So you’ve decided it’s time to level up your voice recordings.
Whether you’re starting a podcast, improving the quality of your vocal tracks, or simply spitting out voice-overs and need a higher quality recording, you need a decent mic to record with.
So you jump on the web, and, there are a lot of options…
Like, a lot.
With videos and blog posts supporting pretty much every mic on your option list, it can be tough to know which to choose. Clearly, you’ve done the hard yards already, and you’ve arrived at the final showdown: AT2035 vs. SM7B.
Which is right for you though?
Both mics put forward a pretty good case and are well deserving of your hard-earned dollar, and both Audio-Technica and Shure are big names in pro-audio that you know you can trust.
Well, we’re here to put the two microphones in the ring, watch them fight it out and see who comes out on top.
So Which One Should You Choose – SM7B or At2035?
Before you dive deep, this quick summary may be all you need.
While both microphones are fantastic for many purposes, each of them has their pros and cons and each is best in specific situations.
The Shure SM7B is the best choice for you if:
- You’re recording in an untreated room
- You’re recording podcasts and want the best of the best
- You’re going to have the microphone on-camera
- You need to record super loud sound sources such as a kick drum
- You need to block out sounds coming from the back of the microphone
The Audio-Technica AT2035 is best for you if:
- You have some decent acoustic treatment in your room
- The SM7B is out of your price range
- You need to capture incredible high-end (e.g. you’re recording cymbals)
- You want to record acoustic guitars or stringed instruments in addition to stellar vocals
Intent Is Everything
You need to get real clear on one thing: what is your main purpose of buying this mic?
No microphone can be the best of the best for every purpose, that’s just not how a mic works. So, in making a final decision it’s crucial that you understand your exact intent and purpose for the purchase.
For many of you, this will be easy.
But there will be a few of you out there with plans to use either mic for multiple purposes. That’s okay. As you’ll find out, they both do a great job at many things, but you’ll also learn they have their pros and cons.
So, if you’re planning on using either microphone for several purposes, it might be helpful to rank your desires uses by most important to least important, to help you understand your primary purchase motivation.
Let’s take a look at each mic in depth.
AT2035 vs SM7B: Which Is Better?
Audio-Technica AT2035 Overview
The Audio-Technica AT2035 is an inexpensive condenser mic with a cardioid polar pattern.
That’s quite a mouthful, let’s break it down a little.
A mic’s polar pattern refers to the sensitivity of the microphone with regard to direction. A microphone with a cardioid polar pattern (like this one), is highly sensitive to sound coming in from the front, and rejects it from the rear. This is ideal for voice production where you are only wanting to pick up sound directly from your mouth, and it helps reduce room reflections.
Condenser mics are a type of microphone that is highly sensitive, and it’s all about how the mic is constructed. Compared to their counterpart, the dynamic mic, the condenser has a wide frequency response with incredible high end, and they are typically more sensitive to sounds from further away.’
Inexpensive means cheap. God, I hope you knew that.
Now, onto the AT2035 itself.
What Does It Feel Like?
First impressions of this microphone are brilliant. It’s got a decent weight behind it, and like all mics in Audio-Technica’s 20-series, it’s solidly built with an all-metal construction and metal grille. This mic feels like it will go the distance, and it’s backed by a 1-year manufacturers warranty.
What Does It Sound Like?
The Audio-Technica mic offers a professional clarity that is unsurpassed in budget-friendly mics, thanks to its wide frequency response with an upper-mid frequency boost. This boost helps to give some extra presence and clarity to vocal recordings, though it may be a little overkill on some voices, especially in the top end, around 10kHz.
The mic offers incredibly low noise, and it has a couple of extra features on the back for further sculpting of its sound. First is the -10dB pad which drops the microphones output level significantly. This is perfect for loud sound sources like screaming streamers and loud guitar amps.
In addition, we have the high pass filter, which filters out some of the low frequencies, handy for reducing low-frequency rumble that can easily make a recording sound muddy, or for curtailing proximity effect.
Being a condenser mic, the sensitivity drops off slowly as you move further away from the mic, which is great for giving a consistent vocal level if you’re the kind of person who can’t sit still.
One weakness of this microphone is that the cardioid polar pattern begins to turn into an omni one (picking up sound from all directions), at around 8kHz, which is in the upper-mid frequency range. This means if you’re using the mic with reflective surfaces behind it, like your desk or your computer screen, it might pick up high-frequency reflections and impact the quality of your recording.
What Does It Come With?
