Jitterbugging

October 7, 2015
 by Paul McGowan

I had mentioned weeks ago that after a brief listen, the Audioquest Jitterbug seemed to have good potential, though I had never heard it in Music Room One. At RMAF I had a chance to actually play with it on our system and can now report to you it does what it is advertised to do.

My first encounter with this little USB stick came from Vegas at last years CES. Steve Silberman wrangled me into the Audioquest room and demonstrated the Jitterbug on a pair of headphones. Indeed, it worked as he had said; better clarity, bass and definition. But how much can you tell standing at a tradeshow with headphones you are not familiar with? For me, not so much, and so I remained underwhelmed until I actually got my hands on one.

Last week’s RMAF found us in quite a nice room with the YG Acoustics Sonja 1.3 loudspeakers driven by an all BHK system and sourced with DirectStream, playing music from my tricked-out Mac Mini. Pictures of the room can be found here (thanks to Scott Hull from Part-time Audiophile for pictures, and Terri McGowan for room setup).

On day two the system had loosened up and sounded quite good, certainly revealing. I placed the Jitterbug in series with the JCAT USB cable and improvements were immediate and obvious: increased spatial information, tighter, fuller bass, lower noise and obviously lowered jitter. A keeper.

Tomorrow, another surprise from the show.

Subscribe to Paul's Posts

24 comments on “Jitterbugging”

  1. The Mac Mini is connected to the DSD, which has excellent anti jitter software, I always read.
    And still the jitterbug improves this….?
    Isn’t this just a little advertising for the colleagues/friends of Audio Quest….
    Sorry, I’m a little confused and a even a little angry when I read this.
    A 7900 euro DAC cannot get the jitter-job completely done and needs an el cheapo little device for help…
    At this pricepoint (the DAC) the use of the jitterbug should make no improvement.
    If it does, you should consider to give it for free to every customer who buys the DSD.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this but I do think perhaps your anger is a bit misplaced. First, I am not giving my colleague a boost – Audioquest is a huge company. They hardly need a “boost” from PS Audio, certainly not on a little tchotchke like Jitterbug.

      Secondly, DirectStream is one of the most jitter immune devices on the market. That said, what this device does is help cut ground loops and remove some of the strain placed on the internal Phy by the USB interface.

      Could we someday improve upon this internally? Perhaps, but whatever we manage to do, products like better cables, better power, Regens etc. are likely to always improve performance.

  2. I own one and it does something
    But if you want a major improvement moment buy a regen
    It improved even my best music server. It made a main board usbclose to a 450 audio usb card that is fed by its own battery psu. A friend knows the owner of it. And TED S
    Should have one but I am sure he knows about what it does. Both devices need to be right at the input of the dac.
    What I have learned about audio on the last two years has been mostly the digital side of audio. It has become obvious to me that the mass improvement is to be there. Any dac I try improves greatly from great digital servers.

  3. Paul never said he plugged the jitterbug into the DSD. If he did, then the first commentor is right that Paul is just being polite to a friend. It is IMPOSSIBLE to improve the sound from the best DAC in the world–at least until they do the next firmware. However, the jitterbug does work on “lesser” dacs. The Regan works better. The two, together, work even better.

    try the Jitterbug with a Meridian Explorer or on other “lesser” dacs. I tried the Jitterbug on the digital input of my Oppo and it made a difference. I always thought the Oppo was a good dac and not a “lesser” dac, but the under $50 item improved the sound.

    The value of the jitterbug, and the preference for it over the Regan is for portable use. Like the dragonfly or the Meridian Explorer, it fits in your briefcase. There is no excuse for bad sound, EVER!

    1. And I never said that Paul said to plug the jitterbug into the DSD.
      I know it has to be inserted into one of the computer’s available USB ports.
      And the USB cable from jitterbug to DAC.
      But “behind” the USB input of the DAC there is a clock and software to get rid of the jitter.
      But apparently that’s not enough.
      And I find that somewhat strange for an expensive device like this DAC. That’s my point.
      BTW : I don’t know the Uptone Regen.

    2. Sorry, and I appreciate the support, but I did plug it directly into DirectStream, in series with the JCAT USB cable and it does improve the sound.

