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.

  • 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
    Jan 22 '16 at 11:56
  • The one major difference is with powered external USB cards - their signal to noise ratio is dramatically improved
    – Doktor Mayhem
    Jan 23 '16 at 0:03

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.


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.


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.


When I first started with using Amp Sims, I had an old core2duo circa 2005 and realtek HD on the motherboard (circa 2005) audio using the line in.

I used ASIO4ALL and had about 10-15ms latency. The problem at the time was that a background process would kick in and it would cause the audio to pop occasionally. Note that I found in my case that forcing the Realtek drivers to 96k actually lowered my latency. I suspect that chipset was downsampling to 44k/48k.

I used FREE vsthost software ( http://www.hermannseib.com/english/vsthost.htm ) to host the Amp Simulations, and I used FREE simu-analog VST ( http://www.simulanalog.org/guitarsuite.htm ) for decent pedal/amp sims.

So the only thing I had to pay for was a 1/4 inch to 1/8 inch adapter for my (noisy) audio cable I pulled out of the cable snake-pit-box in my closet.

Total price: about 2 bucks

Once I got that all in place and I played around a bit, I then upgraded as possible or where I felt a lack of features.

All this was on a desktop. I tried this on a cheap laptop at the time, but it was not suitable. I expect anything made in the last 3 years is probably going to be satisfactory.

I am currently using a stealthpedal (but not the software) for the midi pedal and sound card features.

The main advantage of using a separate device or add-in card with its own ASIO driver is that you can still use the onboard audio for e.g. youtube or media player(s).

Make sure whatever you choose has a native ASIO Driver.

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