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BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC204HD
- Low Return Rate: 21% fewer returns than similar products
- Highly Rated: 4.2 star rating with over 100 reviews
- Popular Item: Popular with customers shopping for "behringer u-phoria umc202hd"
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- 2x4 USB 2.0 Audio/MIDI Interface for recording microphones and instruments
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BEHRINGER UMC204HD Audiophile 2x4, 24-Bit/192 kHz USB Audio/MIDI Interface with MIDAS Mic Preamplifiers
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I am pretty amazed at how far entry level consumer audio interfaces have come. Allow me to compare this $80 interface to my $2500 RME UFX.
Headphone Output (5/5)- The big surprise is that the headphone amp is loud and clean. There is virtually imperceptible hiss at the highest, ear splitting volume level. This means you can monitor through phones in comfort.
Build Quality (5/5)- Knobs are solid. Unit is heavy enough and there are non-slip feet so it can be used without sliding around every time a cable is connected or removed.
Audio Playback (5/5) The printed specs are s/n -110 db, which is excellent. This level of clarity was only available in high end units only five years ago. Brief listening tests show it is clear and loud.
Preamps (4/5) I can't easily AB with the RME, but the preamps are clear and very functional. Not as much gain as the RME, but these are more than acceptable for a project studio. Clean and clear.
Drivers/Latency (5/5!) I am as surprised to write this as anyone. My machine is an i7 4790K Devils Canyon OC to 4.7G, Win7 64bit. Machine is fast. Before installing drivers, I disabled all other sound devices so there would be no conflicts. Driver installation was drama free. My biggest concern is if I can get a low enough round-trip latency to play virtual instruments? Launched NI Guitar Rig 5 Pro in standalone, which is a very hungry resource program. Using the UMC ASIO driver, I lowered buffers to 128 and reported round trip latency was 4.4ms. No drop outs, CPU at 10%. This is not the same thing as running many VSTIs in a large project, but it shows that if tracks are frozen and load is not too heavy, that the interface has the ability to play at low round trip latency for tracking. Also tested with Addictive Drums 2 standalone which is also very resource intensive program.
DI Input, High Z (2/5) Running high impedance guitar pickups to the DI input, the sound is muddy and does not let VSTis shine. I am pretty sure that the signal will need to be low-Z (active) to get good performance out of the direct input. DI is probably acceptable when used with active pickups. Passive pickups will need a high quality active DI in front.
Connectivity (4/5) The outputs to mains are TRS (balanced) and provide excellent performance. The channel inserts are also standard TRS and work as any mixer would. This is a nice feature to have. You can run a signal direct to the front, and send it external FX as insert (TRS) or either loop back to the other input. This is a poor man's version of some of the routing capabilities provided by the RME mixer app. The "playback" outputs are RCA which I don't understand for "pro" audio application. I suppose they are for hooking to a stereo with full gain.
Phantom Power (4/5) I have tested this to phantom power a GI-100 cab sim in my tube amp rig. The power is fine, but there is a faint 60-cycle hum at higher volumes. The RME has better noise rejection and gives a pristene signal with this arrangement. Fine for live use, but I have some concerns for tracking. Ground loops and other noise issues are always a possibility when hooking with tube amps and longer signal chains. This kind of thing is why you pay $2500 for an RME.
Overall, the audio performance is excellent, the design and connectivity is very good, the only shortcomings are the DI input and the noise rejection is not on par with pro equipment. This is probably not an issue for most applications.
Edit: I did some more testing with this unit.
Reamping (4/5) - Loopback test from output 3/4 into front shows very little loss at the interface. Unbalanced signal from 3/4 outputs needs an isolation transformer to avoid ground loop when connected with amplifier. I am using a Pyle PHE400. Besides needing another piece to deal with ground loop noise, the final result, when reamped with a Radial X-amp is very good. As mentioned earlier, the weak link is the DI input. If you are using passive guitar pickups, you will need to convert to a low impedance signal before input.
It has two XLR inputs that can also be used with a 1/4" jack (for connecting guitars and other devices) and independent adjustment of gain and padding for each of the two inputs. It has midi connectors on the back for added flexibility. You can also use it as a monitor plugging in either speakers or a headset.
It gets its power from USB so you don't have additional power bricks to deal with though that does cause a problem with some smaller devices.
I've used it with a MacBook Pro and Garage Band, nTrack Studio on an nVidia Shield Tablet, and a audio recorder Chrome plugin on my ChromeBook. In all cases I found it gave reliable sound with my microphone. In none of the cases did I need to install any drivers, all three platforms worked just fine. I did need to plug it into an external powered hub though, the Android tablet couldn't provide enough power out of its USB port to make it it work (you could connect to it but not get sound).
When connected to Garageband you can record both inputs as separate tracks, I'm sure if you get professional audio software you will have ever better flexibility. I've not tried it with a guitar yet so I don't know how well that works out.
I suspect the bus powered Amazon Basics USB 2.0 Hub would probably be ideal, but I wanted the AC power for my NI Komplete Kontrol S61 keyboard and Akai MPC Elements USB drum pad controller. Ironically, there is not enough power in the powered hub to power all of my devices, so I need to use a PSU for the keyboard. LOL.
The Behringer needs to have firmware 1.12 to work properly. Flashing/updating the firmware requires a Windows PC with a USB port (ideally USB 2.0 port). Something about limitations to "Class compliant" driverless devices on Macs and some vagaries with Windows 10. The unit had 1.12FW out of the box, so flashing was not needed. You can do a google search "U-Phoria not working with Mac" and find all the helpful links you need.
Whew. Ok. So here's the actual review. It's great. I have it working with Mac and Windows 10 (Ableton, Akai MPC, NI Komplete Kontrol, Guitar Rig, iTunes, Reason, etc.). The Midas mic pres sound fantastic for the price. There are line/mic/pad and main/mix/headphone controls that deliver tons of gain. Overall it's a fantastic, good sounding little box with just the right I/O (I needed MIDI and 1/4" and RCA) for the price. The reasons I gave it 4-stars was because it came with no useful free plugins or software (although once you register the box you get a free copy of Traction software; good software but I don't need it). Also the hassle factor setting it up to work was not fun - if I had known it was possibly not Mac compatible I might have looked at other interfaces. I actually looked at Focusrite and Motu but could not find the I/O's and form factor and bus powered for under $100.