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Subject: [comp.publish.cdrom] CD-Recordable FAQ, Part 3/4
This article was archived around: 10 Oct 2008 05:07:15 GMT
Subject:  Problems
Problems that arise when burning a CD-R.
Some suggestions that fix most common problems:
- RTFM (Read The Fine Manual). Sometimes it's *supposed* to work that
way. If you didn't receive a manual with the product, it may be in
text or Acrobat form on a CD-ROM.
- Check your software version. You may need a newer version of the
software for correct operation with your hardware (yes, even if you
received the software with the recorder). Most, if not all,
CD recorder software publishers have web sites with updates.
- Update the software. Even if the software is new enough to be
compatible, there's some chance that your bug has already been fixed.
- Under Windows, check your ASPI layer. See section (4-44) for URLs
- If you've tweaked your PC BIOS to the limit and are overclocking
everything, reset it to defaults and see if your problems clear up.
You can always tweak it back. If you're using a motherboard with
a VIA chipset, make sure you are running the absolute latest version
of the VIA drivers.
Some ideas that are only relevant to hardware and software from the 1990s:
- Some problems with PC ATAPI drives go away when DMA is turned off for
the drive (via the Win9x device manager; see section (5-15-1)). You
might also need to uninstall incompatible bus-mastering drivers
- Under Windows, rename \Windows\System\Iosubsys\scsi1hlp.vxd to
something that prevents it from being loaded ("scsi1hlp.vx_"). See
if your problems get better. scsi1hlp.vxd is only required for
compatibility with old SCSI devices.
- If you have an older recorder, and it seems to be getting progressively
worse over time, it may need to be cleaned. See section (3-30).
Subject: [4-1] What does "buffer underrun" mean?
It means you have an attractive new coaster for your table.
Generally speaking, the CD recording process can't be interrupted in
mid-session. Once the laser starts writing, any interruption would create
a physical gap on the disc that could confuse CD readers. The recorder
must always have data to write, from the moment the recording starts until
the session ends. To avoid a situation where a temporary slowdown in the
computer causes the write process to fail, the makers of CD recorders
put a write buffer in the drive, usually between 512K and 4MB in size.
Data read from the hard drive, tape, or another CD is stored in the buffer,
and pulled out as needed by the recorder.
If the recorder requests data from the write buffer, but there's none there,
it's called a buffer underrun. The disc is still spinning, but there's no
data to write, so the recording process aborts.
This was a very common and very annoying problem for many years, so
most recorders released in 2001 or later have optional "buffer underrun
protection" features available. See section (2-31).
You can sometimes use a disc that failed during writing by closing the
session and starting another, assuming there's enough space left on the
CD, and assuming your pre-mastering software didn't choose to finalize the
disc for you. If you were using disc-at-once recording, you're probably
out of luck.
Advice for preventing buffer underruns is scattered throughout this FAQ.
A brief summary:
- If your hardware and software support it, enable buffer underrun
protection. Usually this is just a checkbox.
- Use a fast, AV-friendly hard drive (i.e. one that doesn't do slow
thermal recalibrations). Pretty much all drives sold since the
late 1990s fall into this category.
- Record at a slow speed - it takes longer to empty the buffer when
recording at 1x.
- Don't do anything else with the computer while recording. Don't record
from a file server.
- Defragment your HD, especially if you're doing on-the-fly recording.
(But don't defragment *while* you're recording.)
- Record from a disc image file rather than on-the-fly.
- Depending on your setup, putting the recorder and your hard drive on
separate SCSI or IDE controllers may be helpful.
- Keep your CD-R cool. Sometimes the drives fail when they overheat,
with a buffer underrun or an inability to finalize a session. This
is rarely a problem with drives made in 2000 or beyond.
Also watch out for things like anti-virus programs that wake up, virtual
memory settings that cause swapping, screen savers that activate during the
CD creation process, unusual network activity, and background downloads of
data or faxes. One way to check is to run the HD defragmenter in Win9X.
If it restarts every few seconds, it's because something is hitting the
Some game discs use a form of copy protection where bad sectors are
deliberately placed on the original CD. Attempting to copy one of these
discs on the fly may fail, because some CD-ROM drives slow down and
repeatedly try to read the "damaged" blocks. The slowdown may result in
a buffer underrun before the CD-ROM drive reports an error.
A utility included with Microsoft Office, called "FindFast", will
occasionally start up and scan your hard drives. Disabling this by
deleting the shortcut in the Windows\Start Menu\Programs\StartUp folder may
If you're using Windows, see the sub-sections on Auto-Insert Notification
and VCACHE settings, below.
http://www.roxio.com/en/support/cdr/bufunder.html has a comprehensive
collection of buffer underrun info.
http://www.adaptec.com/support/configuration/cdrec.html is interesting
reading for users with CD-Rs attached to Adaptec SCSI cards. They're
pretty far on the conservative side, but if you're having trouble this may
An article by Dana Parker entitled "CD-R on the Safe Side: Seven Rules of
Successful CD Recording" in the April 1997 issue of Emedia Professional
listed the Seven Habits of Successful CD-R Users:
1. Defragment Your Disk
2. Use a Partition for Staging Input
3. Create a Real Image
4. Test before writing
5. Stabilize Your System for CD-R
6. Shut Down Other Applications
7. After the Burn: Label and Test
If you really want to be careful, you can shut down background stuff under
Win95/98 with WinSolo from http://www.procode.com.au/winsolo/ (the web site
was down at last update, but a search for it on http://www.google.com/
turned up a number of shareware sites that have it). Another option is
WinTasks from http://www.liutilities.com/products/wintasksstd/; see
(Side note for search engines: some versions of Ahead's Nero refer to
buffer underruns as "loss of streaming".)
Subject: [4-1-1] What's the deal with Windows Auto-Insert Notification (AIN)?
Some of the Windows-based recording software recommend turning off
Auto-Insert Notification. Having this on can interfere with closing
sessions or even just inserting discs into the drive. Most of the recent
software will disable it automatically, but some of the older products
require you to disable it manually. You can do so under Win95/Win98 by
opening the "System" icon in the Control Panel, and selecting "Device
Manager". For each item under CD-ROM, select the device, click on the
"Settings" tab, and make sure the "Auto Insert Notification" checkbox is
unchecked. [With a vanilla Win95 setup I got SCSI errors when AIN was off
for my CD-R but on for my CD-ROM, even if the CD-ROM drive wasn't in use at
If you're using WinNT, you can turn it off with the "TweakUI" program
available in PowerToys (available from the Microsoft web site at
http://www.microsoft.com/), or by modifying a registry key with Regedit32
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SYSTEM \ CurrentControlSet \ Services \ Cdrom \ Autorun
If your software automatically turns AIN off, and you can't figure out how
to turn it back on, the TweakUI program may be able to help. Check the
"Paranoia" settings. (Incidentally, if installing the Power Toys screws up
your icons, select "Rebuild Icons" from the "Repair" menu.) If you turn it
off and on again, You may have to reboot in some configurations before it
will work again.
Sidebar: the trouble with Auto Insert Notification is that it periodically
attempts to find a valid disc in the CD recorder. A blank disc isn't very
interesting to Windows, so nothing happens. When the table of contents is
written to the disc, it suddenly becomes interesting; and if Autorun or
Autoplay are enabled, enough activity is generated by Windows' attempts to
read the disc that the write fails.
Because it only affects CDs with actual data being written to them, a test
write won't end in failure. It can be very frustrating to have 100%
success with test writes and 100% failures with actual writes! With
disc-at-once recording, the process will abort very near the start of
recording, probably leaving an empty but useless disc. With track-at-once
recording, it will fail at the end, and you may still be able to finalize
the disc. Audio CDs will most likely work fine even if interrupted at the
end of the write process.
IMPORTANT: if you are using DirectCD for Windows, you must have AIN turned
*on*, or some things won't work quite right. The most obvious failure mode
is that long filenames aren't shown, but some reports indicate that data on
the disc can get trashed as well. This can make life interesting if you're
also using a conventional writing application, unless the application is
good about turning AIN off before writing. The other Windows applications
currently sold by Roxio (notably Easy CD Creator) will automatically
disable Auto-Insert Notification when appropriate and re-enable it
afterward, so you don't have to worry about AIN at all.
Subject: [4-1-2] What's all this about Win9x VCACHE settings?
One problem with Win95 is that by default the size of the file cache is
unrestricted. This means that all available memory will eventually get
filled up with file data, which will cause the virtual memory system to
start swapping out pages from executing applications. When something needs
to be executed from a page that has been swapped out, it takes time to pull
it back in off the disk. While this is happening, the CD recorder's buffer
could drain completely.
The procedure is simple:
(1) Open the file SYSTEM.INI with a text editor. This file is usually
(2) Find the section labeled "[vcache]".
(3) Add the following lines *after* the "[vcache]" line:
MinFileCache = 16384
MaxFileCache = 16384
(4) Save the changes to the file, and reboot.
The above values are recommended for a system with at least 64MB of RAM.
A common rule of thumb is to set "maxfilecache" to 25% of your RAM, up
to a maximum setting of 16MB. Because of (actual or perceived) bugs in
Win95, some people recommend setting "minfilecache" and "maxfilecache" to
the same value.
If you have an older system with only about 16MB of RAM, you might want
to use instead:
MinFileCache = 512
MaxFileCache = 4096
The [vcache] change has reportedly cured severe buffer underrun problems
with some versions of CDRWIN and removed popping noises during digital
audio extraction with Easy CD Creator. It's a good thing to do to any PC
running Win95. It's not necessary for WinNT. It's not clear whether this
will help with Win98, but it doesn't seem to hurt.
If you are uncomfortable tweaking your SYSTEM.INI file, try CacheMan at
http://www.outertech.com/. It allows you to modify the above settings,
and a few more besides.
