Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD Review

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The budget audio interface market can be a bit... misleading at times, as many devices in this category end up costing more than $200 more often than not.

But what if I told you that there's one interface that barely breaks the $100 barrier without sacrificing any important features?

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD is the perfect interface for any producer looking for an all-in-one solution for their home studio. Flexible I/O, pristine audio quality, and low latency are the name of the game here!

If you're tired of endlessly comparing top-ranking audio interfaces to find the perfect one, then this review is what you need. Let's find out if the U-Phoria UMC202HD is right for you.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD: Our Take

Behringer U-PHORIA UMC202HD

Behringer is a rather unique brand in the music industry. Through years of expertise and research, its team managed to seamlessly combine both affordability and quality — and the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD is the perfect example of that.

Despite its nonsensical price tag, the UMC202HD somehow manages to fit in all the necessary tools for anyone looking to set up a flexible home studio.

The U-Phoria UMC202HD comes equipped with two mics, instrument, and line inputs that can also provide phantom power. You'll also find your usual headphone output on the front and two monitor jacks on the back. But the story doesn't end there!

Each of these inputs features individual MIDAS preamps, which are some of the most popular among live sound engineering. Known for their crystalline sound, MIDAS pres are fantastic for providing ample headroom for your recording sessions.

As for the sound quality, the U-Phoria UMC202HD offers a 24-bit/192kHz resolution that should be more than enough for any recording scenario. And of course, the option of direct monitoring is available at the press of a button.

Inside the box, you'll find a USB cable that will allow you to power the device, but no cables to connect your microphones or instruments. Furthermore, you'll receive a code to redeem the included software bundle — which features a Tracktion DAW license and 150 downloadable plugins.

But the affordable price doesn't come without a cost.

The UMC202HD is a bit disappointing when it comes to build quality, despite its mostly metal construction. I also found the lack of compressors and limiters somewhat... well, lacking. This is especially true when you compare it to other budget interfaces such as the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.

Still, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD is a top pick when you take into account the fact that it barely breaks the $100 barrier. If you're a beginner producer, or you're running very tight on budget, then you just can't go wrong with this interface.

What I Liked:

  • Ridiculously low price
  • Flexible I/O
  • Studio-level A/D resolution
  • Low latency and noise floor

What I Think Could Be Improved:

  • Not so sturdy
  • No cables included besides USB
  • No integrated compressor

Features of the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD

Navigating the world of affordable audio interfaces can be a tough challenge. The market is flooded with great options, and beginners may, more often than not, feel overwhelmed. But don't worry!

I've done my best to summarize the key points of the U-Phoria UMC202HD — the good, the bad, and the ugly included. Here's what you need to know.

I/O capabilities2 inputs for mic-, instrument-, and line-level signals. Headphone jack and monitor output for mix monitoring. No MIDI in/out.
LatencyWith external drivers: about 10ms. With ASIO drivers: as low as 4ms. Direct monitoring option for zero latency.
Noise floor-129 dB noise floor. MIDAS preamps handle low-level signals well.
Sound quality24-bit/192kHz resolution. MIDAS preamps offer crystal-clear tone but lack warmth. No integrated compressor.
Software bundleTracktion license and 150 downloadable plugins included. Limited DAW and basic plugins.
Build qualityMostly metal construction but feels flimsy and cheap at times. Plastic controls. Tougher than it looks and feels, but not for heavy handling.

I/O capabilities (5.0)

When it comes to home studios, you probably won't be needing more than two inputs to record your instruments. In that regard, the UMC202HD should be more than enough, providing two input ports that can handle mic-, instrument-, and line-level signals.

Also, the headphone jack and the monitor output pair should give you enough breathing room to monitor your mixes correctly. A MIDI in/out would've been more than appreciated, but at this price range, I reckon it's something we can overlook.

Latency (5.0)

As far as latency is concerned, the U-Phoria UMC202HD passes all of my tests with flying colors. If you're using external drivers (such as the ones included in Windows), the UMC202HD should have a latency of about 10ms. But once you download the official ASIO drivers, this should go as low as 4ms!

These numbers are frankly impressive — and even more so if you take into account the price tag. But if you're looking for real-time playback, the UMC202HD also features a direct monitoring option that will allow you to listen to your inputs with zero latency.

Honestly? It doesn't get better than this.

Noise floor (5.0)

Noise floor is, unfortunately, an often overlooked factor when it comes to affordable audio interfaces. Put in short, the noise floor refers to the sum of all unwanted noise that goes through an interface when nothing is connected. The lower the noise floor, the more dynamic range you'll have without annoying interference in your tracks.

The UMC202 boasts an impressive -129 dB noise floor, which is unparalleled even by more expensive options. Even if the MIDAS preamps don't provide a lot of analog warmth, the fact that they can handle such low-level signals is the mark of a true beast among interfaces.

Sound quality (4.5)

In regards to "raw" sound quality, the U-Phoria UMC202HD offers a 24-bit/192kHz resolution that leaves nothing to be desired. This level of resolution is standard among modern audio interfaces — even top-of-the-line ones.

