AudioQuest demo pre-production JitterBug at CES 2015


CES_2015Do the jitterbug. AudioQuest’s new USB bizzo was so named by founder and chief designer Bill Low whilst the initial idea sprang from a conversation between Steve Silberman and Gordon Rankin. Rankin designed the circuit with Garth Powell adding his power supply nouse during the second phase of the JitterBug’s development. That’s a goodly number of people for a product that’s no bigger than your thumb.

So what the heck does AudioQuest’s JitterBug actually do?

Three things: 1) it’s a line conditioner for the USB voltage bus; 2) it’s a signal filter for the USB data bus. In both instances it suppresses the electrical noise that comes pouring out of your computer and messes with your DAC’s super-sensitive circuits; 3) When introducing a demo of the JitterBug’s capabilities AudioQuest’s Steve Silberman explained that “it also attenuates the entire signal to remove parasitic resonances”.

Putting it more simply, the JitterBug doesn’t re-clock the digital audio stream (as its name might suggest); it filters out USB nasties and lowers the amount of electrical noise travelling along your USB cable.

If that makes no sense to you, look at the JitterBug as AudioQuest’s answer to the Schiit Wyrd (US$99) or the iFi Purifier (US$99). AudioQuest’s JitterBug halves the entry fee to US$49.

The units used for this CES 2015 demo were all naked prototypes – the shell design is still to be finalised.


Hearing a single JitterBug in series with the USB cable, acoustic guitars sounded more natural with a shade less ‘pingy’ metallic glare on (some) transients. Things got a whole lot more ‘WTF?’ when a second JitterBug inserted into the adjacent unused USB port also brought a further lift in depth perception. It would seem that even plugging unused ports makes a difference. (That alone is enough to set forums alight).

The demo wrapped with a slice of Aimee Man, first with the system loaded with three or four JitterBugs – including one in the front-facing empty port of the digital pre-amplifier – and then with all JitterBugs removed. The difference was palpable: soundstaging lost some height and width whilst inner spatial information surrendered some clarity.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that you go all out and buy five or six of these things to plug every single USB port found in your audio system although it’s likely that more fanatical listeners probably will – audiophiles do love affordable system tweaks. I’m suggesting you first give a single JitterBug a try between your PC and DAC. Perhaps it will remove some of the digital glare from the sound? It might even remove the need for a fancy USB cable? That’s a potentially troubling thought for some cable manufacturers, even AudioQuest themselves! That’s for you to find out, people.

At its fifty buck asking price you can try the JitterBug for yourself without too much financial injury.

UPDATE May 2015: A follow-up piece on the JitterBug can be found here.

Further information: AudioQuest

CES 2015 coverage brought to you by…


Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
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  1. “I noted a subtle improvement in the organic nature of acoustic guitars, a shade less metallic glare on (some) transients.”

    “soundstaging lost some height and width whilst inner spatial information surrendered some clarity.

    Excuse me, Mr Darko, I must apologise. I didn’t realise this site was a parody. You actually had me there for a while. I took it seriously! I feel like such a goose too…Oops!

    Imagne two of these in series! Total knockout! A cloudy day gives way to rays of sunshine! Turns rap into jazz! I wonder, if I hook this up to my external hard drive, will it make my graphic renderings buzz with pshycadelic colors? It might even correct my Excel formulas too! Improve my download speeds!

    You missed some great opportunities, why limit such an amazing device on just music?

    And all this for, only $49! No way! I would feel like such a thief! Such a low entry fee into the mental ward!

    • Chaz, putting your derisory sarcasm aside for one moment, you do have a point. This is what happens when I drive 8 hours from mid-California to Vegas then jump straight onto the red-eye to Honolulu and start writing as soon as I land. I’ve made a single change to the first quote. If you still find the language not to your taste then perhaps consider that just maybe you are not my reader. 🙂

  2. The Schiit Wyrd made a noticeable improvement in my system, so I see no reason why this wouldn’t work also. The idea that plugging them into unused usb ports will help the sound is definitely interesting. If it really works they are going to have a huge secondary market for the device.

  3. Careful John, the techno babble experts will be locking on to your WTF comment with regards to the device inserted into the unused USB port.
    I can hear it now….snake oil, open mind boys and listen first before commenting!