Today, we’ll be reviewing the Steinberg UR12 USB audio interface. If you’re on a budget, this unit seems like a fair deal on the surface. Let’s take a deeper look.
Our verdict on the Steinberg UR12
The UR12 is affordable, performs fairly well, and is nearly indestructible. However, this unit begins to lose its luster when you start to look at other interfaces in its price range.
There are at least a dozen or so less expensive interfaces that outperform the UR12.Check availability and price: SweetwaterAmazon
I/O and controls
On the front panel, you’ll find two inputs: one for XLR and a 1/4″ input for TRS. Each of these has their own designated input gain controls, as well as LED lights to indicate whether there is any amount of clipping in your signal.
The XLR input is equipped with 48 V phantom power, which can be engaged by a switch on the rear panel.
Next to the inputs are an output control dial, a switch for direct monitoring, and a quarter inch output for your headphones.
Turning around to the rear panel, is a 5V DC socket, a power switch, and a USB 2.0 socket.
Unfortunately, the unit has two unbalanced RCA outputs rather than balanced TRS. This shouldn’t be such a huge issue for beginners, but the audio quality is not the best.
Lastly, there is a switch to engage phantom power, as we mentioned earlier.
This unit has an A/D resolution of 24-bit depth and a maximum sample rate of 192 kHz. The UR12 also has a dynamic range of 101 dB (A-weighted).
This will provide enough headroom for most scenarios, although many other units within this price range perform better.
The XLR input showcases a Class-A D-PRE microphone preamp. The preamp features inverted Darlington circuits that provide a fairly transparent and neutral performance.
The XLR input showcases a gain range of +10 dB to +54 dB. While this isn’t necessarily the best in its price range, it performs well enough to not pose any serious issues.
At home studio
This unit is great for beginners with smaller recording spaces. The UR12 is small and well built, so if you have a tendency to drop things – don’t sweat it.
Its design is simple and straightforward, so beginners need not worry about finding their way around too many features and functions.
The unit also has a loopback function, which merges the signal of your input with your DAW’s output and sends the combined signal back to your computer for zero-latency streaming.
If you’re trying to setup a podcast or gaming studio, this is a great function to have at your disposal.
One more thing we should mention about this device, is that channel one records audio to the left, while channel two goes to the right.
If you’d like for your signal to come through both speakers, you’ll have to make sure you set your input to mono.
The UR12 is lightweight and fairly small, so taking it with you is easy enough. More importantly, the unit showcases iOS compatibility, which is great for mobile recording.
If you’re walking down the street and hear something inspiring, this unit makes it so that you don’t have to miss that special moment.
The unit is incredibly durable, and can take a bit of a beating. While we won’t recommend you go out of your way to drop it, it’s not a huge deal if you do.
The unit comes with access to Cubase AI music production software. Allowing you to record up to 32 audio tracks and 48 tracks of MIDI. This is basically a limited version of Cubase Advanced.
It lacks a lot of the functionality that other DAWs have to offer, but it’s a good starting point for beginners. However, you may outgrow it fairly quickly.
Compared to other audio interfaces
Here are a few alternatives to consider against the UR12. You can also check out our recommendations for the best cheap audio interfaces currently on the market.
Steinberg UR12 vs. Focusrite Scarlett Solo
The Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen is the superior interface. This should be a no-brainer.
Steinberg UR12 vs. PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
The AudioBox has balanced TRS outputs, MIDI I/O, two combo inputs, and is only $100. Go with the PreSonus.
Steinberg UR12 vs. Behringer UMC204HD
The Behringer has balanced TRS outputs, MIDI I/O, two combo inputs, MIDAS preamps, and is also less expensive. Get the Behringer.
Steinberg UR12 vs. Audient EVO 4
The Steinberg has better A/D resolution, but the Audient is a more flexible unit in general. It’s a toss-up.
Who is the Steinberg UR12 best suited for?
The UR12 is a great interface for beginners. Its no-frills design is simple and easy to use. However, you may outgrow this interface rather quickly.
- Decent sound quality.
- Outperformed by a number of units in its price range.