Optiarc newbie questions

vbimport

#1

Hi,

I am currently at a point in a long running project where I wish to create a large number of high quality CD-R disks for use on my rather “fussy” Rega CD player. As per the user manual it stipulates the disks should be burned no faster than 8x and in any case my intention was to use the audio CD-Rs specifically optimised for low speed mastering (1x to 12x) in conjunction with a burner that will facilitate such slow burning. Yes, I am well aware of the controversies about slow versus high speed burned audio disks but I don’t want to get into an argument abut that. Suffice it to say that I wish to burn the 1x - 12x disks at around the 4x rate.

Anyway, I purchased a Sony Optiarc 5280S drive this week and I have a few questions. The first is that I noticed this drive is somewhat more “vigorous” mechanically speaking that other internal writers I have come across. By that I mean I had to secure it quite tightly with the mounting screws to almost an uncomfortable amount of torque to prevent the drive making loud vibrations noises once inside the case. Other drives haven’t been like that. Out of the case the drive is quiet so it seems to be the sheer amount of vibration the drive makes that causes the noise. As I say, it is OK now that it is secured but it still worries me a bit that a writer drive should produce this much vibration (it is quite noticeable when you first put a disk in and it is spinning at high speed - the case vibrates more than, say, an electric shaver running at high speed - if you put your finger on the drive casing you get a pretty decent massage).

As I say, I don’t so much mind the noise and vibration since I have reasonably dealt with the symptoms occurring inside the case (Lian Li desktop), but I am wondering if this might compromise precision burning, since I would have thought that if you are trying to write as precisely as possible, excess vibration would be something to avoid.

The second question is that when I use Nero, I am still unable to get any jitter percentages relating to the test disks that I burn. This was rather important to me since I was wanting to find the optimum combination of writer, disks and write speed that produces the lowest jitter figures. But the checkbox is greyed out as if to imply the drive cannot provide this information. Yet I regularly see screen prints on this forum where the jitter figures are reported in Nero.

Is there something I need to do to facilitate jitter reporting?

The other thing is that the dealer also sells a Plextor drive (891SAW) and I am wondering if this might be a viable alternative, especially if it does not vibrate so much and can provide jitter percentages.

Thanks.


#2

Welcome! :slight_smile:

I’ll answer a couple of questions:

The 891SAW is quite similar to the Optiarc in that it is sort of one…just an unreleased model produced by LiteOn (who gobbled up the remains of Optiarc, and who produce drives under the Plextor name in addition to others).

Optiarc drives cannot scan for jitter at all. (This extends to the 891SAW).

LiteOn drives only scan for jitter on DVD (and Blu-ray, where applicable).

The only drives that scan jitter on CD media are drives made by Plextor using Sanyo chipsets, or drives made by BenQ using Philips/NXP chipsets. Those drives are quite old; 16x DVDRW drives from 2003/2004/2005 is what we’re talking here. That small list includes…
Plextor PX-755A/AS/etc
Plextor PX-760A/AS/etc
Plextor Premium (CD-RW drive)
Plextor Premium 2 (CD-RW drive)
BenQ DW1620/DW1625
BenQ DW1640 (and maybe Sony’s rebadge, the DRU-810A).
BenQ DW1650/DW1655

Finding any of those drives would require going to sites like eBay, finding reputable sellers, and snagging one that way. The BenQ drives didn’t come in SATA form, only PATA. The Plextor DVDRW drives listed above that end in “AS” are SATA drives. Most/all of the drives above came in external USB 2.0 (and/or FireWire) form, which would be better. Also, most of the drives above are picky if you try to put them into a separate external enclosure; they only like certain chipsets).

…I know of no comparable way to scan for jitter on any other drive, unfortunately. The best test in this case is to just meticulously attempt to play them all back. :doh:

As for the vibration, I cannot vouch for how that might change from drive to drive. I find it odd that the drive can be quiet and still manage to vibrate so much, so maybe a different drive could solve that.


#3

Thanks so much for the answers. You have given me everything I need to know. I will likely just stick with the Optiarc for the moment until I get my MAM-A Audio CD-Rs and can test them at the slower speed. If I am not 100% satisfied it is possibly worth trying the Plextor, but now you have explained to me what they really are, I think the Sony Optiarc was actually the better choice. The Plextor might not even necessarily burn at the slower speeds - something the Optiarc is well and truly capable of.

I had been looking on eBay, etc for older drives but I need reliability and the ability to burn CD-Rs for a long time in the future. It struck me that procuring a random second hand drive was not going to cut it. I have two Rega CD players - one about a year old and another spare brand new in the box, so I am good to go with CD for many years. I buy lossless classical downloads (and sometimes vinyl to transcribe) and it all goes onto CD-Rs for “old school” playback in my loungeroom.