However, I found that the MIDAS preamps were a bit too tame for my liking. Although they're fantastic if you're just looking for a crystal-clear tone, they lack the grit and warmth of more vintage-oriented preamps. And, as I already mentioned, the lack of an integrated compressor can be concerning.

Software bundle (4.0)

Nowadays, it's common practice for manufacturers to include a software bundle alongside any product they sell. The UMC202HD is no exception to this, providing a Tracktion license along with 150 downloadable plugins to get you started in creating music.

While this bundle should be more than enough for any beginner producer, I would've liked to see some more advanced options included. Tracktion is a rather limited DAW, and the included plugins are a bit too basic for my liking.

Build quality (3.5)

The build quality of the UMC202HD is concerning, to say the least. Although Behringer takes pride in its mostly metal construction, anyone who owns this device can tell you it feels rather flimsy and even cheap at times. The plastic controls are also an aggravating factor, and the buttons don't feel all that good either.

Still, I can attest that the UMC202HD is tougher than it looks and feels. As long as you're not dropping it on the floor, this interface should last you for years — just make sure you don't move it around too much!

Other Behringer U-Phoria Interfaces

The team at Behringer knows very well that, despite the UMC202HD being a true Swiss Army knife, it doesn't fit everyone's needs. That's why they released five other audio interfaces with similar characteristics but adapted to other usage scenarios. Here's a quick breakdown of each of them:

Behringer U-Phoria UM2

Behringer U-Phoria UM2

The U-Phoria UM2 wants to target the tightest of budgets, cutting the UMC202HD's price by almost half. This doesn't come without its cost, though — the UM2 only comes equipped with one line and mic input and one instrument-only input. And, as for build quality, it's made entirely out of plastic.

As for sound quality, the main differences are that the preamps are XENYX instead of MIDAS and that the resolution is only 16-bit/48kHz. While this is certainly a downgrade, the UM2 is still a fantastic option if you really don't want to break the bank.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22

Behringer U-Phoria UMC22

The U-Phoria UMC22 is pretty similar to the UM2, but there are a few key differences. First of all, the UMC22 comes equipped with MIDAS preamps instead of XENYX ones, making it a better choice when it comes to sound quality.

The build quality is different as well, as the UMC22 is made out of metal instead of plastic, making it a much sturdier choice. The I/O matrix and A/D resolution, however, remain the same. While it's clear that the UMC202HD is the better choice, the UMC22 is still a great budget pick when compared to the UM2.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

Now, if you're looking for an upgrade instead of a downgrade, the U-Phoria UMC204HD is a great place to start. At its core, the UMC204HD is the same as the UMC202HD — with the only difference being that it provides four outputs instead of two, and two insert channels.

The insert channels provide a way to add analog effects to your mic and instrument inputs, as it loops back the signal in the same way an FX loop does in a guitar amp. While the difference is subtle, it's a fantastic choice if you're looking to use a quadraphonic setup or if you need to connect non-digital effects.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

The UMC404HD is a rather significant change over the UMC202HD. As its name indicates, the UMC404HD provides four mic and instrument inputs, along with four monitor outputs.

But that's not all! The UMC404HD also comes equipped with IN/OUT MIDI ports, four insert channels, and two XLR outputs. Of course, these upgrades don't come without a downside: the UMC404HD costs almost double than the UMC202HD.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820

Behringer U-Phoria UMC1820

If you're really looking for the most powerful entry in the U-Phoria series, then the UMC1820 is the perfect pick for you. This absolute monster of a USB audio interface provides 18 inputs (yes, 18) and 20 individual outputs. While this may seem a bit overkill, the UMC1820 is perfect for more advanced producers.

The MIDI connectivity is also present in this one, and it's also the only device on this series that provides S/PDIF and ADAT capabilities. It also comes equipped with two headphone outputs, eight preamps, and A/B controls for mixing lovers.

What to Know Before Buying

Finding the right audio interface for your specific usage scenario can be challenging, considering you'll have to take dozens of factors into account without breaking the bank. Of course, the U-Phoria UMC202HD is a great all-in-all solution for most people, but is it really the perfect interface for you?

To help you find the answer, we've gathered a few crucial points for you to consider when looking at budget audio interfaces:

Number of Instruments

The first, and maybe most obvious, factor is the number of instruments you want to connect and record simultaneously. Most home studios won't be needing more than two inputs, as the tracks will be recorded one or two at a time. The dual inputs also give you the chance to record in stereo (by merging both channels) or tracking instruments with different effects or microphones.

In that sense, the UMC202HD's I/O matrix should be more than enough for most home studios. However, if you're looking to record more than two instruments at a time (such as in a live rehearsal), you might want to look at other audio interfaces instead.

Home Studio vs Travelling

Another important aspect to consider is whether you'll want to take your audio interface with you while you're away from home. This is especially true when you're looking at not-so-sturdy interfaces such as the U-Phoria UMC202HD — which is certainly not the best for moving around too much.

