Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 VS Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

Last updated on December 30th, 2023 at 02:54 pm

We all know how expensive recording gear can be, and when you are just starting out, should you really spend a lot of money on it?

In today’s market I honestly think that you can get great gear at a very low-price range and still sound great, since almost all Audio Interfaces come equipped with more than decent preamps, even the cheaper ones.

Of course, it depends on what you are planning to record, if it’s just a two-track recording or way more, like a whole band. The more tracks you need, the more expensive it is going to be.

In this article, we will be comparing the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 2nd Gen to the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD, two extremely affordable Audio Interfaces that sound great.

We will be doing a general overview of both Interfaces, their features and tech specs and at the end I’ll give you my conclusion.

If you’re looking for an Audio Interface with more inputs without breaking the bank, then make sure to read this comparison between the Scarlett 6i6 and the UMC404HD.

Let’s start with the most affordable option of them both, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD;

Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD

This Interface is great for home recording and it’s a pretty good place to start. It’s ideal for singer-songwriters and musicians who need to record at home and don’t really want to invest a lot on the gear.

It’s a surprisingly good piece of tech, specially for what it costs. If you are just starting out, this one is a good option.

It comes with the MIDAS designed mic-preamps, which give you the same sound quality as their popular mixers, but at an affordable price and in a much more portable form.

It has two Combo XLR and ¼” inputs on the front, capable of recording two Microphones or Line/Instrument level signals through USB directly into your DAW, while on the back it also features MIDI I/O.

The highest recording quality you can achieve with this Interface is a 24-bit/192kHz resolution.

It also has the Direct Monitoring function which provides latency-free monitoring, should you need it.

Not only is it a good option for recording at home, but since it’s small and light it will certainly work well for travelling musicians who need to record at different locations.

The UMC204HD can be powered through the USB bus, making it ideal for musicians who are on the road.

Each channel comes with the essential controls that you could need; there’s the gain control for each individual input, an attenuation pad, and a switch that lets you choose between line and instrument level.

Then there’s a Stereo/Mono button, a Mix Knob, Main Out Knob, the Phantom Power On/Off Switch and the Headphone Knob, for monitoring.

Also, to make everything easier to monitor, it comes equipped with multiple LED indicators.

Another great feature is the Mono/Stereo switch on the front, which will allow you to quickly switch to mono while mixing, since this is an essential part of the mixing process.

I wrote an entire article on the topic about checking the mix in mono which you should definitely check out!

Let’s take a look at its performance;

Considering its extremely affordable price, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD actually surprised me.

The MIDAS Mic preamps on this unit are clean and sound incredible at this price point.

While searching on forums I found quite a lot of people complaining about driver issues and some (but not really that many), complained about having to disconnect and re-connect it because of unwanted noise issues.

This luckily didn’t happen to me since everything worked like a charm. Other than that, the general reviews were extremely positive.


  • Quality 24-bit/192kHz 2-channel USB 2.0 recording interface for your Mac or Windows PC
  • Combo inputs with MIDAS preamp lets you plug in any mic-, line-, or instrument-level gear
  • +48V phantom power lets you use studio condenser microphones
  • Switchable input pads accommodate even extremely hot line-level signal
  • Tip-send/Ring-return 1/4″ insert points let you incorporate outboard processors
  • MIDI In and Out ports let you connect keyboard controllers and other MIDI gear
  • Stereo 1/4″, RCA, and headphone outputs with latency-free monitoring make tracking easy
  • Includes Tracktion DAW and 150 downloadable instrument/effect plug-ins


Computer ConnectivityUSB 2.0
Simultaneous I/O2 x 4
Number of Preamps2
A/D Resolution24-bit/192kHz
Analog Inputs2 x XLR/TRS Combo, 2 x 1/4″ (Insert)
Analog Outputs2 x Stereo, 2 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/4″ (Headphones)

Find out more about the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD here:

Next is one of the most famous two-channel Audio Interfaces, and for good reason.

