There once was a time when Steinberg offered real competition to some of the biggest names in high end digital audio workstations. But not all is fair in business and while other DAWs were embraced by the industry, Steinberg’s flagship product Cubase fell to the wayside. However, as the UR22 Mk II Recording Pack shows, this didn’t mean that the company ceased making high quality products.
Straight out of the box, the UR22 Mk II is of extremely solid construction, it has a strong metal housing and is surely not in any danger of being damaged during regular use. It has two phantom powered XLR inputs with jacks for TRS/TS inputs and each input has a corresponding gain control. Input 2 also has a Hi-Z switch for when you want to directly plug in high impendence devices like a guitar or bass.
The pack comes included with a copy of the Cubase Al 8 software, which is a free LE version of Steinberg’s flagship Cubase recording program. The software requires a bit of patience to setup as you need to install some drivers via a CD and then register the product online before you can get going. It allows you to have 32 audio and 48 MIDI tracks running simultaneously, which is enough for the majority of my home recording projects, and comes with 28 plugin effects and instrument sounds. The included effects are unsurprisingly quite basic, so anyone looking for a very natural sounding vocal reverb will want to look elsewhere.
The software itself is very simply laid out and easy to use, with the ‘Inspector’ section being the channel strip and clicking on the corresponding symbol next to each point of the channel, such as insert or EQ, can make it expand or disappear.
Al 8 offers several basic recording templates for different scenarios, such as acoustic guitar and voice, electric guitar and voice, piano and voice, etc. each with a plugin attached ready to go. This and the layout both seem somewhat elementary, but while it may be aimed at beginners, the program is also perfectly capable of recording high quality audio.
The Class-A D-PRE mic preamps used here sound very clean to my ears with no perceptible added colouration. Cubase Al 8 allows recording of up to 192kHz at 24 bit or 32 bit float, which is something to keep in mind if you are aiming to record something that requires higher. The UR22 does not come with any internal DSP processing, which is to be expected at this price point.
The pack also comes with a ST-MO1 condenser microphone and a pair of ST-HO1 headphones, both of which are perfectly usable as extras with this pack.
Basically, at this price point you can’t go wrong with the UR22 Mk II. It is easy to use, compact and compatible with both Mac, Windows, and iPad. The software is laid out in a logical and familiar way and of an acceptably high quality for most applications, while the headphones and microphone are a nice little extra throw-in. Given the similar features offered by other big brands that come with a much larger price tag, this is a bargain for anyone who doesn’t need to record more than two things at a time or at a higher rate than 24 bit/192kHz.
Hits and Misses
Nice sounding preamps
Great price point
The included software is quite limiting, the full version of Cubase would be appreciated
No XLR outputs