Audio Technica AT 2020 Not Working – Possible Solutions To Common Problems


You may have purchased an Audio Technica AT 2020 because the reviews for this microphone are great, and they should be. This mic offers excellent value for money and is one of the best on the markets, and has been for a couple of years. But what happens when it doesn’t want to work?

An AT 2020 microphone may not work for various reasons, including; you are not using phantom power, or you are using the incorrect phantom power. Additionally, the mic may not be connected to your audio interface or system correctly. Or perhaps you have not turned up the necessary levels (gain, monitor, and volume) on your hardware/software, or something is simply broken.

If you are experiencing problems with your AT 2020 that relate to it not turning on or not recording correctly, we have you covered in this article. We’ll detail the most common problems and solutions that you may find when using your AT 2020, from hardware to software problems and fixes. 

Audio Technica AT 2020 overview

The Audio Technica AT 2020 is without a doubt one of the most popular cardioid condenser microphones on the market today (if you want to know the difference between common types of microphones check out this article I wrote). Its stringent quality and consistency standards set it apart from many other microphones in a similar price range. 

Designed with an extended frequency response and rugged construction for durable performance, the AT 2020 is loved by all creators, whether they are voice-over artists, musicians, singers, and even podcasters. 

Why does my Audio Technica AT 2020 not work, and how can I fix it?

Even though this microphone is close to perfect, sometimes you may find that it is not functioning, and even if you know what you are doing, for the most part, there are situations where you can forget to plug something in, switch something on, or heaven forbid there are even cases where your microphone just stops working. 

“Audio Technica AT 2020 is not working” is also a tad ambiguous. In some instances, individuals combine audio and technical problems under this statement, so we will also look at some of the most common problems that individuals experience with this microphone. 

Common problems and solutions with the Audio Technica AT 2020

The AT 2020 won’t turn on

It will help if you remember that the AT 2020 is a condenser microphone and all condenser microphones require phantom power in order for them to turn and function correctly. 

To find out more about phantom power I have an article on the subject.

This is because condenser microphones have built-in preamps and electronic circuitry within the microphone that requires power. 

Typical dynamic microphones, such as the Shure SM58 don’t require phantom power, so be sure you know the difference between the two, and don’t mistake your AT 2020 for one. 

Dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM58 don’t require phantom power

You will find phantom power built into most audio interfaces and mixers, lookout for a small button on the device that says ‘phantom power’ or ’48v’ which is the amount of power it provides.

condenser microphone, phantom power

The AT 2020 won’t turn on even with phantom power

Taking a look at the AT 2020 manual that should have shipped with your microphone, you will notice that it requires 48V of phantom power to operate. 

You will need to check that the other audio equipment you are using to power your mic has this amount of phantom power. Many individuals think that 48V is the only size in terms of phantom power. However, phantom power typically ranges from 12 – 48V in addition to having various current ratings or between 4 and 22 milliamps. 

The AT 2020 is on, but I can’t record any audio

In this situation, there could be a couple of factors that you will need to take into consideration, and you will have to troubleshoot this, starting with your audio interface.

The first thing you will check on your audio interface is that it is switched on and plugged into your system for recording. Next, you will check that everything is connected up correctly (wires are in place, fastened, and in the correct input/output channels). 

After that, you will check the levels on your audio interface, making sure the mic volume, monitor volume, and any gain settings are in the correct place. More often than not, individuals sometimes forget to turn up the volume, or a cable is loose or in the incorrect input/output connection. 

If you can try testing a different microphone, a different cable (broken XLR cables are very common!), a different USB cable for the interface, as the problem might not be the microphone at all!

After checking that your audio interface is working correctly, you will then troubleshoot your system and DAW. Many mistakes can commonly be associated with an incorrect DAW setup. 

In some cases, you have not selected your audio interface within the DAW, and in other cases, it’s as simple as you have forgotten to switch on the record option or haven’t turned up the volume on that specific audio channel. This may sound obvious, but I still do stupid stuff like this all the time!

Every system and DAW can vary with regards to settings and how you have chosen to record, so going into every step you can take for each one is beyond the scope of this article. All you would need to do, in essence, is make sure your audio interface is selected, check your volume settings, and you should be all good. 

Audio from the AT2020 is unclear or muffled

So what if you can hear some sound but the audio quality is unclear or muffled.

It will help if you remember that the AT 2020 is a side-address cardioid condenser microphone. This means that there is a specific place where you should be directing your voice into the microphone. 

You do not sing or speak into the microphone from the top of it nor from the back. It has a front side due to it being a cardioid mic, and speaking or singing into areas of the mike (from the top or back) will result in muffled or unclear audio. 

You are experiencing background noise in your audio 

Depending on your setup and if you are using the AT 2020 USB mic, you may be experiencing background noise when you record your audio. Many amateur audio enthusiasts don’t know that condenser microphones are very sensitive and will pick up the slightest sound. 

This could be a computer fan, an untreated room with lots of echo, or traffic from outside the window.

To reduce this either find a quieter space, even a wardrobe is a good option due to the clothes absorbing the echo! Or invest in a portable vocal booth.

If you still have some unwanted noises you can fix this in the production stage. This means you should always run it through some sort of audio software that allows you to adjust specific settings, and some applications will enable you to add background noise filters and gates. 

You are experiencing a flat and muddy response

Another problem you may be facing is that when you record your audio, it may be flat, muddy, boomy, or thin. To solve this problem, there are two elements you can consider. 

The first is to address the microphone from the correct distance (typically a fist’s length away from it). Speaking or singing too close or far away from the microphone will result in a boom or your vocals being thinned out. 

The next thing you can do is adjust EQ settings in your audio software if you are not using a DAW. You can boost or cut frequencies that you don’t need, like all the very low bass frequencies. 

AT 2020 won’t work no matter what you do

If your AT 2020 is not working no matter what you do and you have tried all the solutions we have provided, then what remains is either a fault with your microphone or a fault with your other equipment. 

You will need to systematically and with a process of elimination test each piece of your equipment. You would check to see that all cables are working correctly and that your other equipment is working by replacing and testing them on different systems or with other pieces of hardware. 

By doing this, you will more than likely find what the fault is. Remember to proceed with this step last because, in all honestly, most of the time, individuals have no connected up their mic or device correctly, or they have not turned up a volume setting somewhere on their hardware or software. 

Conclusion

The Audio Technica AT 2020 is a very popular and extraordinary condenser microphone that offers excellent value for money. When you are faced with a problem where your AT 2020 is not working, more often than not, there is something small that you have forgotten to do, such as to run wires correctly, switch something on, or turn something up. 

There are rare situations where there will be something wrong with your mic because it is built with a rugged and robust design, and if you search for defects or problems, you typically won’t find many, if any, that come with the AT 2020.

Rob Wreglesworth

Rob has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous rock star....but that hasn't stopped him from writing and recording music in his home studio. Rob has over 15 years experience of recording music at home.

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