Universal Audio brings a vintage sound and design to the entry-level audio interface space with the Volt 2.
It’s well known for its Vintage Mode feature.
But how good is this feature? And how does the Volt 2 stack up against its competition?
Here’s our full review of the Universal Audio Volt 2.
We’ll give our take on its recording quality, preamps, features, and more.
The Universal Audio Volt 2 is a 2-in/2-out interface featuring the popular Vintage Mode. Its high headroom mic inputs and low-noise preamps make it highly-capable of producing professional sound quality.
UA Volt 2 Overall Grade: B+
Build Quality: B
Design Quality: B+
Recording Quality: A-
Software Bundle: B+
Who is the Universal Audio Volt 2 Best for?
The UA Volt 2 is great for beginner and intermediate musicians.
Specifically, it’s ideal for anyone looking for an interface with advanced preamp features, such as the Volt 2’s Vintage Mode.
The UA Volt 2 is best for…
- Basic home studios
- Music producers
- Guitar players
- Self-recording artists
- Recording with an iPad or other mobile device
- 2-in/2-out: XLR/TRS combo inputs and ¼ inch balanced outputs
- Direct monitoring on/off switch
- Preamps with Vintage Mode
- Basic LED clipping indicators for gain and main volume
- 5-Volt power connector
- USB-C connector
- On/off power switch
Layout and Controls
The Volt 2 features two XLR/TRS combo inputs with corresponding gain control knobs.
Next to each gain knob are two basic LED meters.
You’ll also find a button to enable vintage mode and another for switching the TRS input between an instrument and line-level input.
To the right are two separate buttons enabling phantom power and direct monitoring.
You’ll also find a large main volume knob with an LED level meter – followed by a ¼-inch headphone jack with a corresponding volume knob.
On the back is an on/off switch, a 5-volt power, and UBS-C connector, MIDI I/O, and two 1/4-inch balanced outputs.
The Volt 2 is housed in a durable metal frame making it a great mobile option.
However, we don’t advise traveling with this interface unprotected. The plastic knobs on the front are a bit loose and can get damaged if you’re not careful.
The Universal Audio Volt 2 has an easy-to-navigate front panel.
Conveniently, the gain controls and buttons for each input are directly next to each other.
They’re also large and space out, which makes them more accessible.
- Audio Converters: 24-bit/192kHz
With a dynamic range of around 110 dB, the Volt 2 has some of the better-quality mic inputs among entry-level interfaces.
Its dynamic range is slightly higher than the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and the Solid-State Logic SSL 2.
A higher dynamic range gives additional headroom while recording. This way, you can record hotter signals and worry less about clipping.
Also, you can expect a relatively low harmonic distortion and a fairly flat frequency response between 20Hz and 20kHz.
Overall, the Volt 2 delivers excellent audio quality from our experience.
The Volt 2 has what we like to call multipurpose preamps.
They deliver transparent clear audio with condenser mics and still sound clean at high gain levels, which is crucial for low-sensitivity dynamic mics.
With these preamps you’ll get a nice 55 dB gain range and an equivalent input noise (EIN) of around -129 dB.
To top it off, the Volt 2’s preamps feature Vintage Mode, which adds a slight boost in the low end of your audio to produce a warmer tone.
We’ll discuss this feature more in the next section.
But overall, we find that this feature gives the Volt 2’s preamps more flexibility than similar units.
[Read more for the audio interfaces with the best preamps]
The UA Volt 2 is one of the few entry-level interfaces with a unique preamp mode.
It comes with a Vintage Mode feature that emulates the classic UA 610 tube preamplifier.
When enabled, Vintage Mode slightly boosts treble and distortion to add saturation – leading to a richer and more full sound.
The Volt 2 also features a 5VDC input.
You can use this input to connect your interface to a power source. It’s useful when using the Volt 2 with an iPad or other mobile device.
As an important note, you’ll need to create a UA account to install the driver for the Volt 2.
Once you create an account, you’ll be able to download the UA connect software and install the Volt driver.
While creating an account to install the volt driver isn’t ideal, the process doesn’t take long.
In terms of production software, the Volt 2 comes with access to a light version of Ableton Live 11.
You’ll also get a host of instruments and plug-ins.
This bundle includes reverbs, delays, compression, and saturation plug-ins from Soft Tube.
Melodyne Essential, a pitch corrector by Celemony.
The classic Ampeg bass bundle from Plug-in alliance.
Not to mention delay and modulation plug-ins from Relab.
And lastly, string, percussion, synth, and guitar sounds from Spitfire Audio.
Overall, this is a respectable software bundle compared to similarly priced interfaces.
Audio Interface Comparisons
UA Volt 2 vs UA Volt 276
The UA Volt 276 is also a 2-in/2-out audio interface. But the difference is it has a 76 Compressor feature inspired by UA’s popular 1176 Limiting Amplifier.
Its 76 compressor feature has three presets to instantly spice up your guitar, vocals, synth, and drums.
The Volt 276 is around $100 more expensive than the Volt 2.
However, it’s a great option if you’re looking for more advanced features.
UA Volt 2 vs Motu M2
The Motu M2 is more versatile than the Volt 2.
With the M2, you can control direct monitoring and phantom power for each input individually.
Also, it comes with an LCD level screen that helps you set gain levels and monitor clipping.
On the other hand, we suggest the Volt 2 if you want to add some character to your audio with Vintage Mode.
[Check out our review on the Motu M2 here]
UA Volt 2 vs Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
The audio quality for these two interfaces is about the same.
While we prefer the design of the Scarlett 2i2, the choice comes down to whether you prefer Air Mode or Vintage Mode.
With the 2i2, Air Mode boosts higher frequencies in your audio, creating a brighter sound.
Conversely, Vintage Mode adds a slight boost of treble and distortion to your audio – giving it more of that classic and vintage feel.
[Check out our review on the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 here]
Takeaway: Universal Audio Volt 2 Review
- Vintage Mode
- Simple design
- Low-noise preamps
- Great recording quality
- Direct monitoring
- Limited LED indicators
- Knobs could be better quality