Sonic LAB: Behringer UMA25S Ultra-Slim MIDI Kybd with Audio

Lets have a look at ya      10/10/08

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5:21 mins
It's not until I started to look into this that I realized that there are really not many products out there that offer a compact format MIDI keyboard/controller and audio interface. In fact there’s nothing. Well spotted Behringer. The UMA25S is a 25 key MIDI keyboard with this ultra-slim profile - the keys don't have the same travel as a standard keyboard making it really quite thin. It's still playable though and has a reasonable velocity range. Control wise it has: 8 knobs, 8 multi-mode switches, a fader, mod and pitch wheels and two pedal inputs (sustain and expression). All are programmable/assignable as are the individual keys on the keyboard. Incidentally, keyboard keys can play as you’d expect, or can have their note values remapped, or output control data when pressed. MIDI communication is va USB or there’s a MIDI out for accessing external equipment – you might want to use it for testing MIDI gear as a tech for instance.. The unit comes with something for the luggage fetishist, in the form of a padded carry bag with pockets for the included USB cable, headset with mic, software CDs and strap for playing in a guitar stylee (if you can face the ridicule). There's also a couple of CDs of software goodies, in the form of the Ultimate Software Package Vol 1 which has plenty of audio apps for Mac OSX and Windows XP (Audacity, podcast studio etc etc) a ton of free plugs and virtual instruments, but nothing you cant get if you search the net. Ableton Live Lite 4 Behringer Edition also included. Easy to setup, it's plug and play for OS X with an installer for XP and Vista (32 bit only). The unit is USB bus powered or with standard 9v 200ma power supply or via 3xAA batteries. The Aadio interface is Behringer's standard USB class 16bit 48kHz (32kHz and 44.1kHz also supported) with connections on phono for IO. There's also an addition 1/8 jack for the mic input which just gets summed to the stereo in - it's not accessible separately - shame. It's not really the pinnacle of audiophile gear, but it does the job - although it does seem prone to clipping if you drive your DAW outputs too hard. I don't seem to get this when using my Mac stereo output - it just has a lot more headroom. Certainly a useful, portable device for the weight or space conscious or something for a beginner who just wants to get started with a single box, the mic on the headset ain't the finest, and the minjack input makes it a little fiddly to hook up something more pro without an adapter. I would like to have seen a dedicated volume control on the top surface somewhere, sometimes, you just need to turn it down quick, but I guess I can live without it. All in all it's another one of those well positioned products from Behringer who can knock em out at an astonishingly low price. I think I'll be keeping this on my desk for quick MIDI or audio purposes. Price List: $189.99 / £80 / €121
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17 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
Cerebral Infect    Said...

Good review. Nevertheless, to think about it, having an integrated soundcard in a slim keyboard isn`t much of a plus (especially if the soundcard is as good a the on-board computer soundcard). The goal of the slim keyboard adresses to travelers requiring a good keyboard to go with the laptop. The user will use headphone to monitor his music.

As a travel alot around the world for extended period of time. I needed a midi keyboard and a good soundcard.

I did my research on portable keyboard and soundcard. I tried the X-Station (synth, soundcard, controller). But it was too thick and large to put convienently in my carry on luggage.

So I went to a slim keyboard controller with an Echo Indigo soundcard. I was ok with this setup, even had latency problem with it.

Then I went to the ASIO4ALL driver to control the on-board laptop soundcard and the sound quality was as good as the professionnal ECHO laptop soundcard with less latency problems.

The reason Edirol dropped the own slim keyboard with midi was for lack of market. For sound quality when playing live, people relies on better quality quality converters rather than grungy 16 bits converter.

My conclusion as good alternative : go with the Edirol or M-Audio slim controllers and use ASIO4ALL to control your laptop soundcard. This configuration adresses some problems Nick mentionned in his video. You can control your volume with the laptop volume fader. Both controllers comes with their software controller map editors.

As for plugging in a monitor setup, a cable splitter can be used.

Hope that helps and save you some time or money.

11-Oct-08 10:24 AM


Nick B    Said...

CI, thats a good point well made, I wonder why I wasnt able to say that?!

There's something that appeals to the completist nature about having it all in one (maybe it's just me).

But also some soundcards built in are okay for monitoring, but the latency and input options are a bit of a limitation.

The thing about this one is that it has line and mic ins, (albeit on the minijack for the mic), but nonetheless...

11-Oct-08 02:18 PM


flux302    Said...

so what about with something like a macbook pro? the audio card in it is probably comparable to the I/O of this keyboard right? so it would be redundant at that point yes?

11-Oct-08 04:49 PM


Marc JX8P    Said...

Great review!

11-Oct-08 07:41 PM


nick b    Said...

flux, yes and no. in terms of performance, I'd say the macbook pro edges it. But the mic input, direct monitoring and separate phones level give it the edge in terms of facitilities.

12-Oct-08 01:46 AM


Failed Muso    Said...

Nick,

I picked up one of the first UMA25S's to come into the UK from Digital Village and have been very impressed with it's ability. The audio interface is a big improvement on what my laptop (works issue) had to offer so it's all good to me.

However, I do have one issue. The MMC transport controls don't seem to work for me at all. I've tried 3 different PC's using Reason, Ableton Live and Reaper and the MMC transport buttons have no effect whatsoever, even with the Behringer MIDI driver installed. I have contacted Behringer support about this and am still waiting over 2 weeks later for a response. Can you tell me if you had a similar issue with your review model ? Sorry to take this review thread off an a support tack, but being such a new product and with Behringer's lack of haste in answering my call for help, I have few places to go.

I also thought your review was pretty bang on. The UMA25S is an absolute steal, as long as you don't expect pro quality multichannel performance found in units 10x as much :o)

Thanks again !

12-Oct-08 07:27 AM


Nick B    Said...

I used it with Logic and found the MMC to work fine.

Usually with any DAW you need to enable the sync to listen to MMC, it doesnt often work as default.

But it did work okay for me in the app I tried, after I enabled it.

12-Oct-08 04:28 PM


Mike Silence    Said...

Very Cool Review, well done. :-)

13-Oct-08 03:21 AM


Robbie Ryan (I love analogue)    Said...

Nick, did you operate the camera via remote or did your partner operate for you. Didn't see a credit...thanks!

13-Oct-08 10:22 AM


Nick B    Said...

Just me. I have a remote control - if you mean the one zoom shot in there... :-)

13-Oct-08 11:01 AM


shekhar dhain    Said...

aah the joys of great reviews...superb job there, and the cat is out of the bag on the camerawork :p

16-Oct-08 06:10 AM


Failed Muso    Said...

I got the MMC transport working in the end, although I had to use the Akai MPK49 Remote Codec ! I'm pretty useless when it comes to tweaking those things, so I guess I'll have to wait till some clever bugger comes up with a proper one ;o)

18-Oct-08 03:28 AM


Bjarne D.    Said...

My favorite part of this review was the zoom shot with the remote discretely in your hand, Nick! :)

18-Oct-08 08:00 AM


sohbetchat    Said...

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16-Dec-08 08:24 AM


aza    Said...

I've just got the UMA25S and have attached the USB to my MAC computer and yet I cannot hear anyting? any clues?

11-Jan-09 02:31 AM


pierre    Said...

I read a lot of reviews but still i can't find out if its possible to assign midi functions (in traktor or ableton) to its keyboard, i know that for knobs and transport it is possible, but what with keyboard?

02-Mar-09 03:15 AM


Darren    Said...

Hi NIck, could you please tell me on how to hook up the UMA25S to reason? somehow reason wont find the installed driver.

thank you

09-Jun-09 02:27 AM


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