Behringer’s U-Phoria UMC202HD is one of the most surprising audio interfaces we have reviewed. It performs far better than expected and far better than the price would suggest. Overall, it’s one of the best value for money budget interfaces available. We take a look at what makes the UMC202HD a good buy and why it should be on your radar.
U-Phoria UMC202HD overview
The U-Phoria UMC202HD is a 2×2, 24-bit/192 kHz budget audio interface. The front panel has two XLR/TRS combo inputs, and to the right, you have the corresponding gain knobs. The layout is slightly different from most audio interfaces in this range, with both inputs coming before the gain controls.
Above each gain knob are two buttons, one to switch between line level and instrument, the other, a pad that attenuates the XLR/TRS input by 20 dB. There isn’t a full level meter, but there are signal and clipping indicators on each channel.
To the right of the front panel, you have a direct monitor on/off switch, 1/4″ headphone jack with volume control, and a master volume for the main outputs. There’s also a direct monitor switch for zero-latency monitoring. Lastly, there is a phantom power indicator to show when it’s active.
On the back, there isn’t too much to see. From left to right, you have a USB connecter, Kensington security lock, phantom power switch, and two outputs. The outputs are 1/4″ balanced TRS.
The UMC202HD offers a bit depth of 24-bit and a sample rate of 192 kHz. Unlike some budget interfaces, the specs on the UMC202HD are entirely accurate. It provides true 24-bit analog to digital conversion.
You do have the option to reduce the same rate if you should wish to do so; 48 kHz, etc. With true 24-bit analog to digital conversion, you can capture a very high dynamic range.
Behringer lists the dynamic range of the UMC202HD as 11 dB (A-weighted), although the measurement might be lower from one unit to the next. It’s not a huge concern because a dynamic range of 100 dB (A-weighted) upwards is very good for an interface of this price.
For vocals, this kind of dynamic range will allow you to set your vocal to peak around minus 18 dB without introducing any additional noise.
The Midas preamps perform very well, too. That’s real Midas preamps, which are amongst the most popular and most used preamps in the recording industry. Providing a clear sound with an impressive EIN level of around minus 129 dB. As far as the equivalent input noise goes, the UMC202HD outperforms many of its competitors.
This interface provides gain of around 51 dBFS at 0 dBu. Behringer state a maximum input level of plus 20 dB, and again this seems to be a very accurate number with no clipping at plus 19 dB.
Ultimately, the U-Phoria UMC202HD can handle any audio signal you throw at it.
For the most part, the build quality is very good. The UMC202HD has a full metal chassis, and only the buttons and knobs are plastic.
Like most budget interfaces and, in fact, many expensive interfaces, the combo inputs do have a little movement in them. It’s not a huge problem at all, but with so little to complain about at under $100, we need to pick out the small details.
The knobs have a nice smooth action and are surprisingly sturdy. We can say the same for the buttons; the latch on/off mechanism is nice and smooth.
While the knobs and buttons function well, it’s also fair to say the plastic doesn’t feel as pleasing as it could. It feels a little cheap, but at this price, you can forgive Behringer for making a few cost-cutting choices.
The software bundle you get with the U-Phoria UMC202HD includes a DAW that might be new to many people. It comes with Traktion’s Waveform Pro, which is an extremely user-friendly DAW.
If you are a beginner, Traktion is the ideal place to start because everything is designed for a fast and easy workflow. Many aspects of the DAW, such as adding effects, are done with a drag and drop function. So, it’s easy to place things anywhere you want in your chain.
It also has some other creative, user-friendly features, like a step clip editor. The step clip editor lets you drag multiple clips onto a track, each with full individual step sequencing options. Basically, it’s a really fun and easy way to build the foundations of a track.
On top of that, you get 150 downloadable instrument and effects plugins. There are far too many to list, but you have everything that you need to record, edit, and mix great music.
Behringer UMC202HD vs. other interfaces
We have been so pleasantly surprised by the UMC202HD. But, even with this kind of value for money, you need to check out the competition.
U-Phoria UMC202HD vs. UMC404HD
Behringer’s U-Phoria UMC404HD offers everything that we love about the UMC202HD and more. It does come with a slightly higher price tag, but the extra money gets you four real Midas preamps. See our U-Phoria UMC404HD review (coming soon)
U-Phoria UMC202HD vs. M-Audio M-Track Solo
The M-Track Solo makes this choice so difficult. While we find it hard to fault the UMC202HD, the M-Track Solo might be the overall best value for money. See our M-Audio M-Track Solo review
U-Phoria UMC202HD vs. PreSonus AudioBox iOne
The AudioBox range of interfaces is great for the right user, although they do have their flaws. The iOne matches up well with the UMC202HD but offers a very different software bundle. See our PreSonus iOne review
Final verdict on the U-Phoria UMC202HD
The word that keeps coming back when we talk about the UMC202HD is surprise. When we think of budget interfaces, M-Audio, Focusrite Scarlett, Steinberg are the names that come to mind first. But, the UMC202HD puts Behringer right in the middle of the conversation. It’s incredible value for money and a perfect first interface for a beginner.
- Built like a tank.
- Traktion DAW is great for beginners.
- 150 plugins.
- Midas preamps.
- Plastic buttons/knobs feel a bit cheap.