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The Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 is a USB audio interface designed for guitar players. Featuring simple connections, it is compatible with any recording software and comes bundled with some guitar simulations to get users started.
The Guitar Link has a 1/4″ guitar input and a stereo 1/4″ output for headphones. Attached to a 4′ cable, the “box” features a hi/lo gain switch on the right side for adjusting the gain for active and passive guitar pickups. The left side of the box has the volume for the headphone output and a recessed wheel. There is an indicator light showing that the Guitar Link is connected and a clip light to highlight any input clipping. The “box” is made out of a solid plastic that feels durable and the USB cable thickness is similar to standard USB cables on the market currently.
The setup of the device is straight forward. Following the instructions for the install and setup will get the device running on most machines with little to no problem but the way the drivers work with the guitar link limit it’s usefulness in some mac audio programs without a bit of a workaround. On Windows, the Guitar Link uses ASIO drivers that come available on disk. The device shows up on PCs as a “Behringer Audio Codec”. On OS X, it shows up as USB Audio Codec. In both OS’s the input and output audio drivers must be set separately, with the benefit of being able to use built in speakers on a laptop while recording through the UCG102. The drivers for Windows are better than what is available for OS X and allow configuration of the I/O within most programs. Mac audio programs like Logic, which do not allow the selection of an independent input and output device, will have problems using the Guitar Link.
Audio programs like Logic and Studio One, for example, allow a single audio device to be selected. These typically show up as “M-Audio Firewire 610″ and will include all the inputs and outputs available within the program linking the audio program directly to the audio device. This reduces latency and is common among most professional audio programs. Audio programs like Audacity (which comes bundled) do allow a separate audio input and output device to be selected, making it easier to use these programs with built in speakers and a separate audio device like the Guitar Link. The Guitar Link’s drivers make this device only useful to programs like Audacity and Garageband with this ability and not with programs with Logic without setting up a virtual audio system within the computer. Even when setting up one of these, the latency resulting is pretty bad requiring users to lower the buffer setting and taxing your computer’s CPU more than what should be needed.
After the setup, the Guitar Link operates as advertised. The input sound good and headphone output work well. There was no audible noise generated from the unit in the recording of guitars and basses, acoustic or electric. Using guitar emulation software like what’s found in most DAWs can give users a great sounding guitar tone for their creations.
The Behringer Guitar Link UCG102 can be a useful device for capturing guitars for recording. The sound quality of the device is good but the drivers written for the unit limit the UCG102′s usefulness to just entry level audio recording programs, at least on the OS X side. The required workaround will generate too much latency to be useful and makes it hard to recommend this product to any OS X users unless they are using Garageband or Audacity exclusively.
Here is a recording made while reviewing the Guitar Link. All the guitars and the bass have a little compression where the lead guitar has a bit of overdrive and delay.