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Professional CD-R and DVD-R Burners/Duplicators? 41

Posted by Cliff
from the fire-and-forget dept.
burnWell asks: "I work for a software publisher, and when preparing CD media for final distribution to the manufacturer (the Gold Master if you will), we often find that our CD and DVD burns are not very good quality. Are there any recommendations for professional grade, highest quality CD-R and DVD-R writers? Are there any tools or metrics we should use to verify how 'good' a particular burn happens to be, and to that end, how well behaved some brands of media are versus another? Are there recommendations for the very highest quality CD-R and DVD-R duplicators?"
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Professional CD-R and DVD-R Burners/Duplicators?

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  • Plextor (Score:2, Informative)

    by nelsonal (549144)
    I always had great luck with Plextor's old (in the 2-4x) readers and writers.
    • Re:Plextor (Score:5, Informative)

      by spiralscratch (634649) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:25PM (#10869885)
      Agreed. I've always had excellent results with Plextor drives, and have seen nothing but great reviews for them.

      I do wish Yamaha still manufactured CDR drives. Theirs were just as good as Plextor's.

      Some quick tips:

      Always burn at a slow speed. For a master I can't recommend going higher than 4x. 2x is probably best.

      Dedicate as much RAM as possible to buffer the data stream between the source and the CD you are burning.

      Try to stick with internal drives. While the ATA-to-USB/firewire bridges work quite well, it's just one more thing to possibly cause problems.

      One drive per channel (SCSI excepted). Don't place another drive on the same IDE channel as the CDR drive. If you must use external drives, give each a dedicated USB/firewire connection to the computer.

      As for media, I've heard rumors that the discs produced in Japan are of better quality than those made elsewhere, but have never seen anything to back this up. I'd always had great results with Kodak media in the past, but it seems they don't make discs anymore. You may want to check and verify.
      • Re:Plextor (Score:2, Informative)

        by lhaeh (463179)
        Kodak discs were made by Tayo Yuden IIRC. There are a few CD analysis programs which will tell you the OEM, and other useful information.

        Mitsui is my fave, their gold CDs are the best CD-R discs I've encountered.
    • Re:Plextor (Score:2, Informative)

      In January 2005 my Matshita CD-R CW-7502 turns 6 years old. It's 4x but most of the time I burn at 2x.

      It has burnt hundreds of CDs, with only 6 coasters created (usually when copying CDs that have anti-copy features/flaws that Easy CD Creator 3.5c cant handle).

      It cost $640 AUS including the Adaptec AIC-7850 PCI to SCSI card.

      I realise Plextor is a more recognised brand name, but would anyone buy a used CDR... regardless of the brand? I probably wouldn't. But something good has to be said about old hardwar
  • ISO? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by billh (85947) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:13PM (#10869728)
    If you must use a CDR, find a few different kinds of media, burn slow, and compare. But have you considered just delivering the original as an ISO?
    • Re:ISO? (Score:3, Insightful)

      I've got to agree with this guy. Deliver the ISO (possibly on CD ironically), with an MD5SUM of the file.

      The gold master only needs to be good enough to read it once.

      I burn ISO's of linux distros all the time, with the CD's I pickup using a Sony CD burner. In all that time, I think I've had a half dozen coasters. Generally your biggest problem, is the CD you are reading it on is crappy (not the burner). A lot of laptops or slimline CD's that go into 1U server or speciality small machines have a very

      • I've always had crap luck with memorex, ever since the semi silver cover days. I was partial to google gear, but i don't know if they even exist. Now i go to costco/sams club and get whats the cheapest.
    • Re:ISO? (Score:2, Informative)

      by sbryant (93075)

      I'll take that one step further: deliver the ISO on a DVD-RAM. Don't bother with +/- R or RW. A DVD-RAM is a much more stable medium.

      While I'm here, I'd recommend the LG DVD burners. I've got one, and I know a number of others who do, and they seem to be very good. The old Plextor drives were good too; haven't tried any current ones though.

