Audio

My EXPERIENCED Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Review

Behringer MIC2200 Review

My EXPERIENCED Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Honest Experience Review

This is my full review of the Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 tube preamp.  This review will cover the various ways you can use the unit as well as how I like to use it for podcasting. If you are a musician, singer, or guitarist you will get some use out of this review also. Please also note that I paid full retail price for this unit and it was not free or a gift in exchange for any review. If you find this review useful check it out on B&H in the US for the best deal.

Behringer-MIC-2200 Front Panel
Behringer-MIC-2200 Front Panel

What is the Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Tube Preamp?

The Behringer Ultragain Preamp is a dual channel microphone and line preamp.  This means you can run any type of microphone into it.  Once you have your microphone connected you use this unit to set the input and output level of the microphone as you send the signal to a soundcard or mixer. This is a low noise preamp capable of powering condenser microphones, pushing dynamic microphones as well as line level signals.

What does this allow you to do?

It allows you to keep the gain down on your audio interface.  By using the Ultragain Pro as a preamp you can take the “load off” the audio interface.  Many audio interfaces have decent preamps these days until you start to push them hard.  Once you have the gain past 2-3 O’Clock the noise is audibly apparent. For podcasting purposes or microphones/line signals that have low output, the MIC2200 can raise the overall signal level without adding noise.

Who is the Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC220 for?

The Ultragain Pro is for musicians, voice-over actors, and podcasters. Many dynamic podcasting microphones have a very low output level.  This means you need to usually crank the gain on the audio interface up which increases the noise floor.  Having this preamp working for you and powering the microphone allows you to run the gain on the audio interface down.  This means your overall audio signal is much cleaner with far less noise.

Musicians can use it for powering your favorite vocal condenser microphone or having more flexibility with your favorite instrument microphone.  This will work for a variety of microphones without any hassles and has onboard phantom power (+48v) for use with all condenser mics.

How I Use the Behringer Ultragain Pro

I’ve used the Ultragain Pro in a number of ways over the years.  It has been used for powering a Rode NT2A microphone that I used for tracking acoustic and electric guitar amplifiers on several albums. I have also used it for tracking vocals and have even tried it with an SM-57 dynamic microphone. In each of these situations for recording music, I have little to complain about.

The louder the source is you are recording the less I feel you actually need this preamp.  If you are tracking a snare drum, for example, most regular preamps on a sound card will be fine.  If you’re recording some delicate acoustic parts, the MIC2200 is a huge improvement. The reason this is better if you have more control the input and output gain more.

Behringer-MIC-2200 12AX7 Tube
Behringer-MIC-2200 12AX7 Tube

Does the Tube do anything in the Behringer Ultragain Pro?

I don’t think it really does anything.  While it is connected to the preamp the “light” you see on the product photos are LED behind the valve. I’ve heard stories of people changing the tube and getting improved results but the unit sounds fine to me.  What I can tell you though, is the tube itself does not light up as it would in a guitar amplifier.

The upside of the valve not working at full capacity is it will last a lot longer. I can’t hear any “tube warmth” from the unit and I am glad. I wanted a preamp that was not noisy and that is what I have got.  For those wanting a true tube preamp just remember – With valves usually comes coloration to the signal.  The Tube/Valve is a 12AX7 which is perhaps the most used valve in most audio devices including preamps, amplifiers, and some effects pedals.

Which Podcasting Microphones work well with the Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200?

I have tried it with the following Microphones for Podcasting:

  1. Rode Procaster – This worked so much better in the MIC2200 than direct to my sound card.
  2. Rode NT1 Condenser Microphone – Sounded fantastic in the tests I did. This is a phantom powered microphone.
  3. Rode NT2A – Another large diaphragm condenser microphone that worked great. This is also a phantom powered microphone.
  4. JTS NX-8 – The JTS NX-8 is a dynamic vocal microphone used mostly for live performance.  It is like a premium SM58 style mic.

 

Is the Behringer Ultragain Pro Worth it?

In terms of value for money and performance, this is a clear yes from me. The unit performs very well in a number of different situations and for my main use now which is podcasting and the occasional acoustic/electric guitar it performs great.  To get hotter gain from microphones like the Rode Procaster or Shure SMB1 this will 100% do the trick. I can’t hear the valve doing anything to degrade the signal so it’s a clear win for me. If you want to hear more podcasting microphones check out my article here.

The controls and buttons all feel very solid.  Each of the pots is notched. This makes it very easy to find your favorite settings time and time again.  The XLR inputs and outputs are as solid as anything else I have used out there.

What are the Alternatives to the Behringer Ultragain Pro?

If you’re a podcaster, you might also be interested in checking out the SE Dynamite or Cloudlifter.  These are units that would give your low output dynamic microphones more gain.  The downside of these units is they only work with dynamic microphones and also require phantom power to push the dynamic microphone harder.  Both the Cloudlifer and Dynamite are both very limiting and also more expensive than the Ultragain Pro.  I had the opportunity to buy either the MIC2200 or the dynamite and the Behringer was the clear winner for various situations.

