Overall

With four channels, Behringer’s UMC404HD is the natural progression for the bedroom musician graduate who needs more inputs/outputs without breaking a bedroom musician budget. Often favoring a low price in lieu of good build quality, Behringer have something of a bum rap. Although the criticism is anything but unfounded, the UMC404HD is an exception to the rule.

Pros

  • Incredibly good value for money
  • Four channels
  • MIDI I/O

Cons

  • Phantom power isn’t on individual channels
  • Downloading the appropriate drivers for Windows can be a little confusing
  • No in-depth level monitoring

The UMC404HD is a catch-all for the beginner up to the experienced recording musician.

Whilst its competitors might just have the edge over sound quality, the UMC404HD’s offers more functionality than most of its competitors within the same price bracket.

Features

Four input/output ports

The UMC404HD boasts four independent mic/instrument/line inputs using four XLR/TRS combo connectors. Naturally, more inputs mean more recording capabilities at one time. For a band, this is nigh perfect because more instruments can be recorded side by side. This is also helpful for recording drums. For example, you can record two overheads, a bass drum mic and a mic on the snare at once— more inputs more mics, simple!

Four MIDAS designed mic preamps with +48v Phantom power

Low-level audio signals need a boost but oftentimes with that boost, audio quality is sacrificed. Thankfully, the UMC404HD uses MIDAS designed preamps, which in other words, is a seal of good quality. Perhaps the UMC404HD’s biggest flaw, however, is that the Phantom power cannot be turned on for individual channels — it’s either on for all or off. I wouldn’t say this is a deal-breaker, but it’s a flaw nonetheless.

MIDI I/O capability

For the UMC404HD’s price, a MIDI I/O is a welcome feature. For MIDI-based instruments like a synthesizer or drum machine, the MIDI I/O allows for easy connectivity. Audio interfaces in the UMC404HD’s price range often lack this feature so that’s certainly a plus.

Compatible with Mac and Windows

The UMC404HD is compatible with most major recording software like Logic, Ableton, Cubase, Garageband and more. For the Mac user, it’s virtually plug-in and plays, however, Windows users need to install the respective drivers before using the interface. Nothing new there of course, but depending on your computer installing the right drivers might be an uphill struggle.

Zero Latency

Essentially, latency is the delay between the recorded signal and the signal that you hear. Fortunately, when recording direct, the UMC404HD has zero latency therefore there is no delay between what’s played and what’s heard. For the MIDI I/O its only ultra-low latency though it’s not particularly noticeable.

Controls

The UMC404HD’s controls are remarkably straight forward — no bells or whistles but that’s not a bad thing.

For each of the four channels, the UMC404HD has a gain knob, a line/instrument switch and a pad switch for signal reduction. While there is a light for each channel to indicate if the signal is clipping, it’s not by any means in-depth; so a little tweaking by ear or through your recording software might be necessary to get the best results.

On the output side, there is a knob to control the level, a phone output knob, a knob to control the mix between the input level and playback level, a stereo/mono switch and an A/B selector switch. The stereo/mono switch works with the A/B switch meaning that the inputs can be used as stereo pairs — A for inputs one and two, B for inputs three and four.

On the back, the UMC404HD works with USB or with its separate power source. There’s the aforementioned MIDI I/O, the Phantom power switch, individual channel outputs on either 1/4″ jack or RCA connectors, left and right main out for speaker monitoring and four analog inserts so that effects can be placed in the chain.

Behringer has a bad reputation for using cheap materials for its controls, but the UMC404HD’s knobs and switches, etc all measure up well.

Sound Quality

While the UMC404HD can provide up to 24bit/192 kHz resolution, it’s very rare that music is recorded at that high resolution. It’s there if you have the computer to take it, but for the most part, it’s not necessary.

In laymen’s terms, the UMC404HD can provide studio-quality recordings. It’s transparent and crisp without much noise. Behringer products can often have an unwanted harshness in their sound, but the UMC404HD is well-rounded.

Sound on sound, there are audio interfaces that have better sound quality for a similar price like the Focusrite Scarlett, but the UMC404HD’s large amount of functions outweigh the minor drop in sound quality.

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