Some of the most frequently asked questions around here are things like:
[li]“How do I write [this high speed media] at [an incredibly low speed]?”
[li]“I want to write [this high speed media] at [this low speed]; will it give me better quality?”
Questions like these usually stem from the old urban myth that slower write speeds automatically equal better compatibility with game consoles and older drives/players. The truth is: writing with extremely slow speeds on high speed media is a VERY bad idea in almost every case!
[if you like to spare yourself some reading, you may just want to skip to the summary below, otherwise, please continue on.]
When saying “extremely slow write speed”, I mean the following:
[li]DVD+R media, 8x-16x rated: 1x/2x/2.4x (all), 4x (some specific drives and media), and 6x (16x rated)
[/li][li]DVD+R DL media, GOOD 8x-rated, including Verbatim 2.4x: 1x (all), 2x/2.4x (in drives with support for 4x, 6x, 8x, or 10x for the media)
[/li][li]CD-R media, 32x-48x rated: 1x/2x/4x/8x (all), 16x (some specific 48x/52x/56x media, but rare)
The fact is, many modern drives do not even support some of these low speeds [example: 1x for DVD+R media, 8x for CD-R media]. There are a few drives exempt from this rule, and offer some seemingly low speeds, but one would not find them on a day-to-day basis. For many new drives, the minimum write speed supported for 16x DVD media is 4x, and for 48x CD media is 16x, with the odd 24x, 12x, 10x, or 8x thrown in.
Another part of the fact is that your media is designed for HIGH speed writing, NOT low speed! So while your media may SAY “1x-16x” or “1x-48x” or the like, your media is made more for the HIGHER end of its rating, and writes better in that upper echelon.
Explanations, more in-depth
- [li]“But my software OFFERS these low speeds. Doesn’t that mean my drive can use them?”
[/li]-The answer is NO. In some applications, such as ImgBurn, you are OFFERED super-low speeds as an option to check, but those are not the speeds at which your drive will write. The software is just covering all the possible write speed options, but you yourself must find out what your drive actually supports. In these cases, selecting an unsupported low speed causes the drive to default to the next lowest speed at which it can actually write.
-In other cases, the drives offer low speeds, but CANNOT use them. In these cases, you may receive a Power Calibration error, a generic No Additional Sense Information, or other errors.
[li]“Okay, I know my drive supports all these speeds. You’ve told me that I shouldn’t burn at the lowest speed offered. Why?”
[/li]-As above, you may get a write error.
-You may be able to successfully write your media, but write quality will suffer, due to the discs being engineered for higher write speeds, or as a result of your particular drive being better tuned for high-speed writes. Aside from initial quality loss, deterioration of your media may even seem to occur faster because the disc was not written properly initially.
[li]“But on other places around the Internet, I see that lower write speeds are recommended for better write quality. Why do they say that?”
[/li]-These are nothing but outdated urban myths. The case used to be that, with lower quality drives not quite up-to-speed with the media, and with slower computers around unable to keep up with data flow, slower write speeds ensured the best quality. However, with modern computers and technology, writing is less dangerous, and some higher speeds will allow better writing than forcing lower speed.
[li]“So are you basically telling me to go hog wild and burn with the fastest speed I can find, even going as far as to manually enabling even higher speeds for my media than currently available with my drive and media?”
[/li]-No, unless it is rated speed [for 8x DVD media].
[INDENT]Generally, for DVD media, go no faster than rated speed, or one speed selection below it. Do NOT go lower than half the rated speed for DVD media, unless specifically required for successful writing.
For CD media, try to stay at or around 16x to 32x. Only go up to 40x and 48x if your drive cannot write properly at 16x to 32x, and is known to do better.
There are some specific cases…
-Case no.1: Your drive does not have support for the media, or the max speed is less than half the rated speed. In this case, you are encouraged to get better media.
If this is the best media available, do strategy swaps, enabled advanced options for your drive, etc, so you can get your media to write at its rated speed, GIVEN THAT YOUR MEDIA IS GOOD ENOUGH. If your media is not good enough, you may make manual changes, but avoid writing your media much faster than originally offered by the drive. Note that manual modifications of support for CD media are not usually possible.
-Case no.2: Your drive has adequate support for this media, although at a speed that’s just below rated speed, or at least better than half the rated speed. Your write quality might improve by strategy swapping, but in many cases, the drive cannot write your media any better. There are specific cases where you can improve quality by making alterations, but this isn’t often. If you implement manual changes, don’t write any faster than originally offered by the drive unless quality is KNOWN to improve at the higher speeds. Note that manual modification of support for CD media is not usually possible.
[li]“So…when DO I write with the lowest speed?”
[/li]-When you absolutely, positively HAVE to write at the lowest speed. However, if you have no other option, there has to be something seriously wrong with your setup. Do a bit of troubleshooting.
[li]“Anything to say about Re Writable [RW]media?”
[/li]-RW media is best written at the lowest or highest supported speed of a drive. Manual modification of support for RW media is not possible [CD-RW] or recommended [DVD+RW, DVD-RAM]. If your media is not well supported, a change in media or drive is recommended.
- [li]“This is all well and good…but I’m more confused than ever. At what speeds do I want to write my media?!”
[/li]-Make sure your computer has sufficient resources.
-Write your media at 6x to 8x, or 8x to 12x [DVD+R]; 4x to 8x [DVD+R DL; or 16x to 32x [CD-R]. RW media should be written at available write speeds. There are exceptions. See what works best for you.
-Do some sort of test to make sure that your disc works after writing.
[li]"…and if I have a write error following your general guidelines?"
[/li]-Search CD Freaks…search Google. Chances are, someone HAS seen the error you’ve gotten before. Don’t just do one search; if your search returns nothing, tweak the terms a bit until you get a hit. Please realize that posting a question that has been asked before–and not even caring, no less–really DOES get old after some time.
-If you’ve searched, and searched, and searched some more, feel free to ask a question at CD Freaks…as long as you follow the rules and work with us, we’ll usually help you.
And finally…just help kill the rumor! Writing at the slowest speed does NOT guarantee quality; there are many more factors at work that determine overall quality!
For some notable exceptions see post #5 in this thread.
This FAQ response made possible by the collective group known as CD Freaks. Copyright ©2008 Club CD Freaks. Any redistribution of this FAQ should be promptly credited to Club CD Freaks. So on and do forth, blah blah blah.