Before I received the Jitterbug I was very skeptical a device like the JB would work and that’s exactly why I asked to review one. Some people have told me they can’t stand listening to their music/USB DAC anymore without the Jitterbug, others can’t hear any difference at all.
Generally seen I tend to quickly pick out differences in sound between units, cables, etc. (check out the Phillips’ Golden Ear Challenge). If there is any difference at all when using the Jitterbug, I should be able to hear it. Right?
First of all I have to say that my Dell Latitude E6430’s USB ports have never bothered me. With my former Dell laptop I could hear clicks, ticks and bleeps of the processor through the USB (DAC) but it seems the USB ports in this laptop are extremely well isolated (or whatever you like to call it).
To be honest I did not hear a difference with most of the DACs I tried the Jitterbug with. When I did hear a difference it was only minor and the difference is very subtle. After having tried the JB with a whole bunch of DACs, I would describe “its effect on sound” as follows: the Jitterbug seems to add a thin layer of smoothness to the sound which is most noticeable in the upper regions, making the sound less clear in a way but more musical. I can imagine that’s a good thing for some if that’s how you prefer your music to sound. It can also be a good thing when you’re using a less stellar DAC as it might give you the impression it sounds better/more musical but I’m sure not everyone feels the same. In example, in combination with the Violectric V850 DAC + V281 amp + HE-1000, I don’t really appreciate the effect of the JB as the fine detail seems to get lost/softened down. Then again, the V850 is a powered DAC unit, so maybe it’s that.
I got the most noticeable effect in combination with the Dragonfly. To me the Dragonfly is a more forward sounding and brighter sounding unit and the Jitterbug softens out the treble a bit making it nicer and easier to listen to. Coincidentally both come from the same company, but I doubt that’s got something to do with it.
The Jitterbug is also supposed to clean up your system by just entering it in a free USB port. Audioquest advises not use more than two in the same system though. I didn’t go there.
I haven’t heard any of the other USB cleaning solutions and I honestly don’t plan on getting or reviewing them either. Like I said, Jitterbug’s effect to me only was noticeable on some DACs and even then it was minimal. I’m not even sure I liked its effect on top of that. Maybe it’s a whole different story when your laptop has noisy USB ports but I don’t have a bunch of laptops lying around to test that. With my actual laptop setup the Jitterbug to my ears doesn’t seem to improve the sound but it might be a whole other story with your laptop, your phone, your USB source, your USB DAC and your ears.
A whole lot of people do think the Jitterbug improves their setup and the good news is that it only costs $49 USD. So if you know or think your source isn’t that good or that your system could benefit from this device, I would fully suggest trying the Jitterbug as it might just be the thing you need to get better sound. Personally I enjoyed testing it but looking at the results in my setup, I am still skeptical about these kind of devices. I wish I could say my life changed after adding the Jitterbug to my setup but I just can’t. I’m sorry Audioquest, but for me personally it doesn’t seem to work.
Some readers will most likely call me crazy now while others will say I finally got some sense into me. Thing is you never can please everyone and I can only tell you what I hear (or don’t hear in this case). My best advice is to try it yourself. I do look forward to reading about your Jitterbug experiences in the comment section, I’m looking forward to exchanging views.
EDIT: Audioquest has gotten back to me and helped me troubleshoot the HUGO issue I was having. JB and Hugo work together now without any issue, Hugo actually is one of AQ’s demo setups. Let it also be clear the JB is both for powered and non powered usb dacs (but JB works best on usb powered dacs though). The JB is also supposed to go on the sending end of your system just to be super clear on that. Once again AQ showed they have a great after sales/customer service and I have to thank them for helping me out.