In my previous microphone review, I shared my experience on the cardioid dynamic microphone, the ATR2100x-USB. For this article, I will review the Audio-Technica ATR2500x-USB, a cardioid condenser microphone. It operates over USB and has a 3.5mm headphone jack for direct audio monitoring. This side-address microphone is ideal for podcasting, home studio recording, and field recording. The USB port allows convenient connectivity to your digital input devices – including smartphones – for 24-bit, up to 192kHz recording quality. It retails at S$158 in Singapore.
Unboxing and Operations
The ATR2500x-USB only has a USB-C connector, and so the cable accessories only includes one USB-C to USB-C cable, one USB-C to USB-A cable. There is also a mic holder and a foldable table-top mic stand with a different screw thread as the ATR2100x-USB.
The mic design resembles the classic AT2020, housed in a solid matt-finished metal body. The 3.5mm connectors are positioned at the front with two volume buttons. Once the USB cable is plugged to a device, the blue LED indicator will light up. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the microphone, it will pick up the clicking sounds when you operating the buttons during recording. For that, it might be a better idea to design a volume control that can be operated without sound, for instance a rotary wheel, just like AT2020USB+.
Unlike the ATR2100x-USB, there is no on-off switch to disable the microphone. Hence if you are playing back audio on your device via the ATR2500x-USB 3.5mm jack, you will hear the mic pick-up. The AT2020USB+, on the other hand, has a dial to mix the mic and input audio.
The ATR2500x-USB can record up to 24-bit, 192 kHz sampling rate. The mic captures greater dynamic range than ATR2100x-USB, picking up the lower frequencies more and delivering a fuller body sound. The condenser mic is definitely more versatile, and you can take advantage of the “proximity effect”, where the closer the source is to the mic, the more prominent the bass frequencies are captured. However, due to its sensitivity, it is not ideal to record the subject too close to the diaphragm, as it would compress the sound.
The ATR2500x-USB shines in controlled environments where you want to record every detail that is at the location, including background noises. I find that when I speak too close to the mic, the voice gets too muffled due to the excessive bass captured. The best result is to speak for about 10cm away and boost the gain at post-processing. Conversely, the ATR2100x-USB works great when you get as close to the mic as possible. The advantage is that you do not have to increase the gain (hence keeping the background noise low) while capturing the vocals prominently.
When using the Google Pixel 4XL to record video using the mic as inputs, the video function automatically compresses the sound, losing the advantage of using a condenser mic. I also loses the stereo sound since I have only one external mic. I would however install a professional audio recorder app which would capture higher quality mic sound so that I can create content on-the-go.
In this video, I compared the ATR2100x-USB and ATR2500x-USB on three situations: recording smartphone video, recording voice on laptop, and recording instrument on laptop.
The ATR2500x-USB allows convenient use of condenser microphone without the need of a separate audio interface to power it. If you do mostly voice work and do not have a proper soundproofed room, the ATR2100x-USB would be easier to work with. When used properly, the ATR2500x-USB delivers better quality sound with details and warmth.
The mic retails at S$158 in Singapore. Visit here for the official product page.