Thank you to Universal Audio (specifically the folks over at Glow Marketing) for sending the Volt 2! I am not being compensated for this review; just giving my thoughts and opinions on the unit.
Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!
Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…
I previously owned a 1st generation Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 but had to sell it due to incompatibility issues with Windows 10.
It’s strange to say, but I’ve been Audio Interface-less for a few years now, and it doesn’t feel quite right – especially considering how much I love to rap, do voiceovers, record audio, and play the guitar.
Sure, I’ve been using my Yeti a lot, but it’s not the same.
There’s something special about plugging an XLR cable into an interface that feels second to none.
Plus, you know the sound quality is going to be better than just plugging straight into your PC via USB.
So you can imagine how elated I was when the kind folks over at Glow Marketing emailed me out of nowhere asking if I’d like to review the Volt 2!
“Boy howdy, would I!!”
That wasn’t my reaction in the email as they’d probably not respond back LMAO.
In any event,
I’m excited to give you a rundown of this unit and determine whether or not it’s worth a purchase.
By the end of this article, you’ll know definitively.
We’ll run some mic tests, I’ll tell you how it sounds via headphones, and I may even play some guitar for you as well.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
Universal Audio Volt 2
In The Box
Universal Audio Volt 2 Portable 2×2 USB Type-C Audio/MIDI Interface
USB Type-C to USB Type-A Cable
Limited 1-Year Warranty
- Form Factor: Desktop
- Display: None
- Channels of I/O: Analog – 2 Inputs / 2 Outputs
- Maximum Sample Rate: 24-bit/192kHz
- Number of Microphone Preamps: 2
- Input Level Adjustment: 2x Knob
- Expansion Slots: None
- Pad: None
- High-Pass Filter: None
- Solo/Mute: None
- Analog Audio I/O: 2x Combo XLR-1/4″ TRS Balanced/Unbalanced Mic/Line/Hi-Z Input (Front Panel), 2x 1/4″ TRS Balanced Monitor Output, 1x 1/4″ TRS Unbalanced Headphone Output (Front Panel)
- Phantom Power: 48V, Selectable On/Off (Applied to All Inputs)
- Digital Audio I/O: None
- Host Connection / USB: 1x USB Type-C
- Host Connection Protocol: USB 2.0
- USB (Non-Host): None
- Sync: I/O: None
- Network I/O: None
- MIDI I/O: 1x DIN 5-Pin Input, 1x DIN 5-Pin Output
- Wireless Connectivity: None
- Sample Rates: Up to 192kHz
- Sample Rate Conversion: None
- Bit Depths: 24-bit
- Latency: Zero-Latency Direct Monitoring
- Sync Sources: Internal
- Power Requirements: AC/DC Power Adapter (Not Included) or USB Bus Power
- AC/DC Power Adapter: 5V DC (Not Included)
- Package Weight: 2.205 lbs.
- Box Dimensions (LxWxH): 9.2 x 7.3 x 3.9″
What is it?
I suppose it would be helpful to explain what the heck this thing actually is if you’re new to the world of audio.
The Volt 2’s technical name is an audio interface, but you can simply think of it as a few things rolled into one:
- It’s a DAC, or a digital-to-analog converter – converting digital information that your PC understands into language that you understand (analog). Related: Beginners Guide: What is a USB DAC?
- It’s also an ADC or an analog-to-digital converter. So in addition to the above, it also converts your voice via microphone (analog sound) into a language that your PC understands (digital).
- It’s a preamp, meaning it has balanced outputs that can connect to separate powered speakers like the JBL LSR305 or Presonus Eris e3.5.
Right off the bat, the Volt 2 feels fantastic in your hands and sports a robust, stylish-looking profile.
The somewhat muted dark/light grey color combination contrasts nicely with the bold, vibrant LED indicators.
The left-hand side contains 2 combo TRS/XLR inputs.
Use these to record your electric/acoustic guitar, microphone, etc via XLR or TRS cable.
This is a huge added benefit for those who may want to rap or sing, but it also gives you the flexibility of recording yourself playing guitar simultaneously with an additional mic.
Next to that is the gain knob with 2 small LED lights next to it.
These will help you monitor your voice in real-time to prevent clipping.
Next to that is the vintage button; a pretty neat feature that allows you to beckon an emulated UA vintage 610 tube preamp to your voice or instrument.
More on that later.
48V Phantom Power
Before pressing the record button, don’t forget that condenser microphones need phantom power to reach line level.
This switch is next to the big volume potentiometer on the left.
In addition to that,
the Volt 2 allows for direct no latency monitoring, and there are separate volume controls for the speaker and headphone outputs.
