Review: Steinberg UR44 USB Audio Interface

Review Steinberg UR44 Audio Interface

With the UR series from Steinberg, the Hamburg DAW manufacturers have a wide range of products for everything to do with audio interfaces. After we recently took a closer look at the two-channel UR22, we are now turning our attention to the larger Steinberg’s UR44 audio interface, which has additional channels and a significant number of features. Can the overall pack convince us? More on that in this review.

General

The Steinberg UR44 is a 6-in/4-out interface for USB 2.0 that, due to its size and features, can best be classified as a “mobile middle class”. It, therefore, has six input and four output channels with a maximum converter resolution of 24 bits and 192 kHz. It is supposed to give a professional touch to offer such high sampling rates in the low-cost area, but I always ask myself whether this makes any sense at all in view of the computing power required for a hobby studio. For my part, I prefer to remain modest and continue to be mostly satisfied with 24-bit and “only” 48 kHz.

As with the other devices in the UR series, the housing of the UR44 is made of metal. With dimensions of 252 (W) x 47 (H) x 158 mm (D) and a weight of 1.6 kg, the device is still compact enough to do its job outside of the home studio.

Front panel preamps

Combo sockets with XLR and jack are used as connections, which process both microphone and line/instr signals. Inputs 1 and 2 are suitable for connecting high-impedance (Hi-Z) signals such as electric guitars or basses, while inputs 3 and 4 are equipped for line signals in terms of impedance. In the preamp section, Steinberg once again relies on Yamaha’s D-Pre preamplifier, which already convinced us in terms of sound with the UR22.

Steinberg UR44 Audio Interface

The rear MIDI In/Out is the only data interface on the UR44, digital audio connections such as S/PDIF or ADAT have been dispensed with in favor of the price, which I find consistent.

The output section offers four mono or two stereo outs, which are implemented in the form of 6.3mm jack sockets. Internally, two separate stereo paths are available for routing, which is an immense advantage, especially when monitoring recordings, since the engineer’s and artist’s monitoring paths can be mixed separately. Furthermore, a main out is available to feed monitors connected to it.

Both the controls and the connections are made of plastic. Overall, all components appear consistently high-quality and stable. An LED was also attached above each input, which flashes red in the event of overload. There is also another LED next to channels 1 and 3, which visualizes the presence of the phantom voltage. Although all inputs can be supplied with 48V via a push button, this is only possible in pairs.

Thanks to Class Compliant Mode, the UR44 can in principle be operated on any PC or Mac via Plug’n’Play. It can also be used on an iPad. The manufacturer specifies Windows 7 for PC users and Mac OSX 10.7 for Apple users as the minimum requirements. Older operating systems from Windows XP or OSX 10.5 are also supported, but this requires different firmware for the device. You can find a compatibility list here.

Software

To expand the range of functions, Steinberg offers the included dspMixFx software, a DSP-supported effects suite with which incoming signals can be processed before recording if desired. The user can decide for himself whether the effect should be applied directly in the recording path or only in the monitor signal. The internal routing is also defined here. A tab switch can be used to select between Mix 1 and Mix 2. While Mix 1 feeds Output 1/2, the main outs, and the first headphone amp, Mix 2 feeds the second headphone, as well as line outs 3 and 4.

When it comes to effects, dspMixFx also offers a virtual insert in each channel strip in addition to Lo-Cut and phase shifter. The “Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip Plug-In” from Yamaha can be added to this. In addition to the compressor and EQ, there is also a drive control that can be used to “tighten” the signal as desired.

For guitarists, the UR44 offers a virtual amp with the Yamaha Guitar Amp Classics plug-in, which masters four different sound styles – clean, grunge, lead and drive. I think the names speak for themselves. Of course, the classic “sing-in reverb” should not be forgotten at this point, which can be fed via an aux path in the channel. The Yamaha REV-X Reverb, which comes up with five presets from Small Room to Church, provides the necessary degree of spatial sound. Thanks to the integrated DSP chip for calculating the effects, there are no latencies during recording sessions.

The dspMixFx software is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems. An iPad app can also be obtained free of charge from the iTunes store. However, this differs slightly in the user interface, as it has been optimized for touch operation. To prevent any confusion at this point, it should be mentioned that it is not possible to remotely control the PC or Mac version via iPad. The adaptations of the device therefore always only apply to the respective recording system.

Conclusion

The UR44 can be sent home with top marks in almost all areas. With the UR22, Steinberg have already shown us that they can easily keep up with the competition, even in foreign climes. With an extensive range of functions, solid workmanship, and a very natural overall sound, the UR44 leaves nothing to be desired in terms of a more than reasonable price. Six inputs are often enough, but unfortunately not always. In view of the price, however, this is also tolerable.

UR44 Audio Interface Features:

  • 24-bit/192 kHz USB 2.0 audio interface.
  • 4 Class-A D-PRE mic preamps supporting +48 V phantom power.
  • 4 analog XLR/TRS combo inputs (Mic/Hi-Z on input 1/2 and Mic/Line on input 3/4), 2 TRS line inputs.
  • 4 line outputs (TRS balanced), plus 2 main outputs L/R (TRS balanced).
  • MIDI input and output.
  • 2 separate headphone buses with individual outputs.
  • Latency-free DSP-powered monitoring with REV-X reverb and Sweet Spot Channel Strips with any DAW by using the latest dspMixFx technology, including Basic FX Suite VST plug-ins.
  • Rugged full-metal housing.
  • Includes Cubase AI DAW software download version.
  • Cross-platform compatibility for Windows, Mac OS X, and iOS.
  • iPad connectivity thanks to CC mode (with the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit).

The suggested retail price for UR44 Audio Interface is 349 EUR including VAT.

Also Check: Best 5 Affordable USB Audio Interfaces

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