Steinberg is a renowned name in the world of audio equipment. In this article, we will compare two USB audio interfaces from the company, which are Steinberg UR44 vs UR28M. Both are quite popular in the market, and they both are known for their good performance. So, which one should you choose?
Continue reading below in order to learn further about:
- The design and dimensions of each audio interface device
- The available inputs and outputs on each model
- The comparison of their performance and sound quality
- The software apps and programs that are included with each model
- The additional features on Steinberg UR44 vs UR28M
- Whether you should go for Steinberg UR44 or Steinberg UR28M
Summary of the Differences
Let us go straight to the point. Both Steinberg UR44 and Steinberg UR28M are USB audio interface devices that are designed to help you perform sound recording on your computer (if you work on an iPad, take a look at Behringer iStudio iS202 Vs Alesis iO Dock). Both models have rugged metal construction, and both are equipped with high-quality Class-A D-Pre mic preamps.
Of course, there are several things that set them apart. After all, Steinberg UR44 is currently available at a lower price point than Steinberg UR28M. In general, Steinberg UR44 has fewer features than Steinberg UR28M. The main differences between Steinberg UR44 and Steinberg UR28M are:
- Steinberg UR44 is a little bit smaller, as it measures 252mm x 47mm x 158mm, whereas Steinberg UR28M is slightly larger at 291mm x 59mm x 164mm.
- Steinberg UR44 is mostly black with the controls placed on the front, whereas Steinberg UR28M is creamy white with the controls placed on the top.
- Steinberg UR44 supports 24-bit analogue-digital conversion with a maximum sample rate of 192kHz, whereas Steinberg UR28M also supports 24-bit analogue-digital conversion but with a maximum sample rate of 96kHz.
- Steinberg UR44 has a total of 6 inputs and 4 outputs, whereas Steinberg UR28M has a total of 6 inputs and 8 outputs.
- Steinberg UR44 has four combo inputs which accept mics and have switchable phantom power, whereas Steinberg UR28M only has two.
- Steinberg UR44 does not have any digital S/PDIF port, whereas Steinberg UR28M supports digital S/PDIF I/O.
- Steinberg UR44 does not have any pad switch, whereas Steinberg UR28M comes with 2 pad switches per channel.
- Steinberg UR44 lacks advanced control options, whereas Steinberg UR28M comes with a 3×3 monitoring matrix for controlling the monitor level digitally.
It should be pointed out that, despite the higher maximum sampling rate, Steinberg UR44 does not actually sound any better than Steinberg UR28M. They both sound good, and there is no difference between them as far as what the human ear can hear. Now that you know the main differences between Steinberg UR44 vs UR28M, let’s take a deeper look into each audio interface here so that we can know for sure whether these devices are truly good or not.
Steinberg UR44: Design and Features
Steinberg UR44 is housed in a robust metal case, sporting a beautiful finish of black and brushed aluminum. The unit is weighted nicely so that it feels solid and balanced, whilst the switches and knobs are smooth and precise. There are chunky rubber feet at the bottom. All connections are labeled clearly. The unit is designed to be powered by a wall-wart DC adaptor which is included in the box.
On the front panel, you can find four Neutrik Combo connectors which give access to the D-Pre mic preamps. Inputs 1 and 2 are meant for instrument-level guitars and basses, Inputs 3 and 4 are line-level and accept unbalanced and balanced signals. Next to the four input connectors are the gain controls. A monitoring section then follows, with independent volume controls for two headphone outputs along with a master output.
One nice feature is that the phantom power switching comes in pairs, so you can activate it only on channels that require it. Although Steinberg UR44 vs UR28M doesn’t have a pad switch, you can utilize the high-pass filter and polarity switch on the software.
Two additional line inputs with adjustable sensitivity are on the back. There are four line outputs, plus two L/R line outputs that deliver the same signals as Outputs 1 and 2. There are MIDI I/O ports, but Steinberg UR44 doesn’t have any digital I/O.
The dspMixFx software is included for controlling the unit’s hardware features and setting up foldback mixes. This software is meant to be used with an audio app that is not Cubase. The interface is quite intuitive and easy to understand. dspMixFx does have an iPad version which you can download once the firmware of the unit has been updated.
