Yes, it is cheap. But too expensive for just a doorstop.
That is what some would say.
This unit may well be a lesson in what NOT to buy for the home studio enthusiast. Some have called the 'Gain' knob a 'noise level' knob. And so, this is true. Noise is as welcome to any serious recording as much as passing gas in a crowded elevator is welcome. However, they can be modded with better op amps and electrolytic caps. Then it would be formidable. Reminds of the guy who jacked up his radiator cap and drove a newer car underneath it. Since ultimately - sound integrity and quality are essential; it lost the race at this point.
Only as easy to use as you are experienced enough to understand what it is. Oh yeah; it is easy to use for those who know the functions. They are all clearly laid out and intuitive if you know what one is doing with them. It uses an internal power supply - rather than a disgusting wall wart (don't ya just hate them things?). It looks like it should be an important piece; but looks can be deceiving too. And so it is that.
Having a parametric is a fine feature for those who give that sound a bump or a notch. So is a tuneable freq low cut switch. Phase, mic/line, and phantom power are all front panel switchable. The LED db display seems to work OK too. All very fine features. The tube display is kinda ghank ("a dank funk that makes one gag") - though. Thought that was tacky - to say the least. Or was that enough? A tube emulated mic pre that the user cannot even change out, as that cheap Chinese tube is soldered into place. Not that it would ever need to be serviced - unless someone decided to frisbee this unit - but that could happen too.
I M O - if they would have spent a little bit more for some quality op amps and caps, lost the cheap tube and its cutesy/fruitsy window, they may actually have a winner for an entry-level, inexpensive preamp. Or even go as far as putting in a real power supply that could - dare I say it - drive a real and replaceable tube-of-choice. So long as keeps all of the usable features - that could even be interesting.
ALL Behringer gear would improve immensely if they just use better op amps and caps in all of their gear. What are they afraid of; success? Are you listening Behringer? Me thinks so . . .
If you are a beginner and need a preamp and you want to save money; a preamp is NOT where one should do that. Especially for a home studio enthusiast needing their first important lesson. You really need bank-fer-the-buck here; and you will not find it with this unit. Is it useful at all - one might ask? Yes; but not for any serious recording. Anything else but that. Not that ALL Behringer gear is bad; one needs to pick and choose their 'Bill of Fair' carefully. Just don't chose this preamp for your home studio if you want and need great results.