UMC202HD VS. UMC204HD
If you’ve been researching audio recording gear lately, you’d know that Behringer constantly comes up as one of the top brands. For example, their U-Phoria UMC 204HD audio interface, one of their most celebrated products, is a strong performer that doesn’t sacrifice quality over price.
If you’re impressed with the MIDAS preamps on the U-Phoria UMC204HD but don’t need the extra inputs, then something like the UMC202HD from the same U-Phoria line of products, which could save you a little more money, would serve you just as well.
The Podcaster’s Choice
It’s limited in terms of inputs but lacks absolutely nothing in terms of quality. Podcasters can get away by using just this option.
If You Need More Inputs
When you need more than just mics, the UMC204HD is the one to get. Compared to its smaller, less expensive sibling, it’s got a wealth of inputs that can make band recording sessions in the garage a bit more bearable.
Both these devices are “budget” interfaces, but the value you get for them is cheap. The MIDAS preamps are on par with the best in the business at producing low-noise sounds even when the gain is cranked up to 80%.
Where they diverge, however, is in the inputs. The UMC204HD has one digital and an extra pair of analog inputs.
Are these additional inputs worth the extra bucks? It all depends on whether you need them or not. While not being a huge gap, the price difference can go a long way towards buying a mic and an audio interface.
To help you make the UMC202HD vs. UMC204HD decision, we’ll tackle these and other questions:
- Will the audio quality be the same in both Behringer devices?
- Do you really need the UMC204HD’s extra inputs?
- Who are these actually for?
First let’s breakdown the technical info for both Behringer Audio Interfaces:
Common Features: Build Quality
Being from the same manufacturer, there’s not much difference between the UMC204HD and the UMC202HD. The metal casing feels sturdy without any flex at all, even at the very center of the device.
Knobs also feel well-engineered as there is minimal wobble to them. The ports handle similarly well-made.
The UMC204HD is a metal-clad box that looks and feels like it can take a bit of a beating. It can probably survive a couple of drops. So, don’t worry about stuffing this thing inside your check-in luggage at the airport.
Even the porters and baggage handlers over there can’t get damage by a Behringer.
Although the UMC202HD is a tiny bit cheaper, it’s still very much just as sturdy and durable. It should endure a bumpy walk clanking with the rest of your gear inside your backpack.
Common Features: MIDAS Preamps with Phantom Power
The sound quality of an audio interface record is dependent on the quality of the preamps installed on the devices. In this case, both the UMC202HD and the UMC204HD use MIDAS preamps which are some of the best in the market.
The interface can record excellent audio by using a low-frequency mic such as Shure’s SM58 with the UMC204HD. And since it has phantom power available, you can also use condenser mics with it.
It’s much the same story for the UMC202HD because it uses the same MIDAS preamps as its more expensive brother. Noise isn’t an issue because it remains hushed even at around 60% gain, which is good enough for normal speaking.
On the other hand, noise shouldn’t muddle the speech too much for people with exceptionally soft voices, even if you bump up the gain knob up to 80%.
Common Features: Direct Headphone Volume Knob
When it comes to monitoring, most audio professionals use headphones more than powered monitors. But most often, there is only one volume knob for all monitors.
If you like using headphones to monitor your audio, then you’ll be pleased to hear that the UMC204HD offers a dedicated headphone volume adjusting knob. This lets you get into the details of your audio.
It’s important to note that even when you’re using the MIDI inputs, the latency on the monitors is still pretty good. However, once you add plugins and effects, it may start to present some latency.
The UMC202HD has the same dedicated headphone monitoring volume control. And since the device doesn’t come with MIDI I/O, you’ll have no problems with latency when you’re using the inputs at total capacity.
Mac and Windows Compatibility
There are a few brands that only work with specific operating systems. Luckily, Behringer isn’t picky with who they work with, so both these audio interfaces work with Mac and Windows.
If you’re a Linux user, this should also work with a bit of tweak here and there.
Using the UMC204HD is a cinch on Windows. The USB connectivity makes it a plug-and-play device with many Windows laptops in the market right now.
However, when it comes to macOS, you’re going to need to buy an adapter or a more appropriate cable as the modern MacBook no longer has USB Type-A.
This one sings a similar tune as its more expensive brother. Windows laptops and computers should work fine right out of the box but could be a bother to use with a macOS laptop.
Which one are you leaning towards?
Unique Features: U-Phoria UMC204HD
While you can’t infer that the more money you spend, the more features you get, this is the case when comparing these two interfaces.
As the more expensive option, the U-Phoria UMC204HD should have more to offer.
When you want to record more than two instruments or mics simultaneously, the 2 XLR combo inputs can be a bit limiting. Therefore, the extra MIDI I/O on this one is such a great feature to have.
If you’re in a band and need a keyboard or other digital audio equipment input, this one is an excellent inexpensive audio interface that should cover your needs.
2 Sets of Stereo Monitors
If you’re in a studio setting where the band plays inside the booth while you monitor the audio in another, having two sets of stereo monitors is an important feature.
This way, the band can monitor their performance together with you. This way, it promotes collaboration between artists and producers.
Unique Features: U-Phoria UMC202HD
As the less expensive sibling in this comparison, you can’t expect the U-Phoria 202HD to outperform its more expensive brother. But it does a critical feature that would make it a better choice for some people.
There’s no denying that the U-Phoria UMC204HD has a lot of value. But, if you don’t need the digital MIDI I/O and the extra set of monitor ports, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pull the trigger on a U-Phoria UMC202HD.
The price difference between this one and the UMC204HD can often be enough to buy a quality mic such as the Shure SM48 or even the classic SM58 if it’s on sale.
U-Phoria UMC204HD vs U-Phoria UMC202HD: Pros and Cons
Below is a breakdown of the good and the bad of each of these audio interfaces. For a quick overview of the perks and downfalls read on and you’ll soon have an idea of which one will work best for you.
Pros of U-Phoria UMC204HD
- MIDI I/O.
- MIDAS Preamps.
- 2 Sets of Stereo Monitors.
- Value for money.
Cons of U-Phoria UMC204HD
- A bit more expensive than the UMC202HD.
- It doesn’t have a DSP which could make latency a problem when recording with plugins and effects turned on.
Pros of the U-Phoria UMC202HD
- Has all the basics.
- MIDAS Preamps.
Cons of the U-Phoria UMC202HD
- Port selection can be a bit limiting for applications other than podcasting or simple voice-over work.
In a way, this comparison looked like Behringer’s version of Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2 vs. Scarlett 2i4 showdown.
They’re two of the brand’s top-selling interfaces at the budget end of the market.
Similar to how the Focusrite showdown went down, it all depends on what your use case is.
If you need more inputs, then the UMC204HD is your best bet. In most cases, small bands will be able to get the most use out of this one.
However, if you need an audio interface for simple use cases such as podcasting or voice-over work, then you’ll be happy with how the UMC202HD performs.
It now all depends on the price. You can often find both of these audio gear on sale in various online stores like Amazon and eBay. In a lot of cases, the price difference no longer exists between the two.
If that’s the case, then the only benefit of the UMC202HD disappears. In short, if the price difference between the two becomes negligible, UMC204HD should take more priority in your buying decision as it offers more features.
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