My reasoning with the jitter is that I personally believe it is largely responsible for audible differences I hear between different CD-Rs when played back through a resolving system. I realise many will say all CD-Rs sound identical but it is not my experience and it seems that the slower the burn and the higher quality the CD-R media, the closer the CD sounds to my original files on my workstation. I was of course dismissed as complete nutcase on another forum (may happen here too) for suggesting jitter was audible on a CD-R so I will stop right there.

But yes, I can actually use my ears to judge. The closer the playback sounds to the actual master file, the better I will consider the burn to be, though of course the other trick is to burn a disk as error free as possible and for it to maintain as close to that sort of quality as possible over the next 20 years plus if possible. This is why I am not skimping on the burner, rushing to burn at high speeds or using the “fast” 52x disks versus the slow dedicated 74 minute audio ones optimised for 1x to 12x (with somewhere around 4x apparently seeming to be favoured these days).

Thanks very much again!


#4

Plexor actually put a lot of emphasis on CD-R burning capabilities with its in-house drives. Paired with its software, the drives had a mode that allowed you to sort of stretch the content of an audio CD such that the quality would be better (though you effectively lost capacity, and some players did not appreciate the nonstandard “stretching” of pits and lands – somewhat similar to a record being set up for 70 rpm but the player being stuck on 45 rpm).

You could burn at low speeds in this mode, and the reasoning for this mode was not reduced digital errors, but reduced jitter (because: more room to properly define what was a 0 and what was a 1). The Premium 2 actually had, in addition to this ability to stretch the content, a special audio disc mastering mode; it was similar, but I believe locked the speed, pre-defined the way the content was stretched, and maybe threw a little extra secret sauce in to get extra quality over the user-adjustable mode.

Some people had a harder time getting a /good/ burn out of these modes, though. Using good media helped in most cases, but it was a lot of trial and error to find the limits of your media and equipment.


#5

If you did decide on “second hand drive” & just used it for reading CD -Rs.
Then just for CD -R scans . It might last a long time.
If you could get one working in the correct external enclosure then it could easily be used only when needed.


#6

[QUOTE=Albert;2748091]Plexor actually put a lot of emphasis on CD-R burning capabilities with its drives.[/QUOTE]

Yes, that is what I have been discovering in my research over the last few weeks. But I am guessing you are using the word “put” in the past tense and not the present? In other words, that Plextor model I quoted is the only one I can get locally and certainly the only one that is new. I guess I am not too fussed that the quality of the burners is not what it was but at the very least if the firmware is flexible that is a plus.

And yes, the Rega CD players (and seemingly other more expensive ones) seem to be very fussy about that stretching of the pits, etc. What Rega want you to put in their machines are - at the most optimistic end of the scale - the 74 minute discs burned at 8x. But that is the outer limit of what they recommend, meaning they probably feel something even more conservative is better. that is why I was going for the 4x speed.

The Rega players really sound fantastic so I am happy to have to narrow down my burner and media choices to suit.


#7

[QUOTE=cholla;2748092]If you did decide on “second hand drive” & just used it for reading CD -Rs.
Then just for CD -R scans . It might last a long time.
If you could get one working in the correct external enclosure then it could easily be used only when needed.[/QUOTE]

That is an excellent idea. I never thought of that. In the end though I would really only need it at the beginning of the project to help narrow down the choice of burner, burner speed and media. Once I have settled on that I won’t be changing it. But it would also be handy to check the quality of the burns as I buy new beehives of the disks and as the burner ages.


#8

btw, it makes me wonder what the audio pros use these days when they prepare CD-R masters for the factories. A lot of them still do it that way and they use the same disks that I want to use - the “pro audio” in the 1x to 12x speed range but they will usually burn the actual master in real time. They aren’t magicians so they either have a stash of drives put away from a moment of great foresight 12 years ago or they are living on borrowed time.

There is a company called High Def Tape Transfers and if you buy a CD from them they use a very expensive Taiyo Yuden 1x CD-R that I have not been able to find elsewhere. Of course they have the drive to suit. They also sell the blank disks but there is no way I would ever pay $13 for a single blank CD-R!

http://www.highdeftapetransfers.com/hqcd-recording-blanks-w16.php

There is (was?) a company in Germany called AQVOX who supplied a slow burning 1x drive for CD-Rs and I did contact them but sadly they seem to be out of business (no responses after several attempts to contact).

http://www.myhifishop.de/Devices/AQVOX-CD-Drive-CD-Burner::65.html

A pity as this would seem to be right up my alley and I think is based on one of the “proper” Plextors.