Subject: [4-2] I can't get long Win95 filenames to work right
Typical symptoms can be described like this:
- Works fine in Win95 Explorer
- Under DOS the directories are visible, but instead of "dirname<tilde>1"
you get "dirname<tilde>57". Attempting to read them results in errors.
- Typing 'cd dirname~102' may fail while 'cd "Long File Names without the ~"'
The problem occurs when certain CD-R writing programs are used to create
the discs. The short and long forms of the filenames are sorted
differently, so some of the files can't be found. Using newer software
(e.g. Easy CD Creator 3 instead of Easy-CD Pro) should produce better
Subject: [4-3] I can't read the multisession CD I just made
The SCSI driver needs to believe that the CD-ROM drive can handle
multisession discs. Most likely you will need to update your SCSI drivers
before this will work.
(This problem was reported with an HP4020i and a Buslogic BT946C controller;
if you have an HP drive you should get the c4324hlp.vxd driver from the HP
web site. See section 6 for the address.)
One possible cause of this problem is writing a multisession disc in MODE-1
format. Some older CD-ROM drives incorrectly assume that a MODE-1 disc
can't be multisession, so they don't look for additional sessions unless
it's written in MODE-2 (CD-ROM/XA) format.
Also, if the final session on the CD isn't closed, standard CD players may
become confused (the NEC 6Xi certainly does under Win95). This doesn't
mean that the *disc* must be closed, just that the *session* must be
closed. (Actually, the NEC 6Xi doesn't like open discs either... sigh.)
A note on one of the Ricoh pages indicates that the Ricoh 1420C is unable
to read sessions smaller than 3 minutes (about 26MB) until firmware 1.6x.
Subject: [4-4] Write process keeps failing N minutes in
There's a couple of possibilities. One is that your data source can't keep
up with the CD-R; try using disc-at-once writing from a disc image with the
speed set to 1x. If it seems to be getting worse over time, you may just
need to defragment your hard drive.
If that fails, a number of people have discovered that the problem is a
faulty CD-R unit (similar behavior has been reported on Sony and HP units,
which have different mechanisms). You should try 1x writing from a fast
source and with different sets of data before contacting the manufacturer,
since they will likely tell you to do exactly that anyway.
Be sure that there aren't environmental factors creating difficulties.
CD-R units are usually built to handle small shocks, but having a set of
speakers playing loud music on the same table as a CD-R may cause it to
skip, resulting in a failed write. Sonic booms, heavy construction
equipment, and nuclear detonations may have similar effects.
It's also possible that you simply have a bad batch of media. Try a
different type and brand of disc. Some distributors (e.g. dataDisc) will
exchange media that's provably defective.
Be careful with Advanced Power Management functions on some PCs. If the
keyboard and IDE devices are completely idle, the system may decide that
nothing is going on and switch to a low-power mode. Ditto for screen
savers that kick in after the system has been idle for a certain period.
Subject: [4-5] Why did my CD-R eject and re-load the disc between operations?
CD recorders (and modern CD-ROM drives) have a chunk of RAM that holds
blocks read from the disc. Some drives provide a way to clear this out,
All drives need to have their block cache cleared out after writing
completes and before disc verification begins. If this weren't done,
the files being verified could be read out of the block cache instead
of from the disc itself, defeating the purpose of the verification pass.
Also, some CD recorders need to have their recording buffers explicitly
cleared between the "test" and "write" passes.
The most reliable, 100%-guaranteed-to-work approach is to eject the
disc and re-insert it. Watching your CD tray open and close can be
startling at first, but in general it's harmless.
Back in the early days of CD recording, the situation was a bit more
awkward. Caddy drives were the norm, so an ejected disc had to be
manually re-inserted. Some poorly-written CD recording software would
automatically start the "write" pass a few seconds after the "test" pass,
without waiting for the disc to be re-inserted, so you either had to be
paying close attention or set the "wait until told to continue" option.
Subject: [4-6] My CD-ROM drive doesn't like *any* CD-R discs
A very simple test is to take a CD that DOES work, copy it, and try both
(this ensures that your problems aren't being caused by, for example, a
drive that doesn't support multisession CDs).
Sometimes the firmware can be at issue. In one specific case, a Goldstar
GCD580B CD-ROM drive was able to read CD-Rs under Win95 but not MS-DOS
6.22. Upgrading the firmware from v1.01 to v1.24 solved the problem.
If it fails with different kinds of media, the CD-ROM drive either doesn't
like discs written with your recorder, or doesn't like CD-R media at all.
In one case, returning the CD-ROM for an identical unit resolved the
While there are stringent specifications for discs, there are no such
specifications for CD players and CD-ROM drives. They just have to play
the discs. If the disc and the drive are both marginal, you lose.
Subject: [4-7] How do I avoid having a ";1" on my ISO-9660 discs?
The ISO-9660 standard says the version number (a semicolon followed by a
number at the end of every filename) has to be there. Most operating
systems simply ignore it, so it's rare to actually see it outside of
data recovery software.
(Some pre-1998 Macintoshes had trouble with this. Look at "ISO 9660 File
Access" in the System:Extensions folder with Command-I. If the version
shown is 5.0 or greater, your system should handle the version numbers
just fine. If not, you should update your system software.)
If you can't find a way to work around it, "mkisofs" has an option to omit
the version number when constructing an ISO-9660 image.
Subject: [4-8] I keep getting SCSI timeout errors
This is was more common pre-2000, before IDE drives took over.
Check your cabling and termination (see section (4-17) for more advice
there), turn off features you don't need, and under Windows try disabling
Auto Insert Notification (see section (4-1-1)).
Subject: [4-9] I'm having trouble writing a complete disc
(This is for failures other than buffer underruns. For those, see
section (4-1) and perhaps section (4-4).)
If it's failing right as the disc is being finalized, and you're recording
in track-at-once mode, try recording in disc-at-once mode instead. It has
been suggested that some recorder+media combinations have trouble reading
the PMA (Program Memory Area, where a copy of the TOC is kept until the
disc is finalized) at the end of a write. With disc-at-once mode the
TOC is written early, so it doesn't have to get read out of the PMA.
See section (2-19) for the low-down on disc finalization.
Try letting the drive cool down (leave the machine off for a couple of
hours if you have an internal drive). Power up the machine and
immediately record the disc. Sometimes heat buildup can cause problems,
though this should not happen with modern (post-2000) drives.
Some older notes:
On Windows systems, check your ASPI layer. See section (4-44).
One user with an ATAPI recorder found that disabling DMA (from the Win98
peripheral properties) made things better.
This was happening frequently with the HP4020i running off an AdvanSys SCSI
card under Win311 (i.e. WfWG). The solution here was to remove IFSHLP.SYS
from the CONFIG.SYS. (IFSHLP.SYS is somehow involved with 32-bit file
access and network support, so you may have to disable both of these before
disabling IFSHLP. You may have better luck under Win95.)
Another user with the same setup found that doing power-up diagnostics and
device reset right before burning the CD helped.
Subject: [4-10] What's the CDD2000 Write Append Error / spring problem?
This seems to happen on Philips CDD2000-based units, such as the HP4020i,
usually a short while after the warranty runs out. The most common cause
is a spring that weakens with age, but it might also be due to lubrication
breakdown. After a while, the recorder starts failing when trying to write
beyond a certain point on the disc.
The ways of dealing with this range from minor system changes to the
placement of chicken entrails on selected components. Reducing the DMA
rate on the AdvanSys SCSI card (for the HP4020i) may help, buying better
SCSI cables and checking for proper termination may make a difference, or
even powering off and on again right before the burn. For some users,
however, the problem is mechanical rather than spiritual.
One user was told by Philips tech support that if error 50h (write append)
occurs, it means the drive has to be returned to the repair center. Other
users have been told that the error can occur when attempting to write an
empty directory or zero-length file. Under Easy-CD Pro '95, this is
reported as error 171-00-50-00 (see the Roxio web site for a complete
list of error codes).
If the fault is caused by the worn spring, it may be possible to fix the
problem by replacing the spring. This will definitely void your warranty,
and you shouldn't even think about trying this unless the only alternative
is to throw the drive away. Jonathan Oei posted some details about the
process (search for comp.publish.cdrom.hardware, subject "CDD2000 & Spring
Fix", on http://groups.google.com/), and a detailed description of the
procedure can be found on http://www.fadden.com/doc/fix-hp4020i.txt.
This procedure requires some special tools (mini torx drivers and really
fine jeweller's pliers), and involves disassembling much of the drive. If
you open up the drive and remove the circuit boards, you will see that the
laser writing assembly is moved by a DC stepper motor. The motor has a
plastic drive gear that is meshed with a plastic "rack" on the laser. The
spring in question is a piece of wire that pushes the rack against the
drive gear, so when it weakens the gear slips and the write fails.
Replacing the 0.012" wire with a 0.02" diameter wire solves the problem.
The high temperature in the drive may contribute to the breakdown of the
lubricants that allow the laser head to travel. You may be able to prevent
the situation by installing a fan.
This question is also covered in the HP4020i FAQ, available at
Subject: [4-11] Getting errors reading the first (data) track on mixed-mode CD
There's a 150-sector postgap at the end of the data track. Most programs
deal with this automatically, some older ones don't. If you're getting
errors, try subtracting 150 from the total number of sectors to read for
Subject: [4-12] My recorder ejects blank discs immediately
There are a few of possibilities, some software and some hardware.
It may be that the system is looking at the disc, not finding a TOC (table
of contents), and ejecting it as useless. One way to tell the difference
between the operating system rejecting the CD and the drive rejecting the
CD is to unplug the SCSI or IDE cable from the back of the CD recorder
before inserting the disc.
If the drive pauses for a little while before ejecting, it may be rejecting
the media. On some units you get a blinking warning light instead. If
this is happening, try a different brand of media.
If the problem is the operating system, you probably need to disable
certain features. Under Win95, disable auto insertion for all CD-ROM
devices (see section (4-1)). One user found that reinstalling Win95
helped. On the Mac, you may just need more recent drivers. On a Solaris
system, remove the recorder (probably the "cdrom" entry) from
If that doesn't work, make sure the CD-R drive is perfectly level.
