Steinberg UR22 USB Audio Interface Review
The field of low-budget audio interfaces is definitely crowded, and we will find outstanding products like the ones manufactured by M-Audio or Focusrite. After successfully making a name into the music software niche with its Cubase, Steinberg is trying to penetrate the hardware market with its audio interface. Steinberg UR22 USB is a fresh audio interface that aims the musicians to create a music studio on a low-budget. Here is the Steinberg UR22 USB Audio Interface review.
Before talking about the body, I want to talk about the box. The Steinberg UR22 USB’s box contains drivers disk, a voucher for Cubase AI 6, the manual, the cable and the audio interface. The UR22 has a heavy body (1 kg, 2 lb. 3.4 oz.) created from full metal chassis. When you hold this audio interface in your hands you have that feeling that its build to last.
The front controls and inputs
Just as the interface’s case, the 5 rotary knobs present on the front panel are created from durable plastic and they gave you the same feeling as the body: they are really durable and balanced. The front panel has a combo of Neutrik Combo A Series hybrid inputs (XLR/TRS/TS) that are controlled from the two gain controls. There is a button that will switch the Input 2 to Hi-Z if you plan to use it for basses or guitars. There are peak lights for each inputs and the +48V phantom power works on both inputs at the same time. On the front panel you will also find 3 additional rotary knobs that allow you to control the input/DAW, the headphones level and the output level. As expected, the headphone jack is found on the same front panel.
The back panel
On the back panel of the Steinberg UR22 USB Audio Interface we find the USB 2.0 port that “fuels” the device, the Phantom Power switch, the Line Output connectors and the MIDI connectors.
I’ve tested this audio interface only with Cubase and I will say that it works flawlessly. The interface acts perfectly on projects with 44.1khz sample rate and a buffer size of 64 samples. The input latency for these settings is under 4ms. I like the fact that it features the direct DAW monitor mods which allows you to hear the inputs directly without any kind of latency (or effects). Steinberg UR22 features 2 D-PRE Class-A microphone preamps created by Yamaha with an unique number of transistors (four), allowing the audio interface to record hot signals without adding distortion to it. Although there are many opinions on the D-PRE preamps, most users will agree that they provide great quality sounds even with a boost of gain.
As I said in the beginning of the review, this audio interface is for entry-level setups. You will find it on most music websites for $149 (new), or $129 (refurbished).
Before testing this audio interface I really believed that you will not find a better interface than Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 under $150. Seeing all the features presented on Steinberg UR22 USB, testing the preamps and the recording capabilities, I understood why it took Steinberg so much time to enter the hardware market: they wanted to create great products. This interface stands out from the crowd with its sturdy design, the 192 kHz sample-rate, and the almost-perfect D-PRE mic preamps.
I just love this soundcard. I think it’s better than M-Audio products.
You should also try Focusrite products. They are also great!
Hi Martha Kent.
So which one do you feel is the better audio interface? UR22 or Focusrite 2i2?
Which is your preference?
I will have to choose the Focusrite 2i2. I think it exhibits better features and a better overall performance. What’s yours?
Hi again Martha, thanks for taking the time to reply.
I’ve yet to decide which of the two to buy as I haven’t the chance to test either. Currently using audiophile 2496 but will have to abandon as I’m building a new daw soon on Haswell platform.
Interesting that you mentioned better performance from the Scarlett 2i2, would you say the latency is better compared to the UR22? Did you test both interface on the Mac or pc?
There are some features on the UR22 that may surpass Scarlett 2i2, like the sample rate (96kHz on 2i2kHz and 192 on UR22). But when it comes to using both with a condenser mic, I think that Focusrite’s 2i2 works better since it features the same preamps found in their flagship device, the Liquid Saffire 56. While UR22’s preamps are pretty clean, the preamps on Scarlett 2i2 are outstanding. Let’s not forget that Focusrite has a long, long 25 year history of creating great audio devices like their 2i2.
On the other hand, the UR22 works flawless with Steinberg Cubase, hands down. You may experience few crashes or you may need to tweak the buffers if you’re using the 2i2, but once you get things right, you will not regret making the purchase. Probably I’m biased, but I would gladly choose the Scarlett 2i2 mainly due to the audio quality on mic recording. If you have an additional preamp and you want better stability for your home studio, you could get the UR22, since it was designed to work with Cubase.
source: I had the pleasure of testing both interfaces, 2i2 for a longer period of time and UR22 for couple of hours.
How does it compare to the NAtive Instruments Komplete Audio 6? Thanks, Tom
I own an audio interface called “Audio Kontrol 1” from Native Instruments which is comparable to Komplete Audio 6. The interface is solid and the audio quality is outstanding, but it’s mainly created for electronic music.