#9

So here is a burn on the Optiarc 5280 using a MAM-A 80 minute Gold Archive CD-R. Made at 8x. As you can see, the errors drop dramatically after around 10 minutes and the drive was vibrating to what I consider to be an excessive degree when burning that first 10 minute portion of the disk. This is actually technically the worst burn I have ever made in terms of errors. But if you were to ignore the first 10 minutes of this disk it would be a superb burn :iagree:

I am going to compare the Optiarc with the Plextor, since regardless of it’s origin the blurb does make mention of the efforts made to reduce acoustic issues and vibration - which are the exact things (I am not quite sure I can use the word “issue”) I note with the Optiarc. It just does not seem quite right to me that a CD / DVD writer can vibrate to the point of making a solid and heavy premium quality desktop case vibrate like it is a car engine. Even my external USB burner has virtually no vibration whatsoever.



#10

Well I am not impressed with this Sony Optiarc drive. Tonight it failed to list the files on any data CD-R or DVD I put into it (though strangely it showed the total space used on the disks).

I then tried to boot the computer from a boot disk (ensuring the Optiarc drive was listed as the first boot device in the BIOS) and the computer failed to do it - going straight to Windows over four attempts.

Then when I am in Windows again I try to burn an image onto a blank Taiyo Yuden master grade CD-R (which has more than enough space for the image). Got some strange error message within 5 seconds of trying to initiate the burn (“the write failed because the drive returned error information that could not be recovered from - error code 0xC0AA0301”).

So then I try to burn an Audio CD-R from Sound Forge Pro (which I have been doing for two years now) and I get a similar error message.

Not impressed. I am going to send it back and will be trying the Plextor. I did say to the vendor I was worried about the vibration on the Optiarc and whether that had something to do with it or not I can’t say.

I am incredibly frustrated because I have spent so long on this audio project (several years) only to be coming undone at the very last hurdle. And I spent a lot of money on a fantastic sounding Rega CD player back in 2013. It’s like restoring a classic car for 10 years, investing enormous amounts of time and considerable money, only to find there is no petrol left in the world…

I’m frustrated to the point of selling this beautiful CD player and just buying a laptop and a DAC. Not that I want to and not that I should need to. But it looks like I am 10 years too late. I had planned to burn up to 500 CD-R disks over the next couple of years but with the state of optical hardware the way it is, if you did not hoard yourself a few of the “old school” burners 12 years ago, you have a problem. No wonder people are paying crazy money for burners like the Plextor Premium 2 on eBay these days!

It’s as if with the ever-decreasing requirement for optical drives these days, manufacturers just don’t care anymore. 5 days and about 10 burns. That is how long this drive lasted.


#11

Remember gold has significantly lower reflectivity than silver. So a good quality silver CD-R may work better in a picky CD player.

Or you can look for Verbatim’s archival CD-R (made by Falcon Media), which have an ingenious construction using gold to protect the silver reflective layer.


#12

Thanks. Yes, I’d read about the gold versus silver thing and that had me thinking why bother with gold at all. I would have thought by the time the gold had any advantage over silver, there would be far better archive methods out there. Can you imagine people a hundred years ago “archiving” stuff to 78 records and thinking “that is it”!!??

Anyway, do you know where I can get those verbatim disks? I am not quite sure exactly which ones to look for since I do see the Falcon name but I don’t think they are the ones you mean.

But yes, it does look like the Rega is stumbling with the gold layer disks. They score OK in Nero (96%) but so do the 50 cent supermarket disks that play for a week and then skip or cause read errors. At first I thought the skipping I was hearing on the MAM-A gold disks was because I had written on the white label side, but I left one with a completely blank label and it still skipped. Seems to happen most often in the first 10 minutes of play.

I am sort of at a crossroads where if I sold the Rega and the spare that would mostly pay for a DAC and a laptop and not only would I not have to worry about CD-Rs, skips and silent passages, but I would be able to hear the files in their original 24 bit, 48 kHz format as opposed to the 16/44 I have to turn them into (and despite my best efforts with iZotope and PSP X-Dither, I cannot do that resampling and dithering without losing subjective audio quality).

By the way, I maligned the Optiarc. It lives! What I thought was a dead drive instead appears to be an incredibly bizarre bug - something possibly firmware related or perhaps just a weird hardware / OS configuration. But I can reproduce the “dead Optiarc” drive scenario 100% of the time by doing this:

  1. Reboot the machine
  2. Perform a disc cleanup of the C: drive after first performing Windows updates
  3. Put a bootable CD-R in the Optiarc
  4. Re-boot the machine

After which I am left with a permanently disabled Optiarc drive until such time as I remove the CD-R, power off the machine completely, power it on again then insert the CD-R again.

I can reproduce it 100% of time.

