Field Report: Audio-Technica AT2005USB

July 1, 2012

Audio-Technica AT2005USB

As technology progresses, I'm happy to see that broadcasting equipment progresses right along if not faster than consumer technology, especially in the remote broadcast/production field. Mainly what I'm talking about is the true portability of broadcast and production tools. A laptop or netbook can be taken out in the field and easily be turned into a full-blown production studio or even remote site. With some great software that is already out there the only thing needed is a good microphone.

For the longest time, the only way to connect to a computer was with a cheap 1/8" plug mics or a handful of adapters on a dynamic mic. We're now seeing a boost in really nice USB mics that allow for true plug-and-play use in nearly all the production software choices available. What I like is that some of the USB mics are built for dual-use to plug directly into a computer via USB or connect to a sound system with an XLR connector.

This time around I got the pleasure of trying out one such microphone, the Audio-Technica AT2005USB mic. While the name says USB it also has an XLR connection. This microphone is definitely one I'll be putting in my bag the versatility to connect to a computer or a mixing board by just plugging it in makes it the perfect go to mic for remotes. It's as if this mic were its own backup, in case you were planning a VOIP broadcast and things get switched around where you need a full mixing board this mic will be there.

Out of the box

The first thing to note is the bottom of the mic where the connectors are. There are three jacks to use, the XLR for normal use, the mini-USB for connecting to the computer (cable provided) and a headphone jack (with volume control). This mic, when used in the USB mode, be used as a headphone amp to directly monitor the audio going into the mic. The mic also has an on/off slide switch. When used with a USB connection it has a blue LED that indicates it is connected. The on/off switch in either USB or XLR mode does not affect the LED.

Performance at a glance
■ Cardioid pickup
■ Dynamic element
■ 50Hz to 15kHz frequency response
■ 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz output
■ Headphone jack to monitor mic audio

Also included are a 2m (6.6') USB cable (as mentioned above), a 3m (9.8') XLR cable, a desktop tri-pod stand (with folding legs), a mic stand clamp (which is threaded for standard mic stands), and a zippered bag for safe storage. The bag will hold the mic/stand/USB cable and mount, albeit a tight fit. The mic has a mesh grill to help prevent the plosive sounds, however, I still recommend a foam windscreen cover for the mic if it's used outside.

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Putting the mic to use

Polar Pattern

Click to enlarge.

My first test was the USB connection. I connected it with my netbook running Windows 7 and immediately the mic was found and ready to use. I tried the mic with three different recording programs (Audacity, Adobe Audition and ProTools) and as I expected had no problem getting the mic to work. In Audition and Pro-tools had to configure the software to use that input, but every time I use those programs I'm always changing the hardware settings, so I'm used to it. The plug-and-play aspect is perfect. I also tried the mic on a Windows Vista computer and it had no problems connecting there as well. The A/D converter in this mic when connected to a computer is a 16-bit, 44.1/48kHz sampling rate.

Moving on to the XLR or simple Dynamic mic use, the AT2005USB worked perfectly. I've seen and used other USB/XLR mics. Some are condensers and require phantom power in XLR mode. This mic is a dynamic and requires no phantom power.

Frequency Response

Click to enlarge.

The mic's durable metal construction not only gives it a good look but also a feeling that you have a mic that will be around for awhile. While I mostly used the mic in a stand, it is a hand-held microphone and I used it as such a few times and it responded and felt like a dynamic hand-held mic. I was afraid that being a USB mic it might have some sensitivity issues, such as handling noise, but I noticed no such problem. The mic surpassed expectations in that use as well. The cardioid pickup pattern is also suitable for typical voice use and can help eliminate some background noise.


With the affordable price this mic should be added to anyone's audio grab bag whether as a remote broadcast engineer, or portable production studio. The immediate uses I have found ranged from podcasting to home voice recording to a live remote broadcast.

Wilson is an announcer, producer, webmaster and promotions guy at WAKO-AM/FM, Lawrenceville, IL, and an independent producer/voice talent.

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