In terms of music technology, the arrival of the digital world in music has had a major impact, and things that were just not possible before are now commonplace. If you wrote and wanted to record your material a few decades ago, the only way to do that was at a professional recording studio. And that meant money. Quite often, lots of it.
At one time, just for business, it then shrunk in size and was able to sit on a desk instead of filling three floors of an office block. This in itself opened doors. And manufacturers with one foot in the music world suddenly jumped in with both feet.
It became apparent that there was a way of recording music digitally with a computer. But two things needed to happen first. First, someone had to design and build a Digital workstation, what we now call a DAW. Second, the computer had to have enough processing power to handle it.
It took a while, but once it started, things moved quickly. Sound Tools came first, and that was followed by Cubase. Now it looked feasible. But people needed more sophistication and user-friendly options.
The Fires are burning
Notator Logic was created in the 1990s in Germany. The company that designed it was acquired by Apple, who rebranded it as Logic Pro in 2002. This was one year after Ableton Live had hit the market. Other software options began to arrive as the creative fires began to burn.
But there was still a problem. Before those packages could be successful, they had to find a way to convert an analog signal to digital. The early packages like Cubase were okay for working with MIDI. But what about vocals, guitar, basses, and acoustic instruments?
The problem was solved by the audio interface. Now analog signals could be converted into a digital format that the latest systems could understand. Now you could plug in your guitar or bass. Use a mic for vocals or recording acoustic instruments. The home studio had become reality.
There are plenty of excellent audio interfaces around these days. Some with their own little quirks and performance options. The Behringer UCA202 is just one. Before we get deep into this Behringer UCA202 Review, who is Behringer?
They are one of these companies that it feels like have been here for a long time. They were founded by a Swiss engineer as recently as 1989 in Germany. It didn’t take them long to establish a name.
They have become known for producing cost-effective products for recording and other musical activities. Their product base is now extensive, and all with a simple philosophy. Make it basic, effective, and affordable. Not a bad thing.
In some areas, their synthesizers, for example, they have begun to be more adventurous. But in the main, it is plain and simple. As is this interface I am going to look at.
Some people are critical
They have picked up a few critics on the way. People who, for some reason, think they are going to get a high-end product for a low-end price. But they are just not being realistic. You meet them everywhere.
If they want a high-end product with all the bells and whistles, they should get their checkbook out. Behringer doesn’t profess to be in that market.
Filling a Gap
Behringer certainly fills the gap they were designed for. The products are designed in Germany, and most, though not all, are made in “Behringer City” in Guangdong, China, as is this audio interface.
But most importantly, they do their job, as I can attest using some of their gear at the moment. I shall return to that later. So, what is this Audio Interface all about?
Behringer UCA202 – Overview
The audio interface is usually a piece of equipment that stays in one location. You use it in your studio or with your computer. It is not something that you consider carrying around with you.
But if you are looking for the best affordable portable audio interface that is small enough to pop in your pocket, then you’ve found it. The Behringer UCA202 is similar in size to your smartphone. In fact, not much bigger than a fat credit card. It is compact and very portable indeed.
Good basic features
It has two RCA outputs and two RCA inputs. There is also an optical digital output. To add to its usefulness, there is also a headphone out. It is USB-powered, so it requires no external power source. And all of that in a piece of kit the size of your phone.
Good quality audio is important, and this interface features 16-bit/48kHz converters. It also provides low latency playback to your headphones.
Just connect up your instruments or mics, or even your mixer to your computer wherever you are. Recording and playback just became easy and transportable.
It is supplied with free software that you can download. This includes a recognized editing package as well as recording software.
Does size matter?
I mentioned earlier about the Behringer equipment we use here. We have a small remote recording facility that links up to the main studio we work with. However, we needed a headphone amp. So, we bought Behringer after testing out the competition. That was nearly three years ago.
When it was delivered, it was tiny. About the same size as this interface we are looking at here. Has it ever let us down? Never. Does it do its job? Always. Is it easy to use? Very.
If you think that something this size cannot perform and you need something physically larger, you don’t. The only question you need to ask is, “Does it perform?” That is what we are going to find out. Being designed and engineered in Germany is a good start. So, let’s take a closer look…
So let’s give the exact measurements of this interface. It is 3.45 inches wide and 2.36 inches deep. When laid flat, it is less than an inch tall. Is that compact enough for you?
