Your assumptions about speed and quality are a bit mis-guided.
That's why I'm asking questions. Thanks for helping me learn.
I've been reading about CD-R media, in FAQs,... and it's very complicated with MANY variables (and unknowns) and things changing quickly. I have lots of questions, so I hope you'll continue to be patient and helpful.
You will be using a drive that is designed for speed,
When buying this drive (it's my first, yes I'm sure it's obvious I'm a newbie) I assumed that it would adjust, using the optimal writing-strategy (re: laser power,...) for each speed. Or is this drive designed to work best at high speeds, and not so well at lower speeds? (according to specs from CDRLab, it can write at 4x-52x)
There is very little, if any, evidence that low speed burning has ever resulted in a "higher quality" disc.
I guess this is based on quality-check tests (I looked at the thread you suggested) but my questions were motivated by the kinds of "physical, chemical and mechanical challenges" described by Jerome Hartke (of Media Sciences) in a paper (published in medialine, February 2003) called "High Speed CD-R Risks" at http://www.mscience.com/fastcdr.html
Evidently, based on your experience with quality-checks, these POTENTIAL problems have been solved in current drives like LiteOn-52246, so due to the clever engineering they aren't ACTUAL problems?
at speeds under 24x, the drive will produce lower quality discs on most media.
A mismatch (like burning 48x-media at 16x or 4x) would be bad, but what about 24-x-media at 24x or 16x? (or 16x-media at 16x or 12x, or...)
Your assumptions about high-speed media being less stable are also incorrect. It takes much higher quality media to be burned at high speed, the stamper must be perfectly flat and dye layers equally consistant. These are all qualities that make the disc more "readable" and therefore more stable in the long term.
These things (flatness, dye consistency,...) COULD be done with lower-speed media, but they aren't necessary (to get results that are satisfactory although not necessarily excellent) so usually they aren't done, but with high-speed media they MUST do them, so they do? Is this it?
Has anyone done "accelerated aging" tests in order to estimate what might happen, over a long period of time, to disks that are optimized for low, medium, and high speeds?
For stability, quality and consistancy, it's hard to beat TY media.
Evidently, the early cyanine media (that TY uses) degraded quickly, but I've read that since then the dye has been "stabilized" and is now fairly long-lasting. Or is phytocyanine still more long-lasting than cyanine?
and it's probably similar for speed; in early drives, slower burning might have been better, but now the drives have been improved so they can cope with the challenges (as described by hartke) of high-speed writing?
And it's tough to know who made a disk. Your FAQ describes the ATAP info, but this can't be used before you buy the disks. There is a page by CD Media World ( http://cdmediaworld.com/hardware/cdrom/cd_factories.shtml ) giving manufacturers and sellers. Is what they say accurate? If it is, the situation is confusing because the three non-TY brands that sell TY (Sony, Philips, Imation) also sell disks made by other manufacturers. Is there a list that is more specific, that gives model numbers instead of just brand names? This information is available in your "testing page" but it's scattered. Is there a page where all of the testing information, including the manufacturer and more, is all gathered together in one place, maybe in an HTML table that we can print out, to help us cope with the information overload?
Always test your burns and, if needed, adjust burn speed according to that particular batch's quality.
Is any of the testing software available for Mac, or is it all Windows?
Watch the sales at OfficeMax and BestBuy and get Fuji 48x media on sale for 10-15 cents each in 50ct spindles.
Thanks for the tip. But again there's the challenge of knowing who manufacured a spindle of Fuji disks. According to CD Media World it's FujiFilm or Ritek.
Actually, cost may not be that much of a factor. Of course, if all other things equal, cheaper is better. But my experience with reel-to-reel tapes is that, although I bought mainly higher-quality tapes, I now regret the occasional times when I bought lower-quality tapes to save money. Time is more valuable than money, and having to re-do disks later (or losing what was on them) would be something to regret, that I want to avoid.