Hmm.. ok that does sound like a drive related problem.
A transfer rate test checks how well a disc can be read back by a writer/DVD-ROM drive. If a burn is good and the disc itself is free from defects, the writer should show a steady increase in the read speed with no sudden slow downs. Of course, this assumes that your writer is working properly.
To do a transfer rate test, use Nero CD Speed (http://www.cdspeed2000.com). This is a freeware program and if you have Nero installed on your system, then it is already installed as well. Place a DVD disc which has already been written to (non-blank) in your writer, and from Nero CD Speed, select Run Test->Transfer Rate.
Why I think the transfer rate test may be useful in this situation :
In your case, the high-low interval sound makes me think the motor on the drive may be spinning up and down repeatedly. That can mean two things : the disc used is defective at certain parts (or is not burned as well on certain parts) or the writer is defective.
I was hoping that doing a transfer rate test will show which points the writer is slowing down at when trying to read the disc. If you run this test on a few different brands of discs you have burned (or even a few burned by other people and given to you), and see that the writer slows down at about the same points for all discs, it would confirm that something is not right with the writer. If the writer only slows down on certain discs and not at all on others, that indicates that those discs are probably at fault rather than the writer.