Recording quality differences: UR824 vs the other URs


I am deciding which hardware and software to get my recording happening with, and I think I have decided on Steinberg. However I would appreciate a little guidance in trying to understand the products a bit better, particularly re recording quality from a technical perspective.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I can tell, the pre-amps / converters /processing firmware are identical on all the UR series interfaces. The only difference so far as I can tell that may affect recording quality is the dynamic range input, which differs for the UR824 vs the rest.

Whatever I record needs to be “studio quality” - ie. a “best practice” recording workable by engineers without any fatal sound-capture flaws. Just wondering if anyone with experience can tell me whether the dynamic range input capability of an interface is a factor for recording heavy guitars and vocals?

I do not need a huge amount of inputs, but I also do not wish to have any restrictions on sound quality whatsoever.

Can anyone provide me with any technical or practical insight to help me understand and decide re the above?

Also, can anyone provide a link to detailed differences between Cubase 8.5 Pro and the other more limited Cubase products? I am particularly interested to know specific details about the composition tools that are exclusive to 8.5 Pro. I know this secondary question is a Cubase question but I didn’t want to clog the forum with multiple posts.

I would appreciate any guidance for my product questions that anyone in the community or at Steinberg may have. Sorry if it’s been asked before.


As far as I understand by reading the specs, UR824 and MR816 have much better preamps and ADC converters than the smaller interfaces. I don’t know, not having tried them, if the smaller ones are in any case of sufficient quality for recording vocals and acoustic guitar. Today’s electronics are in general of commendable quality, even at low cost.

UR824 has excellent ADC converters, that you can use in any professional production. It also has excellent DAC converters, very useful for faithful monitoring and high-quality analog remix, if you are in that. Preamps are very clean (except for the highest gain settings), transparent, with very good dynamics. I have better, more transparent preamps, but would use these one for everyday use.

High dynamics range is very useful for recording vocals and acoustic guitars, together with low jitter, because you will get every nuance of the acoustic sound in the most pristine way. Also, you will be able to capture high signal peaks without overloading and distorting the inputs, or having to lower the inputs too much, or move the microphones too back, losing some sense of dimension and presence.


Thanks Paolo - appreciate you taking the time to reply. That is great information; makes sense. Good to know that the 824 stacks up against everything else well. Just wondering if there are any preamp devices you can recommend for use in conjunction with the 824? I am curious as to what you have written.

It’s the perennial question really - $1000 bucks vs $5000 bucks on an interface - will it make any noticeable difference to justify the spend? By making $1000 bucks their apex, Steinberg have either made a market decision or a technical decision on this question…I’m just trying to figure out which one :smiley:


The only outboard preamps I can compare the internal ones are my Sytek MP4Xii. I never did a serious comparison, apart for a quick series of tests after purchasing the UR. The Sytek was way more open, more detailed on both vocals and acoustic guitar. It can stand high pressure (I’ve used it often for recording drums – overheads for clarity, kick and snare for being fast and getting all transients).

Despite the different character and specs, this set of preamps (UR+Sytek) can work very well together, and can be used in the same project. To me, UR824’s preamps sound very similar to the new UAD Apollo (without preamp simulation). They sound as transparent, but more “musical” than an RME Fireface 400. Much more transparent and dynamic than the Zed-24’s preamps.

I personally prefer to go for good, effective tools when choosing a mixer or audio interface, and get (buy or rent) a few exoteric preamps when doing some serious work. You can record many types of classical music with just four channels, and even record an orchestra with as few preamps. But you can also multitrack a drum kit with just a few high-quality preamps on the most important pieces, and a series of good, utilitarian preamps for the least important pieces of the kit. Just don’t use bad quality gears.


Thanks for your excellent insight Paolo. I appreciate the information.