      -- Steve

  • by GoRK (10018) <johnl&blurbco,com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:16PM (#10869785) Homepage Journal
    Publishers will almost always take the data in a different format (iso) or on tape. Why do you assume that just because you are giving them the data on CD they are copying all the bit errors on the disc? They probably just stick it in a drive and read the data track with error correction (and make test disc or two to be sure) before feeding it to the presses for mass production.

    Please, one call to your publisher would have had this explained to you.
    • by nuxx (10153)
      Yes, DVD masters are typically delivered on DLT. DVD Studio Pro has direct support for doing this.

      Actually, Yggdrasil Linux was responsible for writing the first open source tool for producing DVD masters on tape, which they used for releasing a DVD-based Linux distro back in... 1998? Info about it here [chguy.net].

      That said, for CD mastering use CD-Rs that are designed to be used as masters (they are REAL gold media, and are not cheap, ~US$10ea), burn at 1x, make sure your disc is *really* standard compliant...

      Also
  • by alienw (585907) <alienw.slashdot@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:19PM (#10869813)
    Make sure you are using Taiyo Yuden blanks for burning CDs. Usually, media quality causes the most problems. I compared TY to Verbatim with kprobe -- BIG difference. Verbatim has an average of 8 errors per sector, while Taiyo Yuden had 0.2. Look for CD-Rs made in Japan -- they are Taiyo Yuden (often, they are sold as "music" CD-Rs).
    • "Make sure you are using Taiyo Yuden blanks for burning CDs. Usually, media quality causes the most problems. I compared TY to Verbatim with kprobe -- BIG difference. Verbatim has an average of 8 errors per sector, while Taiyo Yuden had 0.2. Look for CD-Rs made in Japan -- they are Taiyo Yuden (often, they are sold as "music" CD-Rs)."

      You are exercising a common misconception here. Taiyo Yuden is a company the manufacturers CD-Rs. Taiyo Yuden CD-Rs are made by Taiyo Yuden.

      This is not true with Verbatim.

      • by alienw (585907) <alienw.slashdot@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @11:08PM (#10871898)
        The 8 defects/sector discs are indeed made in Taiwan by CMC (or someone else -- the media code only tells you who made the master and doesn't identify a specific manufacturer reliably). The Mitsubishi discs are still not as good as Taiyo Yuden, they are about 1 defect/sector (but obviously an order of magnitude better than CMC). I heard various bad things about the Mitsubishi technology (AZO) and it does indeed seem inferior to phtalocyanine (what most other manufacturers use).

        What's surprising is that price is not an indicator. The Taiyo Yuden music discs are sold under the Maxell brand for less than CMC discs (about half the Maxell spindles in the store were made in Japan, the others were made in Taiwan). Really, the only way to tell good discs from bad ones is to check the country of manufacture.
    • This is absolutely correct.

      I run fastdiscs.com [fastdiscs.com] and only use Taiyo Yuden, because after exhasutive testing I found them to be by far the most reliable. It's no good to me to have to handle returns of faulty discs, that hits me in terms of time and leaves a bad taste in peoples mouths. Since I changed to TY, not one single faulty CD returned, and I burn hundreds every week (on Plextor drives, if you are interesed).

  • Trial and Error (Score:3, Informative)

    by rueger (210566) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:27PM (#10869912) Homepage
    You actually have a couple of major problems. There have been some fairly exhaustive tests [electrolife.com] done in the audio realm, and they have found a couple of things.

    The first is that the specific brand that works best will vary from one CD burner to another. The only thing that you can do is buy a lot of samples and try burns at different speeds and with different brands until you know what gives you the best results.

    As noted, slower burns usually are better, but the optimal speed will vary too.

    The other problem is that manufacturers change their formulations from time to time. You of course have no way to know this, but may find that the media that worked great last month suddenly has problems.

    Another test can be found here [beradio.com].
  • Can you give them your software on a DLT? Whenever we master DVDs, they always end up on DLT at some point. I don't know anything about cds, i come from a video production background... but just my 2 cents.

