Verbatim Burning Problems - Wrong Writing Strategy?

This is for all you people who have been lamenting about how the current Verbatim DVD discs (non Datalife or Datalife Plus), don’t live up to the old Datalife Plus ones anymore. It’s unfortunately quite long, but I think this is important
enough to warrant a thorough explanation.

Yesterday I picked up a 50pc cake box of Verbatim 8x DVD+R discs. These are
typically packed for the Asian Pacific market :


The discs are MIT and appear to be made by Prodisc. A serial number from one of
the discs is :

5277E3415+02101C09 (annoyingly overstamped with RH9-51177, making it hard to read)

I have two burners, an LG GSA-4163B, and a BenQ DW1640. I did two burns on the
4163B and then scanned them with the BenQ. The results were not pleasant :


This is nothing like the kind of quality I expect out of Verbatim. I’ve read all
sorts of stories about how Verbatim’s quality has gone down the drain lately. It
looked to me like this was exactly what I was experiencing, in the flesh. Since
I had bought 50 pcs of these things, I decided it was worth the trouble to try
and find out if the discs were really defective. I ran Qscan at 8x on one of the
discs :

The tracking error and focus error levels are a little high at the end, but
otherwise, the rest of the two error levels was disgustingly low and well within
the specs for an 8x burn. So I burned some on the BenQ. The results I got were
acceptable, but not earth shattering (SB on for known media, WOPC on) :

So there was nothing wrong with the discs themselves. The next possible culprit
was my 4163B. But one day before, I burned a two pieces of Mitsubishi 8x DVD+R
(MIT by CMC Magnetics, SN from a disc in the same batch : PAHA30JB10231169) and
got scans like this :

(I suspect these discs were old stock kept by a shop from about the time Verbatim
Datalife Plus discs were made, which to most people would explain the burn
quality)

There is no way my burner can be defective or have a problem with MCC003 media
if it could produce burns like this!

This left only one other possibility : the firmware. I am using A105 on my 4163B.
I have read claims that the discs that were used to calibrate the drive and
produce the firmware might be totally different from the discs of the same brand
and type used today. This theory concludes that the firmware strategy for a
certain type of disc might actually be wrong now, because the same discs being
made now are different. I decided that this might be the only explanation
left, so I decided to do some tests.

Using MCSE, I did some write strategy swaps and test burns. Eventually, I got
these results by swapping MCC003 with TDK002 (TDK 8x DVD+R). These are burns at 8x :


If you compare the results to the ones above, they are like night and day! This
is no fluke. I’ve burned another 8 discs or so and have gotten similar results.
I am really pleased but I am left with some strange questions :

  • TDK has nothing to do with Verbatim. Why should TDK’s write strategy work
    better than Verbatim’s own?

  • It is obvious that these Verbatim 8x DVD+R discs are not the same as the ones
    they used to make when the firmware was written (I think LG never touched the
    MCC003 write strategy from possibly A102 or earlier versions). So what on earth
    is the difference? A new form of dye (there is no mention of AZO anywhere on the
    packaging)?

  • Does this imply that different Verbatim/Mitsubishi 8x DVD+R disc made by
    Prodisc, CMC and Verbatim Singapore (which made the old Datalife Plus discs I
    used to use) are all different and need different write strategies? (never
    tried any from Moser Baer)

  • Could the problems many people be facing with bad burns from current day
    Verbatim discs, simply be caused by an incorrect write strategy?

What do you guys think? I don’t think I’m going to find the answers to these but
I thought this might interest you guys. It might also be of some help to those
with problems burning these discs.

I’ve essentially validated the theory that the Verbatim discs made back then are
different from the ones made now. What I’m getting at is that they may not be
worse than the old ones, and if so, not by much.

Just as a comparison, here is a burn at 8x with the PRODISCR04 (Prodisc 16x
DVD+R - MCSE does allow me to swop with Prodisc 8x DVD+R on the 4163B) write
strategy. The results are bloody awful :

I never knew that a write strategy plays such a big part in the burn quality of
a disc.

Nice job finding a good result with the discs, as you have found out write strategies can play a huge role in burn quality. To those that have been using NEC drives (and other drives for that matter) and hacked firmwares for awhile, they are quite familiar with the improvements that can be made by changing to more appropriate write strategies. I’ve seen many different media codes greatly improved on the same drive by simply replacing the crappy write strategy in the manufacturer’s official firmware with a ‘better’ one.

