Updated on April 3rd, 2022
The Yamaha Steinberg UR22mkII audio interface is often regarded as an entry-level music recording and production tool. Although it packs a ton of benefits for the beginner, it is also widely used by many pros around the world.
It is a well-built, affordable, and reliable unit that will help you achieve awesome music production and recording results. It is a versatile card that is simple to use, though it also means business.
Yamaha Steinberg UR22mkII
The Yamaha Steinberg UR22mkII is the second generation (hence the mkII in its name) of a very popular and reliable audio interface. The original UR22 model was released in 2013 and has since undergone a rehaul that resulted in UR22mkII back in 2015.
This audio interface is a simple-to-use, reliable piece of music hardware with more than enough different options for both pros and beginners.
Who is this product for?
The Steinberg UR22mkII has earned its popularity as an excellent beginner’s choice for music production and home recording. This is partly owing to a relatively simple and basic design, but mostly because it comes packed with the Cubase AI app for both PC and Mac, as well as the Cubasis LE app for the iPad.
As a professional, you likely already have a preferred DAW installed on your main device, so the fact that the Steinberg UR22mkII comes with a limited-edition iPad DAW probably means nothing to you. This doesn’t mean that this audio interface isn’t meant for you, though. It does lack in some departments, but it really brings some cool tweaks to the table.
The Steinberg UR22mkII’s box comes with a USB cable, a multi-language user manual, a Cubase AI CD installation, setup guide, and product key. The audio interface itself is safely tucked away to avoid transport damage.
Including a CD for installing your DAW was somewhat of an eyebrow-raising decision, even back in 2015, seeing as how most modern laptops don’t even have a CD drive, but featuring a CD just to be safe is completely fine.
Unfortunately, a 3.5mm to quarter-inch converter for headphones isn’t included, but you probably already have this, and if you don’t, you can buy a cheap one in any electronics shop. Other than some documentation, that’s pretty much it.
Overview of features
First of all, let’s talk about the build. The Yamaha Steinberg UR22mkII is a weighty audio interface unit. It is weighty because its chassis is entirely built from metal. This gives the UR22mkII a lot of reliability points, as this unit can take quite a pounding. Aesthetic-wise, it looks basic and sleek.
It features 2 XLR inputs with combo jacks for TRS/TS and 2 outputs (hence the ‘22’ in the name), as well as a separate knob for each of the two inputs. There’s also a mix knob for switching between input and DAW, a headphones volume knob, and the master output knob. Only the input number 2 has a Hi-Z switch. There’s a whole lot to tell about this Hi-Z, but more on that later.
The UR22mkII has a +48V phantom power switch in the back that supplies more power to both inputs at once. It uses a Type-B USB 2.0 port for data and a Micro-B USB for power, although the AC adaptor and the cable aren’t included. Next to the MIDI in and out connectors, you can find the L&R quarter-inch output jacks with TS unbalanced or TRS balanced connectivity.
How to get the most out of it
First of all, this may come off as a nuisance and a general downside, but when you switch the Hi-Z on and turn down the input 2 gain to zero, you’ll still get a signal. In fact, the Peak LED will start blinking when you use the second input with the Hi-Z switched on. This means that the input is clipping, despite being turned down to zero.
Hi-Z inputs are somewhat of a regular thing in modern recording, especially when it comes to guitars, which are among the most common recorded instruments. Using an audio interface professionally, without being able to use the Hi-Z would turn anybody off. Fortunately, an interesting solution does exist. A solution that may help you squeeze out even more.
If you run a simple pedal with all settings on it set to “0” or a DI box between your instrument and the UR22mkII interface, you’ll get less input and the Hi-Z will start behaving normally.
This gives you more wiggle room to work with when it comes to recording, which is actually a great thing when you think about it, especially for guitar recording. Not only do you get a functional Hi-Z input, but a Hi-Z input that you can experiment with.
- Comes with a free DAW
- Cubasis LE included
- Very sturdy, all-metal chassis
- Simple to use
- The Hi-Z setup may confuse beginners
- Some USB issues
The Roland Rubix 22 is evidently designed as a direct competition to the UR22mkII. If you don’t want to waste time playing around with the Hi-Z setup, the Rubix 22 has very similar features and may be a good alternative.
If you want a lighter, less weighty, and sturdy audio interface unit, the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is always a great choice. With sample rates of up to 192kHz/24-bit and a great collection of additional software, it is an excellent alternative to the UR22mkII.
The Yamaha Steinberg UR22mkII is an excellent piece of audio recording technology that comes with all the features you need. Its Hi-Z problems may present an issue in the beginning, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll quickly start realizing that this is actually a benefit.
When it comes to build quality and evident reliability, the UR22mkII has no match on the market. Affordable and featuring fantastic performance, this model from Steinberg is a no-brainer for the beginner and expert alike.
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