    Since it seems like no other posts have been that great, i'd add my non-useful expertise into the mix.
  • Plextor is about as good as it gets. Currently I've got the PX-712A and I couldn't be more pleased. There is one newer model, the PX-716 that supports dual layer discs. It is as we say "teh hotness". Also, their newer drives have serial ata versions, which few others can claim.
    • Re:Plextor (Score:4, Informative)

      by Jucius Maximus (229128) <zyrbmf5j4x@snRED ... com minus distro> on Friday November 19, 2004 @10:05PM (#10871645) Homepage Journal
      "Plextor is about as good as it gets. Currently I've got the PX-712A and I couldn't be more pleased. There is one newer model, the PX-716 that supports dual layer discs. It is as we say "teh hotness". Also, their newer drives have serial ata versions, which few others can claim."

      A common misconception - Plextor used to be the absolute best. Honestly they have been falling from the throne since they released the PX-708A (which is the predecessor to the PX-712A (which is the predecessor to the PX-716A.))

      The 708A had pretty good quality burns, but they still did not qualify as excellent. But lots of people reported problems with this drive and CD media in general. It had a tendency to somehow get 'stuck' on DVD-only mode and not read any CD media, pressed or burned. My own 708A only read CD (pressed and burned) at 4X and actually left scuffs on them. I spoke to many people on forums about this and it was widely reported, some people going through two and three RMAs. I returned it to costco and got another one which fortunately worked well. I paid CDN$300 for my 708A right when it came out and I still feel ripped of my money.

      The PX-712A, while an excellent drive in theory that got very good reviews, still only had 'pretty good' burning quality, which IMO is not good enough for the most expensive drive in its class at the time. There were also a lot of burn quality problems, again with people going through two and three RMAs.

      As to the PX-716A, it is simply not good enough to be worth its exorbitant price. Again the burn quality for CDR and DVDR is very good but not supreme. This is confirmed by PI/PO and C1/C2 scans in comparison to other drives of half the cost.

      Every burner I have owned for the last 5 years was a Plextor, but I think it will stop here. The competition delivers better burn quality for much less money. Plextor's products are not rock solid anymore and I won't pay their price.

      If you want the best CD-R burning on a drive today, get yourself an old Plextor Premium (back fomr the days when Plextor *was* the King of Quality) or get a very economical NEC-ND3500A which currenty owns the title for the lowest error rates on CDR and DVDR burns.

  • Mastering (Score:5, Informative)

    by RomSteady (533144) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:44PM (#10870123) Homepage Journal
    Qualifications: I am no longer at Microsoft, but when I was at Microsoft, I burned the gold masters for eight seperate titles, including seven that used SafeDisc.

    For our CD's, we used Mitsui primarily. They were a decent balance between cost and reliability. We'd also always submit to our release labs at least five copies of each CD.

    Finally, we'd use a tool (CRC 3.05, available to MSDN subscribers in Subscriber Downloads) which would calculate the CRC value of each CD. Once we finished burning a CD, we'd do a binary compare with the source bits, and if everything matched up, we'd add the CD to our "good" pile.

    For the first several (spread out over three years), we used a PlexWriter 2x writing at 1x to burn. We also used Goldenhawk CDR-WIN to burn the masters, but had to switch to Prassi once Goldenhawk stopped putting in the proper postgap on the CD's.

    For our final disks, we went with a PlexWriter 48x writing at 16x.
  • by rubberbando (784342) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:46PM (#10870135)
    One of my favorite places to shop for such goodies is Markertek [markertek.com]. It doesn't cost you anything to have them send you a catalog.
  • Why CD masters? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Goyuix (698012) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:03PM (#10870331) Homepage
    Why not use SFTP/SCP or somthing to transfer the .ISO (or equivalent image) to a secure site? Or why not send them on protable 2.5" hard disk or something more reliable than CD's if you are having these issues? Heck, even compact flash is cheap these days, 1GB shouldn't set you back too much and it is quite easy to determine if the file exists properly. Let the manufacturers worry about getting the image right, it is their butt on the line after all.

    Another thing would be to simply burn it, then use a tool to verify that the disc was burned correctly and reliably. Heck you could even do your own sample test and do other interesting metrics like how long it takes to complete the verification - possibly an indicator of how many errors were encountered in the read process.

