In Barn: AudioQuest Beetle

AudioQuest Beetle Optical-Bluetooth-USB Digital-to-Analog Converter ($199.99).

Beetle Features

  • ESS Sabre 9010 digital-to-analog converter for low-noise, high-fidelity stereo sound
  • built-in high-performance headphone amplifier (20 ohm to 300 ohm headphone impedance recommended)
  • powered by USB connection — no need for external power supply when connected to a USB source (using Bluetooth or optical input requires use of included AC USB power adapter or connection to a computer's USB port)
  • compact design for portability
  • asynchronous USB (Micro Type B) input for maximum audio performance when connecting to a PC
  • 1x optical digital audio input (Toslink)
  • 3.5mm stereo minijack provides:
    • headphone output (minimum 20 ohm headphone impedance recommended)
    • variable line-level output for driving powered speakers or power amp
    • fixed line-level output for connecting to a preamp or receiver
  • supports digital files up to 24-bit/96kHz for optical and USB inputs
  • built-in driver for USB connection
  • frequency response: 10-25,000 Hz (±0.5 dB)
  • THD: less than 0.0025%
  • signal-to-noise ratio (0-20,000 Hz): greater than 110 dB
  • output voltage: 1.35 Vms
  • 3-9/16"W x 1-1/16"H x 2-15/16"D (5-1/4"D including cable and volume knob)
  • warranty: 1 year

What's in the Box:

  • Owner's manual
  • Optical-Bluetooth-USB DAC
  • AC power adapter (attached 6' DC cord)
  • 4 Self-adhesive rubber feet
  • Flight Manual
  • Rubber feet instructions
  • Warranty Registration Card

Hi-Reality's picture

Dear Michael,

I know this might be a strange question: can the headphone output and the variable line-level output be activated simultaneously on the AudioQuest Beetle?

I've checked its manual online which doesn't specify it.

Thank you in advance and looking forward to your review!

Regards, Babak
Hi-Reality Project

Wavelength's picture


There is only one 3.5mm output port on the Beetle for audio. It is variable when used with Bluetooth and USB, but it is fixed when using Toslink since there is no SPDIF specification for volume changing on that interface.


Hi-Reality's picture

Thanks. But your feedback wasn't the answer to my question. Let me rephrase it:
Does the variable line-level output work (i.e. can it feed the audio signal to any amp) when a headphone is connected to the headphone output?

Michael Lavorgna's picture
The "variable line-level output" and the "headphone output" are one and the same. Since we know that two things cannot inhabit the same space at the same time, at least according to Star Trek, you can choose to use the single Beetle 3.5mm stereo minijack output as line-level ("to any amp") or as a headphone out.
Hi-Reality's picture

I didn't pay enough attention to the text or the photos; I thought line-level and headphone out were two separate outputs. My question was not only strange but dumb :-)

Thanks Michael and Gordon

lestes's picture

I was shopping for a simple DAC 6 months ago and considered the Beetle (also Auralic Mini, Arcam something or other). Ultimately I ended up with a Simple Green Computer Sonicorbiter SE since it is Roon ready. Outside of my main stereo I need a simple solution for several small setups (Home Theater, Garage, Office, etc) but I want one software. These entry level products are perfect but so few allow for a unified software interface.

Michael Lavorgna's picture Roon. If you stick with Roon Ready devices, you'll have one one software interface.
EliaGar's picture

You don't mention them above; I'm sure that it supports aptX within A2DP, but I'm wondering if they have implemented aptX HD or especially Sony's LDAC. LDAC appears to give better throughput than any prior src/snk system, and I'm curious to see if LDAC can pipe enough data to finally make BT a more competitive (vs wired) option. Thanks!

Wavelength's picture


No Beetle does not support AptX. The big reason is that unlike AptX products we do not use a canned module for support. Instead we have a complete software package we developed that can be updated. We currently support SBC, MP3 and AAC protocols. AptX is a locked protocol that is only supported at the module level. Sony is not licensing their protocol as of yet.


deckeda's picture

... is a response more informative than I had hoped for. Thanks, Gordon. Most of us know that SBC is a required baseline for BT audio, but since it sounds awful, so what? But after that it gets hazy.

As I understand it, Bluetooth (any iteration) can't handle lossless bandwidth (for basic 16/44 files), so the best you can hope for is ONE decent lossy conversion stage, either via AAC or aptX (typically).

I've never understood aptX since there are no aptX song files! IF you have lossless files stored on your phone (which for the vast majority is rare), then with aptX support at both ends (phone and on your target Bluetooth device) you'll have that ONE lossy conversion stage.

Most people have MP3s or AAC files on their phone, or stream from a lossy equivalent. At best, aptX just became a SECOND lossy conversion as the file reaches the Bluetooth target.

When aptX first appeared on Android phones is was heralded as finally good Bluetooth sound, despite it usually being a second lossy conversion. That's a testament to how awful SBC is.

But for anyone with an iPhone and AAC files (which is a bunch of users) being able to stream that file unfettered/unconverted to a Bluetooth device is even better.

Wavelength's picture

Correct, in most cases AAC or MP3 data should not be converted when sent to a Bluetooth output device meeting those capabilities.

I say should as who knows what is going on inside these devices.

Also true that in the case of AptX, some sort of secondary conversion say from MP3/AAC to AptX would occur. Or first the unencoded MP3/AAC would be done and then converted to AptX.

When we sat down to design the Beetle this was one of the reasons we went in this direction. We could have easily just bought a module put a dac chip on it and be done.

In redbook (i.e. 16/44.1 stereo) terms, Bluetooth is not going to support this. I was on the BT Audio committee for 2 years asking for this weekly and it's just not going to happen.

The bigger wireless problem is this. While BT has it's act together creating profiles and specifications that work to everyones benefit. WIFI on the other hand has very little interest in interoperability and audio.


Hummer's picture

When are you looking to review the Audioquest Beetle as I think it looks a very neat and simple solution to run a whole bunch of devices through.
I am interested to see if this betters the SQ of the Dragonfly,I can already see it has the capability to do a whole lot more.
Anyway hope to see a review in the near future as this device is already available and there are no reviews out there yet?