1) Do you need special media to write at 12x and 16x DVD speed? I saw that one person managed to use their DVD-R 4x media at 12x speed successfully.
The speeds a disk can be written at depend on the drive's firmware. Every disk has a unique media code, and the firmware has a built-in media code list with associated speeds. Usually you can burn any disk at its certified speed, but if the disk is particularly compatible you might have the option to "overspeed" it (burn it at a higher speed than its certified one). For example my Pioneer DVR-108 allows me to burn Verbatim DVD+R 8x at 12x, but I write it at 8x anyway.
2) I use Nero. If there is no disk in the drive and I go to make a DVD it reports that I can do up 2.4x speed. If I put 4x media in it then goes up to 4x speed. Relating to question one, if I wanted to try to burn my 4x media at 12x speed, how would I make Nero do this? Is this dangerous? If I can't do it in Nero, is there any other software that will?
You shouldn't take care of the writing speeds when a disk is inserted. This is because when you have a disk in the drive the maximum speed you see is your drive's maximum, but related to the disk that is in Simply, if you have an 8x disk in your 16x drive, your drive's maximum speed for that disk will be 8x, and that will be the speed which any program will report. To identify what's your drive's absolute maximum speed, simply get the info with no disk inserted.
If there is no disk in the drive and I go to make a DVD it reports that I can do up 2.4x speed
You probably have not seen the speeds are in a "combo-box": scroll up and you'll see the others
3) If I do need 16x DVD media, where can I buy it?
At this moment, there are very few disks whose rated speed is 16x. I have seen a Fujifilm 16x DVD-R with "Oxonol dyes" advertised somewhere. CDFreaks reported some manufacturers started producing them some weeks ago, but I don't remember when. If you go to www.cdfreaks.com and see past items of news you may find it.
Alternatively, you can put a modified firmware in your drive (for example NIL's 16xALL) which allows you to burn every disk at your drive's maximum speed, and not your disk's. Go to forum.rpc1.org for more info. But be aware that tests have shown that burning disks at speeds much above their rated ones (i.e. a 4x disk at 12x) has been a bad idea.
I updated the firmware to NIL's firmware (1.14 final). I wrote a disk at 8 speed and then 4 speed. Both came out with errors on verification, and then errors on other checking utilities.
You ought to avoid PRINCO media, it is of poor quality. Verbatim disks (-R or +R) are the best (for me) - the ones with media code MCC02 or MCC03. Maxell 4x DVD-R/DVD+R disks are Taiyo Yuden (media code YUDENT0001) and are very good too. TDK and Sony are normal...
4) I got no software with my drive, and I don't believe it has anti-noise abilities (Although it is generally silent). There are two firmware updates listed: "DVR108_FW118EU.exe" and "DVR108xXL_FW118.exe." Which firmware would I need? I should use that detection tool.
You must pay attention to firmwares, as they work ONLY with the drive they are produced for. In your case, the DVR108_FW118EU.exe file is for the DVR-108 drive, which is the OEM version; and the DVR108*XL_FW118EU.exe file is for the DVR-108AXL/BXL drive, which is the end-user, non-OEM version of the same drive. Firmwares are not interchangeable. Why ? Because the XL version has a slightly different firmware, with a drive quietening application built in.
However, the DVRFlash utility for flashing Pioneer drives is very safe - it automatically recognizes the drive, the firmware and tells you if they are compatible. So if you tried flashing an OEM drive with a non-compatible firmware you would probably not be allowed to do that.