Plextools Ramblings & GigaRec Works In My iRiver IMP-350, sort of

Here’s another little positive thing I can throw about Plextor or Plextools into this forum. I discovered that GigaRec 1.2x with my PX-716A works in my iRiver IMP-350 MP3-CD player… for the most part. That means 850MB on CD-ROM instead of 700–substantial. Success depends a lot on media (not just ‘quality’ it seems, but what the 716A likes) and my burning technique (VariRec of some variety).

If I push it towards the edge of 850MB, the last 2 songs tend not to be playable even on a great burn, so I learned to put 2 “throwaway” songs at the end. I got better success just reducing the burn to around 830MB. Overburning a few megabytes past 850 produces an aborted burn (coaster) in my experience, btw.

Only works for MP3-CD’s on the iRiver, not Audio CD’s, from my memory (didn’t try gigarec with MP3 for the longest time b/c the gigarec audio cd’s didn’t work on it).

So here highlights both the unique benefit of Plextools as well as a lot of frustrating… uh, “untapped potential” I’ll put it as. GigaRec would be more useful in actually lower increments (1.2x being the lowest), such as 1.1x, 1.08x, or variable, to be readable in a greater variety of hardware. Most devices just can’t get close to handling GigaRec 1.3x at its whopping 924MB, even if the burn is good (although cool to have for home use). I still think a GigaRec 1.08x (756MB) or GigaRec 1.1x (770MB) or something even less (or something more customizable by the user) would have far more use than GR 1.3x. We’ve all UNsuccessfully overburned 25 megabytes or more onto a CD-ROM trying to make things fit onto 1 disc. A very low GigaRec option (40-55MB) would likely be playable in a very large array of hardware.

Unique abilities of Plextools swayed me to buy a Plextor, and GigaRec was one of those unique abilities. Like many other unique features (i.e. Plextools DAE–yes, there is some uniqueness to it), GigaRec’s execution was a bit of a disappointment, which was frustrating, because, just like with DAE, I saw a big potential not being met. Other advertised features bordered on fraudulent in my estimation, such as discovering that SecuRec only works on CD-ROM’s, not DVD-ROM’s, which is never mentioned in Plextor’s marketing of SecuRec, nor even in the Plextools manual itself (the SecuRec option just mysteriously disappears when you pop in a blank DVD).

I did not expect Plextools’ error checking abilities to become my most-used feature, but they did. And while I still use Alex Noe’s program for extensive DVD scanning, Plextools is still valuable for C1/C2 error checking on CD’s, and a quick PIF scan on a DVD (the main value I am concerned with).

I also use VariRec quite a lot. Maybe that’s because the 716A’s not the best CD burner to begin with. Or maybe it’s because I want to be able to have good, durable burns on media which don’t get along well with my 716A. I’m really not sure. But what I do know is that if I’m willing to wait, I can get a good burn regardless. And if I want to ensure a good-quality burn for important data, I can almost guarantee it.

I’ve also noticed that discs burned using Plextools (CD- or DVD-ROM) are more widely playable than those burned in the accompanying Roxio Easy CD/DVD Creator, and Plextools doesn’t bitch about long filenames the way Roxio does–and it still burns more compatible discs! Not without an accompanying frustration, though: that mandatory drag & drop interface is ridiculous (not to mention the non-maximizable program), and I’ve noticed that if you drop multiple folders at once, they don’t always go in alphabetically, and then appear to burn non-alphabetically, which can cause minor problems. So I now drop folders 1 at a time if I want to ensure they be added alphabetically. I’m willing to put up with this to create a more reliable disc.

There are a lot of hidden features of Plextools not discussed which we take for granted as Plextools users, such as the ability to manually add CD Text after the fact to a ripped image of an Audio CD, or automatically add it before by using freedb. Or not having to use CD/DVD Identifier extensively because of the “CD/DVD Info” section of Plextools. And many other little things, like the abillity to eject or load any of your drive trays from one program, while controlling spindown time (with accompanying frustration that it often resets itself back to 2 minutes upon eject!).

Yes, Plextools is a mixed bag. But overall, I’ve been pretty happy with it. Before my bought my 716A, I liked the idea of having a dedicated program for each function, and still do. But I’ve now appreciated the ability to control most drive functions from one “headquarters”.

