Which legacy Plextor to buy for DAE

I have to opportunity to buy some legacy Plextor drives, brand new boxed.

However, I already have the following drives:

PX-40TS (scsi) (fw v1.14) TLA#1010 (mfg nov-1999)
PlexWriter Px-R820Ti (scsi) TLA#0503 (mfg april-1999)

I also have the following non-plextor drives:

NEC DVD-RW ND-3520AW (IDE) (fw 3.07) (bought near launch in 2005/6?)
Lite-On LTN-485S (IDE) (mfg: aug-2000)
HP CDRW/DVD-ROM GCC-4482B (fw:1.05) (mfg nov-2005)

My problems are the following:

  • that the PX-40TS is not fully supported (no C2 support) in my preferred
    DAE program dbPowerAmp r13.1 reference-edition due to special D8
    MMC-read commandset in this drive.

  • my SCSI adapter card (either aha2940uw or aha-29160N) with cabling
    to the drive takes up a lot of overhead space in my preferred audio
    pc (a mini-atx gamer case from ThermalTake, with a big handle on top
    which makes it semi-portable.

I am running Windows server 2008 R1 on my main computer and Windows XP sp3 on the audio computer.

I now have the opportunity to buy the following legacy Plextor drives brand new,boxed (retail).

  • PX-230A
  • Plexwriter Premium
  • Plexwriter Premium2

Also, the more current PX-820SA/T3KB and PX-810SA/T3 availiable in some different versions.
I understand the PX-708a would be a good choice but i can not find them anywhere in new condition.

Which, if any, should i choose? Or should I be jiggling happy with what I got?
The premiums would of course be excellent for burning, but my primary concern is ripping, including some copy-protected audio cds and sometimes, alas, scratched cds.

I have found no data about AccurateStream, C2 capabilities, HTOA, Leadin-leadout reading and non-caching about the PX230A drive, all the plextor homepage has to say about this drive is “High Quality Digital Audio Extraction” which i take to mean most of these features are supported.

Thank you for your advice,

andreas

I’d go for either Premium/2, but I’m not a definitive Plextor guru so I’ve yet to know if the Premiums have any shortfalls in reading since I’ve never heard anyone complain about its reading/writing capabilities (mostly the complaints are regarding its price :D) and I don’t have one. But my PX-W2410A doesn’t choke on copy protections, I’m guessing the Premiums won’t too.

[QUOTE=SMiSK;2229585]
I now have the opportunity to buy the following legacy Plextor drives brand new,boxed (retail).

  • PX-230A
  • Plexwriter Premium
  • Plexwriter Premium2

Also, the more current PX-820SA/T3KB and PX-810SA/T3 availiable in some different versions.
The premiums would of course be excellent for burning, but my primary concern is ripping, including some copy-protected audio cds and sometimes, alas, scratched cds.[/QUOTE]

The PX-230A is not a drive designed by Plextor. It is a BenQ-design that Plextor stuck their label on. There later was a 240A model. That two was labelled only. I’m not sure but probably a LiteON. Neither the PX-820SA nor the 810SA as Plextor designs either. The 820SA is a NEC 7200 and the 810SA a Pioneer 212.

So out of all these only the Premium and the Premium2 enter your consideration (if you want a true Plextor design).

From a technical point of view both drives should perform strictly the same. I have both and while I have not done a totally in-depth DAE analysis I’ve done a short test and noticed only minor differences. No drive really outshone the other:

http://club.cdfreaks.com/1551738-post11.html
http://club.cdfreaks.com/1551748-post12.html
http://club.cdfreaks.com/1551753-post13.html

When it comes to writing i got the distinct impression that the Premium is far more ‘eager’ to reach 52x compared to the Premium2, who only passes 40x if the media used are of truly excellent quality. Other than that the Premium2 gains 2x and 48x writing, 0.9 and 1.1 Gigarec settings and AMQR over the original Premium. The Premium2 has seen some more recent (2006-2007) fine tuning with Firmware 1.02 and 1.03 and may be a bit more up to date to the current situation of available media and their quirks.

From an ‘availability’ point of view i’d get the Premium. It’s very rare nowadays to find a new boxed Premium, whereas the Premium2 is apparently still being produced and you’ll certainly be able to get one in even a year from now, if you need another Premium. However i suspect it will be very hard to do it the other way round

I don’t know about your software. It may be a small point but if software is for example ‘hard coded’ to work with certain hardware, having a drive that reports back “Premium” instead of “Premium2” could be an advantage, since the original Premium was well known and supported. If such a limit does not exist it shouldn’t matter which drive you take.

If you want to make copies of CDs then I would stay with the 2 Scsi Plextors you have and use 32x rated or older CD-Rs…
I would say that there is not many drives around that beats the combination of a PX-40 and a R820Ti when used with older media types. For DAE i would use EAC or even better Plextools.
Since 32x media seems to be getting hard to find outside of Japan the next best choice would be a Premium/2.