Apparently some older (1996-ish) units were sensitive to being tilted at
an angle. Some users have had trouble when a CD-R has been on for a while
and has overheated, so if you only have trouble when the machine has been
powered on for a while, try putting a small fan above the unit to blow
air over it.
With some drives, improper SCSI termination can cause this behavior.
For the Yamaha CDR-200/CDR-400, this may be a sign that the drive has
broken down and needs to be replaced. See section (5-1-1).
If nothing helps, there's a strong possibility that the drive is mis-
aligned and needs to be serviced. This has been known to happen to drives
One user with a caddy-based drive reported problems when using the wrong
type of caddy. It has to be a Sony-type caddy, which is the kind most
commonly found in stores.
Subject: [4-13] I'm getting complaints about power calibration
The optical power output range of the laser in a low-speed CD-R is between
4 and 8 milliwatts. (By comparison, the read laser runs at about 0.5mW.)
High-speed recorders and CD-RW devices use a greater range, up to about
40mW for 48X CD-R. At the top end of the scale are DVD-R recorders,
which output around 100mW for 4x recording and 200mW for 16X recording.
CD-R and CD-RW discs have a section outside the standard recording area
called the Power Calibration Area (PCA) that is used to adjust the laser
for the brand of media you're using and the speed at which you're recording.
Power calibration errors indicate that the drive is having trouble
calibrating the power setting. The most common cause is incompatibility
with the media you're using -- if you just switched to a new brand or
batch of media, this is a likely culprit -- but it can also be caused by
a dirty lens or a dying recorder.
If you're seeing "power calibration area full", it means the recorder
ran out of space in the PCA area. There are 99 regions in the PCA area.
After 99 attempts to calibrate the power level, there won't be any
places left, and the recorder will report an error.
Try a few different kinds of media to see if the problem is an
incompatibility between your recorder and the discs you're using. If that
doesn't make a difference, there are a couple of things you can do to
mitigate the problem. First, you can try recording at a slower speed.
The recorder will use a different "write strategy", which usually means a
lower power level. Second, if you're storing the discs in a cold place,
you may want to try heating them up to slightly above room temperature
(placing them near a heating vent works). One user found that this helped.
If all else fails, and the drive is still in warranty, you should have
the drive checked by a repair facility. If it's out of warranty, or
there's no easy way to have it checked out, you can try cleaning it.
See section (3-30).
Some versions of the firmware for the Philips CDD2000 (and HP 4020i) will
report a power calibration error if you try to do a 1x write after a 4x
It's also good to verify, if your CD recorder is an internal unit, that
your power supply has enough capacity to run everything. Recent PCs
systems should have a 300W or better power supply.
One user found that his problems went away when he created an image file
with Easy CD Creator, quit out of the program, restarted it, and then
recorded from the image at a moderate speed. (Doesn't make much sense,
but if it works, use it.)
Subject: [4-14] My Adaptec 2940 pauses after finding my recorder
This was observed with a Yamaha CDR-100. The solution is to go into the
Adaptec BIOS (hit Ctrl-A during boot), and disable the "support removable
disks under BIOS as fixed disks" option and the "boot from CD-ROM" option.
Subject: [4-15] I can't see all the files on the CD-R
There's a couple of possibilities: either they aren't there, or they're
there but you can't see them. Looking at the disc from different machines
(e.g. Mac and PC) should give you some idea.
Out-of-date versions of MSCDEX have been known to "forget" certain files
when browsing a disc. If you're using DOS or are using the "real mode"
drivers from within Win95, make sure you're using the most recent version
Old versions of certain CD creation programs would occasionally omit things
when asked to burn a large number of files. These problems haven't been
reported for some time, however.
If you were burning a multi-session CD, read the next section.
Subject: [4-16] My multi-session disc only has data from the last session
A common mistake when burning a multisession CD-ROM is to forget to link
the files from the previous session(s) into the current one. This results
in a CD-ROM where you can see the new files but none of the old, unless
you have a program that lets you choose which session you look at.
Most recording applications these days will ask you if you want to preserve
the data from the earlier sessions, or will default to keeping it. Earlier
versions of the software either defaulted to throwing it away or didn't
support the feature at all.
The files themselves aren't really lost. Some programs are available that
will let you access the "lost" data, including IsoBuster (section (6-2-20))
and CD-R Diagnostic (6-2-6). Some CD recording software will allow you to
extract the data track from a specific session, which you can then access
with IsoBuster or WinImage (6-2-2).
A more transparent solution is to use a "session selector", such as the one
that ships with Roxio software. This lets you choose which session you see
in Windows explorer.
Some older CD-ROM drives had a "feature" that caused them to stop looking
for sessions after a certain point, so if you wrote too many of them you'd
"lose" the data from the last session rather than the next-to-last. This
is also curable with the above solutions, though you may have to use a more
Subject: [4-17] I'm getting SCSI errors
Good SCSI cables and correct termination are absolutely essential. SCSI
bus errors can cause buffer underruns or corrupted data (especially since
some vendors ship drives with parity checking disabled).
Bertel Schmitt wrote an excellent article on the ins and outs of proper
cabling and termination. The article can be found in text form at
http://www.fadden.com/doc/scsi-trm.txt. Granite Digital, a company
that makes high-quality cables and terminators, can be found at
If you're using an HP 4020i with the AdvanSys SCSI card, reducing the DMA
transfer rate may help.
Subject: [4-18] Why doesn't the copy of an audio CD sound the same?
There are actually two questions here, so I've split them into separate
sections. The most common problem is that the audio extracted to the hard
drive doesn't quite match the original.
Subject: [4-18-1] Why doesn't the audio data on the copy match the original?
Most problems are due to poor digital audio extraction from the source
media. Some CD-ROM drives will return slightly different data every time
an audio track is read. Others, like the Plextor line (e.g. 4Plex, 8Plex,
and 12Plex, but not 6Plex) will return the same data every time so long as
the source media is clean.
The most fundamental problem is that, if the CD is dirty, the error
correction may not be able to correct all of the errors. Some drives will
interpolate the missing samples, some won't.
Another problem some CD-ROM drives face is "jitter". See section (2-15)
See also section (3-3) on avoiding clicks in extracted audio, and section
(5-5) on which CD-ROM drives are recommended.
Subject: [4-18-2] The audio data matches exactly, why do they sound different?
Suppose you extract the audio track from the copy, and it's an exact binary
match of the track you wrote from your hard drive, but the CDs don't sound
quite the same. What then?
Most people don't notice any difference between originals and duplicates.
Some people notice subtle differences, some people notice huge differences;
on better CD players, the differences are harder to hear. Some say CD-R is
better, some say worse. While it's true that "bits are bits", there *are*
reasons why CD-Rs may sound different even when the data matches exactly.
An excellent paper on the subject is "The Numerically-Identical
CD Mystery: A Study in Perception Versus Measurement" by Ian Dennis,
Julian Dunn, and Doug Carson, presented to the Audio Engineering Society
in April 1997 (paper MOA-06). It's available for download in PDF form
at http://www.prismsound.com/m_r_downloads/cdinvest.pdf. The paper is
primarily concerned with why pressed CDs created at different plants or
with different methods sound different, but the observations are relevant
to CD-R as well.
The conclusions in the paper suggest that low-frequency modulations in the
disc affect the servo and motor electronics, causing distortion in the
analog outputs that are noticeable to a critical listener.
One prominent theory is jitter. This isn't the DAE "jitter" described
in section (2-15), but rather a timebase error. A good overview can be
found in the jitter article on http://www.digido.com/. A brief explanation
The digital-to-analog ("D/A") conversion at the output of the CD player
is driven by a clock in the CD player. The clock is tied into feedback
mechanisms that keep the disc spinning at the proper speed. If the digital
signal being read from the disc has irregular timing, small errors can
be induced in the output clock. Even if the CD player gets all of the
digital bits accurately, it will produce inferior results if the timing
of the bits on the disc isn't precise. Put another way, something has to
send a sample to the speakers 44100 times per second, and if it's speeding
up and slowing down many times each second your ears are going to notice.
There is some question as to whether the clock driving the output will
actually be affected by the input. If the output clock in the CD player
is isolated and stable, jitter from the CD will not affect it.
If you play a CD digitally (e.g. by ripping it and then playing it through
a sound card), the quality of the CD doesn't matter, because it's the
timing of the clock in the sound card that drives the D/A conversion.
It has been asserted that the clocking of bits on a CD-R isn't as precise
as on a pressed CD. Writing at different speeds on different types of
media requires adjustments to the "write strategy" (section (3-31)) that
can result in individual "marks" being sloppier than at other speeds.
This could account for inferior -- or at least different -- sound.
Yamaha believes they have found a partial solution for jitter problems
with their Audio Master Quality feature. See section (2-41).
There do not appear to be any carefully constructed (double-blind)
tests published on the web that confirm that jitter is the cause of this
phenomenon. The "Numerically-Identical CD Mystery" paper rejects jitter
as a possible cause.
Some people have asserted that *any* two CDs, pressed or otherwise, will
sound slightly different. Some claim to hear differences in identical
CDs from different pressing plants. The former is silly, but the latter
has a lot of anecdotal evidence to support it.
It's possible that a poorly-written CD-R will be harder to read and
result in more errors than a simple CD player can correct, resulting
in interpolation and audible differences. These effects, which can be
measured as C1/C2 error counts on many CD-ROM drives, don't show up in
disc scan results because the computer-based drive is built better.
The manual for the CDD2000 reportedly states that the drive uses 4x
oversampling when playing pressed CDs, but switches to 1x for CD-R.
This affects the quality of the D/A conversion, and can make an audible
http://www.mrichter.com/cdr/primer/losses.htm has some further thoughts,
including a table showing signal level differences.