Several tips help. Most important is to switch “shock mode” off, back to “folder” mode. With my settings, this is done by holding the +/-10 button RIGHT until the icon changes from a “vibration” icon to a “folder” icon. If I don’t do this, it chatters too long on many tracks, taking too long to load. I also change “Sort” mode in General settings to “Physical Address” (Firmware 2.80) instead of Breadth or Depth. I also turn ID3 Tag info off, as all this creates less searching. As a side benefit, all these settings also substantially increase battery life and reduce seek noise. However there can still some noisy seeking at the last tracks with gigarec, and it may never find or finish them (reduce burn amount or throw in a couple throwaway tracks at the end if you’re concerned).

I’m also including a graphic of a C1/C2 scan I did of a good GigaRec 1.3 burn. Burned at 4x with VariRec +/- 0. C1 errors were 15.6 average/sec (attn Plextools dev: why doesn’t the Scan image show the C1/C2 avg/sec in addition to the C1/C2 totals?). Scanned at 8x. Not bad for 924 Megabytes crammed onto a 700MB disc! Note 104 minutes in the graph, actually exceeding the window :smiley:
(For newbies, C1 errors are minor errors which can typically be corrected by parity without re-reading the track. C2 errors are more serious and require a re-read. C2’s show up as blue spikes in Plextools graphs; there are none in this one, and a fresh burn generally shouldn’t have any C2’s to be considered a “good” burn. C1 and C2 apply to CD much like PIE and PIF apply to DVD)

Lastly, GigaRec 1.3x won’t work in my IMP-350, just 1.2x. I wanted to specify this since I posted a scan of a GigaRec 1.3 burn in the same post as tips to make an IMP-350 work with GigaRec discs. I did burn the above-scanned disc specifically to try it in my IMP-350. The first track played properly; the others didn’t (read fine on the CD-ROM drives in my computer, though). If I skip forward in the player, it just scans through the filenames at great speed, reaching the end and then stopping. If anyone knows how to make GR 1.3 discs play in an iRiver MP3-CD player, post it! 924MB per disc–now that would be interesting… almost enough to make me put off buying a HD-based portable player.

Your GigaRec 1.3x scan easily beats all my attempts at that setting. What CD media are you using?

I have never really managed to persuade any of my other drives to fully read a GigaRec 1.3x disc all the way to the end, so GigaRec 1.2x (and of course <1x) is the only option with any hope of compatibility as I see it.

I agree with your opinion that GigaRec values between 1x and 1.2x would be more useful than the higher GigaRec values. Who wants to burn media that can ONLY be read back in the same drive?!

Thanks for the reports, brjones, very detailed as usual.
Since there are still very few quality reports about GigaRec, can you tell us which media and media/VariRec combinations did you use for your tests?


You were faster than me, Drage. :wink:

Regards, :slight_smile:


Hey, guys! Thanks for the feedback!

I opted to take from my best-burning discs (and I’m not saying I have the highest-quality collection, LOL) for this experiment (or at least what my 716A likes the best), an about 3+ year-old 50-spindle of Maxell-branded Ritek dye type 7 (79:59:70). On the top of the disc is a silvery “Maxell CD-R 700MB” “up to 40x certified” (that dates the CD-R, eh), with the text cut-out like a stencil from a silvery “circuitry” design. I can take & post a photo if anyone is interested enough, but I doubt these exact things are made anymore.

And my burn was 920MB, not the max of 924. It takes a long time to burn 920 megabytes at 4x, but Plextools is made for people who have more time & need for quality burns than those just pumping out burns. In my opinion, the above scan is about as good of a scan result I’ll be able to achieve with 1.3, short of getting my hands on some Verbatim DataLife Plus AZO CD-R’s.

SETTINGS: GigaRec 1.3x, VariRec 4x speed at 0 Offset, dye strategy Default. I don’t have to pump up the offset on these discs like I do with most other discs, which is why I say the 716A ‘likes’ them.

As a sidenote, I actually bother to burn almost everything with VariRec because I’ve seen what happens with CD-R readability over time (yuck). If I’m bothering to burn it, I’m bothering to keep it, so I want it to keep. so it’s worth a few extra minutes to me. I’ve recently started burning sub-554MB/63-minute CD’s with GigaRec 0.8x and below, too–with very good results! This another rarely talked-about feature of Plextools but I can say that it works (lowers the error rate and surely increases lifespan). I’m glad Plextools has an 8x CD-R VariRec speed; I wish Plextools had an 8x DVD-burning VariRec speed (currently 4x is the only speed).

