Steinberg UR824 by npulsipher
When the time came for a new interface, sound quality was my number one priority. I had heard many superior examples, and glowing reviews of Steinberg's MR816. And I wanted one.
The only problem was that my computer doesn't have firewire. It doesn't have an expresscard slot either so there was no way to add firewire. So I gave up on the 816. I was just about to pull the trigger on a Motu hybrid when Steinberg announced their new UR series. Glory, glory, hallelujah!
The UR824 features the same D-pres that are found on the MR816. They are very clean and very consistent at any gain setting. When I first got the device, I did a test, recording with the gain set at zero, and cranked to the max. I was pleased to find that once I matched the levels in my DAW, the two clips sounded identical.
Overall, the sound is excellent. I've learned a ton about the characteristics of my microphones and my own technique because the 824 is so accurate that I can hear things that I wasn't able to hear before.
Ease of use:
You don't have to look too hard to find people complaining about "it can't do this!" or "such and such a feature doesn't work!" Honestly, that's only because the people that are posting those complaints don't think to look in the manual. The learning curve on this device is steep. There are some things that you just won't be able to understand unless you read the manual.
I will say that despite being advertised as offering "full integration into the Cubase user interface for a smooth workflow", many options and feature are buried deep within Cubase and not very easy or convenient to access. On the other hand, using the included dspMixFx software, all of the options and features are easily accessible, and you can use it with whatever DAW you choose.
All the regular stuff you would expect to find on an interface, plus the ability to add dsp reverb and channel strip to the monitor mix, which you can read more about in this review of the MR816
Bang for buck:
Compared to the MR816CSX, you get all the same features, plus 8 extra digital ins/out for 100 bucks less. Not to bad! (Well, I guess if you daisy chain 3 816s together via firewire you get up to 48 i/o. Whereas if you daisy chain 3 UR824s together, you have to use the ADAT, and you still only have 24 i/o.)
I've only been using my 824 for a few months, but it's already lived up to all my expectations.
Have a good one!