Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2: Comparing the Home-Recording Giants

Behringer U Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Making a home studio is made much simpler with audio interfaces like Behringer’s U-Phoria UMC404HD and Focusrite’s 2i2.

In fact, using either of these is the closest you’ll get to studio-quality from the comfort of your bedroom.

But is it easy to figure out which one is better? Let’s find out.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2 comparison:

  • Sound Capture Quality
  • Channels and Connectivity
  • Controls and Features
  • Practical Use
  • Build Quality
  • Price & Value for Money
  • Pros & Cons

Ready? Let’s get started…

30-Second Summary: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

So when it comes down to Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2, which one should you choose? Here’s a quick overview:

  • Go for Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD if you need more than just two channels in a compact external audio interface format. It also makes for a great choice if you’re making a “mobile studio” and want to record demos on the go. Additionally, we’d recommend it as a good choice for drummers who still want to keep things simpler with just four channels.
  • Go for Focusrite 2i2 if you’re looking for the most effective home-recording option. Having two channels, you can record two instruments at once or one instrument using two channels. In our opinion, this is probably the best option for guitarists and bassists, or just any type of duos. But overall, it’s the simplest “all-around” option for those who want a straightforward home setting or those who want a small “mobile studio.”

1. Sound Capture Quality: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Sound Capture Quality: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Behringer is pretty well-known for their cheap stuff. People are often put off by this, thinking that the audio quality may suffer. While we, at the moment, can’t say anything about their other gear, the U-Phoria UMC404HD audio interface keeps things at a desirable level. We have the current industry standard, a resolution of 24 bits and 192 kHz.

This device’s channels are also equipped with MIDAS preamps. Aside from the +48-volt phantom power, these can help you enhance the signal from microphones, making them sound pretty decent.

Sound Capture Quality: Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite always nails the sound quality. Their entire line of Scarlett audio interfaces, of which the 2i2 is part of, is mostly intended for home studios. However, the sound quality is pristine, getting pretty close to pro-level devices.

Additionally, things have been taken to a whole new level with the series’ 3rd generation, even adding the so-called “Air” feature. Aside from the 24-bit and 192 kHz audio resolution, you’ll notice very high headroom with instrument inputs, making it actually really hard to achieve any unwanted clipping and distortion.

With its mic preamps and these additional features, the 2i2 is as good as any of the audio interfaces from the Scarlett series.

Sound Capture Quality: Bottom Line

Honestly, this was a difficult pick. However, we can’t help but give this one to Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2. While both have pretty much the same analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion on paper, 2i2 brings more clarity in practice. And as mentioned, they have more headroom compared to Behringer’s products.

Sound Capture Quality Winner: Focusrite 2i2

2. Channels and Connectivity: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Channels and Connectivity: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Behringer’s U-Phoria UMC404HD is a 4-channel audio interface, pretty much a demo studio on its own. Each of the channels comes with a combined XLR and line input, giving you the option to use mics and instruments while saving space.

But that’s not all.

There are advanced connections, like the four inserts, MIDI in and out, and four outputs (two XLR and two 1/4-inch ones). There are also additional playback outputs, either RCA or standard 1/4-inch line. You can also use an additional headphone output for monitoring.

 Finally, the interface is connected to a computer using a standard USB connection.

Channels and Connectivity: Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite’s 2i2 is a fairly simple one. It comes with two channels, each with combined inputs for XLR and 1/4-inch connectors. On the device’s backside, we have two 1/4-inch line outputs and the USB-C connector for your computer. Other than that, there’s also the headphone monitoring connector.

Channels and Connectivity: Bottom Line

While 2i2 is arguably tidier and more advanced in some ways, Behringer here takes the cake. It’s not just about the number of channels, but rather the outputs and other connections that it comes with.

Inserts and playback outputs are not something you see every day on a home studio audio interface. So for this particular trait, we’d choose U-Phoria UMC404HD.

Channels and Connectivity Winner: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

3. Controls and Features: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Controls and Features: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

To put it simply, Behringer’s U-Phoria UMC404HD is a feast for everyone who loves to have a lot of options at their disposal. Aside from the aforementioned MIDI connectivity and inserts, you’ll also find:

  • Individual input gain controls
  • Line and instrument toggle switches on each channel
  • Attenuation switches
  • Separate control for headphone monitoring volume
  • Mix control
  • And even the mono/stereo mode switch

It’s really surprising to see what they were able to put onto this audio interface.

Controls and Features: Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite kept things tidy and simple on the 2i2. However, you still have a fair deal of functions on it. Aside from individual gain controls, there are also switches for instrument inputs, as well as the so-called “Air” control for both of the channels. This “Air” circuitry is pretty interesting, as it allows a more “open” and brighter sound.

What we also loved are the big knobs, which keep things very clear on the main panel. There’s also the direct monitoring switch that bypasses the processed signal and your DAW, as well as the headphone volume level control.

Controls and Features: Bottom Line

While you’ll see more buttons and knobs on the Behringer interface, Focusrite 2i2 is a worthy opponent. In fact, in practical terms, they’re pretty much equal in terms of controls and features.

Sure, the Behringer comes with the pad control and the mix knob, but the 2i2 has the direct monitoring switch and the “Air” circuitry. They’re obviously different. But for their respective use, they’re equally good.

Controls and Features Winner: Tie

4. Practical Use: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Practical Use: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

With its four channels and so many options, Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD is basically your mobile studio for demo recordings. Sure, it might lack some clarity that we’d hear with 2i2, but it comes in handy for multiple instruments or any setting where you’d need four microphones.