In addition to the microphone itself, Audio-Technica ships the AT2035 with a luxurious padded carry bag, a mic stand thread adaptor, and a quality shock mount.
The shock mount is made from plastic, but it’s pretty damn sturdy and does a fantastic job of isolating the condenser microphone from acoustic noise and from bangs and knocks.
A quick note too: being a condenser microphone, the Audio-Technica AT2035 does require phantom power to operate, which means it won’t work with an XLR to USB cable. Most modern audio interfaces have it though, so you’ll probably be fine, just be sure to check before you hit add to cart.
It doesn’t ship with a pop filter either (most high-quality mics don’t), and these are essential for controlling plosives on voice recordings, so you may want to look at an external pop filter.
Key Features of the Audio-Technica AT2035:
- Super low noise
- 1-year warranty
- All-metal construction
- Requires 48V phantom
- -10dB pad and high pass filter
- Comes with a high-quality shock mount
- Great on voice, vocals, and instruments
- Condenser mic with cardioid polar pattern
- Wide frequency response with upper-mid frequency boost
Shure SM7B Overview
If there was ever a ‘one ring to rule them all microphone’ it would be the Shure SM7B, without a doubt. Unfortunately, you might need to sign up to Uber and take someone on a trip to Mordor to fund the purchase; these guys aren’t cheap.
But, they are worth every cent.
And that’s why the SM7B is used by podcasters like Joe Rogan, yep, Joe fricking Rogan, as well as some of the biggest voices in rock music. Anthony Kiedis anyone?
Let’s take a look at why this mic is so damn popular.
What Does It Feel Like?
Weighing in at 1.69lbs, the SM7B is no cheap piece of plastic, no sir.
This mic is constructed out of high-quality steel and aluminium, so yeah, it’s built to last.
The 7B has an integral boom mount that you can swivel and angle while the microphone is mounted, which makes it perfect for podcasting and voiceover duties, where you might be moving around a little and need to bring the mic with you.
What Does It Sound Like?
The Shure microphone is a dynamic style mic, which compared to condensers are much less sensitive, and typically offer a little less high end.
The SM7B actually offers a super clear and accurate top end, though it does drop off significantly after 12kHz.
The sound palette of the mic overall is super natural (no, not supernatural), and unlike the AT2035, the SM7B has no issues maintaining it’s cardioid polar pattern right throughout its frequency response, so you’ll have a better shot at reducing background noise.
Podcasting and YouTubers love this Shure mic for its exceptional ability to control room noise and focus in on the voice. It also has a couple of switches on the rear, one being a bass-cut switch which filters as the low-end frequency response.
The second switch is incredibly helpful for vocal performances, a mid-range presence boost. Engaging this boost switch gives the microphone a smooth bump right from 700Hz all the way up to 12kHz, increasing vocal clarity and giving you the best shot at cutting through in the mix.
It’s also incredible on loud sound sources, like kick drums or blaring guitar amps, thanks to the high SPL handling capabilities of the microphone.
Being a dynamic mic, it doesn’t require phantom power, though the preamps in some budget-friendly interfaces don’t quite have enough gain to capture an appropriate recording level from this mic, so do some research and make sure your preamps have at least 60dB of gain on tap. If not, you may need to look at an external preamp, or a device like the Cloudlifter CL-1.
What Does It Come With?
Aside from the mic itself and the two foam pop filters, not much else ships in the box with the SM7B.
To be fair, there’s no need for much else. You don’t need a shock mount, given its a dynamic microphone and already has an internal shock-mount system and sweet broadcaster-style swivel mount.
A case would be nice, but the microphone does ship in a custom-formed polystyrene box which keeps it pretty safe. Not the best, but decent, unless you’re planning on hitting the road with it.
Key Features of the Shure SM7B:
- No shock mount required
- Incredibly low ambient noise
- Two types of pop filter included
- Broadcaster-style swivel mount
- 50Hz-20kHz frequency response
- Bass roll-off and presence switches
- Best microphone out there for podcasting and voiceovers
- A high-gain preamp is necessary to power this microphone
Hopefully, by now, you’ve come to a decision as to which microphone is the best for your purpose. If not, you must be recording something weird and unique like ambient sounds in the savannas of Africa.
If you’re still struggling to make a decision, we’d go with the Shure SM7B. Unless you need to record say an acoustic guitar or a piano (in which case a condenser is best), then it’s going to absolutely kill it for whatever your intended purpose.
We’re absolutely crazy about this guy, which is why it took the title of Best Microphone, you can’t argue with that…