An extremely technical introduction to CD reading is available at
http://www.tc.umn.edu/~erick205/Papers/paper.html. This may shed some
light on why reading audio CDs is difficult, as well as explain concepts
like aliasing and dither.
If you are finding your CD-Rs to be noticeably inferior, try different media,
different write speeds, a different player, or perhaps a different recorder.
There is some evidence that different brands of media and recorders may
work better for audio, but in the end it's a highly subjective matter.
Some people say CD-Rs sound worse, some people say they sound better (and
some people think vinyl records are still the best).
Subject: [4-19] Digital audio extraction of a track is shifted slightly
Some recorders don't correctly extract digital audio if the pregap of the
first track isn't exactly two seconds. A bug in the firmware causes the
drive to start extracting slightly past the start of the track, and stop
extracting slightly past the end. This can result in an audible glitch if
the music starts at the exact start of the track, and can cause the drive
to fail with an error when extracting the last track on the CD.
CDs that start at 00:02:32 (0 minutes, 2 seconds, and 32 blocks) are
surprisingly common. The problem can be worked around manually, by looking
at the output of Jeff Arnold's freeware TOC program (available from
http://www.goldenhawk.com/) and supplying "/start=" and "/end=" parameters
that adjust backward by the number of blocks in excess of two seconds.
For example, if the first track started at 00:02:32, you would subtract
32 from the starting and ending Logical Block Addresses.
A better solution is to use a CD-ROM drive that doesn't have this problem
(and most likely can extract audio more quickly than the CD-R can).
The Yamaha CDR-100/102 and the Philips CDD2600 are known to have this
problem, though it may get fixed by a firmware update. The Ricoh 6200S
reportedly does not return the disc's table of contents correctly for these
sorts of discs.
Newer recorders, and newer software, should deal with this situation
Subject: [4-20] I can't play extracted audio files by double-clicking in Win95
The default audio player in Win95 tries to load the entire file into
memory. When an extracted track is 40 or 50MB, and you don't have that
much RAM, Win95's virtual memory system starts writing pieces out to disk.
The disk thrashes, and you get nowhere.
There are several ways around this. If you right-click on the file
and select "properties", you will see a "preview" tab. This will play
it directly from disk. Another way is to use a different program.
One possibility is the Media Player, which is optionally installed
with Win95. You can make it the default WAV file player by selecting
View/Options from Win95 explorer, clicking on the "File Types" tab, and
choosing "Wave Sound". Double-click on Play and change the program name
from "sndrec32.exe" to "mplayer.exe", leaving the "/play" and "/close"
The WMA player in more recent versions of Windows should work correctly.
Subject: [4-21] I can't read an ISO-finalized packet-written disc
This problem is often experienced by HP7100/7110 users. HP chose to ship
packet-writing software with their drives rather than conventional
premastering software, leaving users with discs that couldn't be read on a
fair number of systems. (The HP7200 is the same drive, shipped with
updated firmware and a more complete set of software.)
The following is an excerpt from an Adaptec readme.txt file. It talks
about DirectCD, but the problem is inherent in all packet writing
"When the disc is in the native format used by DirectCD, you will
only be able to read the disc on a CD-R device running DirectCD.
This is a direct result of the technology used when writing to a
CD-R disc. In order to make the disc readable on a standard CD-ROM
DirectCD must write certain data to the disc. This provides
compatibility with many of the current drives on the market today.
Unfortunately, there are still a number of CD-ROM drives that
cannot read the packet written media that DirectCD produces. If
you experience problems in this area, you should go to System in
Control Panel, select Performance, File System, CD-ROM and set the
Access Pattern to "No Read-Ahead". If you still experience
problems after making this adjustment, it is likely that the CD-
ROM drive itself is having problems reading packet written media.
It should also be noted that there is an industry initiative
called MultiRead that addresses these issues and has the support
of all the major vendors of CD-ROM and CD-R/RW devices. This
initiative will eliminate the above problems and should be
available on all new drives."
If you want to share data between systems, and the remote system isn't
guaranteed to have a MultiRead CD-ROM drive, you should write the disc
with conventional software.
Subject: [4-22] I'm finding corrupted files on the CD-ROMs I write
There have been a fair number of people who have burned a CD-ROM only to
discover that, while they can read text files, run applications, and look
at graphics, they can't extract from .ZIP archives or run compressed
applications (e.g. some "Setup.EXE"s under Win95). A common complaint
is a dialog with "the file is not a valid win32 application".
The problem they're seeing isn't just corruption of .ZIP files though.
Most kinds of files have a lot of redundancy in them. If a single bit is
lost out of a long text file, the chances of it being noticed are very
slight. For an application, the chances of it causing a failure depend on
where in the file the error falls. For a compressed file, though, every
bit is significant, and in a .ZIP archive the CRC has a very high
probability of detecting errors. (CRC is cyclic redudancy check. Most
file archivers compute a 32-bit CRC on the uncompressed input and store it
in the archive. When you extract the files, the CRC is checked to ensure
that nothing has been damaged.)
Eliminating these errors could be as simple as replacing a bad SCSI cable.
One way to narrow the possibilities down is to try the disc in different
readers on different machines. If the same error shows up in the same
place, the error was introduced during writing rather than while reading
the data back. Another thing to try is to burn the same disc twice. If
the data written to the CD-Rs doesn't match the original, but they do match
each other, then the errors are happening in the same place every time,
rather than at random, so the trouble might be with a driver or firmware
instead of a flaky cable or bad RAM.
If a file appears to be getting corrupted on the CD-R, try copying it back
to the hard drive and then comparing it to the original. If possible, see
if the file is missing large chunks or just has sporadic damage
throughout. You can use the DOS "fc" command (e.g. "FC /B FILE1 FILE2")
or one of the fancier applications listed in section (3-22).
If you can identify the problem as being with the reader or the writer you
may be able to focus on just one part of your system. If the trouble
appears to be with your writer, and you can't get it to work, try to move
it to somebody else's system and see if it works from there. It's
possible, though unlikely, that the CD recorder is flaky.
Whatever the case, the place to start is to check all cables, connections,
SCSI termination, L2 cache, and RAM. One user with an otherwise properly
functioning system was able to fix the CD-R corruption problems by correcting
the RAM timings in the BIOS setup. Use a memory tester, such as "Memtest86"
from http://www.memtest86.com/, to look for bad RAM. A couple of others
found that their problems went away when they disabled the L2 cache on the
motherboard. Sometimes adding a new device will make cables (especially
longer ones) turn flaky. Sometimes the flakiness only affects one device.
Swapping the cables is inexpensive, easy, and very likely to root out
the cause of your problems. Section (4-17) has some tips on SCSI stuff.
If your problem is media compatibility, and the errors are a result of the
BLER (error rate) exceeding the error correction's ability to fix them,
then changing to a different brand of media might help.
One last thing: make sure the original files are valid before you go on a
wild goose chase!
Subject: [4-23] Having trouble playing an audio CD in a home or car player
There are a few possibilities. First and foremost is media compatibility.
Not all players get along with all brands of CD-R media. You need to find
a combination of recorder, media, and player that get along. Read section
(7-2) to learn more. A CD-R media identifier (like the one listed in
section (6-2-9)) can help you be sure that you're trying discs from
different manufacturers, but they aren't 100% reliable (section (2-33)).
If you're trying to use CD-RW media, your odds of success are worse than
with CD-R. CD-RW discs simply won't play on most CD players.
Another common problem is failing to close the disc at the end of writing.
You can't play an audio CD on a common CD player until the session has been
closed. You may be able to play it back with the CD recorder though.
Also, don't forget that you have to write all of the audio data into the
first session of a multisession CD. CD players don't know how to find the
later sessions, so tracks written there won't get played.
Sometimes the CD player will spin the disc up but won't start playing it.
Sometimes it will have no problem playing the tracks, but will have a great
deal of difficulty seeking between tracks or moving fast-forward. Using a
different brand of media or a different CD player may produce better results.
If you're getting skips and jumps, make sure that you don't have anti-skip
protection enabled. This is usually only available on portable or car
players, and you may not be able to disable it on car players. Car CD
players are notoriously picky about media. See also section (4-40).
One user with a Jensen car CD stereo was unable to use blanks immediately
after recording them. After a couple of days, the discs suddenly started
working. This "delayed finalizing" behavior appears consistently repeatable,
not a one-time event. Recording at 1x instead of 4x resulted in discs
that were immediately usable.
Some media works better at 1x, 2x, or 4x than it does at other speeds. You
may find that slowing down or speeding up the recorder helps.
If the disc plays okay at first and starts sounding bad later, or it
sounds okay on the first few tracks but gets noisy toward the end of
the disc, see section (4-47).
One reader reported that many CD players have a laser power adjustment that
can be tweaked to improve things. Fiddling with the insides of devices
you don't have manuals for is generally unwise, so don't go looking unless
Finally, remember that you have to write the disc in CD-DA format! If you
just write a bunch of .WAV files to a disc in CD-ROM format, it's not going
to work in your home stereo.
Subject: [4-24] Having trouble using a CD-ROM on a different machine
As with audio CDs, discussed in the previous section, there are several
possibilities. The media compatibility issues mentioned above apply to
CD-ROM as well.
If you're using CD-RW media rather than CD-R media, you have to be sure
that the CD-ROM drive in question is MultiRead compliant. Some older
drives are able to read CD-RW media, but most are not. Newer drives
should work fine.
If the disc was written using a packet writing application like DirectCD
(where you format a disc and then copy files directly to it, instead of
creating a disc layout and recording a whole bunch of stuff all at once),
some CD-ROM drives will stumble on packet boundaries. Refer to section
(4-21) for information and a possible workaround.
If a packet-written disc was closed in ISO-9660 Level 3 format, it won't be
usable on systems that don't support ISO-9660 level 3 (e.g. DOS). If the
disc was *not* closed as ISO-9660, and is still in UDF, you will need a UDF
driver; see sections (6-3) and (6-3-1) for an overview and pointers to free
drivers. If the failing system is running Windows XP, see
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=KB;EN-US;Q321640& for an
article on using UDF discs under XP.
