Some audio tweaks are a little bit, er, weird. Some are painfully expensive. The £39 JitterBug by AudioQuest is neither of those things. Instead, it’s the next bit of audio equipment you are going to buy. No… really. It’s insanely good, and costs about as much as I might spend on a pub lunch. Without the lunch.
AudioQuest turned the audio industry on its head by making a teeny DAC that sounds great and costs beans, called the Dragonfly. Then, the company made it better, and cheaper. In the audio world, this is breaking all the rules. Now comes the JitterBug. Later, there will be the Beetle (a small home DAC seen in Munich), and likely yet more insectyclept (hey, even I can coin words sometimes) digital products to follow.
The JitterBug is described as a ‘USB data and power noise filter’, using a dual discrete noise-dissipation circuit that fits on a fingernail. It’s basically a device with a male USB connector at one end, a female at the other and sits between your USB port and your USB device. You could use one to filter the 5V power line and data nasties between your computer and DAC, or you could use it to stop some of those nasties coming into the computer in the first place by placing one between external hard drive and computer. Or you could use it on a spare port as a kind of 5V rail noise squisher. And at £39 per bug, you could do both. And in most cases, you should. In fact, you can put them almost anywhere you see a USB slot in an audio system and you stand a good chance that it will improve performance.
AudioQuest points the finger of improvement firmly at jitter and packet error reduction caused by excess electromagnetic and radio frequency interference. This is a fairly common mantra in modern audio, but it is fair comment that audio devices like DACs and solid-state preamplifiers are not particularly happy receiving a signal drowning in interference, and typically things that cut back noise currents and parasitic resonances in especially noisy environments (such as computers and NAS drives) is commonly considered a good thing.
Most of these RFI, EMI, and resonance control devices work along analogue lines (such as Entreq or Vertex AQ boxes), and frequently use elaborate mechanical grounding techniques. These come at a fairly healthy cost to the end user. The little JitterBugs work in the digital domain and cost £39. Each.