AKG P120 Review - Featured Image

AKG P120 Review: The Contender to the Audio Technica AT2020

The AKG P120 condenser microphone arrived fashionably late to the party around 2009, about five years after the Audio Technica AT2020 made its grand entrance.

Despite being the entry-level mic in the AKG Perception line of condenser microphones, it is far from being a sub-standard product. On the contrary, the AKG P120 has demonstrated qualities and capabilities that go beyond that of a budget microphone.

This AKG P120 review aims to provide an in-depth analysis of this budget condenser microphone, exploring its design, sound quality, controls, and overall performance. We will compare it with the well-established Audio Technica AT2020 condenser mic, examining the nuances that set these two microphones apart.

AKG P120 - front
AKG P120 - mount

At a Glance

The AKG P120 condenser microphone is a noteworthy contender to the Audio Technica AT2020. With a sleek design and robust all-metal body, it promises durability and aesthetic appeal. Its audio quality is marked by a rich, warm tone, and it offers a higher sensitivity than the AT2020, making it suitable for detailed capture.

The microphone’s bass-cut filter and switchable attenuation pad enhance its versatility, allowing for various recording applications. However, it does have some shortcomings, including a bit of self-noise.

Despite these minor flaws, the AKG P120 stands out as a great mic for just $99.00, especially if you’re just starting out in a home studio, offering features and capabilities that go beyond that of a budget microphone.


  • Top-notch budget microphone and high value for money
  • Robust and durable build
  • Warm, full sound with crisp audio and smooth highs
  • Has a good number of features for its price


  • No storage pouch or box
  • Has some resonance when you tap on the body
  • Has audible self-noise when you turn up the gain or add compression

Design and Build Quality

AKG P120 vs Audio Technica AT2020

At first glance, the AKG P120 condenser microphone might just steal your breath away. Its sleek design could easily make you mistake it for one of the most sought-after budget condenser microphones in the industry.

And if you’ve been paying attention to the title of this blog post, you’ll know exactly which mic I’m referring to. That’s right, the iconic Audio Technica AT2020, which sports a slightly more cylindrical shape, while the AKG P120 elegantly tapers at the bottom.

The AKG P120 is more than just a pretty face. With a robust all-metal body in a sleek black finish and a sturdy metal mesh grill, this microphone will easily last you more than a decade.

We often associate weight with quality, and the AKG P120 is almost as heavy as the revered Neumann U87 Ai, one of the best mics in the industry, and noticeably heftier than the AT2020. You can feel its quality and strength the moment you hold it.

The AKG P120 also comes with a solid all-metal mount adapter, bearing a striking resemblance to the stand adapter of the AT2020, which makes you feel like it’s trying to challenge the latter in every aspect!

AKG P120 box

However, there is one small thing that I felt AKG could have provided, which is a carrying pouch. While the Audio Technica AT2020 generously provides one, with the AKG P120, you’re left to use its original box or one of your own storage boxes. It’s a small oversight but one that adds a touch of real-world practicality to this review.

Sound Quality

The AKG P120 is an XLR condenser mic with a medium-sized diaphragm of 0.66” that requires 48V phantom power from a preamp or audio interface. If you don’t want the hassle of using an audio interface, you can consider using a plug-and-play USB mic for your computer.

Being a condenser microphone, it is sensitive and is better suited for capturing details compared to dynamic microphones. In fact, it is more sensitive than the Audio Technica AT2020 condenser mic, with a sensitivity of 24 mV/Pa @ 1kHz, compared to the AT2020’s 14.1 mV/Pa @ 1kHz. However, this also means it is susceptible to picking up background noise in the room, like your air-conditioning or cars passing by outside.

Despite being a sensitive condenser microphone, the AKG P120 is a decent mic that won’t bear grudges against you. Didn’t see that coming, did ya?

polar pattern and frequency response

What I meant to say is that it has a cardioid polar pattern that focuses on the sound directly in front of the microphone while blocking out sounds coming from the sides and rear. Still, you would want to ensure that your room has curtains and soft furniture to absorb any reverberations, which can make the recorded audio sound muddy.

