Steinberg UR-RT2 Audio Interface Review

Even before Dave Grohl put Rupert Neve back in the spotlight in the Sound City documentary, his name had been THE word in recording. Steinberg has now partnered with Rupert Neve to bring his classic preamp sound into a package that fits into a home studio, at a decent price.

The specs are pretty standard for a 2-input DAW interface: two combo XLR inputs, with individual gain controls. A hi-z switch optimizes the input signal for instruments, which makes DI’ing a guitar or bass a snap. With a headphone input and volume control as well as a main output control on the front, you’re good-to-go.

What’s also on the front is a pair of backlit buttons to engage the Neve-designed transformers into the preamp. Without going into a big diatribe on Neve’s theory of circuit design, the transformers are the heart of what makes his preamps sound great. The rear panel handles monitor and line outs, and the usual MIDI connections. 48V phantom power is also available for your condenser mics. It has a standard power connection as well as a USB 2.0 jack. It’s designed to not only connect to Windows or Mac computers, but also to iOS Devices, with a conversion plug (not included).

Included is a plethora of software, including Cubase AI, Rev-x Reverb and Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip. Throw in the Yamaha Guitar Amp Classics plug-in suite and it is a one-stop-shop for doing pretty much anything. What really makes an interface powerful is taking the load off of the DAW, and having the interface deal with monitoring, specifically latency. The included DSPMIXFX software handles this nicely, and it’s available for both computer and iOS devices. While Cubase AI is included, it should work with no issues with any DAW software; in fact, we used it primarily with PreSonus’ latest version of Studio One with no problems.

OK, all that aside, do the Neve Preamps live up to their reputation? Yes. They’re musical in the best sense of the term. Start your tracks with these, and it brings all that extra fullness, dynamics and articulation at the push of a button. Yes, you could hunt through tons of processing, to try (try is the keyword here) to get to the same point, but why make your life harder? Plugging in instruments that would normally use a DAW’s plug-ins with this at the source, can really liven up the feel, presence and response of what would be a lifeless plug-in, especially with guitars and basses. Using a variety of microphones also brought in that lil extra on vocals; put simply, the preamps really kicked the tracks up a notch. The only question would be why would you not use them? Seriously, they should just be engaged by default.

Overall, it’s not that much more expensive than the usual two-channel interface, and the extra cost is well worth it, considering the wonderful Neve Preamps being included. The idea of buying cheaper interface, and then paying some kind of external “bouteek” preamp unit, just doesn’t make sense when this is an option right out of the box. An inexpensive home/remote studio rig with big sounding musical preamps? Who wouldn’t want that? Totally recommended.

PROS:

Great sounding preamps, reasonable price.

CONS:

None.

STREET PRICE:

$349 [click to buy now]

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