An audio interface is a device that processes raw audio signals and turns them into information that your computer can interpret. Interfaces come in many shapes and sizes, from dedicated sound cards to separate units that you connect to your computer externally.
Today, we’re going to be comparing two outwardly similar audio interfaces from Behringer. Our competitors are the UM2 and the UMC22, and by the end of this guide, you’ll know which is best for you.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this Behringer UM2 vs UMC22 comparison:
- Build Quality
- Sound Quality
- Ease of Use
- Price & Value For Money
Ready? Let’s jump right in…
1. Build Quality: Behringer UM2 vs UMC22
The first difference that you’ll notice between these two products is that the UMC22 just feels more durable than its counterpart, and that isn’t surprising if you take a look at the price.
The most significant difference in the exterior (build-wise) is that the UMC22 features a metal housing which can withstand shocks and impacts. Despite its similar appearance, the UM2 features a disappointing plastic housing that is much less durable and even flexes a little bit.
The knobs are the next indicator of the UM2’s inferior build quality when compared to its counterpart.
While the UMC22 has professional-style knobs mounted in the front panel of the device, the UM2 relocates them to the top surface of the housing. However, the location of the knobs isn’t the issue. The UM2’s knobs are made out of cheap plastic, and they’re a lot less securely mounted than the UMC22’s, with some noticeable wiggle when you tug on them.
There is only a single switch on each of these devices, and it controls the direct monitor function.
Unlike the other parts of these audio interfaces, the direct monitor switch is identical between both models, and it’s the only part of the UM2’s interface that feels securely attached. When you press the switch, it ends with a satisfying click to let you know that you’ve toggled direct monitoring on or off.
Build Quality Winner: UMC22
2. I/O: Behringer UM2 vs UMC22
I/O: Behringer UM2
The I/O panel is where the similarities between these two devices begin to become evident, as they are nearly identical.
The UM2 actually features a less cluttered I/O panel than the UMC22, since the gain and output knobs have been moved to the top of the device. This makes it easier to disconnect or reconnect wires without accidentally moving one of the knobs and losing your gain setting.
The UMC22’s I/O panel features the mic or line 1 XLR input on the far left end, much like the UM2, and it’s a position where it is easy to access.
The port that is just to the right of the XLR port is an instrument input that uses a ¼ jack. The final port in the UMC22’s I/O is the headphone monitor output, and it also uses ¼ jack, though it is separated from the instrument input by the three knobs, which control gain 1, gain 2, and output.
I/O Winner: Tie
3. Sound Quality: Behringer UM2 vs UMC22
One of the most notable internal differences between the UM2 and the UMC22 is that the former uses Behringer’s in-house XENYX preamp, while the UMC22 uses a MIDAS preamp.
The practical differences between these two preamps aren’t extremely noticeable until you start pushing them harder. While the sounds are noiseless and clean, the MIDAS preamp tends to react a little better to distortion, retaining a more musical edge than the distortion of the XENYX.
While most preamps are susceptible to some degree of interference, the effects of that interference aren’t always equally noticeable.
Using the UM2, we discovered that it was much more vulnerable to interference than the UMC22, and this is entirely due to its plastic housing. The UMC22 is built with a metal housing which is much more effective at reflecting signals that can possibly interfere with your results.
Both of these devices use the same drivers, but they are overly complicated to set up, and the default drivers included with these devices are generic ASIO drivers.
The UM2 and UMC22 are not as plug-and-play as they may seem, as you’ll want to immediately replace the drivers which are automatically installed upon connecting them. The proper drivers can be downloaded on the Behringer site, though they are no longer supported, so they’ll be located in the “out of date” category.
Sound Quality Winner: UMC22
4. Size: Behringer UM2 vs UMC22
Size: Behringer UM2
If you’re looking for the most compact audio processor available, the UM2 has you covered. This device’s dimensions are a tiny 5 x 4.7 x 2 inches, and it only weighs just over 9 ounces.
This means that the device can fit in nearly any bag, and it can even fit in some larger pockets, though you’ll probably have some trouble fitting the cables in there too. If you need something that’s ultra-portable, small size is one of the main advantages of the UM2.
While the UM2 may be the most compact of the two, the UMC22 is also a relatively portable audio processor.
This model’s dimensions are 6.4 x 4.9 x 2 inches, and it weighs slightly over a pound, making it almost twice as heavy as the UM2. As you can see, the dimensions are very similar, though the main difference lies in the UMC22’s weight, which makes it slightly more challenging to transport.
Size Winner: Behringer UM2
5. Ease of Use: Behringer UM2 vs UMC22
As we mentioned earlier, the hardest part of setting up these devices is getting the correct drivers.
While you may be tempted to stick with the default drivers and save yourself some trouble, you will quickly regret it. The generic driver that the device installs when first plugged in is rife with issues, including popping and clicking sounds in your recordings as well as problems with third-party programs.
Both of these devices feature identical controls, and the only difference is where they are positioned, which we already discussed in an earlier section.
The controls are all clearly labeled and easy to understand, even if you don’t use the instruction manual. We prefer the top-mounted knobs of the UM2, though we wish they were built to the same standards as the knobs on the UMC22.
Both of these devices are also compatible with a wide range of software, ensuring that the broadest possible range of users can implement them into their recording setups.
The UM2 and the UMC22 are both compatible with popular programs like Ableton, Avid Pro Tools, and much more. If you are having issues getting one of these devices to work with a program, ensure that you have the proper drivers installed, as the generic driver does not work well with other programs.
Ease of Use Winner: Tie
6. Price & Value For Money: Behringer UM2 vs UMC22
Price & Value For Money: Behringer UM2
You would assume that the UM2 would offer better value for money when compared to the UMC22, as they have similar capabilities, and it’s available for a lower price point, but you may be surprised.
We found that the poor build quality of the UM2 wasn’t worth the drop in price, as it seems much less likely to last as long as the UMC22.
Price & Value For Money: UMC22
While the UMC22 is a bit more of an investment than the UM2 (it’s about 25% more expensive), it seems like it’s worth spending the extra money on it.
Along with the build quality, which we have already mentioned, the UMC22 is much less susceptible to interference. We also prefer the sound of the MIDAS preamp, but it only makes a difference in a small percentage of cases, so it isn’t the most significant difference.
Price & Value For Money Winner: UMC22
Conclusion & Takeaway
To summarize our findings in this Behringer UM2 vs UMC22 comparison, here are the winners for each category:
- Build Quality – Behringer UMC22
- I/O – Tie
- Sound Quality – Behringer UMC22
- Size – Behringer UM2
- Ease of Use – Tie
- Price & Value For Money – Behringer UMC22
Overall: Behringer UMC22
Deciding between two extremely similar products is never easy, especially if it’s something like an audio interface that you need to hear before you make a decision. We hope that this guide has provided you with all of the information that you need to make an informed purchase.
While the UM2 is a perfectly capable little budget audio interface, its disadvantages aren’t worth its slightly lower price when compared to the UMC22. That little bit of extra money will go a long way towards improving the expected lifespan of the device, and a few improvements in performance that can make recording more pleasant.