Subject: [4-25] I can't copy a VideoCD
If you put a VideoCD (White Book) into your CD-ROM drive, you will see a
bunch of files and directories like you would on any other CD-ROM. In
fact, with the appropriate software installed, on some platforms you can
double-click on a file to play the video.
In practice, however, the video files are stored on separate tracks, using
CD-ROM/XA MODE-2 FORM-2. This allows more data to be stored on a VideoCD,
at the price of less error correction. If the video is short enough, you
may be able to copy the disc as a collection of files, but some players may
be unable to play back selections if the original disc had more than one
You need to use a program like Roxio's CD Copier or GoldenHawk's CDRWIN
to copy the disc track-by-track, preserving the mode of the original.
If your drive only supports track-at-once recording, you may have trouble
copying VideoCDs because the starting address gets shifted when the drive
writes a gap between tracks. NTI's CD-Copy (section 6-1-12) gives you the
option of dropping the last part of the previous track to preserve the
start position of the next track.
Note that MODE-2 FORM-2 holds 2324 bytes of data per sector, so instead of
a total capacity of around 650MB, you can put closer to 740MB on a disc.
If you don't record the VideoCD data files in the correct format, you will
find yourself running out of room. (The extra space is gained by throwing
out error correction codes that aren't necessary for video data. Writing
ordinary data in this format is not recommended.)
Subject: [4-26] The test write succeeds, but the actual write fails
This often used to be a problem with auto-insert notification being enabled
when it shouldn't be. See the discussion in section (4-1).
If you're using track-at-once recording, and the actual write is failing
when the disc is 100% complete and the TOC is being written, you may be
able to solve your problems by using a different brand of media. See
the notes in section (4-9).
One person supposedly fixed a similar problem by replacing the power
supply in their computer. Apparently the 200W supply wasn't enough to
handle everything that was connected to it, and the resultant "brown out"
may have been causing problems during writing.
Subject: [4-27] I can no longer erase a particular CD-RW disc
It's possible that the disc has developed a region that can't be erased.
More likely is that the software or firmware is acting up. If you're using
Easy CD Creator, insert a good CD-RW disc, and start the Erase process.
Just before you hit the final "OK" button to start the erase, swap the
troubled blank disc in place of the good one.
If this succeeds, you probably ought to run it through the erase procedure
one additional time before using it.
Super Blank, from http://www.ping.be/kris-schoofs/, reportedly accomplishes
the same thing without requiring a disc swap.
If this doesn't work, there is an (unconfirmed) report that a UV EPROM
eraser will do the trick. Experiments have shown that leaving the disc
out in direct sunlight for a couple of hours may also help. The resulting
disc won't be fully erased, but it may be "blank enough" that you can
then use Super Blank to finish the job. (Somebody else has reported that
polycarbonate is opaque to UV light, suggesting that the discs should be
left label-side-up if this is to work at all.)
If nothing at all works, make a careful examination of the write surface
of the disc. It's possible the disc is physically damaged and can't be
Subject: [4-28] Having trouble formatting discs with DirectCD
First off, see section (3-40) for an explanation of the different ways to
make a disc look empty. For conventional CD recording, you don't want
to format the disc at all.
If it's a CD-RW that you've used before, try erasing it first. If you
can't seem to do that either, see section (4-27).
One user with DirectCD 5.01 had troubles that went away by changing the
VCACHE settings from min=2048 max=6144 to min=0 max=10240. See section
(4-1-2) for information about the surprisingly important VCACHE settings.
It has been reported that some virus scanners, notably TBAV, can interfere
with the format process and should be disabled.
This was sent to me by Jac Goudsmit, regarding formatting CD-RW media
with DirectCD for Windows 2.0a:
"When [Roxio] DirectCD refuses to format a CD-RW for packet-writing, it's
possible that the disc is not completely blank. This may happen because you
chose the "quick" option when you last erased it. The quick-erase option
only erases the lead-in area to make the hardware and software think the
disc is empty. This is fine if you're going to use the disc for "normal"
writing as a CD-ROM, audio disc or whatever.
The packet-writing formatter in DirectCD 2.0a however (apparently) requires
the disc to be totally empty, so you really have to do a full erase if the
disc contained data previously.
BUT: there's another problem: after you do a full erase and shut down the
program you erase with (e.g. EasyCD Pro or Easy CD Creator) it's possible
that the DirectCD program won't recognize the disc as valid media, and you
still won't be able to format it, until you restart the computer.
Unfortunately this means that if you want to start using a previously
recorded CD-RW for packet writing, you'll have to wait a total time of at
least an hour and a half for the erase and format to complete..."
Subject: [4-29] I can't write CD-Rs after installing Windows 98
(Many users had trouble with Win98 shortly after it was released. These
problems can still arise if you re-install the original Win98.)
If you're using Easy CD Creator 3, try uninstalling it, rebooting, and
then reinstalling it. This seems to fix the problems for the people
reporting them. Doing the same for other software may have similar
beneficial effects. Apparently ECDC3 installs its own versions of some
system drivers (e.g. ASPI), which get overwritten when Win98 is installed.
Uninstalling and reinstalling the drivers puts the ECDC3-friendly versions
Make sure your ASPI (Advanced SCSI Programmer's Interface) layer is up to
date, even if you have an IDE recorder. See section (4-44).
Subject: [4-30] I can't use the copy of a CD-ROM after installing Windows 98
(This refers to systems upgraded from Win95 to Win98.)
This problem has been recognized by Microsoft. The resolution is posted on
The basic problem is that, after upgrading to Windows 98, copies of some
CD-ROMs (usually copy-protected games) will refuse to run, insisting that
you insert the original disc. Microsoft has recommended two methods for
resolving this issue. The first is to simply use the original disc.
The second recommendation is to make a new copy of the disc under Win98.
Why this works is unclear, and the Microsoft support pages aren't much
help. They only say that the behavior is not caused by a bug, but rather
"design changes in Windows 98". (It appears that using Win98 to write a
new session onto an existing disc will also cure the problem, but if you
aren't in the habit of leaving a new session open on copies of game discs,
this won't help you much.)
One possibility is that Win98 returns a value for the volume label that is
closer to what is actually stored (perhaps there was some sort of character
set conversion or truncation going on in Win95). Copy protected games
often check the volume label as a way of obstructing inexperienced software
Subject: [4-31] The disc I was writing with DirectCD is now unreadable
Start with http://www.mrichter.com/cdr/primer/udf.htm to get an
understanding of what DirectCD is doing.
A popular way to screw up DirectCD's UDF handling is to remove the disc
without letting the software finish up. You can accomplish this by rebooting
while it's working, attempting to disable it by doing something other
than uninstalling it (see section (3-45)), or by turning off auto-insert
If you have DirectCD 2.x, you may be able to recover the data with the
included Scan Disc utility. CD-R Diagnostic (6-2-6) and IsoBuster (6-2-20)
may also be able to recover data.
Rule of thumb: don't delete data off your hard drive until the disc is
finalized and verified readable. Too many bad things can happen when
writing to a disc.
Subject: [4-32] I'm getting a message about 100 form transitions
When attempting to copy certain discs, Easy CD Creator (as of v3.x) will
say something like:
"The current track contains more than 100 form transitions. Easy CD
Creator cannot handle more than 100 form transitions on a single track.
The disc cannot be copied."
This appears to be a form of copy protection, where a disc uses both FORM-1
and FORM-2 on a CDROM/XA MODE-2 disc.
One user reported that this only happens when trying to copy a Playstation
game by first copying the tracks to the hard drive. If you make a copy
directly from one disc to the other, the errors won't occur.
According to Roxio, the message can also occur if the source drive is
reporting more than 100 tracks on the disc, or if the source drive is
defective in some specific way.
Subject: [4-33] My system hangs when I insert a blank disc
You may have a bad installation of a CD recording program like DirectCD.
When you insert a blank disc, the software tries to identify it to give
you the opportunity to format it for packet writing.
If you have packet software like DirectCD or PacketCD installed, try
uninstalling it and see if the problem goes away. In some cases you
might need to get rid of windows\system\iosubsys\scsi1hlp.vxd manually.
Subject: [4-34] My CD-R discs don't work in my DVD player
Not all DVD players can handle CD-R media. See section (2-13).
Some players that don't work with CD-R discs will work with CD-RW discs.
If you're having trouble, try CD-RW media instead.
Subject: [4-35] I need help recovering data from a CD-ROM
Some diagnostic and recovery software is available:
- CD-R Diagnostic (6-2-6)
- IsoBuster (6-2-20)
- CD Data Rescue (6-2-22)
- BadCopy Pro (6-2-23)
- CDRoller (6-2-24)
If these can't help you, there are data recovery companies that might be
able to. Some examples:
- CD Recovery Services, http://www.cdrecovery.com/.
- Acodisc CD Data Recovery, http://www.acodisc.com/.
- CD Data Guys, http://www.cddataguys.com/.
Subject: [4-36] What does "not convertible to CD quality" mean?
Some applications, notably Easy CD Creator, can only do very simple
conversions on audio files. If you are trying to create an audio CD,
but the WAV file isn't 44.1KHz 16-bit stereo PCM, you will have to convert
it to that format with something like GoldWave (section (6-2-21)) before
you do the write.
Subject: [4-37] I inserted a CD-ROM but Windows thinks it's an audio CD
Sometimes a Windows system will get into a state where it thinks that a
CD-R or CD-RW data disc is an audio CD. This is very peculiar, since the
CD-ROMs aren't "enhanced" discs with both audio and data content. In some
cases the problem only happens with a CD recorder -- a CD-ROM drive in the
same machine will work correctly -- or vice-versa.