The addition of MIDI connectivity and four inserts is very exciting, although we’re not sure whether you’d really get to use them. Those who’re looking for those features would most likely buy a more advanced piece.

Either way, the UMC404HD is something you’d want if you’re looking for a simpler solution to a multi-channel recording. It can even be used for recording drums.

Practical Use: Focusrite 2i2

Just like the entire Scarlett series, Focusrite’s 2i2 is the perfect combination of elegance, practicality, and sound quality. It’s pretty much the perfect audio interface for home recording, especially if you’re recording two guitars, a guitar and bass, or an instrument and vocals.

Although not as versatile as UMC404HD, 2i2 makes for one awesome audio interface. In fact, even professional musicians use them for some smaller projects and high-quality demo recordings.

Practical Use: Bottom Line

We have two different beasts here. On one hand, Behringer UMC404HD is a better option for those who need more channels, while the 2i2 is a more compact and, arguably, a better-sounding audio interface. In their respective fields, both of these devices work pretty well.

Practical Use Winner: Tie

5. Build Quality: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Build Quality: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

It’s no secret that Behringer has that negative reputation of making “flimsy” products. Although they’ve definitely stepped up their game in the past decade or so, you can still notice some not-so-flattering aspects of their practices.

While UMC404HD most certainly won’t give up on you, the overall build quality makes us wonder whether it can take long-term use as a mobile studio.

Build Quality: Focusrite 2i2

On the other hand, Focusrite doesn’t cut any corners when it comes to the build quality. There’s a lot of attention put here, and it’s more than just about its metal casing.

The knobs and buttons are solid and the jacks are sealed tight. Even if you take it with you for recording live gigs, or doing any sessions out there “in the field,” 2i2 will serve you for years to come.

Build Quality: Bottom Line

Now, don’t get us wrong. UMC404HD is far from a poorly-made audio interface. But if you put it against a piece like Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, it doesn’t really hold up.

And it’s a fair loss in this build quality category since the 2i2 is one of the best-made audio interfaces on the market today.

Build Quality Winner: Focusrite 2i2

6. Price & Value for Money: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Price & Value for Money: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

The main idea behind Behringer’s stuff is to bring the best possible qualities at the minimum possible market price. And, to be fair, the UMC404HD is pretty impressive in this regard. You’ll get a multi-functional 4-channel piece at a price of single or dual-channel audio interfaces for home use.

Sure, there are some minor flaws to it, but the price is surprisingly low. If you don’t require pristine audio quality in all settings but still like some of the practical features, you definitely won’t regret getting this one.

Price & Value for Money: Focusrite 2i2

Focusrite doesn’t leave anything to chance. In terms of build, sound quality, and basic features, the Scarlett 2i2 audio interface is as good as it gets for its intended use. And looking at its price, it’s definitely worth every penny.

Sure, 2i2 has only two channels and seems like a relatively expensive piece for such a product. But this couldn’t be further from the truth as you’ll have a hard time finding anything that comes close within this category.

Price & Value for Money: Bottom Line

Again, saying which one is a better deal for the price was not an easy task. Both audio interfaces are pretty great and are far from being overpriced. However, 2i2 is, arguably, a better deal. This is especially the case if you’re looking for the best solution for your home studio.

What’s more, it’s pretty compact and sturdy so it’s easy to carry around with you for some demo recordings. UMC404HD is still a great deal, but only if you really need more than just two channels and additional features, like MIDI connectivity.

Price & Value for Money Winner: Focusrite 2i2

7. Pros & Cons: Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Great deal for the price
  • Comes with an abundance of tone-shaping options
  • Quality microphone preamps
  • Inclusion of MIDI connectivity and channel inserts

Cons:

  • It could have better sound capture quality in some settings

Focusrite 2i2 Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Sturdy, well-built, and features a great design
  • Pristine audio quality at this price level
  • Really simple to use
  • Great microphone preamps
  • The inclusion of “Air” circuitry

Cons:

  • Nothing for this price level

Conclusion & Takeaway

To summarize our findings in this Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD vs Focusrite 2i2 comparison, here are the winners for each category:

  • Sound Capture Quality – Focusrite 2i2
  • Channels and Connectivity – Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD
  • Controls and Features – Tie
  • Practical Use – Tie
  • Build Quality – Focusrite 2i2
  • Price & Value for Money – Focusrite 2i2

Overall: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Sometimes, it gets pretty hard deciding which audio interface is better, especially with today’s standards in analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion.

Either of these two options would work great for home use, even allowing you, to some extent, to create pro-level projects in your simplified studio.

But, at the same time, it’s hard not to notice some advantages of Focusrite’s Scarlett 2i2. For quite some time now, the entire series has been pretty popular among home-recording enthusiasts.

And with the 3rd generation of these products, the company has taken things to a whole new level. So even though Behringer’s UMC404HD is a great audio interface, 2i2 is objectively better.

We would, however, recommend UMC404HD for anyone who needs more than two channels and MIDI connectivity. Sure, MIDI and inserts might seem like an unnecessary addition for a budget-friendly audio interface, but they might come in handy to some users.

Product Links:

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Products Comparison Table:

Specs

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD

Channels

4

2

Simultaneous I/O

4×4

2×2

A/D conversion quality

24 bits and 192 kHz

24 bits and 192 kHz

Phantom power

Yes

Yes

MIDI connectivity

Yes

No