I tested this and it works like a charm.
I typically don’t like monitoring myself because of personal reasons (LOL), but here I can without much of an issue because it truly does monitor in real-time.
Even several milliseconds of delay is a nightmare and I know most folks reading this can attest to that.
Not so with the Volt 2.
If you have a keyboard controller with MIDI, there are 2 5-pin MIDI ports on the back in addition to the USB Type-C jack, 5V DC power jack, and balanced TRS outputs.
UA didn’t include a power brick in the box, but you won’t need one. Just plug it into your PC via USB and away you go.
Simply put, I love this interface, and recording with it is a breeze.
These are ultra-clean, professional-sounding preamps and for the price, how could you go wrong?
Thanks to its built-in tube emulation circuitry, you’re essentially getting a vintage sound used to record artists like Ray Charles and Van Halen.
What’s even better?
Universal Audio took the liberty of bundling a whole heap of music production tools to help you get going.
Just flip open the box and you’ll see a URL.
Go to www.uaudio.com/volt2/start, and you’ll be asked to register your device and create an account.
Follow the steps, download the firmware via some prompts, and you’ll reach a page that looks something like this:
Now click Volt Software and take a look at all of the cool effects and processors:
- Ableton Live Lite (music production DAW)
- Softube Marshall Plexi Classic Amp (guitar amp sim)
- Softube Time & Tone Bundle (mixing effects processors)
- Celemony Melodyne Essential (pitch correction)
- Relab LX480 Essentials (classic studio reverb)
- Plugin Alliance Ampeg SVT-VR Classic (bass amp sim)
- Brainworx bx_tuner (guitar/bass tuner)
- Brainworx bx_masterdesk Classic (mastering processor)
- UJAM Virtual Drummer DEEP (virtual drum instrument)
- Virtual Bassist DANDY (virtual bass instrument)
- Spitfire LABS (virtual instrument)
Here you can listen to the subtle (but noticeable) difference. I do think Vintage sounds pretty fantastic and gives your voice that extra edge.
These are both raw recordings with no EQ or effects applied. Gain is set to around 75% and I was using Reaper/Audacity.
I don’t plan on using this microphone for any serious guitar work, but I thought it would be interesting to show the effects of EQ before and after.
Here I was just noodling around with some chords and came up with what I call “Ballad For The Scatterbrained.”
Hope you enjoy it!
Ballad For The Scatterbrained – No EQ
EQ’D in Reaper
Here’s a video I recorded of the sound quality:
- Playlist: Here!
I listened to over 30 hours of music with the Volt 2 out of the 1/4″ jack paired with a HIFIMAN Edition XS and in short, it was time well spent.
A large portion of those hours was spent listening to the entire discographies of Aphex Twin, Bjork, and Pink Floyd.
The rest you can access from the playlist linked above.
To my ears, the Volt 2 isn’t entirely neutral, but I don’t mind it much. It sounds pretty excellent and I have no complaints.
Thanks to its balanced TRS outputs, you can connect these to studio monitors as well and they’ll sound great out of this unit.
Before we give a final verdict, let’s recap what I liked and disliked:
What I liked:
- Super simple setup. Plug and play allow you to start recording right away.
- The no latency feature works as intended with no delay whatsoever.
- The microphone preamps are excellent.
- 24-bit/192kHz audio conversion covers any and all recording situations you may encounter.
- The vintage mode gives an extra edge to vocals and makes my voice sound more professional (it’s anything but, LOL).
- The understated look + rugged all-metal construction feels fabulous in your hands and you can tell it’s a rock-solid unit.
- Can be used remotely with iPhone or iPad. Just snag an external Volt power supply and an Apple lightning adapter. If you have an iPad Pro, simply use its Type-C connection.
- Access to a 30-day trial of UAD Spark Plug-Ins On Mac
- The extra software bundle mentioned earlier is a great added value.
- Sounds great paired with headphones and speakers/monitors.
What I disliked:
- Nothing. If anything changes as I use it for my projects, I will update this article.
This is a perfectly priced unit and provides more value than a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2.
As much as I love that line of products, I think Universal Audio has a more valuable interface here and I can’t recommend it enough.
If you’re an aspiring musician, beatmaker, producer, rapper, singer, etc., you need an Audio Interface.
It’s the centralized hub for everything you do in the studio, and the Volt 2 has all your bases covered for a more than affordable price.
Update: It also just won an award which I think is well-deserved. This is a fantastic product.
Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this Universal Audio Volt 2 review and gained some valuable insight.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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Any experience with the Volt 2? What are you going to use it to record with? I’d love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,