One situation where this is reported to occur is with a JVC XR-W2080 with
v2.06 firmware (or an equivalent OEM version). If you have the Roxio UDF
reader loaded, whether manually or as part of installing DirectCD 3.x, the
problem will occur. Removing the UDF reader, either with Add/Remove Programs
or renaming \Windows\System\Iosubsys\Udfreadr.vxd, is said to fix the problem.
Another occurrence has been reported with Toast 3.7 on a Mac. If a disc
was recorded with Toast as CD-ROM/XA instead of CD-ROM, Win98 would see
the disc as audio. Win95 and WinNT worked fine on the same disc.
One user found that replacing the IDE cable made the problem go away.
Another found that using MODE-1 rather than MODE-2 helped (check the
advanced recording options in your software).
Another user got the problem to go away by uninstalling "Wavelab".
Somebody else found that the problem went away on a SCSI device when
he disabled wide negotiation and limited the data rate to 16MB/sec.
Subject: [4-38] I get read errors when trying to copy a game
You are most likely running into copy protection. The game publisher has
placed "unreadable" sectors on the disc, in an effort to confound disc
Instructions for making "backups" of copy-protected games can be found
on the web. See also section (3-39).
If you don't believe the disc is protected, then it might simply be dirty
or scratched. You can try to clean the disc -- use a lint-free cloth,
wiping from the center out -- or see section (7-12) for notes on scratch
Subject: [4-39] Restarting or shutting Windows down after recording causes hang
This is a situation where recording discs proceeds without difficulty, but
the system hangs when you tell it to halt or restart. One possible culprit
is anti-virus software. Try disabling it and see if the problem goes away.
Subject: [4-40] Why do CD-Rs play poorly when anti-skip protection is enabled?
When a CD player is playing a disc without any sort of anti-skip protection,
it spins the disc at 1x, and attempts to correct whatever errors it gets.
If it can't correct them, it does the best it can and keeps going.
When an anti-skip feature (such as Sony's "ESP") is in use, the disc is
played at a faster speed (perhaps 2x), and when uncorrectable errors are
encountered, the failed section is re-read. Because it's reading faster
than it's playing, the player occasionally has to stop reading and wait for
the player to catch up. Because the disc is still spinning, this requires
seeking back along the spiral track to the point where the player left off.
A common symptom of media incompatibility is trouble seeking between tracks,
so the need for frequent seeking magnifies any problems that the player
is having with the disc.
The skip protection feature can usually be turned off on portables. On
car players you may have to find a brand of media that works better.
Subject: [4-41] I'm having trouble recording under Windows 2000 or WinXP
Make sure the software you're using supports Win2K or WinXP. Don't assume
that, just because it runs, everything will work correctly. You may need
to update to a newer version.
Under Win2K, you may need to be running as an Administrator equivalent
to record. The reasons for this appear to be access permissions on the
device, on certain registry keys, or both. Similar problems may arise
Installing Windows Media Player 7 in Win2K may mess up Easy CD Creator
and DirectCD. One solution is to uninstall and reinstall both, and make
sure ECDC is at 4.02c or later and DirectCD is at 3.01c or later. A simpler
solution involves a registry fix. For a complete discussion of the problem,
go to http://ask.adaptec.com/, and in the "Search all Products by Keyword
or Article Number" section enter "000726-0003", click on "Article #",
and press the "search" button.
IDE recorders may need to be the master device when used with ECDC under
Win2K. If you are having trouble with an IDE recorder, and it's not set
up as the secondary master, try configuring it that way.
Running ECDC v3.5c under Win2K is not recommended. Only Version 4.02 and
later are officially supported. For WinXP, you need version 5, and even
then you'll probably have trouble. See also section (4-49).
Installing WinXP Service Pack 1 may cause problems with DirectCD. The
solution is to uninstall and re-install DirectCD after installing the
WinXP SP1 update.
A few people were able to fix problems by disabling the in-built CD
recording features of WinXP. This can be turned off for each drive by
right-clicking on the drive in My Computer, selecting Properties, then
clicking on the Recording tab and disabling the appropriate checkbox.
A more thorough approach is to open the "Administrative Tools" control
panel and disable the "IMAPI Burning Service".
See also Microsoft Knowledge Base article #324129, "HOW TO: Troubleshoot
Issues That Occur When You Write Data to a CD-R or CD-RW Optical Disc in
Windows XP", at http://support.microsoft.com/?scid=kb;en-us;324129.
Subject: [4-42] I formatted a CD-RW and only have about 530MB free
This is the expected behavior when formatting CD-RW media for use with
Roxio's DirectCD packet-writing software. CD-RW discs are formatted
with fixed-size packets, which takes up more space but allows you to
erase individual files. With variable-size packets, you get to use more
of the space on the disc, but when you delete a file it is simply marked
as gone. The space is still in use.
To use variable-size packets on a CD-RW with DirectCD, format a CD-R with
DirectCD and then do an image copy from the CD-R to the CD-RW.
Packet writing programs from other companies may work differently.
Don't forget that it is only necessary to format a disc if you want
drive-letter access. Conventional pre-mastering and creation of audio CDs
should be done on unformatted discs. See section (3-40).
Subject: [4-43] My CD recording software keeps crashing
There are many possible reasons for this. Most people are quick to blame
the software, but sometimes the problem is elsewhere in their system.
First things first: make sure you have the latest version of the software
that is available. Perhaps you have found a bug that has already been
If you have overclocked your system, or tweaked it in a way that gains
performance at the expense of reliability, un-tweak it and try again.
Under Windows, make sure your ASPI layer is up to date. See (4-44).
Also under Windows, look for \Windows\System\Iosubsys\scsi1hlp.vxd.
If it's there, rename it to "scsi1hlp.vx_", so it won't get loaded.
Reboot and try again. (This file is required for compatibility with some
old SCSI hard drives. Occasionally it can intefere with other things.)
If your system looks good, contact the appropriate customer support center.
If you bought the software retail, contact the company who developed the
software. If it came with something else, and was distributed as an "OEM"
version, you may need to contact the vendor you got it from instead (see
section (6-8) for an explanation).
Subject: [4-44] Do I need to update my ASPI layer?
See http://www.mrichter.com/cdr/primer/aspi.htm for an introduction to ASPI.
Win2K and WinXP software can use an alternate set of interfaces (SPTI).
This avoids the whole issue of having ASPI drivers installed. Use of
SPTI is becoming more common.
Many people have solved problems by updating their ASPI layer. In the
past, it has been the first thing that customer service would ask you
to check. Adaptec makes it easy with a program called ASPICHK, available
(If it has moved yet again, do a google search for it.)
At any rate, according to Roxio, as of version 4.02 of Easy CD Creator
(ECDC), the ASPI layer is no longer used by their product. The necessary
bits are included in the application, so there's no need to check or
update the layer.
For non-Adaptec owners, there is a program (of questionable legality)
called "ForceASPI" that forces the Adaptec ASPI layer to install. Usually
Adaptec will ask sites to remove it, so it's a bit of a moving target.
http://www.mindspring.com/~tburke1/aspi.htm had a list of active sites,
and it can occasionally be found with a Google search. You can also try
Some other software uses and/or modifies ASPI -- poorly. Known examples
are some USB SmartMedia readers and the Creative Labs Infra system.
Updating the ASPI layer when one of these devices is present may be unwise.
It's unclear what interactions Windows ME has with ASPI.
As of September 2001, the Adaptec ASPI layer causes problems on Win2K and
should not be used. The LSI "w2kaspi" layer may work better; it can be
found at http://www.lsilogic.com/support/support+drivers/scsi/w2kaspi.html.
[At last check, the links in the page were broken.] WinXP may have
Subject: [4-45] The write process completes, but the disc is still blank
This problem has been reported by a number of people. The cause is
unclear. This has been known to happen suddenly to otherwise fully
functional CD recorders.
Models where this has been seen:
- Smart & Friendly 2224
- HP 9710
If this happens to you:
- Have you changed media recently? Perhaps your recorder doesn't
like the new blanks.
- Have you "upgraded" operating systems recently? Could be an OS
- Try at least one other piece of software (e.g. a demo version of
Nero or CDRWIN) just to see if something broke the software.
Subject: [4-46] My CD-RW drive doesn't work with my CD-RW blanks
If the disc is recognized but won't erase or format, see section (4-27).
One possible source of difficulty is there are different blanks for
"slow" recorders (1x - 4x), "high speed" recorders (4x-10x), "ultra speed"
recorders (12x-24x), and "ultra speed +" recorders. The disc manufacturers
had to change the way the discs were made to accommodate each successive
improvement, so older recorders don't work with the newer disks.
It is possible for some 4x-capable "slow" drives to use the "fast" blanks
with a firmware upgrade, but there is no advantage to doing so since you're
still limited to 4x recording (unless, of course, you're unable to find
"slow" CD-RW blanks).
CD-RW discs for the faster drives are labeled with a "High Speed",
"Ultra Speed", or "Ultra Speed +" logos. Make sure you buy the right blanks
for your drive.
A press release for Verbatim's Ultra Speed + 32x CD-RW discs is available
Subject: [4-47] Audio discs have crackling sounds on the last few tracks
A not-uncommon complaint is:
"I've made lots of audio CDs. They sound fine in my computer or home
CD player, but when I put them in the car they have lots of static."
A variation on the theme:
"...the static is only on the last few tracks."
Or, more rarely:
"...the discs sounded fine for a couple of weeks, and still sound fine
on most players, but they sound really bad now in the car. The more I
played them the worse it got, to a point."
There are a few things going on here. First and foremost is media
compatibility. The combination of recorder, player, and media just
isn't working. Unless you're willing to change your player, the easiest
thing to do is change the brand of media you're using.
The reason tracks out past the N minute mark (typically 40) sound worse
might be due to speed changes. For 1x audio playback the player is in CLV
mode, so the disc is spinning more slowly near the outside of the disc.
(You'd think that'd make it easier, not harder. Go figure.)
