Perhaps the most daunting aspect of pursuing a career in audio or music production is justifying the cost of a good recording/mixing interface. For someone who’s just finished their undergraduate degree and is looking to go freelance, it may not be possible to invest in a expensive top-of-the-line recording interface from the likes of Apogee or Universal Audio.

Behringer’s UMC-404HD is the perfect starter unit for the up-and-coming audio professional or even non-professional enthusiast, offering four inputs and four outputs for around $100. The UMC-404HD is capable of recording high-resolution audio at up to 192-khz/24-bit via the internal Midas Mic Preamps. By connecting the Behringer’s USB output to a laptop or desktop computer, one can capture the signal in their digital audio workstation software of choice (Pro Tools, Logic Pro, Nuendo, Audacity, etc).

The front panel of the device features four XLR inputs, which accept either balanced (male XLR) or unbalanced (¼ inch guitar cable) connections. The controls for each input include a gain dial, a 10 dB attenuator (pad), and a switch to toggle between line level and instrument level. There’s also a standard ¼ inch headphone jack and some basic controls to shape an on-the-fly monitor mix. The mono-to-stereo switch could be useful to identify any acoustical phase-related discrepancies within one’s recording setup.

The back panel contains four ¼ inch insert connections, intended to patch in outboard gear such as a hardware compressor or equalizer (note: do not use these as inputs!). It also features standard composite playback outputs, as well as a balanced stereo output and a MIDI input/output. Finally, there’s a standard 48-volt “phantom power” switch for those who wish to connect a condenser-capacitor microphone such as the Neumann U-87.

What initially drew me to purchase a UMC-404HD was the desire to digitize my ‘70s-era quadraphonic LP and tape collection. Daunting as the task seemed at the time, the Behringer unit made it incredibly simple. All I had to do was purchase four male XLR to RCA adaptors and use those to connect the output of my quad decoder or tape deck to the front panel of the Behringer.

Now that I have the ability to create digital copies of these rare recordings, I no longer need to worry about investing further in the expensive vintage gear used to play them back. I also have the ability to further enhance the sound quality of these recordings utilizing noise reduction and equalization processing within the Pro-Tools DAW.

The UMC404HD pictured with a Technics SH-400 CD-4 Disc Demodulator, Sony TC-388-4 reel-to-reel tape deck, and a pair of Concord DBA-10 Dolby system decoders.

Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Behringer UMC-404HD to anyone looking to get started with audio production or even for something as simple as digitally archiving old vinyl and tape recordings. It’s versatile, inexpensive, compact, and simple enough for even a non-professional hobbyist to set up.

Support IAA by purchasing the Behringer UMC-404HD via this link!

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About the Author
Jonathan is an audio engineering enthusiast from New York with a passion for immersive audio, having amassed a formidable collection of multichannel optical discs and quadraphonic vinyl. He earned his undergraduate degree in Television-Radio from Ithaca College and is currently enrolled in a Master’s Program in Audio Technology.