensitive at the sides, or “off axis.”. Sound coming from behind is strongly rejected.
This response makes cardioid microphones a good choice for recording a single voice or instrument. It’s also ideal for voiceovers, especially if you’re also typing on a keyboard that may be positioned behind the mic.
The AT2035 has a rated frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz. This is pretty typical for a quality condenser microphone. This is measured “on axis,” directly in front of the mic, and at least 12 inches away. Of course, as with any directional microphone, it’s subject to “proximity effect.” This is a boost in the low-frequency response that happens if the sound source is too close.
On closer examination, this mic looks even better. The frequency response is virtually flat from 200 to 10,000 Hertz, only dropping off a couple of dB below 100 Hz and above 16 kHz.
Also, a small peak of about 3 dB between 10 – 13 kHz helps add a slight crispness to vocals, cymbals, snare drums, and anything else with a lot of high-frequency energy. This even frequency response makes the AT2035 a good choice for recording any full-range audio source.
When the filter switch is on, the frequency response begins to roll off about 10 dB per octave starting at around 120 Hertz (so it’s -10 dB at 60 Hertz and -20 at 30 Hertz). This is according to Audio-Technica’s published frequency response graph, although the mic specification says the roll-off is actually 12 dB per octave from 80 Hertz.
A microphone’s sensitivity is the ratio of its output voltage to the input pressure. In layman’s terms, it measures how large the output voltage will be for a given sound level. The higher the sensitivity, the higher the output. Sensitivity is usually measured with a 1 kHz sine wave at a sound pressure level (SPL) of 1 pascal (Pa), or 94 dB.
The AT2035 has a rated sensitivity of -33 dB (22.4 mV). Typical condenser mics are in the range of -42 to -30, putting the AT2035 near the upper end (a smaller negative number means a higher output voltage). To put that in perspective, the well-known Shure SM58 dynamic vocal mic is rated at -56 dB, about 150 times lower.
Maximum Input Sound Level
This specification tells you the loudest sound that a mic can handle without severe distortion or even damage. Again, it’s usually measured with a 1 kHz sine wave.
The AT2035 can handle an ear-splitting 148 decibels with only 1 percent total harmonic distortion (THD). That’s about as loud as a fighter jet takeoff. In other words, it can handle just about anything you can throw at it, including a kick drum, cranked-up electric guitar amp, brass instrument, or very loud vocals.
In addition, the AT2035 has a pad switch that cuts the input by 10 dB, so you can safely record sounds as loud as 158 dB.
Dynamic Range & Noise
Dynamic range is a ratio of the quietest to the loudest sound a mic can pick up. The AT2035 has a rated dynamic range of 136 decibels.
To put that in perspective…
Research has determined that a dynamic range of 118 dB on a digital audio stream is sufficient for a listener to consider music playback in a quiet listening environment to be noise free. A compact disk has a perceived dynamic range of 120 dB with noise-shaped dither.
Unfortunately, all mics generate some background noise in the form of hiss, the less, the better. This noise is measured by comparing it to a standard 94 dB input. The signal-to-noise ratio of the AT2035 is 82 dB below this reference, which is more than acceptable and significantly better than average.
The AT2035 is a condenser microphone, so it needs a DC power source. In other words, you must connect it to a mixer or an audio interface that can provide “phantom power. The ideal voltage is 48 volts, but the AT2035 will work within a range of 11 – 52 volts.
Physically, it’s reasonably large but not bulky, 6.7 inches (17 cm) long and about 2 inches (5.2 cm) in diameter. With a black, all-metal casing and grill, it weighs 14.2 ounces (403 grams), not counting the included AT8458 shock mount assembly. So be sure to mount it on a sturdy mic stand or boom to avoid damaging it.
The AT2305 has a nominal impedance of 120 ohms and comes with a standard 3-conductor XLR male connector. The cable is not included.
Last but not least, the AT2035 comes with a 1-year warranty.
How Does It sound?
In a word, great! The AT2035 is acoustically transparent, able to faithfully capture voice, acoustic or electric guitar, brass, or just about anything you might need to record. And a pair of AT205’s can be used as overhead mics for drums or as room mics.
There is a noticeable increase in lower frequencies when you place the AT2035 very close to your mouth or a full-range instrument, perhaps 6 inches or closer. This “proximity effect” is normal for any microphone, and if you’re not aware of it, you might be disappointed if recordings sound too bassy.
In fact, the only real drawback to the AT2035, if at all, is that it’s so sonically neutral. It doesn’t impart any special character or “warmth,” as do some of the more expensive microphones.
For best results, especially for vocals, you should use a pop filter (windshield). This is not included, so you need to buy it separately.
Audio-Technica AT2035 Pros & Cons
- Amazing sound quality considering the price.
- Natural sound and a balanced response.
- Crispy and nicely detailed high end.
- Low self-noise.
- Handles high sound pressure very well.
- Comes with a decent shock mount.
- Single Polar Pattern limits recording options.
- No case.
More Super Microphone Options
You may be looking for more than a quality affordable condenser microphone? If so, it’s well worth checking out our reviews of the Best Kick Drum Mic, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best Cheap Mic under 50 Dollars, the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Vocal Mics, and the Best Wireless Microphones on the market.
You may also enjoy our in-depth review of the very Best Microphone Preamps on the market.
The AT2035 cardioid condenser microphone is excellent value for money. It fills a valuable niche between cheaper USB podcasting mics and much more expensive studio models. At a reasonable price, the overall audio and build quality is comparable to much more expensive gear. The included shock mount is a nice bonus.
It sounds very neutral, adding virtually no coloration to the sound. The noise floor is quite low, so you can pick up quiet sonic details. At the same time, it can handle extremely high sound levels.
So whether you’re making multitrack recordings of guitars, drums, and vocals, or you only need to record your voice for your YouTube channel, the Audio-Technica AT2035 will fit the bill.