Another very viable option is a Behringer Mixer (or any other brand).  Before getting my last Behringer Ultragain Pro I was using the Behringer 802 Mixer.  These little mixers are very good and gave me very similar results.  The only downside of this setup was I had more cables on the floor and desk.  For me, having a rack unit was ideal.

In terms of other dual-channel preamps, the next best one is the Art Pro MPA II Preamp. While I am yet to do a direct comparison between these two preamps, I have heard that Art Pro II is a worthwhile investment if you’re able to spend more money.  The Art Pro MPA II will also give you the tube saturation effect. Another good quality single channel preamp is the DBX 276s preamp.  Some advantages of the DBX is the compressor, gate, and de-esser.  If you don’t know what all of that means, then you probably don’t need it.

Who is this NOT for?

I would avoid this unit for any loud recordings.  Sure, you could add it into the recording chain if you wanted but I wouldn’t bother. If you’re never pushing your soundcard up past 2 O’clock on the built-in preamps you won’t find any use for this unit. I would also avoid this if you want the tube saturation effect.  I can’t hear that at all with this unit.  The Behringer MIC2200 sounds like one of their Mixers in terms of sound.  It’s nice and clean and that is what I liked.

Is the Behringer Ultragain Pro MIC2200 Noisy?

Like with any preamp.  If you crank the gain all the way up you’re going to start hearing some noise.  I do not find this noisy at all with the EQ section off. Once you start using the EQ (which I don’t recommend) it can start to do some weird things to the signal.  The high pass filter works a treat but the EQ section is better left off. Overall, if you use it as a straight-up microphone or line preamp I am pretty sure you’ll be happy with how quiet it is.  My results on my podcast and videos so far have been fantastic.

What are the Stand Out Features of the MIC2200

  • Price! Irrespective of where you live the price is very reasonable. For the best deal visit B&H.
  • Sound quality.  It’s very good for the price and I have no real complaints.
  • It allows for one or two microphones to be used at the same time.
  • Able to push low output microphones with ease such as the Rode Procaster and SM7B.
  • Build Quality.  The build quality is great.  It’s a metal housing but also light and portable.
  • High Pass Filter – Being able to determine the frequency you wish to roll the audio out at.
  • Soft Pad Phantom Power switch.  This means no more audible “BOOMS” through your speakers or headphones.
  • You have both a balanced line out as well as an unbalanced line out (jack connection).

What are the limitations of the MIC2200

  • If you are recording louder instruments it’s probably not required.
  • The internal tube/valve is backlit which means it is probably not doing much.  If you want a preamp you can get the “tube-saturation” from this might not be it.
  • It has a maximum of two microphone inputs and two line inputs.  If you need more channels then you need to buy a mixer.  I would suggest this one from Behringer with 8 microphone inputs.
  • There is no compressor built into the MIC2200.  If you’re looking for a compressor and limiter you will need a secondary device.
Behringer-MIC-2200 Back Panel
Behringer-MIC-2200 Back Panel

Official Features and Specifications

  • Extremely low-noise, high-end, discrete microphone/line preamp
  • Integrated high-quality 12AX7 vacuum tube
  • Microphone input stages based on ultralow-noise 2SA1084 transistor pairs
  • Extreme bandwidth from 2Hz to 300kHz
  • Two additional high-end parametric EQs
  • Independent level conversion from home to professional level (-10dBV/+4dBu)
  • Super low-noise 4580 operational amplifiers
  • Extremely flexible DI box function
  • Soft mute +48V phantom power
  • Fully sweepable, switchable high-pass filter (12dB/octave)
  • Phase reverse button
  • Precise twelve-segment output level display
  • Servo-balanced, gold-plated XLR and 1/4″ TRS connectors
  • Professional-quality potentiometers and illuminated switches
  • Manufactured under ISO 9000 certified management system
  • Bandwidth: 2Hz-30kHz
  • Servo-balanced, gold-plated TRS and XLR I/O
  • Twelve-segment LED level display
  • Parametric EQ

Final thoughts about the Behringer MIC2200 Ultragain Pro

Overall, the Ultragain pro does what it says it will.  It allows you to connect a microphone or line signal into it and then boost the signal without any noise.  The idea of any good preamp regardless of brand and price is to take your audio source and make it sound great.  With the exception of the EQ section which you can just leave off, this works a treat. I would recommend this for anyone who wants to boost their dynamic microphone or condenser microphone signal for recording, podcast, or music production purposes.  If you find you don’t need a lot of audio interface preamp gain for your current recording setup then I would say you won’t require a preamp.  For those who find they are getting a hissing noise out of their audio interface preamps at higher gain levels then this is a welcome addition to any setup.

I first purchased one of these in 2006 and I originally posted a video up on my intheblues channel.  Many, many years later I purchased a second one because of the price and performance I had experienced in the past.