If you are looking for an audio interface with an abundance of I/O options, you will have to stretch your budget out of the entry-level range – but perhaps not as far as you may think. The Behringer U-PHORIA UMC1820 is one of the lower-priced models in our chart on the best audio interfaces under $500, but it offers enough to give some of the more expensive options something to think about. Let’s take a closer look…
If you have any experienced with lower-end models in Behringer’s U-PHORIA Series, the design of the mid-range UMC1820 won’t surprise you in any way – it’s standard for the series and standard for a $500 audio interface. However, that’s no bad thing as this unit has functionality at its core. Starting with the cosmetics, it features an all-metal, all-black impact-resistant chassis with light grey highlights around the controls. Again, typical Behringer – very sophisticated and very robust.
Unlike some of the lower-priced models (such as Behringer’s U-PHORIA UMC404HD), the USB-powered UMC1820 is rack mountable, with two ears fixed by screws to the rack, so installation is very straightforward. Mercifully, the controls are all on the front of the unit, which makes it convenient when you consider the eight inputs (more on these below). For the amount of stuff crammed into it, the UMC1820 is a surprisingly compact unit, at around 17” wide and just over 4” deep (so will easily fit in a 19” rack).
One of the highlights of the UMC1820 – especially at this price – is that it comes with eight inputs, in the form of combined XLR/TRS ports. These are fed into eight advanced MIDAS mic preamps, with +48 V phantom power for use with condenser mics (two switches to control inputs 1-4 and 5-8 separately). Each input has a corresponding control cluster that includes a line/instrument switch, a pad and a gain knob, with notification LEDs for the signal and clipping. There are additional controls for monitoring on the right side of the face, which completes a versatile lineup.
As for outputs, it comes with 10 line outputs (in the form of five pairs of 1/4” stereo jacks), as well as MIDI, SPDIF and ADAT ins and outs. One of the most interesting things about the UMC1820 is that the I/O options are split between the front and back (two inputs on the front) – whether or not you like this will depend on your workflow and preferences.
Firstly, the UMC1820 is compatible with both Mac and Windows systems, as well as all major DAWs including Ableton Live, Avid Pro Tools and Steinberg Cubase. For one of the lower-priced units in our chart, the UMC1820 shows solid performance. It can handle hot instrument pickups easily, while the MIDAS preamps ensure vocals are clean, colorless and noise-free. The device also delivers on its promise of zero-latency direct monitoring, with no noticeable lag or delay. Overall, very solid.
The U-PHORIA UMC1820 is another winner from Behringer, who demonstrates you don’t have to spend over the odds for a quality audio interface. For bands and performing artists looking for good I/O options at a price that won’t destroy your funds, this is a worthy consideration.