Since its launch in 2013 the highly rated Steinberg UR22 has remained a popular interface choice . Steinberg have now seen fit to bring the second revision, UR22mkII to market. The new model has iOS compatibility and included software for iOS, Mac, and Windows.
Those that are familiar with the first generation UR22 will find some similarities on the exterior of the second revision The most noticeable difference between the two is the ‘mkII’ lettering on the front giving a hint as to the interface’s age. Steinberg has maintained the conservative black and silver appearance on the UR22mkII. Although it is an attractive unit some will find it a little outdated looking when compared to recent competition.
The chassis itself is of metal construction, as with the original UR22, and it feels suitably robust. The 1030g weight means that the mkII is 32 grams heavier than it’s predecessor and is typically heavier than similar sized interfaces on the market. The knobs and switch appear to be made of plastic but feel solid in operation and turn as smoothly with a pleasing amount of resistance. Both front and rear connectors are made of injection molded plastic which is typical on an interface in this price range.
The overall, the build quality on the UR22mkII is impressive.
The connectors on the front of the unit are high quality Neutrik branded XLR/TRS analog inputs, with associated gain controls and peak LEDs to let you know when input signals are too high. A Hi-Z switch combines with the second input to allow for recording of electric guitar or bass. Along the front you’ll find a standard 1/4 inch headphone jack with volume control, an output level knob, and a mix knob for adjusting the signal level balance between the signal from the analog input jacks and the signal from your system.
Connectivity options on the rear consist of MIDI I/O and a pair of balanced 1/4 inch TRS audio outputs.The rear also has a A 48V phantom power switch which allows you to connect any condenser microphone of your choice. A minor inconvenience is having the 48V phantom switch at the back.
The mkII requires that a power supply is connected when hooked up to an iPad or iPhone. At the rear we find a micro-USB 5V DC power connector alongside the standard USB 2.0 connector. A sliding switch allows you to choose between the two power sources. iPad and iPhone users will need to purchase a suitable Apple Lightning-to-USB or CCK connector in addition to a power supply because Steinberg does not provide this with the UR22mkII.
Setup & Software
Steinberg created the low-latency sound card driver protocol, ASIO. You can typically expect stable and high performing drivers to be provided for their audio interfaces. The Windows driver supports Windows 7 SP1, 8, 8.1, and Windows 10. On the Mac OS side, 10.9 (Mavericks) through 10.11 (El Capitan) are supported by the current driver while older driver versions are available for use with 10.7.5 (Lion) and 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion). Updated drivers are made available for download on the support section of Steinberg’s website.
Desktop users are provided access to a downloadable copy of Cubase AI. Cubase AI is a basic but polished package and is a great start for a recording enthusiast.
For iOS, Steinberg offers Cubasis LE – a free, stripped down version of Cubasis (essentially what Cubase AI is to Cubase). Cubasis LE can be later upgraded to the standard Cubasis full feature set via an in-app purchase. Cubasis LE offers a maximum of four audio tracks and four MIDI tracks, and supports a maximum of two audio input channels with an audio format of 16-bit/44.1kHz. You’re also limited to three effects, although two additional FX packs are available through in-app purchase, one consisting of primarily reverb and delay-type effects and the other a variety of vintage style effects.
As a budget 2-in / 2-out interface, the UR22mkII sits in a crowded market segment and finds itself competing on price with the likes of Focusrite’s best-selling Scarlett 2i2. Considering, though, that the UR22mkII now offers iOS compatibility in addition to MIDI connectivity and 24-bit/192kHz support, we come to the conclusion that the UR22mkII is unmatched in features at this price point. The strong chassis and quality sounding preamps help to strengthen our impression of Steinberg’s latest interface. Overall, this is a fantastic audio interface for users at any level and we highly recommend it.
- Strong chassis
- Supports up to 192 kHz sample-rate
- iOS support
- Cubase AI activation process