Put another model DVD writer in and it doesn’t happen.

Don’t perform the windows update and it doesn’t happen.

Don’t do a disc cleanup and it doesn’t happen.

This is the weirdest bug I think I have ever come across.


#13

Stoneage remember that burners DO HAVE a duty cycle. Kinda like burn 3 and wait 15 to 30 minutes. Also if you will go to a indoor shooting range and fire 25 to 50 rounds of 44 Magnum shells all your CDs will sound the same.LOL


#14

Verbatim Archival CD-R that Ibex may be talking about: http://www.verbatim.com/subcat/optical-media/cd/archival-grade-gold-cd-r/

You can buy directly from the Verbatim site (assuming you’re in a region where they sell the discs), or you can search for the product number, which looks to be 96159 for a 50 pack spindle (for example, found on the B&H Photo site: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/501672-REG/Verbatim_96159_CD_R_700MB_Gold_Archival.html ), or 96319 for a 5-pack in jewel cases (Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Verbatim-UltraLife-Archival-Recordable-96319/dp/B000ZRAIDW ) (Newegg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817130206 ). There might be other package sizes offered elsewhere, but the 5- and 50-count are what I’ve seen with a quick Google search.


#15

@[B]Albert[/B] - Correct. :flower:

For playability, it is hard to beat a good old bog-standard silver-reflective Taiyo Yuden CD-R.

But if you are concerned about long-term archiving then audio CD is not the best choice, regardless of the discs used.

The problem is that the “Red Book” CD-DA format does not use a proper file system and only has the 2 layers of hardware level error correction. (This was done to increase the amount of usable space on the discs and simplify the equipment needed to play them.) And crucially, it also has no checksum to confirm that the data has been read correctly - this is why reliable audio extraction has been a problem, and why seemingly innocuous scratches can be fatal.

Normal data CDs (not Mode 2 discs - CD-XA & some VCD) and all DVD & Blu-Ray discs have a proper robust file system (such as ISO 9660 or UDF). This provides a robust 3rd level of error correction and the all-important checksum.

So for long term storage, I always make a master/archive copy on a data optical disc - DVD±R, BD-R or even CD-R (if there is enough room) - containing the audio saved in a suitable format (e.g. PCM WAV or FLAC).

If you want to ensure that you can write another identical audio CD copy in the future (same tracks, indexes, CD-Text etc), you can include a CUE sheet file.


#16

I connected sata (power and data) cables to desktop computer from my dvd, but the dvd is not seen (not even in bios).
There are 6 pins on the left of power cable (2x3pins) and I do not know if I have to connect them as well as I also do not know what cabel do I need.
The one who sold the dvd to me said that these are for audio pins(???), but I think he just wanted to get rid of me.
The DVD opens nothing more, the question is do I need to connect most left(in the picture it is right because it is upside down) slot also and if what cable do I need? Thanks, Grega from Slovenia



#17

[QUOTE=legrega;2784095]I connected sata (power and data) cables to desktop computer from my dvd, but the dvd is not seen (not even in bios).
There are 6 pins on the left of power cable (2x3pins) and I do not know if I have to connect them as well as I also do not know what cabel do I need.
The one who sold the dvd to me said that these are for audio pins(???), but I think he just wanted to get rid of me.
The DVD opens nothing more, the question is do I need to connect most left(in the picture it is right because it is upside down) slot also and if what cable do I need? Thanks, Grega from Slovenia[/QUOTE]

You only need the power & data cables. You do not need to connect anything to the extra 6 pins.

If you cannot open and close the drive, I think you should return the drive to the seller.


#18

[QUOTE=Albert;2784098]You only need the power & data cables. You do not need to connect anything to the extra 6 pins.

If you cannot open and close the drive, I think you should return the drive to the seller.[/QUOTE]

The drive opens with a push of a button with no problem, but is not detected in BIOS. My previous drive was detected with BIOS but did not work.

How is it possible it is not seen in BIOS? And why are the extra 6 pins? Are they really for audio? Thanks, Grega


#19

They are not for audio. On old drives, yes, there were pins for audio. On new drives, no. They are probably used by the manufacturer during manufacturing & during testing (if the drive gets sent back for repairs, for example).

Are you connecting the drive to the same SATA port as the old optical drive? Are you sure the SATA ports are turned on & setup correctly in the BIOS?


#20

[QUOTE=Albert;2784103]They are not for audio. On old drives, yes, there were pins for audio. On new drives, no. They are probably used by the manufacturer during manufacturing & during testing (if the drive gets sent back for repairs, for example).

Are you connecting the drive to the same SATA port as the old optical drive? Are you sure the SATA ports are turned on & setup correctly in the BIOS?[/QUOTE]

Cables and ports are the same.