Modern computers now double as art canvases, video editing stations and now recording studios. In the past making music involved getting time at a recording studio. Now for less than the price of a modern video game you can get an interface that hooks up to ones Mac or PC for recording one’s guitar.
The Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 is allows one to interface their guitar with a PC or Mac. This package allows your PC or Mac double as a recording studio, guitar amp and stomp box. It simply plugs into a computer via the built-in USB cable with the guitar’s ¼” cable into device.
Behringer designed the Guitar Link for the guitar novice to the studio professional. It is portable making it simple to pack in one’s laptop or guitar bag for road tripping. Just don’t forget your laptop.
The Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 arrives in a black cardboard package with a photo of the device and included software CD in front of some actual guitar effects in the background. On the back are a listing of the device’s features and a diagram of how the Guitar Link UCG102 connects.
Opening the box we find a plastic bag with the two software CDs, a user manual, large booklet for software installation and the Guitar Link UCG102. You will need to supply the headphones or monitor, guitar and ¼” guitar cable.
The Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 is composed of white plastic with the Behringer logo in the center and model name and number on the bottom. At the base are two ¼” jacks at the base for headphones and guitar inputs.
The left side has a headphone volume control while the right has recording volume level switch. Adjacent to this switch on the front of the unit is a Clip LED that informs the user when the audio input is too hot and the input recording level switch needs to be switched to low.
Coming off the top is the standard USB cable, which plugs into the PC or Mac. The Guitar Link is bus powered not requiring an additional power supply. An LED sits below this cable turning blue to indicate that the Guitar Link UCG102 is connected.
Included with the device is Guitar Combos from Native Instruments and energyXT2 software, which is designed to work with PC or Macs. For this review I use my Mac Pro running OS X (Lion) 10.7.4.
If you decided to install either one of these packages on a Mac you will immediately notice that these bundles have not been updated probably since the Tiger OS X days. In fact they use the VISE installer that is a remnant of the Mac PowerPC days. Personally if you are using a Mac then forget this bundle as it is dated looking and somewhat confusing to use. Plus two of the included combos are just trials and require additional purchase while the energyXT2 software is the non-professional version.
Once you have chosen your guitar effect from the right side of the screen click the little speaker icon on the left side of the screen to hear that effect through your Mac.
If you have any trouble with playback, go into the main System Preferences and choose Sound. From this submenu choose USB Audio Codec for the Input and your output of choice, mine was the Line Out for my external speakers.
So how does the Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 sound? Quite good!
Using GarageBand and the included effects it produces some amazing effects and sound. With this simple setup you can play soulful blues, grooving jazz or room shaking rock.
There was virtually no latency using my Fender Squire through the Guitar Link. Unlike analog setups there was no outside noise from the guitar and interface device.
You can use headphones or an external monitor but using my Mac Pro’s external speakers sounded pretty rocking.
Overall I was impressed by the capabilities of this device running through GarageBand.
The Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 is an affordable way to interface your guitar to your Mac or PC. With it you can use your computer as a stomp box or recording studio. For Mac users I highly suggest you eschew installing the included software, as it is archaic and complicated compared to Garageband.
+Works with GarageBand out of the box
-Bundled software is poor
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