You should make sure that it's a problem with writing and not with reading
tracks near the edge. Try writing the tracks in a different order. A good
way to do this is to extract the tracks into WAV files with a reliable DAE
program (EAC, from section (6-2-12), works well). Play them from the hard
drive to make sure they extracted well, and then record them onto two CD-Rs,
using a different track order for each. If the problem is always on the
last track then the disc is being recorded poorly.
The slight deterioration of the media after being played a few times
isn't expected, but does seem to happen with some discs. It appears that
the compatibility between the discs and the player is marginal to begin
with, so a slight degradation in error rate on the disc results in a
dramatic increase in noise during playback.
Crackling noises have been associated with drives configured for PIO
mode rather than DMA. See section (5-15-1) for some information about
checking the DMA setting on the drive.
Subject: [4-48] Files in deep directories can be seen but not opened
The ISO-9660 standard allows discs with directories nested 8 deep. If
you try to go deeper than that, you may have trouble reading the files.
Win2K and WinNT4 seem to work, but Win98SE doesn't.
Programs like "mkisofs" can use the Rock Ridge extensions to work around
the problem. Directories are "re-rooted" at a higher level, and invisible
links are created from the deeper directories. Unfortunately, Windows
still doesn't support Rock Ridge.
The UDF format, used by packet writing applications, may (?) allow
deeper directories. However, not all systems can read UDF discs.
Subject: [4-49] My CD-ROM drive stopped working after uninstalling software
There is a problem with Roxio DirectCD 3.01/3.01c and Roxio Easy CD Creator
version 4.02c and 5.01. If you uninstall them from WinXP or Win2K, your
CD-ROM drive may stop working. It appears that VOB InstantCD/DVD and
Nero InCD can have the same effect.
Any CD-ROM drives will be inaccessible from My Computer, and the device
manager will show a "code 31", "code 32", or perhaps "code 19" message
for the drives.
The page at http://support.microsoft.com/support/kb/articles/Q270/0/08.ASP
describes the symptoms and the resolution of the problem.
Subject: [4-50] Audio CDs recorded from MP3s play back fast and high-pitched
Somebody described this as listening to songs recorded by Alvin and the
Chipmunks. What's happening is the software used to uncompress the MP3
files is doing a poor job, and the uncompressed data is effectively being
recorded at a lower sample rate. When the CD player tries to play it
back at 44.1KHz, it sounds like the artists are inhaling a crude mixture
of amphetamines and helium.
This has been reported with Easy CD Creator v4.05 and v5, NTI CD Maker 2000+,
and something called Orion Liquid Burn.
The work-around is to expand the MP3 files into 44.1KHz 16-bit stereo
PCM WAV files on your hard drive, and record from those instead of from
the MP3s. Use a decoder/player such as WinAmp (http://www.winamp.com/)
or a sound editor to convert the files.
Subject: [4-51] Windows says access denied, can't create or replace file
Sometimes, when trying to copy files onto a disc from Windows explorer, you
get a message to the effect that it can't create or replace a file because
access is denied or the disc is full. Some not-so-helpful suggestions about
checking write protection and making sure the file is not in use are offered.
This most often happens when trying to use DirectCD with an unformatted disc.
A common way to cause this is to disable the DirectCD user interface
with msconfig or a similar utility (a mistake -- see section (3-45)),
which prevents the "do you want to format this disc" dialog from coming up.
The solution is to let DirectCD format the disc. If you don't see the CD
icon in the system tray (usually the lower-right corner), you will need to
re-enable it. Under Win98, click on the Start button, select "Run...", type
"msconfig", and click "OK" to bring up the System Configuration Utility.
Now click on the Startup tab and make sure that anything with the word
"DirectCD" in it is enabled. Under Win2K, click on Start, Settings, Control
Panels, Administrative Tools, then Computer Management. When the program
opens, in the left-hand pane click on System Tools, System Information,
Software Environment, then Startup Programs, and make sure DirectCD
is present. If not, you may need to re-install.
If the above doesn't seem to help, or you're not using DirectCD, you
may be able to manually format a disc. How you do this depends on what
software you're using. For example, HP DLA has a utility available from
their CD recording application that lets you format a disc or close it to
See section (3-40) for more information on formatting CD-R and CD-RW media.
In some rare cases, after formatting a CD-R or CD-RW disc for packet writing,
Windows still claims the disc is full when you try to copy files onto it,
or complains that the disc is "locked or protected". This can happen
after files have already been copied onto the disc.
This error message can apparently also occur when trying to copy files
*from* a CD-RW that has been previously written to.
The problem is rare and isn't well understood. It has been reported with
DirectCD 3.x (part of ECDC Deluxe 5.x) under Windows XP. Another instance
of "locked or protected" was reported under Win98. In any event, start
by checking the "msconfig" situation described above. This *might* also
be a media compatibility issue, so if it happens it might be worthwhile
to try different brands of media.
If the disc was closed to ISO-9660 format, you will need to reopen it.
A similar complaint comes up when you try to delete files from a disc without
having packet writing software installed. You can't delete individual files
from a disc written with conventional pre-mastering. See section (6-3).
Subject: [4-52] I can't see any files on a CD-R or CD-RW from MS-DOS
If the disc was created with a packet writing program (like DirectCD
or HP DLA), it will either be in UDF or ISO-9660 Level 3 format. Either
way, you're not going to be able to see files on the disc from DOS.
You need to use a more modern OS, such as Windows or Linux, or create
the disc with a conventional premastering application like Nero.
Some backup programs, such as Symantec Ghost, use packet writing when
backing up to CD-R. The software runs under DOS, but uses a special driver
to create and access the backup data. You can see the files from Windows,
but won't be able to get at them from DOS.
Subject: [4-53] My OS doesn't support ISO-13346 "UDF"
The UDF filesystem is based on the ISO/IEC 13346 standard, now ECMA-167,
and remains compliant to that standard. Anything that knows how to read
discs conforming to ISO-13346 should be able to read UDF discs.
When some Windows owners have inserted an older disc written with UDF
(using one of the drag-and-drop approaches like DirectCD, InCD, or HP DLA)
they received a message like this:
"This disc contains a "UDF" file system and requires an operating system
that supports the ISO-13346 "UDF" file system specification."
This seems to be happening primarily with CD-RW media. It's not really
clear what's going on.
In theory, installing a UDF reader will solve the problem. Recent versions
of Windows come with UDF support, so it shouldn't be necessary to do
anything to get the disc to work. However, the problems persist.
One possibility is that the disc isn't using a quite standard version of
UDF, and the reader is having difficulty. Installing the software that
created the disc in the first place will help.
When exchanging data, "closing" the disc to ISO-9660 format can help avoid
Subject: [4-54] Why don't I get disc and track titles on my CD-Rs?
The disc and track names are not stored in the disc TOC (Table Of
Contents). In many cases, they are not stored on the disc at all.
Programs like Apple iTunes generate an identification number from a CD,
usually based on the number and length of the tracks (measured down
to 1/75th of a second), possibly taking a "fingerprint" of the audio
data itself. The program queries an Internet database for a match.
For a commercially-produced audio CD, chances are good that somebody
has already entered the data, so when you insert your CD the computer
recognizes it immediately. In rare cases you may be asked to choose
between one or more discs, because it is possible for more than one disc
to map to the same identification number (referred to as a "collision").
If you make an exact copy of a CD, the track positions and lengths are
unchanged, the same identification number is computed, so the disc will
be identified correctly. If you add, remove, or rearrange tracks, the
number changes, and the disc will not be recognized.
The only common way to add titles to a CD is to use CD-Text (3-28).
Support for this is present in most CD recording applications, but is
usually not enabled by default. Some CD player software will use the
CD-Text data if the disc can't be found online, others won't. A different
mechanism for specifying disc and track info was defined for CD Extra,
but it's not widely supported.
Adding personal "mix CD-Rs" to public databases is discouraged, because
it increases the chances that two discs will "collide". Programs like
iTunes will usually keep a local database with disc information for your
private collection, and will allow you to edit the ID3 tags embedded in
the MP3 files.
See also section (3-7).
Subject:  Hardware
The numbers after the model name (e.g. "CDR-102 (4x2/512K)") refer to the
read and write speeds of the unit and the size of the write buffer. "4x2"
would be a double-speed writer that's also a quad-speed reader. If it just
says "?x2", the write speed is double-speed and the read speed isn't known
(but presumably is at least 2x). Buffer sizes written with a '+', e.g.
"2MB+", indicate that the buffer can be expanded further.
If the recorder can write to CD-RW media, the specification will include a
third value, e.g. "6x4x2/1MB" would be a drive that reads at 6x, writes to
CD-R media at 4x, and writes to CD-RW media at 2x.
Some manufacturers present the speed ratings in a different order, often
write/rewrite/read. Some drives that support reading of DVD-ROM will
be written write/rewrite/read/dvd-read. There is no standard approach.
Many units are repackaged versions of other manufacturer's devices,
sometimes with slight changes in the firmware. Value-added retailers have
been known to switch to a different manufacturer's drive without notice, so
don't assume that everything here is accurate.
The interface is listed for each drive. "SCSI" means any form of SCSI
(SCSI-2, SCSI-3, wide, narrow, ultra, etc). IDE means any ATAPI interface
(e.g. Ultra-DMA/33). USB (1.x or 2.x), parallel-port, FireWire, and PCMCIA
refer to interface styles for external drives (which are usually just
internal ATAPI devices placed inside an enclosure with a power supply
and an ATAPI converter).
Many of the models listed have been discontinued in favor of newer models,
and some of them have yet to be released, so you will probably not be able
to find all of the models listed here for sale.
If you're new to SCSI, take a look at the comp.periphs.scsi FAQ,
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/scsi-faq. It covers both novice and advanced
questions. If you want specs, try http://www.t10.org/.