    Better yet, just offer the files up on your web site and let customers burn their own CD's if they feel they really need them.
  • This site is good (Score:4, Informative)

    by SteWhite (212909) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:49PM (#10870725)
    http://www.cdrinfo.com/

    Has some very detailed reviews, including detailed quality analysis tests with many combinations of drives and media.
  • I think the answer to this depends a lot on if your a small development group creating some small or niche application, or a big developer. It's probably shouldn't, but I think it does. If you are working for a large developer, or creating expensive software, then I second the comments stating that your best bet is probably to deliver the program to the publisher on a drive or flash memory, and let them burn it. For small development houses producing low cost software, then you have some ohter options.
  • Corporate Systems Center [corpsys.com]; they offer a couple of CD duplicators. I've bought SCSI stuff from them in the past and have been very satisfied.

    Also check out this list of CD/DVD duplicators from Pricegrabber [pricegrabber.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "Are there recommendations for the very highest quality CD-R and DVD-R duplicators?"

    Ask the pirates what they use?
  • by Spoing (152917) on Saturday November 20, 2004 @02:44AM (#10872988) Homepage
    Why give them a golden master? It can get dammaged, and you will then have dammaged duplicates.

    Instead, make an image, call it a golden image, checksum the image (MD5sum for example), compress it and send it on any media you like or over the net.

    1. If uncompressing the image causes an error, you should hear from the duplication facility right away.
    2. Check the first disk from the duplication facility before having them perform bulk duplication.
    3. If the checksum doesn't match what you expect, verify your golden image and resend it.
  • by XO (250276)
    I cannot answer this question, on the grounds that it would make me immediatly liable for a violation of the DMCA.

  • CD quality.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2004 @06:24PM (#10876914)
    I worked in a mastering house for two years, and now provide off and on technical consultation on qc issues..

    We've always used Taiyo Uden's. Big surprise.
    Making a hash/md5sum is pretty silly and is one layer above what you need to be checking.
    What you need to check are the block errors/specifically c1/c2 errors.

    When a cd is authored, it is authored to cd with subcode that can not be changed in the slightest.

    Q-bit subcode is the term for the information on a compact disc that holds the track number, track length, and time in track.

    Any change results in bad crossfades, blips and other ugliness.. Some plants have been known to extract the audio and redo it, and generate crap.
    Most masterhouses know which ones these are and stay away from them.

    Whats important are c1/c2 errors.
    Check http://www.cdrinfo.com/Sections/Reviews/Specific.a spx?ArticleId=7378
    for a technical description.

    C1 is error correction for the block error rate (BLER), which consists of bit errors at the lowest level. BLER is normally given in errors per second. The typical maximum BLER for quality recording is 220 errors per second.

    C2 error correction applies to bytes in a frame (24 bytes per frame, 98 frames per block) and is an indication of the drive's attempt to use extended error correction to recover the data. Even a few C2 errors can be an indication of poor media quality or a drive's inability to write or read correctly.

    CU error correction applies to uncorrectable errors, or errors that are present after C2 level correction. No CU errors are allowed in a recorded disc. CU errors are usually a result of damage to a disc and represent unrecoverable data. Discs with CU errors quite often cannot be read.

    The acceptable number of c2 errors is zero for a disc sent to the plant.

    A simple check with kprobe or plextools pro will validate your disc, your burn, your burner, and whether or not you really should be smoking in the computer room..

    Once it hits the plant, the disc is reread, all samples, subcode intact and a glass master is made to create the pits in the substrate..

    Some manufactured discs, have more c1's than a typical burn, this could lead to early death due to scratches.. HMMM..
  • At work we have a Primera Bravo II [primera.com]. It works fine for what we use it for, unattended bulk copies and authoring data to multiple discs. Our model has a Pioneer A05 DVD drive. The Bravo II is probably not industrial strength or the best choice for master discs but I've burned about 2000 discs with it in the last year and other then some DVD+R media issues (which we've stopped using), it works great. Just my .02

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