Focusrite Scarlet 2i2

The Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 2nd Gen is one of the most popular USB Audio Interfaces currently on the market. This is mainly due to its great construction quality, performance, and really affordable price.

It has 2 XLR inputs and 2 outputs.

All Scarlett preamps are of great quality and feature an even gain structure, which allows for accurate gain level setting. The instrument inputs are designed to be able to handle really hot pickups for recording electric guitar.

The channel controls are fairly simple; Gain knobs and Line/Instruments switch for each channel, 48V Phantom Power, Direct monitoring On/Off Switch and Headphone Knob.

It’s small, compact and very durable, it looks like a little red brick! Ideal for recording at home or taking it on the road!

The aluminum casing is very well put together and when holding it doesn’t feel cheap at all.

The knobs on the device are pretty easy to rotate, they aren’t stiff at all and seem like they are built with to last.

One cool thing about this Interface is that it comes with Pro Tools, Ableton Live and a suite of software and samples so you can start recording straight away.

If you are like most home recording musicians, then this one will suit you well!

It’s easy to use, works well and also comes with those added downloads, which I think is just great!

The included Plugin suite sounds great and only adds to the good value this package offers.

If you are in need of a mobile recording solution, or are on a tight budget for home-based projects, this one I would consider a great investment.

One BIG issue is that it doesn’t have MIDI input/output! Take that into account.

At first I was amazed at the low price is, but when you actually think about it, you only get 2 inputs and the speakers Output, plus the headphone output of course… but no MIDI In/Out, which kinda sucks!

The Vast majority of reviews I found online while researching this AI were extremely positive; it was almost impossible to find a negative one. This goes to show it’s a great Interface to consider.

Important Note: Focusrite released the 3rd generation of these interface which are identical in every way except that they come with the “Air” circuit, which is designed to boost the higher frequencies slightly creating an open and airy sound.

Let’s take a look at its performance;

The latency while monitoring is surprisingly low, about 6ms. But should you have some issues with it, you can always switch the direct monitoring on, which will give you true direct monitoring with zero latency.

As for the sound performance, I can confirm that this box is money well spent. Sounds extremely clear and crisp with a slight added warmth to it, no clicks whatsoever.


  • Two natural-sounding Scarlett microphone preamps
  • Up to 192kHz audio resolution with super-low latency
  • Compact, lightweight and sturdy enough to take with you anywhere
  • Includes Pro Tools | First, Ableton Live Lite and a suite of software and samples
  • Free XLN Addictive Keys license with purchase
  • Red 2 & 3 Plug-In Suite, Softube Time & Tone Bundle and 2GB of Loopmasters Samples are included as a free download.
  • Focusrite offers a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty


Computer ConnectivityUSB 2.0
Simultaneous I/O2 x 2
Number of Preamps2
A/D Resolution24-bit/192kHz
Analog Inputs2 x XLR/TRS Combo
Analog Outputs2 x 1/4″, 1 x 1/4″ (Headphones)

The Focusrite Scarlet 2i2 3rd Gen is an good option for both beginners and experienced musicians who need a reliable and affordable Audio Interface for Home Recording.

Find out more about the Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen here:

This one is definitely better than the Behringer Interface, but it does cost a bit more…

Even though it doesn’t have the MIDI I/O.


The Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD has MIDI I/O as well as the Mono/Stereo switch which the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 doesn’t provide.

However, when it comes to the overall recording quality, the Scarlett 2i2 has the UMC204HD beat.

If none of these tickle your fancy, may I recommend you read this article I wrote about the best Audio Interfaces Under $300?


Both of these Audio Interfaces are quite good in relation to what they cost. In my honest opinion the winner is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, simply because of the added value from the Softwares you get.

BUT, the Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD has the MIDI ins/outs which could come in handy at some point!

However, if you want something even better for the same price, read more about the Behringer U-Phoria UMC404HD here.

