No, I am not talking about a V-Dub or an annoying flying insect, but Audioquest’s Beetle – an Optical-Bluetooth-USB, Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC).
To put this in perspective, you have a digital audio source – say an iOS or Android smartphone/tablet/TV/Amplifier with Bluetooth, TV with Toslink Optical and a PC or Mac computer with USB or Bluetooth. Yes, some of these also have a 3.5mm audio output as well – except Apple.
And the Beetle takes these and outputs very clean analogue audio from the 3.5m stereo headphone jack.
The 3.5mm stereo audio jack needs to be connected to an analogue speaker, or headphones, or it could go into the AUX IN of an amplifier or amplified speaker – it will adjust output accordingly. Got it – digital sound can be converted to analogue sound!
The purest sound input is Optical Toslink as it has no transmission issues and no induced ‘electronics’ noise. Most devices with Toslink can also be configured to output sound to Toslink and HDMI or the speakers simultaneously allowing a headphone to be used with the Beetle while the sound is also coming from the TV speakers – great for the hard of hearing.
Beetle has the following inputs (from a music device):
Asynchronous Bluetooth – Beetle’s LED will turn blue for 10 seconds.
Optical – Beetle’s LED will turn red for 10 seconds.
Asynchronous USB audio – Beetle’s LED will change colour for 10 seconds
Its input sampling rates are:
Green = 44.1kHz;
Blue = 48kHz
Amber = 88.2kHz
Magenta = 96kHz.
ESS 9010 DAC chip with minimum-phase filtering, plus a Microchip MX Series microcontroller.
Asynchronous Bluetooth 4.0 (software upgradable) and up to eight Bluetooth pairings
Optical sample rates 32kHz-96kHz; 16-24 bit
Bluetooth sample rates up to 48kHz @ 384kbps
Volume control: USB/Bluetooth 64-bit-Perfect Digital and Optical Unity Gain
A DAC is about getting the best possible sound out of a sound source device to the listener. A dedicated DAC like Beetle is far better than internal DACs on most devices.