In your case, the media manufacturer may be more to blame than the drive manufacturer for not having an appropriate write strategy, considering that certain versions of that media code burn fine and others versions burn poorly. I would usually lay the blame on the drive manufacturers for being incompetent in their write strategies in their firmware, but Verbatim is probably to blame since they are outsourcing these discs all over the place. Could be different dye being used, even though I thought that they were ‘supposed’ to use the same dye regardless of whom they outsourced the manufacturing to.

I discovered the same with MCC02RG20 some time ago.

The CMC-made ones I’ve had burnt great in my Pioneer 109 and Nec 3540. I bought a new batch, they were made in India, only coasters on both drives, I thought they were defective.

Then I burnt a couple of these MBI Verbs on a newly bought 4550A and they turned out GREAT. And guess what? The “good old” CMC-made ones I had gave poor burns in the 4550A :eek:

Well, after my experience, what I’ve read around and now your story here, I’m pretty sure the specs of all these MCC vary greatly, and that drive manufacturers have different samples to tweak their firmwares. This suc*s. :frowning:

Maybe this explains why people start to complaint about Verbatim discs. It’s possible that it is less related to absolute quality but more to inconsistency in actual burning specs of the MID, and depending on which samples the firmware has been tweaked for, people experience paradoxal results.

Of course this is a theory, but I’m sold to it now.

Yes, I know about Liggy and Dee’s great work with NEC firmware. I now know why that works so well. Something similar may be able to be done for LG writers. They have the ability to import strategies from different models of NEC writers though, which can’t be done with LG ones.

their write strategies in their firmware, but Verbatim is probably to blame since they are outsourcing these discs all over the place. Could be different dye being used, even though I thought that they were ‘supposed’ to use the same dye regardless of whom they outsourced the manufacturing to.

I’ve seen Mitsubishi discs with “DYN-AZO” stated as the kind of dye, Verbatims sometimes are labelled with “Super AZO” or “Advanced AZO”. Other Verbatim discs have no indication of the dye used at all. This could be just marketing spin of course, but I am starting to wonder if these are all slightly different AZO dye variants.

Wow, those are some impressive (and kind of scary) results.

I would have no problem with Verbatim outsourcing like they’ve been doing if they changed the media code from MCC 003 to something else for the discs that needed it - MCC 003 revision 002 or something. Having discs out there with the same media code that so clearly require different burning strategies is just terrible.

@karangguni:

Supposedly the same dye is being used on all of the MCC discs with the same media code, regardless of where they are being made, so the differences must be mechanical (discs’ flatness, evenness of dye spread, etc) rather than chemical. I’ve had different results from the same media code from the same factory! That being said, the BenQ does much better than the LG with MCC003 (regardless of where made) in my experience. I wouldn’t get too worked up about it though; you just didn’t get one of the “optimum” batches of Prodisc MCC003, but frankly they really aren’t that bad either. You did clear up some questions about the new 8x Verbatim packaging for the Asian market though; I never doubted the discs were MCC codes with Azo dye, made by Prodisc in Taiwan, but some people for whatever reason suspected they might have been CMC-code discs.

Outstanding sleuthing! I admire your perseverance.

How many write strategies did you try before finding the TDK strategy?

What a Charlie Foxtrot this leaves the consumer with, having to deal with variable disk quality and or write strategy due to major manufacturing variances. Besides consumer’s as a group, I hope retailors realize this and make a big stink over all the RMA’s and returns they’ve experienced because of the covert manufacturing changes made. Shame on the manufacturers for making inconsistent products.

I wonder how those idots who are allowing this to happen (in the name of greed most likely) would like it if every cup of coffee/tea they drank tasted completely different no matter what they ordered or “assumed” just because the menu remained the same? Why do you think McDonald’s became so popular? Price, speed and CONSISTENCY!! I know that no matter where I go, my quarter pounder will taste the same… no surprises.

This is yet another reason to just purchase Taiyo Yuden: No guessing required!

Blame it on the low end manufacturers driving prices down so much. Of course, no one wants to go back to the days when SL media cost $2+ per disc, but frankly when they were that high the Japanese manufacturers were spending more on quality control.

What I’ve found is that with the older Verbatim Datalife Plus 8x DVD+R discs (MIS), my 4163B turned out scans that were better than TY discs (QS 97-99). I managed to get similar results with what appears to be old stock Mitsubishi 8x DVD+R discs as well (MIT by CMC). I can’t seem to get the same kind of results with my BenQ 1640, but to be fair, they are on different systems.

