The Behringer UMC204HD is the best audio interface in its class. It features a high quantity of studio-grade connections & I/O options far cheaper than the competition in the $150 Price point.
As a streamer, one of the most important things to consider investing in is the quality of your audio. If your audio quality is bad, your viewers are far more likely to click off and watch somebody else. So How do we fix this issue? By using professional Audio equipment utilized by studios, of course! Enter The Behringer UMC204HD; The best audio interface we could find under $150.
One of our biggest recommendations to buy as a streamer is a quality audio interface & an XLR mic to go with it. The reason is two-fold: Better Audio quality from an XLR signal VS Direct USB & a hardware level control over your audio signals, like your game or music.
What makes the Behringer UMC204HD the best audio interface under $150?
This interface covers all of the needs of most streamers, and then some. Particularly the Two XLR Inputs, and RCA Outputs have come in handy for us in many ways in testing. We can send audio from our PC to our speakers VIA RCA. You can’t do that with the UMC202HD, its smaller cousin. In the case of that interface, it needs a 1/4inch to RCA Adapter.
But most importantly It has a Mix knob, which makes it easy to both hear your own mic & your output at the same time. As a streamer, this is a required feature If you are going to be investing so much money into it.
It also sports MIDI in/out, in case you dabble with MIDI controllers.
Factors we considered to determine the best audio interface under $150
Not enough I/O? We regret to inform you that you won’t be seeing an audio interface under $150 with them. Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself before you buy any interface, nevermind this one.
Does it have the Inputs & Outputs you need?
What bit Depth does it support?
Does it support 0 latency monitoring?
Are the pre-amps noisy at a high Gain amount?
The most important features
The most important thing about your interface, of course, is Does it have the correct number of Inputs and Outputs for your needs. If it doesn’t, you need to look at another Audio Interface that does.
The next thing you need to ensure about the interface is whether or not it supports 24-bit Depth. For the purposes of streaming, the Frequency range does not matter much past 48khz(Since OBS has a limitation of 48khz.) and you will need to set your interface outputs and inputs to 48khz (Or 44.1khz if your other devices don’t support 48khz). The reason is audio synchronization. If an audio signal is 44.1khz on 1 device, and 48khz on another, they will be ever so slightly out of sync from each other. In other words, extremely jarring for your audience to watch.
While 16-bit depth is great and will do the job just fine, getting an interface that supports 24-bit depth will add just a bit more quality to your signal.
The Difference between “Good enough” and “Audiophile” Quality
Following that, the next most important thing to consider when choosing an interface is its pre-amps. If you are familiar with electric guitars, you will know they usually incorporate a big and bulky Amplifier that you can plug into the wall. But did you know you can also plug them into your computer using an audio interface? Yup, you can play an electric guitar and use your computer to apply VST effects like distortion and reverb, and play over your pc sound system(Or record directly into the pc, eliminating the need for a microphone!)
Pre-amps or pre-amplifiers are simply a signal multiplier knob, used to control the loudness of an audio signal (from -144dB to 0 dB). Gain is a finicky little beast, in that it needs to be high enough to make the signal audible within the -10 dB range for microphones, but low enough as to not amplify the room sounds louder than they need to be.
Where the Behringer UMC204HD stands in this.
We have owned the Behringer UMC204HD for about a year now, and we love it. So let’s break it down into its pros and cons.
- Superb Build Quality. Everything is very solid and only has a tiny bit of knob wobble, which is well within acceptable limits.
- Fantastic audio performance. Above all, considering it is paired with a low-end Tonor BM-700 XLR condenser microphone.
- Very reasonable price.
- More than enough inputs and outputs for a number of configurations
- A Mic + Instrument + Monitoring headphones
- Mic + instrument + 1/4th(6.25mm) inch to 1/8th(3.5mm) inch into a 3.5mm splitter, one into headphones, the other into your Xbox/ps4 controller to send mic over to party chat, or play your guitar for them or whatever really.
- A Mic + Mic (Podcasting/multiple streamers in one stream)
- Mic + Open(doesn’t Need to be attached.)
- Midi in for physical controller, midi out for virtual controller or midi chain.
- 2 RCA pairs for A/B output channel control. Can send audio to anything that two RCA cables can send to.
- and more!
- A Mic + Instrument + Monitoring headphones
It is, however, not without its cons.
- Must NOT be located under a TV sitting off a desk.
- We experienced a very annoying ticking noise in our headphones, which we were unable to figure out where it was from for months. If we had written this review before we moved our TV, this review would be recommending against it. We suspect the built-in speakers were causing magnetic interference. We were even considering taking it to get repaired at our local Guitar Center. (They do that, btw.)
- TLDR, keep it away from other electronics!
- The Drivers sometimes crash in windows 10 after 5-8 hours of being on. This is true even with the generic ASIO4ALL alternative available. This was not an issue until Windows update 1803, So something to do with their Application-specific audio input/output selection.
- We cannot confirm if this is a problem with other brands at this time, it is, however worth mentioning. Let us know if you experience similar behavior in the comments section!
Other than those two cons, this is a great audio interface for what you’re paying for it.
- 2x XLR/1/4th inch with phantom power support
- 1x Midi-In
- 2x Inset connectors for other professional hardware
- 1x USB 2.0 B Type Connector(Recommend attaching choke to the wire.)
- 1x Mix controlled 0 latency 1/4th inch studio headphone monitoring port
- 2 pairs of RCA L/R signals(With the ability to switch between signals in the above monitoring port)
- 1 pair of 1/4th Studio Monitors(They are speakers with no built-in EQ, very Flat response curve)
- 1x midi Out(in case you want to chain input or use a virtual midi instrument on your pc.)
- XLR/1/4th inch X2
- 1 Pad button(Reduces gain by a set -20dB on demand)
- Inst/Line toggle button(for plugging in instruments or microphones. Slightly different audio produced)
- You generally want to ensure Inst is selected if your intent is to play a musical instrument
- 1 Gain control knob for Midas Pre-amps
- Mix knob
- Controls the mix between Output/input channels on the interface monitoring port.
- 1x Main Volume control knob
- Only works for outputs plugged into the1/4th inch “Main” outputs. RCA is controlled in the PC output device.
- 1x Stereo/Mono toggle switch for Dual microphone/single microphone setup.
- 1x Monitor output switch button
- XLR/1/4th inch X2
- Phantom Power(48v) toggle switch for XLR ports.
- 1x Kensington Security Lock
- Locking key Sold Separately
- Try the Kensington Combination Lock If you think you will need one *Optional
Before you go…
Some useful cables and adapters to go with this interface:
- Cable Creations 1/4th inch to 3.5mm TRS Adapters
- Velleman 2-pack RCA to 1/4th inch 90° adapters
- Rode SC7 3.5mm male to 3.5mm male TRS Cable
- Amazon Basics 6ft XLR Male to Female cable
If you are interested in buying the best audio interface under $150, be sure to check it out on Amazon!
Need more inputs, check out the Behringer UMC404HD. If you only need a single XLR input, The Behringer UMC22 is the choice we’d recommend. Don’t mistake this with the Behringer UM2, We recommend avoiding that one due to lack of certain features and a different pre-amp.