Disclaimer: The Jitterbug was sent to me for the purpose of this review. It has to be returned to Audioquest once I’ve finished playing with it and the other AQ units.
Audioquest is a US based company but the EU headquarters is located in the Netherlands. I had been following Audioquest’s Instagram account for a while and I decided to contact them there after seeing the Jitterbug in one of their posts. AudioQuest is mostly known for their cables since the 1980’s already but they have also released a very popular mini USB DAC/AMP called the Dragonfly. The Dragonfly has gotten a lot of praise all over the world and it will be reviewed soon on Headfonia as well. I can tell you already it pleasantly surprised me. Audioquest “recently” also launched their first full sized headphone called the “Nighthawk”, which will also be featured on HFN in the coming weeks. I first received the Nighthawk and the Jitterbug while the Dragonfly 1.2 arrived quite a while later as AQ can’t keep up with production of the units.
In this review I will only look at the Audioquest Jitterbug, the other units will all be featured separately.
According to Audioquest the Jitterbug is a USB Data & Power Noise Filter with Dual Discrete Noise-Dissipation Circuits
- Reduces the noise and ringing that plague both the data and power lines of USB ports
- Measurably reduces jitter and packet errors
- Improves dynamic contrast, warmth and resolution
The Problem: All computing devices—laptops, smartphones, Network Attached Storage devices (NAS drives), media servers, etc.—inherently generate a significant amount of noise and parasitic resonances. Additionally, computers contribute a considerable amount of RFI and EMI pollution onto the signal paths—all of which can easily find its way onto your USB cables and into your audio system. This noise and interference has many negative effects. Noise-compromised digital circuitry increases jitter and packet errors, resulting in distortion that causes a comparatively flat and irritating sound. Noise-compromised analog circuitry also damages the sound’s depth,
warmth and resolution.
The Solution: JitterBug’s dual-circuitry measurably reduces unwanted noise currents and parasitic resonances. It also reduces jitter and packet errors (in some cases, packet errors are completely eliminated). JitterBug’s dual-function line-conditioning circuitry works on both the data (communication) and vbus (power) lines of USB ports: The latter reduces noise and prevents EMI and RFI from contaminating the associated digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and/or cable. The former minimizes parasitic resonances created by the computer and USB bus, and is optimized to remove noise above the USB 2.0 frequency specification, making it ideal for audio playback.
The Result: Clearer and more compelling sound, music, dialog, etc. A better audio experience.
A $49USD device that gives you a better audio experience? That of course deserves a closer look!
The Jitterbug (JB) is plug and play and it is supposed to work with most USB devices and DACs. You are supposed to put it on the sending end of your USB connection as JitterBug is a passive device. That also means there are no active circuits or logic systems and as a result you don’t need to install any drivers. Do note the Jitterbug only works on USB 2.0 and it will convert a 3.0 to a 2.0 port. When I’m not listening to vinyl on my Pro-Ject turntable, I almost exclusively use my laptop as a source at home. In theory the Jitterbug is supposed to work best with USB powered DACs such as the new Fiio Q1, the Fiio E10K, the Audioquest Dragonfly, the Resonessence HERUS and a whole lot more. (but it also works for non usb powered dacs)
The first unit I “connected” the JB to was the Chord Hugo, and it in the beginning wasn’t recognizing the JB at all. AQ gave some tips on how to get it working and after reinstalling some drivers, the Hugo + JB combo worked flawlessly. On to another of my favorite USB powered DACs then: the HERUS. Unfortunately I got a “USB device not recognized” error. We haven’t quite figured out yet why this is happening but I have read of other users having the same problem with the Herus. Most likely it’s the Herus that isn’t compatible. After that the JB worked with all of my DACs. All of the Fiio DACs get recognized, just like the brand new Stoner Acoustics EGD (review to come), ALO’s Continental Dual Mono and Violectric’s new V850 DAC (both self-powered). Sometimes the Jitterbug goes all crazy and it will deform your sound completely but a quick unplug solves that immediately.
It all continues on Page 2, right after the click here or below