Since he was a child, the german Uli Behringer spent a lot of time learning about music and technology. As a result, he went on to study sound engineering and classical piano at a university in Düsseldorf. During this study he began constructing his own equipment, believing the equipment of the university to be lacking. Fellow students picked up on his efforts and soon requests to build equipment were exceeding his ability to produce them. This led to the foundation of the company 'Behringer' in 1989, which has grown considerably since then. In 2002, it's own manufacturing facility was completed. This facility produces more than 2,5 million pieces of equipment each year, including about 300.000 mixers alone.
One of the latest additions to Behringers' supply line is the U-Phoria series. This series includes five audio interfaces, the UM2, UMC22, UMC202, UMC204 and the UMC404. A sixth interface called the UMC1820 hasn't been released yet, despite being announced early 2014. The UM2 and UMC22 support a resolution up to 48kHz, while the other three versions support up to 96kHz. These last three also feature HD versions that support a 24bit/192kHz resolution. Apart from that, the main differences between all versions are the type and amount of inputs and outputs available. Therefore, this review of the UMC202HD can be used to decide which version of the U-Phoria series is most suitable for your needs.
The UMC202HD version features two mic/line inputs, featuring pre-amps from sister company Midas. This company has been around since 1970 and their pre-amps carry a good reputation in the music industry. The only version that features a different (Xenyx) pre-amp, is the UM2. Outputs for the '202' version include the standard 6,3mm jacks for stereo as well as headphones. The '204 and the '404' feature additional in/outs, including MIDI. The Pad function, which is useful to reduce clipping during recording, is only featured in the three digit versions. However, all versions include a switch to turn on the +48v phantom power, allowing the use of condensor microphones. Combined with at least a 48kHz resolution, recording quality is on par with professional recordings.
When unboxing the device, the first thing you'll notice is the metal casing. For someone who travels a lot, it's reasurring to know that it can take some abuse. Next to that, the knobs feel really solid, although the buttons feel a bit wobbly. The indication lights for signals, clipping and power might seem a little small, but are clearly visible. After downloading and installing the software from Behringers' website, it was instantly recognized by my preferred DAW and ready to go. While recording vocals I noticed no latency with the Direct Monitoring feature, which makes it a valuable asset for many musicians.
Anyone looking for a reliable audio interface to record high quality sounds, will enjoy the UMC202HD. It's easy to use and offers enough possibilities for the serious bedroom producer. The solid design is also a big plus, the only negative remark is that the little buttons don't feel as solid as the rest of the product. Also, if you prefer additional features such as the ability to connect MIDI and/or external signal processing devices, the slightly more expensive versions from the U-Phoria series might be a better choice.
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