If you are looking for a good USB audio interface, you may have considered investing in the Steinberg UR12 since it is often advertised as a good budget interface, but with the price being so affordable it is understandable that many people doubt the quality of this interface compared to its more expensive counterparts.
So, if you want to get a cheaper interface, but you want to know if the Steinberg UR12 is high enough quality to be able to do what you need it to, keep reading to see if this interface is good enough for you!
For a quick summary of this review, the best quality of the Steinberg UR12 is how affordable it is, and as well as this, it has quite a good performance based on what you are paying for it.
And it is also quite durable which is an aspect of interfaces which many people seem to overlook, since there is no point investing in a device like this if it is going to fall apart after a few months of use.
The main issues we have with this interface is when you compare it to some other audio interfaces for podcasting that you can find in the same price range.
This interface starts to look a lot less impressive when you see others at a similar, or even lower price which can easily outperform it, with them maybe just being slightly less durable.
If you want to see more details about specific aspects of the Steinberg UR12, keep reading as we go through each category we review!
I/O And Controlling
If you look at the front section of the Steinberg UR12, you can recognize two main inputs, this is one input made for XLRs, and one made for TRS’ which is a ¼ inch.
Both of these separate inputs has their own gain controls right next to them, and also have an LED light each which is used to show if there is any clipping present in their signal.
The XLR input specifically has 48V phantom power, and you can activate this by using a switch which is found on the back of the interface.
Right next to the inputs you will find the control dial for the output, as well as a quarter inch output for headphones, and a switch which is used for direct monitoring.
If you turn to the rear panel, there is also a 5V DC socket, a USB 2.0 socket, as well as the main power switch.
It is worth noting that the device has 2 RCA outputs which are unbalanced as opposed to the preferable balanced TRS.
This will likely not affect any beginners too much, but if you are more experienced or more picky with your audio quality you will likely notice the difference.
Finally, there is also another switch which you use for engaging phantom power which was mentioned previously.
When it comes to the quality of the recording done on this interface, the device has its AD resolution at 24 bit depth, and its maximum sample rate is 192 kHz.
The Steinberg UR12 also has its dynamic rate at 101 dB when A weighted. This amount of headroom is going to be sufficient in most situations, however, you can find units in a similar price range which will score a lot better in this category.
When looking at the Steinberg UR12’s XLR input, it is specified to be a Class A D PRE preamp for microphones.
This preamp in particular has inverted Darlington circuits and these will give you a more neutral and transparent performance than some others.
When looking at the XLR input, it specifically has its gain range between +10 dB and +54 dB.
This again is not the best you will find within the price range of the Steinberg UR12, it is sufficient for most situations.
Using In A Home Studio
As has been mentioned a couple of times, this unit is perfect for use by beginners, and is great if you are working in a smaller recording space.
As was previously noted, the device is quite small and has a high build quality, so if you tend to be clumsy when handling your interface, you will not have to worry about this one breaking.
Steinberg has designed the UR12 to have a simple and sleek look which is easy to navigate, so it should not pose too much of an issue for a beginner who may struggle to find their way around devices like these.
So, while this means it does lack a few functions, it is perfect for those who do not need or want every bell and whistle.
It is worth noting that the Steinberg UR12 is designed with a loopback feature and this will merge the signal from your input to the DAW output, and then this merged signal will then go back to your computer with no latency.
This feature is perfect if you plan to be using the interface for either a podcast or perhaps gaming streams.
Like some other interfaces, the Steinberg UR12 automatically sends channel one to the left and channel two to the right, if you would prefer the channels to come out of both speakers instead you will need to ensure that you have set the input setting onto mono.
Using For Mobile Recording
As previously mentioned, the Steinberg UR12 has a lightweight and more compact design, so moving it along with you is very simple which makes it a good fit for recording on mobiles.
An impressive feature is the native iOS support which the device has. So, if versatility and being able to record on the go is a priority, this is a good option for you!
Build Quality And Durability
As has been mentioned a couple of times, the build of the Steinberg UR12 is very durable and if you are clumsy and tend to drop your equipment, this is not a piece you will have to worry about.
Of course do not go testing how much of a battering this can take, but you do not have to worry about it being frail.
Bundles With Software
While this is a cheaper choice, this interface also does come with software bundled with it with the access to Cubase AI being one of the best inclusion available.
This software makes it so you are able to record 32 separate tracks of audio or alternatively 48 tracks of MIDI.
While this is not the full version of Cubase with that being Cubase advanced, if you want something more meaty than a free trial, this is a great option.
However, Cubase AI does not have all the features some alternate DAWs will offer, but if you want some software which is a good starting point, this is going to be one of the better offers.
Compared With Competitors
We have mentioned a few times in this review that the Steinberg UR12 does not compare that amazingly to some of its competitors, so let’s have a look at some more specific examples by comparing it to some cheaper audio interfaces.
Against The Focusrite Scarlett Solo
Unfortunately for the Steinberg UR12, this is a very unfavorable comparison, and the Scarlett Solo beats out the Steinberg UR12 in most categories.
Against The PreSonus AudioBox USB 96
Another less than favorable comparison, the PreSonus has balanced TRS outputs which is a specific weakness we pointed out for the Steinberg UR12, as well as also having MIDI I/O, on top of two combo outputs, and the RRP is only $100, so this is another strike against the Steinberg UR12.
Against The Behringer UMC204HD
This also has balanced TRS outputs as well as MIDAS preamps and some other features the Steinberg UR12, even worse, it is cheaper, so in this comparison we would recommend against the Steinberg UR12 and instead to get the Behringer.
Against The Audient EVO 4
Finally, this comparison is a bit more fair with the Steinberg admittedly having a stronger AD resolution, however the Audient is more flexible, so this one just depends on your preference.
Who Will Love The Steinberg UR12?
As has been inferred a few times, you will get the best use out of the Steinberg UR12 if you are a beginner.
We have docked points for some missing features this interface has, but this can also be seen as a plus if you are a beginner who does not want to have to deal with too many features which make the interface difficult to navigate.
Our pain pros for this device is that it is in the affordable price range and the sound quality you will get from it is decent, however it is held back as a viable option with just how many competitors outperform it.
The main issue with the Steinberg UR12, is that it only fills a very specific niche, and only temporarily.
This is a device starters will quickly outgrow, and with better options being cheaper, only get this if you can get a good deal.