Monday, December 31, 2012

Chinese Guitar Link

HoHoHo, Santa suprised me with a new toy! Well. Dad surprised me with a new toy. My wife was tired of only buying me music stuff that only I could pick out, so this year we decided we'd set our budget to $50 for each of us and everything had to be a surprise. She got me mostly stuff to make my bike commute through the winter a little better and a disc golf set. I love surprises, so really this Christmas was as successful as any other. I'd recommend trying a lean year like this if you find your Christmases getting out of control financially as ours had been.

Anyway, bla bla bla, I digress. Bottom line is I wasn't expecting any recording gear, but my Dad got me a cheap USB Guitar Link from HDE through Amazon. It has 2 stars. Is this a good idea? I only added it to my Amazon wish list the week before Christmas on a whim, so it was a nice surprise. The poor reviews mention bad sound, latency issues, problems installing the driver, etc. so I aloofly thought, "Linux will not suffer these maladies."

I was right.

I'm sure both you regular readers (hi mom!) are thinking, don't you have a fancy expensive firewire interface? Yes, but my laptop is also the family computer, my thesis writing desk, my development machine and occasionally a server, media player, or gaming console (think puzzles). So it doesn't get to sit in my studio awaiting my beck and call to play guitar, drums, or whatever.

Luckily, I was able to claim a few touchscreen computers from my work when they were cleaning out the back room. These have 1 Gig ram and an Intel Atom processor. Not bad for FREE! It boots from compact flash, but I don't want to invest in a big CF card, so I dedicated a USB to running an ubuntu  live setup. Its fans are loud and it has that industrial look, but its nice to leave running and play drums for a few minutes till my wife catches on. :) This machine isn't fit for recording, but its perfect to sit in my studio awaiting my beck and call to play guitar, drums, or whatever.

Now with the guitar link I can leave my electric plugged in and rock out for a few minutes here and there.

It started right up with JACK, I just had to select the right audio device. It responded to lsusb as a TI chip, so its probably ok really. It seems pretty quiet even with high-gain settings in guitarix. I did run it at 48000hz sampling rate, as I'd read online it does better with that. I've read most cards actually have that as the native rate and so have to downsample if you run at 44.1kh which can degrade quality. I don't know if that's true though so don't quote me.

My complaints are that the clipping light doesn't work, and that infernally bright blue LED is obnoxious. The instructions aren't worth much (they talk about the RCA ports which there are none) but they're not really necessary if you know whats going on. Can't comment about the included windows driver, naturally. Overall I think its worth it if you have no money but your laptop soundcard input is really noisy like mine (or non-functional in the case of the touchscreens). And of course don't use it with buggy software (such as Windows). :p

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have a laptop with a combo jack(mic and headset in a 3.5 plug) so i can't record my guitar. I want to buy the UCG102, but what can you say now, indeed worth? I want to record new compositions with Ardour/Audacity and guitarix (unprofessional), and practice. Thank you