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I was about to buy either Behringer UCG102 or Rocksmith Real Tone to get my guitar cheaply and quickly connected to the PC and I was wondering if it wouldn't be better getting an external sound card for about the same price. Of course, I know I won't get professional sound from any of these cheap options. I just want to use Guitar Rig with an acceptably low latency/noise and maybe record some amateur things.

Is there any significant difference between cheap sound card and the kind of USB-audio concerter linked above? My knowledge about audio is rather poor, so simple explanations are highly appreciated.

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  • Have been using a UCG102 with an i5 based laptop (dual-boot), with my Strat clone for about 4-5 months now. In the Windows partition, I use Amplitube with ASIO4All driver, and the latency is around 10-12ms (so hardly noticeable). On the the Linux partition, I use Rakarrak and guitarix with Jack, and the latency is again low enough not to notice. This is for my hardly-trained (musically) ears.
    – bdutta74
    Commented Jan 22, 2016 at 11:56
  • The one major difference is with powered external USB cards - their signal to noise ratio is dramatically improved
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Commented Jan 23, 2016 at 0:03

3 Answers 3

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USB-to-guitar cables and external USB sound cards are basically the same thing in terms of how they work - they are both USB audio interfaces, just in a different physical shape.

The feature that guitar-specific interfaces will (or should) have in common is a high-impedance input suitable for a guitar's output level, which is necessary to get a good sound when you are plugging your guitar straight in. Some non guitar-specific interfaces may have this too, as well as stereo line-level inputs that would be useful if you ever want to record from another source.

Whatever interface you choose, you want to make sure it has a low-latency (probably ASIO) driver that will work with your audio software (Guitar Rig in this case).

Although it's not a particularly helpful thing to say, there can be some unpredictable results when some devices/drivers just don't seem to get on with some computer hardware - so if there's any way you can somehow try before you buy, that's always a good thing.

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As I understand it, a Guitar-USB interface basically is an external soundcard. I think any cheap USB-based solution will suffice and you can still choose which device (USB Vs on-board soundcard) to use for recording and playback.

Certainly my iRig just shows up as a regular sound device, as does my USB mini-mixing desk.

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Both are affordable recording options. However I would recommend the Behringer interface as it allows you to monitor in real time with close to zero latency. That could make a huge difference if you're recording on a average computer that doesn't have the speeds to process the guitar input and play it back through your speakers for monitoring.

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