As many of you would know, I have had an interest in CD-R media for a very long time. Today, my interest mainly rests with older, pre-21st century-made CD-Rs but naturally, this older media has been out of production for many years (at least 15 years for mainstream gold reflective layered media) so I thought it would be of interest to test some older, unsupported media on a newer DVD or BD drive known for good CD burn quality.
Today, we will take a brief look at one of my favourite varieties of older media - the Sony CDQ-74BN - made in Japan by Taiyo Yuden. This media has a gold reflective layer, a cyanine dye layer and carries the ATIP code 97m24s00f. This type of media represents Taiyo Yuden's first generation of 74-minute CD-R media. According to the jewel case inserts, this media is certified for writing at 1X, 2X, 4X, and 6X. Media in this configuration was last produced in 1997 - the year that today's disc was produced.
This quick test involved writing to one piece of this (rather valuable) media at 4X on a Pioneer DVR-215L running firmware 1.22. Once the writing process completed, a Plextor PX-716UFL running firmware 1.02 was used to scan the disc in PlexTools Professional XL 3.16.
The writing process completely with no trouble in about 20 minutes. The longer than expected writing time was due to the fact that this media is unsupported in the Pioneer DVR-215L's firmware and therefore extensive power calibration prior to writing of the main session took place.
According to the Plextor drive, the writing quality can be best summarised in one word - marginal. While the total number of C1 errors is quite low, the errors tended to 'peak' in clumps. Additionally, a number of C2 errors can be found throughout the disc. On the resultant chart, it can be seen that there are regions of the disc that exhibit very low levels of C1 errors indeed, pointing to good quality media. Overall, this level of performance is typical of that of unsupported media on the Pioneer DVR-215L drive.
More alarmingly, the Plextor drive refused to commence a Beta / Jitter test on the completed disc despite multiple attempts. More importantly however, the same drive was able to read back the entire disc without any undue slowdowns.
Upon physical examination, the recording side of the disc exhibited 'rings' in the dye layer that possibly indicate that the writer had difficulty with power calibration during the burning process.
So what can we take away from this experience? Firstly, we can say that with proper storage and care, an unwritten CD-R disc can last many years with little to no degradation. And secondly, modern optical drive may not be able to fully take advantage of the potential of older, high quality media due to lack of firmware support. It is interesting to note that slightly newer media - Sony CDQ-74CN from 1998 - wrote with much higher quality on the same Pioneer DVR-215L drive due to the existence of firmware support for media bearing the ATIP code of 97m24s01f. It would be interesting to test more pieces of the older media on various drives, but due to limited supply, this may not be possible, at least not in the short term.
I hope readers have found this post informative. I would love to read the experiences of others with older media. If you have experiences to share, please post them here!
Thanks for reading.