If you're a gigging or touring musician who wants to record on the fly, you might be better off with another, more robust option. But if you're looking for an interface for a home studio, the UMC202HD should last you for years.

MIDI Connectivity

If you're just starting out in your music career, then MIDI connectivity will be nothing to worry about. However, if you're a bit more experienced, you'll probably want to connect your computer to your hardware synths and sequencers — and that's where MIDI I/O comes in clutch.

If you own a lot of hardware gear, then you'll find the lack of MIDI ports in the UMC202HD a bit disappointing. In that case, you may want to look at the UMC204HD instead — which provides that much-needed MIDI at the cost of a few extra dollars. But if you're all about digital, then the UMC202HD will be more than enough.

A/B Mixing

A/B mixing or A/B comparison refers to a mixing technique where you constantly switch between two pairs of speakers to get a better idea of how your track sounds in the real world. While it's certainly an advanced technique, it can be pretty useful in some scenarios.

The UMC202HD doesn't provide more than two outputs, so A/B mixing is pretty much out of the question. However, there is a workaround: if you connect your second set of speakers to the headphone jack, you'll be able to achieve the same effect!

Microphones and Phantom Power

You may have noticed that some interfaces feature a small "+48V" or "phantom power" toggle switch or button somewhere on the back or on the front. This almost indiscernible option lets you power certain types of condenser microphones, making it vital for any home studio.

Unlike most dynamic mics, 48V-powered condenser microphones require a low current to work properly. Luckily, the UMC202HD offers phantom power for both inputs. While this may not seem too crucial if you don't own a condenser mic, we can assure you that having phantom power is better than not having it!

Overall Sound

Last but not least, you have to consider the overall sound when looking at budget audio interfaces. And we're not only referring to A/D resolution here — factors such as mic preamps, compressors, limiters, and analog circuitry are also important.

In that regard, the UMC202HD provides a fantastic crystalline sound thanks to its 24-bit/192kHz resolution, but it's somewhat lacking when it comes to sound sweeteners. The MIDAS preamps don't add much tone to your recordings, and it doesn't provide any onboard compressors. But if you're not that crazy about the vintage sound, it's still a great option.

Alternatives to the Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD

Now, if you don't see the UMC202HD as the solution to your home recording needs, you may be tempted to turn to its competitors. Don't worry — we've got you covered. Here's a quick rundown of four different audio interfaces, complete with how they compare to the UMC202HD:

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD vs Focusrite Scarlett Solo

There are few budget audio interfaces as recognizable as the Focusrite Scarlett Solo. While very similar to the UMC202HD, the main difference is that the Scarlett Solo offers a better sound thanks to its top-of-the-line Air preamps. Plus, its stylish looks and sturdy build are certainly a step up from the UMC202HD.

However, there are some downsides. Maybe the most important one is that the Scarlett Solo only features one mic input and one instrument jack. Also, it doesn't feature individual controls for the headphone output level.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD vs Universal Audio Volt 1

When it comes to vintage tone, most producers know that Universal Audio is king. And, of course, their most affordable entry (the Volt 1) is no exception to this. Its only input is equipped with the classic 610 tube preamp, which adds a subtle grit to the low end.

But its main strength is also its most important downside — the Universal Audio Volt 1 doesn't feature a second input. This is compensated with the integration of MIDI in/out ports, but more experienced producers will miss that extra bit of I/O.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD vs PreSonus Studio 26c

Maybe the fiercest competitor of the UMC202HD is the PreSonus Studio 26c. It packs pretty much the same features but with slightly better preamps and two extra outputs for A/B mixing. Also, it includes MIDI in/out — which is certainly missing from the UMC202HD.

Of course, these extra features come at the expense of a higher price tag. But if you don't mind spending a few extra dollars, then the Studio 26c offers a slightly better overall experience than the UMC202HD.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD vs Audient EVO 4

The Audient EVO 4 is one of the newest audio interfaces available on the market — and its sleek design certainly shows that. Equipped with two line and mic inputs and one instrument jack, the EVO 4 is a fantastic option for anyone looking for the latest breakthrough in audio production.

However, the ultra-compact format of the EVO 4 makes it a bit more complicated to use. For example, to manually adjust the gain knobs, you have to press a button combination, as it doesn't feature individual controls for each input. Still, it may be a good option if you're a tech-savvy producer.

Final Verdict

The Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD is the perfect all-in-one solution for any producer looking to set up their first home studio. From flexible I/O to professional sound, this absolute powerhouse of an interface has got you covered.

Of course, some more advanced features (such as MIDI connectivity) are missing — but that shouldn't be a problem unless this isn't your first rodeo. All in all, you just can't go wrong with the UMC202HD when you take the price tag into account.

If you're looking for a more advanced device, I recommend you take a look at the UMC202HD's older brother instead: the U-Phoria UMC404HD. While a bit more expensive, the higher price tag allows for certain features that are missing from the UMC202HD, such as better preamps and MIDI in/out.

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