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Budget DAC Review: Micca OriGen+ USB DAC

amirm

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#1
This is a performance review and measurements of Micca OriGen+ USB DAC and headphone amplifier.

I purchased the unit through Amazon for $109 including (prime) shipping.


As you see, the box is somewhat odd looking compared to typical DACs. But overall build feel is very good. The device is pretty hefty and for this price range, it has good number of features.

The good news stops at hardware though. Installing the software drivers in Windows 10 anniversary edition is quite convoluted. The only process that works is in their FAQ rather than manual. I never did manage to get it installed on my laptop. Frustrated I had my son install it on my desktop machine and he managed to get it working. If you want a plug-and-play device or a simple setup that just installs, look elsewhere.

The unit oddly has three outputs. One large headphone jack. One small headphone jack. And a rear output that looks identical to front headphone jack. A switch in front controls the front or rear small headphone jack output.

USB connection is through microUSB that is a welcome change from the large USB connectors everyone else uses. There is an option for external input power but I did not have a plug that was skinny enough to fit it. So all of this is with USB power as is the case with all the other DACs.

I did all of my testing with the volume knob at max. It did not seem to clip or have other harmful effects which is good. A switch selects 0 db output or -10. Testing was done at -10 to be consistent with other DACs on hand.

Quick test of the unit unfortunately showed one headphone channel to be dead. I contacted them yesterday and while they responded in a day asking me for my Amazon order number, there was no other follow up by tonight. So I am forced to take advantage of Amazon 30 day return policy to return the unit.

I also told the company I was reviewing their DAC but there was no acknowledgement of that in their support response. :(

Anyway, back to testing, I used my favorite J-test, 48 Khz sampling test signal. This is essentially a 12 Khz tone with the signal going up and down in level one bit, forcing a lot of bits to change (making it a "J-test" signal). Its relevance in USB connection is not high but since it is an industry standard, I continue to use it. As always a perfect DAC would output single sharp line at 12 Khz and nothing else.

As a way of reference, I also tested my iFi iDAC2 which retails at $349. Here is how the two performed against each other:
Comparison to iFi with J-Test.png


OriGen+ is in red, and iFi iDAC2 in green. As we see, there are some extraneous spikes that rise up above the noise level which otherwise is the same as iFi. There are also some odd looking spikes right around our main tone. At -120 dB these are audibly harmless but measurably worse than iFi.

The above was with the headphone output (the only working channel). Here is the output from the stereo headphone jack in the back of the unit:

Left and Right.png


Now this is odd. Both channels show degradation relative to the front headphone jack. And one channel (green) has that wavey overlay riding on the noise floor. Again, these are likely audibly benign but show less than perfect engineering. I would have expected the line out output to be cleaner than front headphone jack and at any rate, to have similar performance in both channels. We did not get that.

Compared to $20 DACs I last tested, this is a huge step up.

Summary
While the engineer in me doesn't like the small amounts of measured aberrations in this DAC relative to one that costs 3.5 times higher, this performance is still excellent. Not so excellent is poor quality control resulting in a unit that has one defective channel. And a driver install process that is nightmare from hell. So overall, I cannot recommend it. So the search for ultra bargain performance DAC that is easy to install continues. :)

As always comments and feedback are welcome.
 
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Sal1950

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#2
And a driver install process that is nightmare from hell.
OK, I'm a bit confused here. What drivers? Is this the usual Windoz USB audio issue or does this unit require something else. Would it be the usual PlugNPlay in Linux/Mac?
 

Blumlein 88

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#3
OK, I'm a bit confused here. What drivers? Is this the usual Windoz USB audio issue or does this unit require something else. Would it be the usual PlugNPlay in Linux/Mac?
I am guessing it has other problems. But it is a good question Sal. Windows gets USB 2 audio support next Tuesday. Suddenly this might become a plug and play DAC on Windows.

Also since I am thinking up things for Amir to do, he could try this with an Android phone and see if it is recognized and plays music. While nice, I wouldn't expect a full suite of measurements as that can be a mine field getting best results from Android. I would simply like to know if a smartphone plugs up to it with a USB To Go cable and plays tunes. That is something a person on limited budget might opt for anyway. A real world use for sub$100 DACs.
 

amirm

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#4
OK, I'm a bit confused here. What drivers? Is this the usual Windoz USB audio issue or does this unit require something else. Would it be the usual PlugNPlay in Linux/Mac?
It requires custom drivers and the installation of those is a hassle. As far as I recall, it does not work at all without drivers.
 

amirm

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#5
Also since I am thinking up things for Amir to do, he could try this with an Android phone and see if it is recognized and plays music. While nice, I wouldn't expect a full suite of measurements as that can be a mine field getting best results from Android. I would simply like to know if a smartphone plugs up to it with a USB To Go cable and plays tunes. That is something a person on limited budget might opt for anyway. A real world use for sub$100 DACs.
Unfortunately I don't have a USB to go cable. And I have to pack and return this one now.
 

amirm

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#8
FYI they contacted me with an RMA number to return the unit. Alas the box is packed ready for Amazon UPS pick up so I won't go there but just wanted to note that they were responsive.
 