But to be honest if you just want to rip audios and convert to MP3 i dont see any reason to get a Premium/2 (waste of money). I would say just get hold of a copy of Plextools or EAC and use it with your PX-40. Plextor Drives will give you their full potential with Plextools. Also when using the right media to burn not even the Premium/2 will beat the quality of a R820Ti.
The Premium/2 is just a product based on the R820Ti and the only difference is support of higher write speeds and Audio Master (LSI of the R820Ti has -RW writing feature and error scan feature but both are just disabled in firmware and in Plextools). Even the professional Plexmaster CD writer is just a modified R820Ti.

Also I would say most modern DVD drives should do a good job ripping Audio. There are cheaper drives around than the Premium/2 for just ripping some CD-Rs. How about getting a PX-760 which is a very good burner and also comes with plextools? This drive also should be cheaper than a Premium/2 and is a real good DVD writer.

So if you should be able to get hold of a copy of Plextools Professional I would use the PX40 and R820Ti you have right now. To be honest I still use a PX40 and a R820 together with Plextools and 12x MIJ CD-Rs to copy CDs and i do not even think about getting a Premium2 because i really think the Premium/2 is a waste of money as long as 32x TY CD-Rs are available and my R820 lasts…

[QUOTE=hwp;2229630]I don’t know about your software. It may be a small point but if software is for example ‘hard coded’ to work with certain hardware, having a drive that reports back “Premium” instead of “Premium2” could be an advantage[/QUOTE]

Well my sticking point here is that dbPowerAmp music converter reference edition can’t enable or interpret the c2 flag from the PX40TS drive since it is a non-documented feature of a proprietary read command (MMC-D8) employed in this drive. I suspect the authors att Illustrate would not be overly interested in adding further support for a 1999 drive, however good reputation it has for audio extractions. C2 works in EAC though, but it is not so strong with metadata retrieval.

I got plextools with the px drives but this version is just ridiculously old, and there seems to be no upgrade path nor direct purchase availiable for the plextools pro xl fullblown version…

I could get the PX230A for the equivivalent of 20eur but the shipping on that item is 20 eur aswell. But if this is a non-original-plextor drive this is of course not an option.

On the other hand the Premium2 would set me back 110 eur+10eur shipping and the premium 1 even worse at 130 eur + probably 15 eur shipping. I guess I will make do with the PX-40ts for now and eventually go for the Premium2 unless i recieve strong indications to do otherwise

[QUOTE=SMiSK;2229769]I got plextools with the px drives but this version is just ridiculously old, and there seems to be no upgrade path nor direct purchase availiable for the plextools pro xl fullblown version… [/QUOTE]

Plextools is a very good solution, when it comes to DAE with Plextor drives. The free “Plextools Professional” have been replaced with “Plextools Professional LE”, which you can find here: http://www.plextools.com/download/download.asp However the Site is not up to date. The latest Version is 3.16. Contact Plextor Support and they will provide a link.

The latest version (2.36) of the old “Plextools Professional” - if you prefer those - can be found here: http://www.plextor.jp/pc/download/software.html
It’s the update only, you’ll need a previous version installed. This version also is with Japanese helpfile only. I can mail you the english one.

I actually own a dBPowerAMP Reference license despite how unusually easy the software is to pirate, but I find myself using it far less than Exact Audio Copy (for ripping/burning) and foobar2000 (for format converting) - both of which are free software.

Exact Audio Copy has an optional subcommand called “-USEFUA”. The FUA stands for Forced Unit Access, which on most drives will accomplish nothing, but on the Premium it will disable the caching in the same manner as PlexTools. You will then be able to do blazing-fast C2 ripping - so long as EAC is told that your drive “doesn’t” do caching. Exact Audio Copy has the unusual (but not entirely unique) feature of “Test & Copy”, which I like to use with C2 because I find a single sweep of C2 on the Premium to be notably less reliable than a single sweep of AccurateStream (one of EAC’s claim-to-fame reading modes). Test & Copy (2 sweeps) with the Premium’s cacheless C2 is almost as reliable as a single sweep of AccurateStream, but far quicker (I tend to rip 80-minute CDs within about 6 minutes - that’s 3 minutes per sweep). If and when I get mismatched checksums (on less than 0.1% of the tracks I’ve ripped), AccurateStream on a DVD reader is my fallback. The idea is that the time I “waste” on re-ripping a CD with AccurateStream is a fraction of the overall time I would have wasted from ripping everything in AccurateStream to begin with.

I only use dBpowerAMP for converting to/from proprietary formats which don’t have encoders or decoders that will work with foobar2000. I find that many of the official commandline encoders (like for FLAC or WavPack) have more options than what dBpowerAMP will present you with. Even if dBpowerAMP has a “CLI” feature, it’s not very accommodating for keeping multiple custom presets saved.

Anyway, be sure and give Exact Audio Copy with Forced Unit Access a try. The Premium might not be the only Plextor drive they work wonders with. I know from experience that EAC with FUA works on the Premium2 too, but the Premium2 being having any functions the Premium has, should hardly surprise anyone. I think the Premium is a little faster on average with cacheless C2 than the Premium2, though.