Review of Behringer Guitar Link UCG102

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.

Guitar Link01 Guitar Link02

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.

Guitar Link03 Guitar Link04

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.

Guitar Link05 Guitar Link06

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.

Guitar Link07 Guitar Link08

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.

Specifications:

GUITAR LINK UCG102

Product Features:

  • Plug in your favorite guitar and turn your PC or Mac computer into a guitar amp and recording system without the need for any other hardware
  • Enjoy immediate access to Guitar Combos from Native Instruments—a leading guitar amp and stomp box modeling software—now including VST, AU and RTAS plugin versions
  • Directly works with your PC or Mac computer—ultra-low latency ASIO driver for PC audio optimization included
  • Stereo Headphone output lets you jam with your computer and can also be used for monitoring with active monitor speakers
  • Guitar Combos with variable-speed file playback function for MP3, WAV, AIFF audio files—perfect for easy learning and practicing—tuner and metronome function
  • Powered via USB—no additional power supply required
  • High-quality components and exceptionally rugged construction ensure long life
  • Conceived and designed by BEHRINGER Germany

Your guitar is a time-tested cornerstone of popular music. Hook it up directly to pop’s present and future with the GUITAR LINK UCG102.

Old School Meets Cutting Edge

The UCG102 is a USB interface that, like a guitar amp, receives signal from your guitar via a 1/4" input jack. A built-in USB cable then sends signal directly to your computer, where the amazing included software package simulates guitar amps and stomp boxes, in addition to tracking your latest masterpiece. It has a 1/4" headphone jack and PHONES volume dial so you can monitor your performance as you record, a CLIP LED to tell you when your signal is too hot, and a HI/LO level selector.

Super Software

The UCG102 comes packaged with Native Instruments’ "Guitar Combos" software that models guitar amps and stomp boxes. Take your pick of the “PLEXI COMBO", “TWANG COMBO” or “AC BOX COMBO” for stunningly real amplifier tones. Sample them all, then activate the full version of the classic rockin’ "AC BOX COMBO" rig. Native Instruments extends special offers to all registered Guitar Combos users, making it more affordable than ever to take advantage of their award-winning GUITAR RIG software packages. Visit http://co.native-instruments.com/index.php?id=4101&prid=247&redirected=1 for the latest special pricing on this incredible software.

Link In

Whether you’re a guitar ace, novice home recording buff or a jack-of-all trades songwriter in need of a souped-up guitar presence, the UCG102 is the accessory for you. For an incredibly low price, you can bridge your favorite axe to your home computer while applying a virtual treasure trove of vintage gear and killer multitracking software. Check out this incredibly handy powerhouse at a BEHRINGER dealer near you.

Price: $33.99


Behringer designed the Guitar Link UCG102 to work right out of the box using a Mac. Simply plug the device into a free USB on your PC or Mac and your guitar cord into the ¼” jack. There is an audio output jack on the Guitar Link for using an external monitor or headphones.

Guitar Link09 Guitar Link10

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.

Guitar Link11 Guitar Link12 

Guitar Link13

Luckily according to several online reports the Guitar Link UCG102 works with other more up to date effects software such as Guitar Rig which is also available from Native Instruments.

Behringer includes Audacity the free open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds. This program is up to date.

Besides the software being slightly outdated there is no documentation on how to get Garageband running with the Guitar Link UCG102. Some quick online research revealed to simply open Garageband with the device unplugged and start a new project using the electric guitar icon.

Next plug in the Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 into the USB port and accept the dialog that asks whether you wish to use the device named “USB Audio Codec”. Finally go into GarageBand’s preferences and select the “Audio/Midi” tab and choose your machine’s audio speakers for Audio Output. Choose “USB Audio Codec” for the Audio Input default.

Guitar Link14

Guitar Link15 Guitar Link16

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.

Guitar Link17

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.

Guitar Link18 Guitar Link19

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.



Guitar Link01 Guitar Link04 Guitar Link05 Guitar Link06 

Conclusion:

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.

The Behringer’s Guitar Link UCG102 can be found online for around $32 at Amazon making it cheaper than some high-end guitar cables. If you want a cheap way to record your guitar using your PC or Mac then the Guitar Link is a great investment. Just stay away from the included software, as it will most likely lead to several hours of frustration.

8

 

Pros:
+Lightweight
+Compact
+Affordable
+No Latency
+Works with GarageBand out of the box

Cons:
-Bundled software is poor

Grades:  
Overall score-8-10
Design score-8-10
Performance score-8-10

To learn more about our review policy please visit this page HERE.

  • RMX

    Hi!

    I have my Macs audioport damaged.

    Can the Behringer GuitarLink be used as an external sound card as well?

    E.g.: is it possible to hear the music playing with itunes through the headphone output jammed with the guitar? Or the headphones output is only meant to reproduce the guitar?

    • Hugo Westerdahl

      yes you can.just select the right audio device in yhe mas audio prefs.

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