The included Cubase AI supports up to 32 audio tracks with up to 16 virtual instrument tracks. The included Halion Sonic SE is a bit limited, but still quite useful for the good MIDI timbres, pads, and synths. You also get the VST3 plug-in bundle, REV-X plug-in, and Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip. By the way, you don’t need dspMixFx if you are using Cubase AI because this app has integrated DSP monitoring controls.
Steinberg UR44: In Use
The overall performance is actually good. The hardware controls are simple and straightforward. Combined with the intuitive dspMixFX, manipulating sounds becomes very easy. The D-Pre preamps have very minimal noise and are really transparent, and they can offer plenty of gain.
In terms of sound quality, Steinberg UR44 vs UR28M are quite comparable. They do use the same preamps, after all. Sure, Steinberg UR44 supports higher sampling rates, but you won’t hear any major improvement over Steinberg UR28M. Both models offer highly accurate, detailed, and transparent sound.
The Cubase AI has a template for Steinberg UR44 which is a useful starting point. It will make most of the inputs and outputs active right away, including the direct monitoring, but Inputs 5 and 6 still need some manual fiddling to get to work.
As mentioned above, you don’t need dspMixFx when working with Cubase AI – in fact, dspMixFx won’t run when Cubase AI is already running. Unfortunately, the integrated controls on Cubase AI aren’t as intuitive as the ones on dspMixFx. You can get used to it, but it takes some time and patience.
Steinberg UR28M: Design and Features
Out of the box, Steinberg UR28M looks tough and sturdy, with smooth yet precise and durable controls. A few rubber feet are placed underneath the case. Power is supplied to the audio interface by a 12V external adaptor, which is included in the box.
The controls on the top panel are quite intuitive. There are various illuminated switches, including the useful mono mix, mute, and dim switches. In the middle, there are two pairs of metering displays that will show you the input and output levels in real-time. The input meters can be set for Inputs 1/2 and 3/4 via the software.
The left side of the unit features controls for the first two inputs. There is a high-impedance switch for instrument-level signals, and there is also a pad switch for quickly reducing the input sensitivity by 26dB. You can apply phantom power for Inputs 1 and 2. Up to 60dB of gain is available on each preamp. Furthermore, each input has a switchable high-pass filter with presets between 40Hz and 120Hz, but you need to access it via the software. There are volume knobs for the two headphone outputs.
The Cubase AI software is bundled with Steinberg UR28M for recording purposes. It supports up to 32 audio tracks, 48 MIDI tracks and offers a range of basic effects plug-ins. Cubase AI is quite nice because it has a respectable feature set and can be expanded with the free VST plug-ins.
Two VST plug-ins are indeed included in the bundle, which offer the software versions of the hardware DSP effects, and can be added to your foldback mixes. REV-X, a digital reverb with sophisticated parameters, is also included, along with the Sweet Spot Morphing Channel Strip.
Steinberg UR28M: In Use
When tested for recording a variety of instruments with the Cubase AI software, the performance is excellent. Initially, some audio preferences need to be set. This is to enable the relevant inputs and outputs, to configure the buffer size. You may also need to enable the direct monitoring in the audio preferences, if you need zero-latency monitoring.
The preamps have plenty of gain. The sound is smoothly without any apparent noise. You won’t come across the mains hum that typically occurs when using clip-on condenser mics on an audio interface with an external power supply. Nevertheless, a grounding screw is available on the rear, in case that such an issue ever happens.
After setting the Input Hardware parameters, you can start the recording. Everything goes admirably well without faltering, even if you run it with a relatively small buffer size. The ability to implement EQ, reverb, and dynamics processing to the foldback mix is very handy, and you can recall similar settings during the mix by using REV-X and Sweet Spot plug-ins.
Steinberg UR44 vs UR28M
All in all, Steinberg UR28M is generally more recommended. It has better features and more I/O options. Although it only has two combo inputs that accept mics, there are more line inputs and outputs as well as S/PDIF I/O. The performance is excellent. The sound has good accuracy, and the preamps offer plenty of gain.