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UR12 USB Audio Interface – $99
PROS: Simple, small, ultra compatible.
There are a lot of companies making USB interfaces. Some claim to be portable, and are too big, and others while being small, just lack the features required for any kind of decent recording. Steinberg has found a happy medium with their UR12.
Size-wise it’s about a half rack size and relatively light. The front panel has XLR, and 1/4” inputs. Output and input levels are controlled via two knobs, with a direct monitor, and 1/4” headphone out finishing things off at the front. The rear has a 5v USB and a standard USB 2.0 connection that is selectable. RCA output jacks and phantom power selection are here as well. A nice feature is the connections labeled on top of the unit, eliminating the need to keep flipping the unit around to make any connections or adjustments. It’s designed to work with Mac and Windows platforms, buy the real interesting option is the ability to use it as a recording interface with an iPad, as well.
Sound-wise, it’s quiet, and there’s no latency in tracking. Since the input options are limited, it’s not going to record a full orchestra, but it’s meant more as a portable workstation for a songwriter, either at home or on-the-go.
The unit comes with a copy of Cubase AI, Steinberg’s audio recording software. The software is easy to adapt to, complete with 32 tracks of audio and 48 MIDI tracks, as well as an extensive drum loop library. The big seller here is that this plays nicely with pretty much any recording platform: Cubase, GarageBand, Sonar, and Pro Tools.
Taking an idea that may have been developed on the road, or in a bedroom, and using the tracks as demos to build off of, is an excellent practical application for this unit. So for mobile or home recording applications, this is a pretty neat little interface, and it can fit in a gig bag easily. Considering the flexibility across operating systems and recording platforms, it’s well worth the insanely low $99 street price.
-24-bit/192 kHz USB 2.0 audio interface
-1 Class-A D-PRE Mic Preamp supporting +48V phantom power
-1 MIC Input (XLR) plus 1 Hi-Z Input, 2 Line Outputs (RCA)
-CC Mode for iPad
-USB-Powered for Mac & PC
-Loopback Function for Internet Live Broadcasting
-Rugged Metal Casing
-Includes CUBASE AI for MAC & PC