      You mention the Uptone Regen – and that is tomorrow’s post. For this device also works, and much better than the Jitterbug. And for reasons not associated with what you might think.

      It’s interesting to me folks don’t bat an eye when we suggest that one USB cable sounds better, into DirectStream, than another. Yet, place a ground isolating device like Jitterbug in, and eyebrows raise.

  4. Hello All,
    I can’t speak as to the AQ Jitterbug’s effectiveness or quality. However, I was surprised when it was announced (relatively recently) as it appeared to be a lesser quality copy of the iFi iPurifier which was introduced back in 2013 (if memory serves me).
    The iFi iPurifier has now been replaced by the iPurifier 2 (unfortunately not introduced at RMAF due to shipping delays). If, indeed, the Jitterbug is based on the original iPurifier then I’d suggest going instead straight to the iPurifier 2. Why buy the last generations version?
    Finally, first, the iPurifier 2 (and version 1 and which also come with a mini USB converter) is designed as a portable solution although it is equally (and inexpensively) used at home. iFi also makes the micro iUSB 3.0 unit (shown at RMAF) which allows for a split USB cable (power + data on separate cable runs) that improves on this idea.
    Secondly, iFi Audio (http://ifi-audio.com/) is the “baby” brand of AMR offering “trickle down” technology at reasonable prices.

  5. Like so many others the introduction of a Jitterbug made an audible difference in the sound of my system. I noted that AudioQuest indicates this will offer an improvement just plugged into the USB bus without anything plugged into it.

    I ended up buying five, one on each of my computers, one in my NAS and one in the router and one in the car. The car system improved most significantly. For a total investment of $250 I am very pleased and don’t feel taken at all.

    I am not sure how other commentators at other audio sites can continue to claim these make no difference because the bits don’t change but oh well, it works for me.

  6. I tried the jitterbug at my NAS as I stream via the Bridge (still No. 1). Honestly, I can’t hear any significant difference. So, I’m reluctant to buy more jitterbugs for my router and so on. I suppose the device is only really effective when playing music via USB. I shall lend the jitterbug to friends of my hifi club and wonder what they can hear.

    1. In my case even though I bought so many I will readily admit the difference in what I could hear was not jaw dropping, rather it just seemed to make what I was hearing more relaxed and pleasant. More toe-tapping when listening. AudioQuest told me the Jitterbug would act as an antenna of sorts to filter noise from the NAS and router so I figured I would give that a try as well. I may try one of the other mentioned products one of these days but certainly like the Jitterbug portability.

  7. You mention your “tricked out MacMini”. I know you use BitPerfect, but what else? Mojo power supply?
    Do you use the internal hard drive as the main source?
    How do you connect any external drives, USB, firewire(powered or not), thunderbolt?

    Thanks,

    Mark.

    1. Lots of RAM of a certain type, Samsung I believe, and mostly software. I have a computer guru that works magic on this server through setup tricks I don’t understand.

      It’s all based on Bit Perfect for software.

  8. About a month ago, I plugged a Jitterbug between my iMac’s USB and an Audioengine D1, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the improvement. This thing is a keeper for me. I also tried it plugged into an Airport express USB socket. That AE is connected via its audio out jack to another headphone amp and my best ‘phones – the Jitterbug is not in the signal path. I couldn’t distinguish any change in the sound there, but having the Jitterbug in the audio signal path from the desktop to the D1 really kicked things up a level. The Jitterbug is at the computer end; not at the D1.

  9. Love the photos and the industrial design of the gear. I miss knobs and analog dials, touchscreens are so pervasive in our daily lives. Nice to see the preamplifier has a big volume knob on the front!

    Who at PS Audio decides whether components have a dial, knob, readout, etc. ?

      1. If you’re using the DSD with USB you’re not taking advantage of this DAC. It has i2s, and s/pdif inputs that outperform the USB by miles. Get a Sonore SSR and hear what you’re missing over USB.

Leave a Reply

Stop by for a tour:
Mon-Fri, 8:30am-5pm MST

4865 Sterling Dr.
Boulder, CO 80301
1-800-PSAUDIO

Join the hi-fi family

Stop by for a tour:
4865 Sterling Dr.
Boulder, CO 80301

Join the hi-fi family

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram