As the name suggests, the Tapco Link.USB is an audio interface that connects to your computer via the magic of USB.
The unit itself is a fairly unexciting beast - it´s basically a no-frills 2-in/2-out affair - but the styling alone is enough to make it stand out from the crowd. Looking like something Ripley might hit an Alien over the head with, the Link.USB´s chunky, quasi-militaristic design makes it more striking than many of its bland-looking peers.
While pictures of the Link.USB make it look like it´s built like a brick and could be rather heavy, it´s actually pretty small and light in real life. It´s rugged enough for gigging and general music-making on the go, but we wouldn´t recommend chucking it about, as it´s made mostly from plastic (albeit with some sensual moulded rubber on the top and bottom).
The back of the unit hosts dual quarter-inch jack and XLR inputs, and these can be individually toggled between line and instrument levels via two small knobs on the front panel (located next to each input´s gain knob). The outputs are also quarter-inch jacks, and the only other back-panel furniture is a phantom power switch and a USB port.
As well as the input controls, the front panel has separate volume controls for the headphone and main outputs, and a Mix control that enables you to mix in the direct input with the signal coming out of your computer. This is a useful feature for those who want to record instruments or vocals Get a grip: some may find the knobbly rubber bits strangely exciting… with the unit; indeed, we can see this being a popular interface among musicians who want to do such things with the minimum of fuss.
The software side of the Link.USB is practically non-existent. The ASIO driver is one of the simplest we´ve ever seen, offering six progressively longer latency times and not a lot else. There are no routing or mixer controls to speak of, but this only enhances the Link.USB´s core concept. It´s extremely easy to use, and the technophobic will find its hand-on, hardware-centric approach to be very appealing.
Thanks to the inclusion of the Tracktion 2 software, the Link.USB is a great choice for those who want a cost-effective all-in-one recording solution. The bundle isn´t such great value if you´ve already got a sequencer, but it remains a well designed, no-frills audio interface that sounds great and is extremely easy to use.