The housing is made of plastic, but it is a reasonable strength. And that helps to make it such a lightweight for carrying around. Treat it with care, and it is going to give you long service. The jacks are gold plated to eliminate any corrosive problems and provide good connections.
PC and Mac
It will work with either PC or Mac computers. No setup or extra drivers are required. It might just be the best plug-and-play audio interface you can buy. As we said, it is USB-powered, so no external power unit is necessary.
No problems with the quality or strength of the build. Yes, it has a plastic housing, but I am presuming you don’t have plans to stamp on it, so it will be fine.
As we mentioned, there is a stereo headphone output. It has its own dedicated Level control. This will allow you to monitor the output and the input.
For direct digital conversion, it has an extra S/PDIF optical output. The connection of instruments and or mics is through two gold-plated mono analog inputs. There are also two outputs for monitoring what is going on.
The performance levels aren’t straight out of the top drawer quality-wise. But they are more than adequate for what most people need. Using the high-resolution 16-bit/48kHz converters gives you decent audio quality. As a result, it’s one of the best audio interfaces for beginners.
This is considered CD quality. That has, of course, been surpassed in recent years in terms of high-end quality. But it will still provide a more than adequate audio performance; it is what you hear every time you listen to a CD, after all.
Behringer makes some of the software you will need available for free. You simply have to just download it. Here are two examples.
This is a well-used and respected package that operates with Mac OS, Windows, and Linux systems. It is an audio editor that is easy to use. It has plenty of editing capability and allows you to cut and splice sounds together. You can even change the pitch or speed of your recording. It will also convert your records and tapes to digital recordings. A useful addition.
An easy-to-use digital workstation for recording and editing your compositions. It has a single screen interface and gives you unlimited tracks, dynamic automation, and MIDI recording. Likewise, it will also support AU and VST plugins.
It gives you plenty of tools that you will need to produce great recordings. And being so easy to use, there is no heavyweight learning curve at the front end. If you get into trouble, there is a full range of resources available to help.
Behringer UCA202 Review – Pros and Cons
- Decent build quality for the housing.
- Compact and easy to carry around.
- Two RCA outputs for monitoring and two RCA inputs.
- USB powered, so no need for extra power supplies.
- CD-quality 16-bit/48kHz converters.
- Some useful free recording and editing software.
- Hassle-free connectivity to your Mac or PC.
- Gold-plated jack sockets.
- Dedicated headphone volume controls.
- Set at an insane price point.
- The plastic build might put some people off.
- Some may need a higher quality interface with more bells and whistles, but that will cost a lot more.
Need a Great Audio Interface or Recording Equipment?
Then we have the reviews to help you find just what you need. Check out our in-depth reviews of the Best iPad Audio Interfaces, the Best USB Audio Interfaces, the Best Multitrack Recorder, the Best Audio Interface, the Best Portable Audio Recorders, the Best MIDI Keyboard for FL Studio, or the Best Studio Headphones For Home Recording that you can buy in 2021.
Also, have a look at our comprehensive Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Gen 3 Review, our Focusrite Scarlett 18i18 3rd Gen Review, our Presonus Audiobox USB 96 Review, our BEHRINGER Audio Interface 4-Channel UMC404HD Review, our Tascam DR-40X Review, and our Reason Studios Reason 11 Review for more great recording equipment currently on the market.
Behringer UCA202 Review – Final Thoughts
When you work in the music industry, you see a lot of products. Some good, some not so good, and some downright awful. This is just one more example of an inexpensive piece of kit from Behringer that is very impressive at its price point.
It understandably hasn’t got the finesse and the technical spec of some of the competition. Some of which cost ten times more, at least. But it isn’t built for that. It will have its detractors, I am sure. Those who complain because they aren’t getting something for nothing.
But at the end of the day, this does what it says it is going to do. Basic it is and very simple, but that is the beauty of it. And for someone looking for a budget audio interface, then you will go a long way to find something better. A great little piece of kit from Behringer. And at the price point, excellent value for money.
Until next time, let the music play.