This again is one of those situations where it comes down to your needs. Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong with either of them!

I Hope you have a wonderful day!

8 thoughts on “Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 VS Behringer U-Phoria UMC204HD”

  1. Hello! Great article thank you.
    I am totally new to this and looking to choose between these two.
    I will use it primarily for playing live (alone… not in a gig setting).
    In this case, I assume that the direct monitor would be useless since it will only return the unprocessed sound.
    Sound quality and features apart, I was wondering whether the choice of interface affects the overall latency. Is there a difference between these two solely from this point of view?

  2. focusrite 2i2 3rd gen or behringer umc204hd..i am soon gonna have one but i am confused to choose between these two..please help

  3. Hmm I wasn’t aware of the Scarlet giving off some warm colour, or the software it comes with. All I know, is that the UMC204HD has a lower noise floor than the Scarlet, by about 5 or 6 db, based on Youtube tests. That’s a LOT in terms of headroom. Essentially the Behringer has a higher volume to hiss ratio than the Scarlet. You can drive the Behringer louder before introducing background noise versus the scarlet, depending on how you look at it, to me lower noise floor directly relates to sound quality. I’m not concerned with audio colouring, as long as my interface doesn’t degrade my sound in any noticeable way. In fact, a transparent sound is ideal for me as far as my input hardware goes. You can always add warmth, you can’t remove baked in characteristics though so I don;t personally see the appeal of a cheap interface forcing it’s signature sound upon you. The only time I want that, is if it’s coming from higher end analogue gear. As far as software goes, that could be a pro for someone in need of that software.
    Bottom line, the Behringer Midas preamps are quieter by a significant degree, and it also outputs a more transparent signal, it has the stereo/mono button, and MIDI inputs. I don’t get the AIR button either, a top end boost? seems useless to have such a tiny EQ control on an interface. You’re going to have to equalize anyway, either with a proper mixer or a plugin, so what’s the point of irreversibly altering such a small range of sound coming in? I say do it all through quality hardware or do it all through software. Leave the colouring to the high end gear, that’s what grandma used to say :p
    Both will do just fine. Neither is gonna provide a signature sound quality, but both will drive any mic you need without noticeable loss.

  4. Thanks for the update and explanation.
    I newly bought behringer umc22 sound card. I have been battling with latency / delay with VST instrument while recording.
    Please, how do I solve this problem? How do I set the buffer size if that’s the problem? Or how do I manage ”Devices” setup with my Cubase 5 and Window 7? Or still do I need another Windows?
    I use Cubase 5, Windows 7, USB Keyboard,

    1. Hello, hope you solved this by now. But in case you haven’t… Have you downloaded the drivers for the interface on the Behringer website? Hmm just looking now, the UMC22 works best with Asio4All drivers. Only these drivers will give you the proper latency. Google Asio4all download. It’s a free third party audio driver. Then in your Cubase audio settings, select ASIO or ASIO4All as your audio driver or system or however Cubase labels it. Should be somewhere near where you select your inputs/outputs etc.

      Also I find that some VSTIs just add a lot of latency. Sure it’s not just the plugin? Any compressors or limiters in your chain can also add a lot of latency I find. Try using output FX as opposed to Input, if Cubase allows for this.

      That’s all I can think of. Most likely it seems that you just weren’t using ASIO drivers.

  5. Thanks for the great post! One question:

    Can I record my e-Drum Roland with TD30 Module at Reaper or Pro Tools in Stereo? Would I use both line in, for left and right channel? Thanks!

  6. Think you got that right. On a tight budget the behringer specs and clean pre’s mean you can’t go wrong and offers all you need, but the Neve know how into the sound really does give the scarlett a excellent warmer tone and offers excellent low latency. The 2i4 offers extra outs and midi in/out for only a little bit more and worth considering as a UMC204HD alternative, .despite the price difference is £60-70 a lot these days when its a main piece of kit you’ll be using a lot.

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