The AKG P120 has a crisp sound with a flat response and a rich, warm tone that is great for recording vocals, acoustic guitar, and drums. However, that nice, warm tone will start to get more muddy and boomy once you start getting too close to the mic due to its proximity effect. So, be sure to keep a distance of at least 6 inches from it.

It also sounds smoother on the high-end compared to the Audio Technica AT2020, which has a tendency to sound a little harsh, especially above 7kHz, and can start to get fatiguing after long sessions. Furthermore, the AT2020 is terrible at rejecting plosives, while the AKG P120 is better at handling them. Still, it would be a good idea to get a pop filter to achieve as clean a sound as possible.

The AKG P120 also has a very high SPL of 130dB, great for recording loud vocals and instruments like electric guitar amps.

One flaw I found with the AKG P120 is that it has quite a bit of self-noise at 19 dB, which can be quite audible if you crank up the gain too much or if you add too much compression. So, you should get a decent audio interface to keep this noise level down.

Also, it has a bit of resonance when you tap on the body of the microphone. So, if you’re a streamer or podcaster, you might want to add a shock mount for this microphone to reduce the unwanted noise coming from knocks and bumps.

Microphone Controls

microphone controls
Image Source: AKG

While the Audio Technica AT2020 does not have any microphone controls, the AKG P120 surpasses the AT2020 in this aspect. It comes with several useful switches, including a switchable bass-cut filter and attenuation pad, which makes it a versatile microphone for its price.

While the sound pressure level of the AKG P120 is notably high at 130 dB, it can be further augmented with its 20dB attenuation pad switch, a feature that is particularly beneficial for recording loud instruments such as electric guitar cabinets or drums. This control ensures that the microphone does not become overloaded, preserving the integrity of the sound.

The bass-cut filter, sometimes referred to as a low-cut filter or high-pass filter, begins to gradually reduce the bass frequency from 300 Hz at a rate of 6 dB/octave. This function is useful for eliminating certain background noise in untreated rooms, such as the low-frequency rumbles of air-conditioning units or fans.

However, it is worth noting that the roll-off commences relatively high at 300 Hz, which may inadvertently remove some lower-mid frequency details in the voice or instrument being recorded. Many microphones with a high-pass filter typically initiate the roll-off around 80 – 150 Hz, so this aspect of the AKG P120 may require careful consideration depending on the specific recording application.

Final Verdict

Image Source: AKG

The AKG P120 condenser microphone has made a significant impression in the world of budget condenser microphones, challenging the well-established Audio Technica AT2020 with its robust design, sound quality, and versatile controls.

With a sleek and sturdy build, the AKG P120 offers a rich and warm tone, suitable for home studio recording, podcasting, and streaming. But if you’re really into warm and vintage tones, you can consider getting a ribbon microphone.

Its sensitivity and cardioid pickup pattern provide detailed capture, while its bass roll-off switch and attenuation pad add to its adaptability.

Though it has some minor shortcomings, such as a bit of self-noise and the absence of a carrying pouch, these do not detract from its overall value.

In comparison to the Audio Technica AT2020, the AKG P120 stands out with its additional controls, making it a more versatile microphone at a similar price point.

In conclusion, the AKG P120 is more than just an entry-level microphone; it’s a quality investment for those seeking performance without compromising budget.

Its features and capabilities make it a noteworthy alternative to the AT2020, and it is highly recommended for newcomers just starting out in home recording and seasoned professionals who just need a budget and reliable backup mic.

We also have other recommendations for more premium mics for recording vocals or instruments if you have a larger budget.

Production Information


  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 0.66″ (16.93mm)
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -32.4 dBV/Pa (24 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 130 dB, 150 dB with Pad
  • Self Noise: 19dB (A-weighted)
  • Output Connection: XLR
  • Weight: 455g (1 lbs)
  • Accessories: Mount adapter


  • Bass roll-off switch at 300 Hz
  • Switch for -20dB pad

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