Sal1950

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#9
FYI they contacted me with an RMA number to return the unit. Alas the box is packed ready for Amazon UPS pick up so I won't go there but just wanted to note that they were responsive.
KOOL, I've heard of much worse customer service from a few High End companies. :mad:
 

Blumlein 88

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#10
Easy for me to be impatient of course when discussing your time and effort Amir. So not being pushy. I am wondering when we will see reviews of the rest of the bargain DACs. That once done is something that might bring in a good many people to the forum. Most places if you ask if any sub $500 DACs are worthy you will mostly get nasty snobbish responses that $500 DACs aren't worthy either. So finding a worthy DAC in the nether price regions would be something worthwhile.
 

Thomas savage

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#11
Easy for me to be impatient of course when discussing your time and effort Amir. So not being pushy. I am wondering when we will see reviews of the rest of the bargain DACs. That once done is something that might bring in a good many people to the forum. Most places if you ask if any sub $500 DACs are worthy you will mostly get nasty snobbish responses that $500 DACs aren't worthy either. So finding a worthy DAC in the nether price regions would be something worthwhile.
The suns coming out so amir is probably furiously polishing his tur.... camper van.

There's a science to dressing the wheels.., apparently.
 

amirm

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Easy for me to be impatient of course when discussing your time and effort Amir. So not being pushy. I am wondering when we will see reviews of the rest of the bargain DACs. That once done is something that might bring in a good many people to the forum. Most places if you ask if any sub $500 DACs are worthy you will mostly get nasty snobbish responses that $500 DACs aren't worthy either. So finding a worthy DAC in the nether price regions would be something worthwhile.
The Shiit one is done. I just have to capture the images, and do the write-up.

The behringer is also here (i.e. home) and is working but i have not measured it yet.

Once I do all the uploads for AXPONA, I will post those. So at this rate, it is next week job.

And by all means, keep reminding me. I do forget and get lazy. :)
 

amirm

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The suns coming out so amir is probably furiously polishing his tur.... camper van.

There's a science to dressing the wheels.., apparently.
Camper van? I could be on it visiting tulips and instead I am toiling in Chicago covering AXPONA! Remind me to cut your raise a the next review period.....
 

Sal1950

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#15
Once I do all the uploads for AXPONA
The going to the show and the seeing/listening part is fun. All that other work of getting the report written and posted to the site just sounds like a major PITA. I sure don't envy you that part of the job. Thanks
 

Blumlein 88

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#17
The Shiit one is done. I just have to capture the images, and do the write-up.

The behringer is also here (i.e. home) and is working but i have not measured it yet.

Once I do all the uploads for AXPONA, I will post those. So at this rate, it is next week job.

And by all means, keep reminding me. I do forget and get lazy. :)
So are you going to do a proper review of the Behringer. Listen to it for a week with full flowering subjective impressions. Then if you measure it, and it measures like a t......well camper van, make excuses about how it must be okay anyway? :D

Now as for the Schiit well what does one expect, no flowering language for that.

On the other hand if this is your camping partner......... nevermind the reviews. Go camping to rid yourself of the AXPONA stress. (oh and remember the suggestion that every measurement posted be accompanied by a picture of a beautiful woman)

 
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Blumlein 88

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#18
I do have a serious suggestion for upcoming budget DAC reviews Amir.

I think some people will look askance regardless of measurements due to price. If not too much trouble maybe a recorded song or three from the output of the DAC under test so people could hear it for themselves. Might prove especially useful if all these budget DACs have flaws and shortcomings. It would let people hear which shortcomings are easier to live with.
 

Thomas savage

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So are you going to do a proper review of the Behringer. Listen to it for a week with full flowering subjective impressions. Then if you measure it, and it measures like a t......well camper van, make excuses about how it must be okay anyway? :D

Now as for the Schiit well what does one expect, no flowering language for that.

On the other hand if this is your camping partner......... nevermind the reviews. Go camping to rid yourself of the AXPONA stress. (oh and remember the suggestion that every measurement posted be accompanied by a picture of a beautiful woman)

Amir, bless his heart would brush her aside in order to start to get to grips with the rewire of that van ( yes its a van) .

Mind you that might make her jealous and that can be a good tactic... he might be onto something there..
 

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