I have never really managed to persuade any of my other drives to fully read a GigaRec 1.3x disc all the way to the end, so GigaRec 1.2x (and of course <1x) is the only option with any hope of compatibility as I see it.

I just tried the above burn in an old Plextor SCSI CD-ROM, and you’re right, it would only read it to a certain point. Table of Contents shows up fine by somewhere in the 800MB-range the thing becomes unreadable and my software MP3 player (1by1 Directory Player by experiences one of its few seizes. Which again affirms the limited use of 1.3. Of course it reads fine in my 716A. I wish I had a DVD-ROM drive or a non-Plextor DVD burner to try this out on.

However, also like your experience, my computer CD-ROM drive reads Giga 1.2x beautifully. BTW, has anyone ever successfully overburned with GigaRec (i.e. 854MB instead of 850)?

I agree with your opinion that GigaRec values between 1x and 1.2x would be more useful than the higher GigaRec values. Who wants to burn media that can ONLY be read back in the same drive?!

Agreed. I’m not complaining that the feature’s there–I’m grateful for it and I don’t want Plextor’s good deeds to be punished; it’s just that as long as they’re up to creating this feature, they might as well do it better if it’s not much more work. How much harder would it be, really, to introduce settings like 1.05x (735MB), 1.08x (756MB), 1.1x (770MB), etc?

I had an idea to have an “auto GigaRec” feature, which would take the compilation you’ve already set and optimize the “x” value so that it was just out-of-spec enough to fit the volume onto the CD-ROM. It would automatically calculate and burn with the most-efficient “x” value.

Here are scans from Gigarec 1.2x burns from 3 types of discs I’ve done.

The first is the best result I got on the same kind of old 40x Maxell-branded Ritek dye type 7’s.
1.2Giga, NO VARIREC, 8x… maybe 4x. Same disc type with VariRec 4x +0 was actually worse by 2,200 C1’s.

The second is the best result from more recent discs (1-2 years old), RiData-branded Ritek 48x “silver-silver” dye type 7’s, also 79:59:70 (a later version of the above discs?) These discs seem to have a very “thick” dye and/or reflective layer, whereas the above is much thinner (transparent when held up to light). (UPC sent in for free after rebate–bought at Radio Shack.) Notice 6x more total C1’s from the above Maxell… still good, though.
1.2x Giga, 4x speed, VariRec at 0 offset, default strategy.

The 3rd is old crappy quality TDK-branded 48x CMC-manufactured stuff I only tried once (you’ll see why).
840MB burned of 850MB available, burn speed 4x, VariRec +4 offset.
I’m pretty sure errors would go down notching back the offset, but I usually have to put these babies at +3 or +4 offset at 8x to get them to burn decently. CMC stuff is reportedly better these days.

[B][I]C1 Averages/sec GigaRec 1.2x:

  1. 1.0 avg/sec (Maxell-Ritek)
  2. 5.4 avg/sec (RiData-Ritek)
  3. 186.8 avg/sec (TDK-CMC)[/I][/B]

So, as you can see, media AND burning strategies have a lot to do with GigaRec burn qualities, but it’s moreso media.

Well, I have just received from one of my sources the snapshot attached (I cannot say more :wink: ):
look carefully at it! :bigsmile:
So probably interesting news will come out soon! :smiley:



I can confrim that GigaRec 1.2x works as well in iRiver IMP-550

Is this XL only or regular PlexTools too?

very interesting snapshot ET :wink:
hopefully this will be enchanced even more to be able to set even finer gigarec steps because i am buying plextor drives to ensure maximum compatibility of my media and when i leave the compatibility path i would really like to set it up more precisely…

Honestly, I don’t think that it will be enhanced, at least not in the near future. Moreover, the current ±0.1 steps looks adequate to me. :slight_smile:
On the contrary, the extreme settings 0.6x and 1.4x have been dropped (note that they are greyed out) in newer models for compatibility reasons.

Regards, :slight_smile:


you are propably right
the more interesting settings were the <1
for me at least
but well these settings are so rarely used that i can live without them
i only need these for cds i use in my car to enchance tracking
but i would never use gigarec cds for storage of important data (well i would never use cds for storing stuff that is :wink:

I’m with you. :iagree:
Well, maybe also the 1.1 and 1.2 are not bad for some cases… :stuck_out_tongue: