Reviewed: Steinberg UR-RT4 audio interface

Yamaha Music | au.yamaha.com | Expect To Pay: $999

Steinberg’s range of UR audio interfaces has been around for a number of years now, with details of the expected upgrade to certain models recently being released. At present, the existing models currently stand proud on features and audio quality for their price points. Steinberg did not need to bring out replacements for these proven interfaces, and that is not what they have done here. The new UR-RT4 is not a replacement for the UR44, so don’t think of this as just another upgrade. The UR-RT4 is part of a whole new direction for the UR range that introduces two new interfaces designed to deliver a greater standard in audio quality with something very special that will make these models stand out from the regular UR range, and that something special comes with the name of Rupert Neve in the design process.

There can be no denying that the name Rupert Neve is revered in audio circles. His consoles and preamps are the stuff of legend and their tone has been heard on countless classic albums over the last two centuries. Yes, it sounds pretty impressive when you think of it that way, and the fact is, Rupert’s designs were impressive and the quality and character of their tone has been emulated and replicated time and again in search of that ‘Neve’ sound. It goes without saying that you can expect something special when Steinberg releases an interface with the Neve name attached to it.

 

 

What is on offer with the UR-RT4 is an interface not dissimilar in specification to the original UR44 as far as connectivity goes, but it is in the signal path that it differs greatly. The team at Rupert Neve Designs worked closely with Steinberg to create an interface that offers four switchable Neve transformers, allowing you to bring the tone and character that a Neve transformer is known for into your signal path when recording at home. This is something very special for the price, as it opens up access to Rupert Neve Designs’ transformer sound to a much wider market.

 

It sounds not unlike a Neve in a compact USB audio interface. The four separate transformers have been carefully designed and built into the housing of the UR-RT4 in a modular fashion so they can be added to or removed from the signal path depending on your needs. By engaging the Rupert Neve Designs transformer, a certain natural distortion and richness is added to your signal, with a responsiveness that we’ve come to expect from Neve consoles. Of course, this is not four dedicated Neve preamps in one box; you still have Steinberg’s great sounding D-Pre microphone preamps, but the signal path is then lifted with the Neve transformer that adds headroom and a richness of tone that is certainly characteristic of that classic Neve console sound. It really is a very clever design and implementation of the concept to get the UR-RT4 together. This will certainly open up a world of sound for many users that would previously not have been able to work with a Neve circuit in their recording signal path. I can see this interface, along with the smaller UR-RT2, being a big hit amongst home and project studio setups. The UR-RT4 sounds great, and it’s much smaller than a Neve console.

Hits and Misses

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Four Neve transformers in one interface

Healthy I/O, including MIDI and additional line inputs

Again, four Neve transformers in one interface

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Not at all

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