Steinberg’s UR12 has proven to be one of the most popular budget interfaces on the market. As a matter of fact, it is easily among the most effective audio interfaces under $100 on the market today. The UR12 is about as cheap as you’d want to go before you start experiencing issues – so does this mean it is on the verge of being flawed? Let’s find out…
Simplicity is a theme across the whole Steinberg range and the UR12 is exactly that! There are certainly better-looking budget audio interfaces out there, but it’s not bad… just basic. There are no cool graphics or branding, the UR12 sports a robust – almost unfinished – aluminum chassis with simple switches and knobs. It’s very utilitarian! The layout of the features is pretty standard too, with controls and inputs on the front, and outputs at the back. So, nothing inspirational here as function is the name of the game.
Being so cheap and basic, the UR12 must be lacking features too… right? Not really! It actually offers quite a standard lineup, found on pretty much all other models in this budget price range. However, it also delivers some nifty solutions that we don’t see very often.
Starting from the top, there are two channels; one XLR dedicated for microphone use (it has phantom power), while the other is Hi-Z for instrument use. Each has their own gain control, while both are controlled by a master volume control knob. There’s a headphone out port, as well as the option to directly monitor your input.
Flip the device and you will find a pair of RCA outputs, as well as a choice of power options – either a USB port or a 5V DC port, which is quite versatile. The UR12 also comes complete with a compact version of Cubase DAW software (Cubase AI), which provides you with everything you need to record, edit and mix great audio.
With a very solid D-PRE Class-A mic preamp, the UR12 delivers an all-round decent performance, with a detailed sound quality, while the same goes for the instrument channel. The word ‘decent’ may not be enough for some people, but at this price point, this is acceptable – it gets the job done!
The 5V DC mini USB socket allows you to use the device with mobile devices, which is extremely handy when you want to record on the go. In terms of compatibility, the Steinberg works perfectly with both Mac OS and Windows machines, as well as most popular DAWs.
As we’ve established, Steinberg’s UR12 is the definition of decent performance and proves an excellent audio interface for beginners. It’s simple to use, functional, delivers clear recording and comes with a good DAW. It’s also rugged and reliable, which is just what you need – especially if you travel. A solid choice for any beginner.