It is only with the newer lot of Verbatims that I’ve experienced these strange burning problems with the 4163B. I recently also tried some Verbatim 8x DVD-R discs (MCC02RG20), which were also Prodisc made. The BenQ did far better with those than the LG. Both drives alternated between good scans and coasters. The quality of the discs was questionable; Qscan certified quite a few as being unfit for burning at 8x due to high tracking error levels at the start of the discs. I’ve noticed that the BenQ is simply more tolerant of these kinds of errors on any discs and so it churned out less coasters than the 4163B for these discs. The BenQ also produced burns of much better quality than the LG.

If you include the results from the discs I have above, it suggests that the BenQ might also be producing better results now because it is tuned for newer Verbatim/Mitsubishi media, while the LG is tuned for the old types.

Don’t worry, I’m not worked up. :wink: I’m more curious about this whole thing than anything.

For the record, I’ve seen two different types of new packaging for Verbatims over here recently. I’ve bought discs with both types of packaging and they are still MCC coded discs. I’ve not encountered any CMC, Moser Baer or Ritek MIDed Verbatims here. We don’t seem to get Moser Baer made Verbatims here at all.

The discs I bought and used for the test above are actually newly released into the market here. I actually visit disc shops about once a month or more and I did not see those discs on sale with that packaging in previous visits. So they aren’t old stock either.

Amazingly, only one : the Prodisc 16x DVD+R strategy I tried above. I was prepared to try with a couple more, but I didn’t have to. So no perseverence was involved, really.

I use those too. What I’ve been doing is keeping two copies of everything, both on different media types to mitigate failure of one type. It is usually a mix of MCC003/TYG02/YUDEN000-T02/RICOHJPN-R02.

The problem is that the only source of 8x TY discs here (Fujifilm) seems to have just dried up. The local retailer for those sold out his stock and there are rumours the new ones coming in are all MIT. So I might actually have to rely on Verbatim as the next best thing for now.

I just really noticed you mentioned the discs had a second serial stamped over the original one in the inner hub area; I recently bought a spindle of Prodisc-made MCC003 with the same feature. They had a fairly old outer-hub stamper serial (ZC8514-DVR-X47B) and they didn’t burn as well as some of my CMC-made or Prodisc-made MCC003 with stamper serials starting with “ZD”. I wonder if they found a bunch of old stock of Prodisc MCC003 or something?

Just to add to the thread, I’ll post a couple of scans from some Prodisc MCC003. The first scan is an 8x burn (selected 12x but the drive chose 8x) on my PX-712A with one of the ZC8514 discs with the overstamped hub serial, and the second is a 12x burn on the same drive with no overstamped hub and stamper code of ZD2348. As you can see, the 12x burn is better than the 8x!

Those AZO names seem to just be marketing terms. The Mitsubishi DYN-AZO CD-Rs and the Verbatim DataLifePlus Advanced AZO CD-Rs are the same discs for instance.

I don’t think you can conclude that by just using PIE (Sum8) scans. IMHO it would be more useful using just PIF (Sum1) scans or PIE+POE (Burst) scans, if you only want to perform and present a single scan per media.

I have some nice Sum8 scans where the Sum1 scans and Burst scans show an uggly truth with high PIF and POE values.

I’m pretty sure I scanned them with my BenQ too, and PIF was low for both. I’ll have to check when I get home, or scan the discs if I can find them.

It may be possible. The stamper serial from some old SG made Verbatim Datalife Plus discs I have is ZC8494-DVR-X47B. Those were bought about 1 year ago.

The stamper serial from one of the discs I used in my tests above is ZD3597-DVR-X47B. So what I used appears to have been newly made.

However, we are assuming that the stamper numbers are always used in sequential order. That may not be true. The stamper dies are probably made in the order of the stamper numbers. The thing is I am sure they have to be stored in some sort of warehouse at some point along the way and shipped to these disc manufacturers. The storage and transport process could totally jumble the order of the stampers up. Each of the disc manufacturers presumably have their own warehouses too, which could further complicate things.

Stamper number ZC8492 could have been made 2 years ago, but languished at the back of a warehouse until now, or it could just as likely have been used the day after they were delivered to Verbatim Singapore’s storage area.

There has to be some reasoning behind the second hub serial etched on top of the first. I know TY does this with its “Value Line” discs to prevent anyone from selling them as the normal “Premium” TY, but I wonder what MKM/Verbatim’s purpose is…

I guess I didn’t scan the first disc with my BenQ, and I really can’t be bothered to find it. I do have a scan of the second disc though, which shows the PIF levels aren’t bad at all.