Is there any drive currently made that's a better ripper than the Plextor Premium 2?

My one and only Premium 2 is starting to show its age. I know they are hard to find but still around in the EU and Japan, but I was wondering if there isn’t anything out there nowadays that is as good a CD ripper (or better?) as this classic drive.

Now when you say your drive is… showing its age, what precisely do you mean by that? Do you mean it’s not performing as well as it used to for the exact same tasks, or do you mean the drive bezel is becoming yellow?

Have you been doing a lot of AccurateStream or Paranoia ripping? Those can really take a toll on the life of a drive, and I cringe at the thought of doing that on a CD-RW drive in particular.

The original Premium does at least as good of a ripping job as the Premium2, so there’s no reason to buy the Premium2 unless you actually intend to do a lot of slower burning (which is the best burning if you have the proper CD-Rs for it). Ripping is not the Premium2’s main claim to fame. It has more bells and whistles than any other burner you can find.

I’ve ripped hundreds of CDs with a black bezel Premium. I am still satisfied with the way it performs. It is still my primary ripping drive of choice. I have a Premium2 (also black bezel) in the exact same computer, and I use it for ripping maybe once in a blue moon.

If you are not already doing cacheless C2, I suggest you give that a try (it’s pretty easy with dBpowerAMP Reference - it’s a little more complicated to set up if you’re using Exact Audio Copy). You might decide afterward that you’ll never want to decommission your Premium2 as a ripping drive - unless you get an original Premium and you reserve the future mileage of your Premium2’s drive motor for precious burnings.

I think for how much the Premium2 costs (especially if you have the Japanese package), or for how difficult it would be for me to replace my Premium2 within the United States, the drive should not be used abusively. So my own Premium2 mostly just idles while my original Premiums (I have 4 of them actively in service - 1 internal and 3 external) go on a ripping rampage with cacheless C2 on-par with any Premium2 operating in the same mode. So I’m not wearing out my Premium2, plus my original Premiums will perform much better and live much longer with cacheless C2 than any drive would with AccurateStream or Paranoia.

Sorry, been away for a bit. What I’m finding lately is that the drive (when ripping) will emit a sort of “click” and slow down sisgnificantly to do a reread across many of my recent rips, and when it does for a given CD, many times on that CD. I don’t recall the drive doing things like this at its current rate for most of its earlier life.

I’m using EAC set up in Secure Mode with the drive caching and C2 retrieval boxes checked.

Modify your EAC shortcut so that it includes -USEFUA in the Target somewhere after EAC.exe".
Then the next time you open EAC (via that modified shortcut), tell the Drive Options that your Premium2 doesn’t do caching.

That should make your drive a lot happier, though there’s no telling how much damage has already been done. I also recommend keeping SpeedRead disabled, though that’s usually default and you have to install PlexTools and hit a certain checkbox to enable it.

What I am liking about dBpowerAMP Reference is that you can set the rereads (of problematic sectors) to be a different speed than the overall sweeps. So I could tell the software to do its primary ripping at 18x-40x, and if there’s any inconsistencies found from performing a quick sweep or two - I have dBpowerAMP set to reread at 10x-24x - which seems to be fastest you can go before C2 becomes unreliable on a heavily damaged disc. You wouldn’t believe some of the recoveries I have managed to pull off.

Now if a disc is perfectly fine, then sure, you could do cacheless C2 ripping at 22x-52s with no problem. But I do have to say that no matter what speed your drive is set to, there’s no point in doing C2 with a Premium/Premium2 unless the operation is also cacheless (with Forced Unit Access). I have actually found C2 to be somehow less reliable with the Premiums if your drive is doing caching as usual. It should also be mentioned that the cache-emptying operations of EAC can take a toll on the life of your drive, whether you are doing that in conjunction with AccurateStream or with C2.

Now, the physical clicks you are talking about - I believe they happen when there is something funny going on with the speed readability of a disc. Try doing a speed test on any disc this happens with, and you may very well find nasty slowdowns throughout the middle or the end of the disc. The clicks have more to do with what’s wrong with the disc, rather than what’s taxing about secure ripping. But yes, the clicks are scary, and I do whatever I can to avoid them. If you really want to play it safe, then cap your drive at 4x or 8x - I don’t think you’ll ever hear anymore clicks after that.

The clicks originate from you going at a speed which ended up being too fast for some parts of the disc. It actually has less to do with error correction, and has more to do with the flow of information on the disc. Like any CD you burn with GigaRec or AMQR is never going to read very fast, and I think some commercially-pressed CDs have a GigaRec-like flow near the end - if not also near the beginning. When you reach those zones with the reading speed which had already been acceptable all the way up to that point - this is when the clicks and the subsequent slowdowns happen, and there aren’t necessarily any errors in that area. I’ve experienced the nasty slowdowns on some discs which never needed any error correction at all.