As a podcaster, I am always looking for the best sound quality possible to improve my production. I leapt at the chance to test out the brand new Audio-Technica ATR 2100x and ATR 2500x microphones. Both offer a host of great features aimed at content creators who need great hardware performance with voiceover work, podcasting, and other live recording applications. The package comes with everything you need to immediately connect to your PC or Mac and start recording. Let’s take a look at how both mics performed over a variety of recording sessions.
Unboxing the ATR 2100x and ATR 2500x
In both boxes you receive a “Quick Start” Guide, User Manual, and a selection of USB / audio cables, depending on which model you opt for.
The ATR2100x’s includes two 6.6’ USB cables (USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A) and a 9.8′ XLRF-to-XLRM cable. You also get a desk stand with folding legs for use with desktop recording sessions.
The ATR2500x package comes with two 6.6′ USB cables (USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to USB-A) offering forward and backward compatibility with USB inputs. The kit also includes a sturdy tripod desk stand and a pivoting threaded stand mount that attaches securely to the supplied tripod. The mic is compatible with 5/8″-27 threaded stands if you decide to upgrade to another style of stand mount in the future.
If you are trying to decide between the ATR2100x and ATR2500x, the biggest factor is how you are going to connect your microphone. The ATR2100x features analog + digital outputs, whereas the ATR2500x is an all-digital USB option. Let’s break down the ports each mic sports:
The ATR 2100x’s digital and analog options
The ATR 2100x includes USB-C digital output and XLR analog output, offering more compatibility with audio interfaces. The USB connection outputs to your computer for an all-digital recording, streamlining the production process. The XLR output connects with your sound system’s conventional microphone input for use in live performances and other professional audio recording applications. It’s great to have all these options, making your recording project more adaptable to a plethora of setups.
The bottom of the ATR 2100x also has a 3.5mm headphone input that allows for monitoring directly from the microphone. It also has a volume control scroll wheel to adjust headphone levels while monitoring. If your audio projects have the potential to evolve, taking you to different set-ups, this is your ideal choice between the two options.
The ATR 2500x’s USB-only input
The other option is the all-digital ATR2500x. If you know you’ll be recording directly to your PC / Mac every time, this is an ideal option. I have been using the 2500x for a majority of my podcasting, and the setup and connection is seamless. The mic is equipped with a high-quality analog-to-digital converter which delivers excellent, crystal clear sound. Much like the 2100x, this mic is ideal for podcasting, home studio recording, field recording, and voiceover use. The bottom of the unit also has a 3.5mm headphone jack with up/down volume control buttons for direct audio monitoring. This is an incredibly handy feature to effortlessly check your audio quality right at the source.
Easy set-up with both the 2100x and 2500x
Both mics’ packages come with everything you need to get recording quickly and easily. No matter which mic you opt for, all the basic cables are included to connect to your home computer and let you start recording right away. The mics do not need drivers or any specific software to get them to work; they are “plug and play.” Based on my testing, if your device has compatible inputs, these mics are universal in their features and functions.
2100x and 2500x design and sound quality
The design of each model is slightly different, but both boast excellent sound and build quality. The mics are solid and sleek with a rock-solid metal housing on each. All the knobs, switches, and ports are easily accessible even when mounted with the included desk stand or microphone arm.
Top to bottom look at the 2100x
Let’s explore each mic from top to bottom, starting with the ATR2100x. The 2100x is a 180-degree cardioid pattern mic. This means that the highest sensitivity to sound is coming from the front—where you want it most for voice recording. By design the mic avoids picking up unwanted background noise and hones in on the main performer’s voice. I found a big difference with this mic in my podcasting and voiceover work; audio was a lot clearer and more professional sounding right off the bat.
The 2100x hardware has a frequency response of 50 – 15,000 Hz, picking up subtle and more overt sounds to deliver clear, crisp audio. The mic also has great “bit depth,” capable of hitting up to 24 bits, offering higher quality and a more detailed sound recording.
The bottom of the mic, as mentioned earlier, packs a lot of features from USB-C connectivity, XLR output, volume control, and a 3.5mm headphone input for direct monitoring.
Full overview of the ATR 2500x
The 2500x is a large-diaphragm, side-address mic that provides excellent frequency response. Its design has an even tighter range of recording area, with a 120-degree cardioid pattern, picking up more of your voice and less unwanted noise. I really enjoyed using this mic for my weekly podcasting use. It quickly became my default mic—especially for voice recording, in just a few uses.
The 2500x has a slightly greater frequency response of 30 – 15,000 Hz, over the 2100x, giving it a small edge. It delivers fantastic, high quality recordings that added new levels of quality and expression to my work.
A big difference between the 2500x and the 2100x is the port and control layouts. The 2500x has all the volume controls and headphone on the front of the microphone, allowing you to easily make adjustments. All these controls are on the base of the 2100x (and harder to access during a recording session). The only port on the bottom of the 2500x is the USB-C port, and it does not have any XLR ports.
2100x and 2500x recording quality
The big question is, how is the recording quality?
The mics both feature rich and very clear recording capabilities that put my old setup to shame. I wish I could go back and re-record a lot of my work with these mics!
They do a great job blocking out a majority of background noise, with the 2500x being the real standout between the two. It has a tighter 120-degree cardioid pattern, which contributes to a greater reduction of ambient noise. The 2100x also does a great job keeping self-noise low, but the side address design of the 2500x does offer more noise reduction.
It provides a rich, warm, studio sound that offers a lot of bass and a more full-bodied sound to recordings. Other USB mics I have used sound distant and “tinny.” Both the 2100x and 2500x don’t have this issue. A little bit of ambient noise will still sneak into your recordings—depending on your environment, but these mics really cut out a lot of background noise.
Included desktop stands
The included desktop stands are a nice inclusion, but their build quality leaves a lot to be desired. They are a welcome addition if this is your first time setting up a small recording space, but they are quite flimsy in comparison to the sturdy build quality of the mics. Based on my experience, the quality issues come from the grade of plastic, which is very delicate. In fact, while removing the 2100x from its stand for a second time, the base holding the mic cracked.
If the stand was constructed from metal, it would take care of these issues. The plastic is light and feels like it is going to tip over when the mic is seated. The base into which the mic threads is also plastic; it is quite thin, and it easily cracked when I used it.
The stand’s folding legs make for easy setup and teardown. The construction is meant to offer a recording kit that is extremely easy to transport. Again, based on the stand’s build quality, I can’t recommend reassembling it too many times as they simply can’t handle the extended mileage.
If you are integrating these mics into a pre-existing setup, they come with a pivoting, threaded stand mount that attaches to a conventional microphone stand as well.
Final thoughts on the Audio-Technica ATR 2100x and 2500x Microphones
Both the ATR 2100x and 2500x offer excellent voice recording quality for home studio application. The mics are designed for live performance, podcasting, and video calls, and they exceeded many of my expectations during testing. Even the all-digital 2500x provided warm, rich, studio quality sound in a very echoey room. I’ve used the mics predominantly for podcasting, and their high-quality output improved my overall production.
The downside to both packages is the included mic stands, which are lower quality than expected. Based on build quality, you will likely need to purchase a more durable mic stand or arm for long term use. Aside from that, the mics perform great and will help level up your audio production.
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