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Elgato Wave 3 vs AT2020 (2021): Which Microphone Should You Buy?

The Elgato Wave:3 and the Audio-Technica AT2020 are two of the most popular microphones in the market. They are similar in that they are both condenser microphones with a cardioid pickup, but that’s where their similarities end. The Elgato Wave:3 is a USB microphone while the AT2020 is an XLR microphone. With its USB interface, the Elgato Wave:3 is easier to setup, but the XLR interface of the AT2020 gives you flexibility and potentially better audio quality in the long run, since you can choose a high quality audio interface or mixer to pair with it. So which one of these two mics should you buy? Below is our comparison of the two.

Elgato Wave 3 vs AT2020 Comparison Chart

ModelElgato Wave: 3Audio-Technica AT2020
 Elgato Wave:3 - Premium USB Condenser Microphone for Streaming, Podcasting, Recording, Gaming, Home...Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone, With Built-In Headphone Jack & Volume...
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Dimensions6.0 x 2.6 x 1.6 inches6.38 x 2.05 inches
WeightMicrophone: 280g
Base: 305g
345g
TypeCondenserCondenser
ConnectivityUSB
3.5mm headphone jack
XLR
Pickup PatternCardioidCardioid
Frequency Response20 – 20 kHz20 – 20 kHz
SoftwareWave LinkN/A
Sample Rate96kHz/24-bit48kHz/16-bit
Accessories IncludedUSB-C to USB-A cable
Stand/Boom arm adapter
Stand
Stand mount for 5/8″-27 threaded stands
5/8″-27 to 3/8″-16 threaded adapter
Soft protective pouch

Design and Connectivity

The Elgato Wave:3 is a USB microphone while the AT2020 has an XLR interface.

elgato wave 3 vs at2020 design and connectivity
Front view of the Elgato Wave:3 (left) and Audio-Technica AT2020 (right).

In terms of looks, the Elgato Wave:3 is shaped like a bar while the AT2020 sports a cylindrical shape. They are both available in black, but the AT2020 is also available in silver.

The biggest difference between the two is with their connectivity. The Elgato Wave:3 is a USB microphone while the AT2020 has an XLR interface. With its USB interface, the Elgato Wave:3 is easier to setup and it doesn’t need any additional audio equipment to work. You just plug it in your computer and you’re good to go.

On the other hand, the XLR interface of the Audio-Technica AT2020 requires that you get either a mixer or an audio interface if you want to connect it to your computer. This setup can be more complicated and it will definitely be more expensive, but it will have better audio quality, provided that you get a good audio interface or mixer.

As for onboard controls, the Elgato Wave:3 has a multi-function knob at the front that you can use to control the mic gain, headphone monitoring volume and mix volume. There’s also a mute function. Meanwhile, there’s no onboard controls on the AT2020 since it is an XLR microphone—all the controls will be done on the mixer or audio interface.

Features

Both microphones have a cardioid pickup pattern.

elgato wave 3 vs at2020 features
Here are the accessories that you get with the Elgato Wave:3 (left) and Audio-Technica AT2020 (right).

The Elgato Wave:3 and the Audio-Technica AT2020 are both condenser microphones that have a cardioid pickup pattern. With their cardioid pickup pattern, they can record sound in a heart-shape area around the microphone—sounds from the front and the side. They will not pick up sounds at the back. This type of microphone is great for streaming, recording vocals, one person podcasting and recording some musical instruments.

While they have similar pickup patterns, the Elgato Wave:3 does have the advantage when it comes to recording quality. It can record with a sample rate and bit rate of 96kHz/24-bit. The AT2020, on the other hand, is capable of recording with a sample rate and bit rate of 48kHz/16-bit.

Another advantage of the Elgato Wave:3 is that it comes with the Wave Link software that allows you to enable some of its features that include its High Pass and Clip Guard features. You can also edit your recordings using the same software. The Audio-Technica AT2020 does not come with a companion app or software.

Performance

The Audio-Technica AT2020 and the Elgato Wave:3 are both great for streamers and gamers.

elgato wave 3 vs at2020 performance
Both the Elgato Wave:3 (left) and Audio-Technica AT2020 (right) come with threaded stand mounts and adapters.

There’s a reason why the Audio-Technica AT2020 is very popular—it gives you studio quality sound at your home. It is a consistently good microphone that performs well when it comes to streaming, recording vocals and recording some instruments. At its price range, it is definitely one of the best microphones that you can get.

The Elgato Wave:3 is no slouch when it comes to sound quality. It is designed specifically for streamers and it performs very well. For streamers and gamers, the Elgato Wave:3 is definitely one of the better options if you want a USB microphone and you don’t mind spending a little bit for it. It has a Clip Guard feature that prevents audio distortion whenever there’s a loud burst of sound and its High Pass feature can get rid of some of the low end, if that’s your preference.

Verdict

If you want an easier to use microphone, get the Elgato Wave:3, but if you want a more versatile microphone, go with the XLR AT2020.

Both of these microphones sound great, so whichever one you choose, you will have excellent audio recordings. If you want a microphone that’s easier to set up or if you don’t plan on upgrading your home recording setup in any way in the future, the Elgato Wave:3 with its USB interface will be more than enough. However, the Audio-Technica AT2020 will be a much better choice if you have plans to upgrade your recording setup in the future since it has an XLR interface that can be used with more recording equipment.

FAQs

๐Ÿ“Œ How do you mute the Elgato Wave:3?

You can tap the capacitive mute button on the top of the mic.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the AT2020 a good mic?

Yes, it is a good quality condenser mic that offers excellent performance.

๐Ÿ“Œ Is the Wave Link required to use the Elgato Wave:3?

It’s not required but you won’t have access to many of the Wave:3’s features without it.

๐Ÿ“Œ Does the AT2020 have USB?

There are two versions of the AT2020—the XLR AT2020 and the AT2020USB+. The XLR AT2020 has an XLR interface while the AT2020USB+ has USB connectivity.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Carlo Salvador

Senior Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about fitness, gaming and music.