A wealth of information on Enhanced IDE and other storage technologies
is available from http://thef-nym.sci.kun.nl/~pieterh/storage.html
If you want to debate the merits of SCSI vs EIDE, please read
Some brief notes: ATA (AT Attachment Interface) is the official name
for IDE (Integrated Drive Electronics) interfaces. ATAPI is the ATA
Packet Interface, commonly used for controlling CD-ROM and tape devices.
The ATA-2 changes grew out of vendor-specific "Enhanced IDE" implementations.
There have been subsequent enhancements (ATA-3, ATA/ATAPI-4, etc).
Subject: [5-1] Which CD recorder should I buy?
There are no absolutely perfect recorders, but some drives are better than
others. The best are listed below, and the risky propositions are
identified with "CAVEAT EMPTOR" warnings in the individual sections. In
cases where a unit is built by company A and repackaged by company B, the
warnings are listed with the original manufacturer (company A).
http://www.storagereview.com/ has links to reviews of storage devices,
including CD recorders. http://www.cdrlabs.com/ has reviews of both
hardware and software products.
This section used to list specific models that were highly regarded.
The manufacturers are coming out with new models so quickly that it's
impossible to keep up in an FAQ that is updated monthly. The list of
older models is below. See section (8-4) for a list of sites that carry
news articles about newly released products.
As of late 2001, the most commonly recommended manufacturers (in no
particular order) were:
- Plextor (5-1-21)
- Sony (5-1-2)
- Yamaha (5-1-1)
Many manufacturers resell the units made by these companies. In some
cases the reseller will do nothing more than change the decal on the
front, in others they may rewrite the firmware.
If you have specific needs, you should verify with the manufacturer that
the drive will do what you want. All computer-based recorders can create
audio CDs and CD-ROMs, but some have additional features and some are just
plain better at it. If you want a drive that works well with a specific
piece of software, e.g. CloneCD (6-1-49), then you should check the web
page for that software to see which drives they recommend.
Some older models that would be worth having are listed below. As of
October 2001 this list is no longer being updated.
- HP 9700
- HP 9900
- Sony CRX1600L
- Yamaha CRW2200
- Sony CRX160E (often as HP 9500/9600)
- Plextor PX-W1610TA
- Sanyo CRD-BP1400P
- Teac CD-W512E
- Yamaha CRW8824
- Yamaha CRW2100
- Plextor PX-W1210T
- Plextor PX-W124TS
- Ricoh MP-9060A
- Sony CRX145E (often as HP 9300i)
- Sony CRX140E (often as HP 9100/9200)
- Ricoh MP-8040SE
- Ricoh MP-7060
- Plextor PX-R820T
- Plextor PX-W8220T
- Plextor PX-R412C
- Yamaha CRW-8424S
- Yamaha CRW-6416S
- Sony CRX120E (often as HP 8200i)
- Sony CRX100E (often as HP 8100i)
- Sony 948S
- Teac CD-R56S
- Panasonic CW-7501/CW-7502/CW-7582 (often as Matsushita or Compro 7502)
- Sanyo CRD-R800S (often as Smart & Friendly CD Rocket 8020)
- Ricoh MP-7040A
- Ricoh MP-6200/MP-6200I/MP-6201S (also as Philips OmniWriter/26 and /26A)
- JVC XR-W4080 (also as Creative CDR4224)
- Goldstar CED-8042B
- Philips CDRW404
- Yamaha CRW-4416
- Yamaha CDR-100/CDR-102 (also as S&F 4000/S&F 1004)
- Sony 920S/940S (also as S&F 1002/2004)
- Teac CD-R55S
- Teac CD-R50S (a/k/a Teac 4x4)
- Philips CDD3600 (also as HP 7100/7200)
- Yamaha CRW-4001/CRW-4260 (also as Smart & Friendly 426) and CRW-2260
- Wearnes CDRW-622 (also as Memorex CRW-1622 and Dysan CRW-1622)
- Ricoh RS-1420C (also as Turtle Beach 2040R)
- Philips CDD2600 (also as HP 6020i, but w/o packet writing)
- Philips CDD522 (also as Kodak PCD225)
Computer-attached recorders are discussed in the next few sections.
Stand-alone audio recorders are discussed in section (5-12).
The model numbers are important! Sometimes the older or newer models from
the same manufacturer aren't as good. The units listed were considered
independently from the software that they were bundled with, and it may be
necessary to buy additional software to get the full value from the drive.
External drives were traditionally preferred to internal drives because
of heat problems, but this is only a minor concern for current models.
External models do have the advantage that they can be moved between
machines, and even between platforms. Most if not all SCSI models will
work on both Macs and PCs, as should USB recorders.
I'm not currently listing stand-alone recorders like the "CD Blaster" or
"CD Dupe-It", which are boxes with a CPU, CD-R, and hard drive that can
duplicate CDs without tying up a full machine. Most of these low-end CD
production boxes are off-the-shelf hardware and software packaged into a
single unit, so listing them separately doesn't make much sense. Besides,
they're not of much interest to the average user. Interested users can
find some relevant URLs in (5-19).
Subject: [5-1-1] Yamaha
CDR-400 (6x4/2MB;SCSI; 'c' is caddy, 't' is tray, 'x' is external)
CRW-4416 (16x4x4/2MB; 'S'=SCSI, 'E'=IDE)
CRW-8824 (24x8x8/4MB; 'S'=SCSI, 'E'=IDE, 'F'=Firewire, 'X'=external)
CRW-2100 (40x16x10/8MB; 'S'=SCSI-int, 'SX'=SCSI-ext, 'E'=IDE, 'IX'=Firewire)
CRW-2200E (40x20x10/8MB; 'SX'=SCSI-ext, 'E'=IDE, 'IX'=FireWire, 'UX'=USB)
CRW-3200 (40x24x10/8MB; 'SX'=SCSI-ext, 'E'=IDE, 'IX'=FireWire, 'UX'=USB)
[ Yamaha departed the optical storage market in February 2003. ]
It has been reported that the CDR-102 is the same mechanism as the CDR-100,
but with the 4x writing feature disabled. There is no known way to convert
it into a 4x writer. Similar speculation has been made about the CDR-200
and CDR-400, and in fact some people have claimed success. Learn all about
R621 at http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Bay/7023/index.html (or
http://home.t-online.de/home/christoph.dittenberger if you prefer German).
It may also be possible to convert a 2260 into a 4260 with the same method,
as well as the 2216 into a 4416.
Yamaha CDR-100 and CDR-102 units have problems doing digital audio
extraction on some discs. See section (4-19).
Yamaha CDR-100s with firmware version 1.08 may experience problems when
recording audio (e.g. a click at the end of tracks recorded with the "copy
prohibit" flag set to "off"). Upgrading to version 1.10 is recommended.
Since the CDR-100 and CDR-102 units don't have flash ROM (and apparently
the upgrade involves more than just changing a ROM chip), the drive needs
to be sent back to the dealer for the upgrade.
The CDR-100 reportedly works best when writing in 4x mode, and may produce
poor results when used to write at 2x or 1x.
The current firmware versions for the older Yamaha drives is v1.12 for the
CDR-100 and v1.01 for the CDR-102. The change was to "allow mastering in
Blue Book specs". If you aren't having problems, don't get the upgrade.
The Yamaha CDR-400 is somewhere around 1.0g.
The CDR-400 is flash upgradeable, and supports packet writing. The tray on
the CDR-400 has been described as "flimsy". The tray eject moves quickly
for the first half and then slows considerably; this is normal.
The CRW-4001/CRW-4260 runs rather hot. External units or extra cooling
fans are recommended.
Some older Yamaha models apparently don't do disc-at-once recording.
However, they will do session-at-once (SAO), which is as useful for
most things and essential for multisession mixed audio and data discs.
With the right software this isn't a problem.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - Yamaha CDR-200/CDR-400. Reports of units breaking down
after a few months have been persistent. It appears that, unless the units
are kept well-cooled, they will start rejecting discs after a month or two
of use. The drives work very well otherwise, and one customer was told
that the CDR-400AT model was a sturdier version.
(It may be possible to fix the drive by tightening some screws and
adjusting some poorly-seated heat sinks on chips.)
Subject: [5-1-2] Sony
CRX100E/CH (24x4x2/1MB;IDE) and CRX100E/X (6x4x2/1MB;USB)
CRXP-90MU (24x24x10/8MB;USB2.0, also reads DVDx8, portable)
CRX1600L "i.LINK" (32x12x8/4MB;FireWire)
CRX175A/A1 (40x24x10/2MB;IDE, /A2 is USB)
DRX120A (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, DRX120L is ext. FireWire, also writes DVD+R/RW)
DRU128A (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, also writes DVD+R/RW)
DRU500A (32x24x10/8MB;IDE, also writes DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW)
DRU510A (32x16x8/8MB;IDE, also writes DVD+R/RW and DVD-R/RW; UL is USB2.0)
CRX195A1 (48x40x12/2MB;IDE, CRX1950U is external USB2.0)
CRX210A1 (48x48x12/2MB;IDE, CRX2100U is external USB2.0)
MPD-AP20U (24x24x10/?MB;USB2.0/1.1, also reads DVDx8 and plays DVD to TV)
CRX300A (48x48x24/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx16)
CRX320A/U (52x52x32/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx16)
[ There are also a number of DVD recorders that also record CD-R/RW ]
The CDW-900E has a separate connector that allows multiple "slave" drives
to be daisy-chained, allowing multiple CD-Rs to be written in parallel.
The Spressa 9211 is a 920 in an external case, the 9411 is a 940 in an
external case, and the 9611 is a 926. The 940S drive is actually a 924S;
the 940S designation refers to the complete bundle (software, cables, etc).
Looks like each unit can be referenced by three different numbers.
Some people have criticized the CRX100E for being unable to write more than
about 78 minutes on an oversized (e.g. 80-minute) blank, and being unable
to "overburn" a disc without resorting to swap tricks. It appears that
firmware v1.0n removes this limitation.
Some older Sony drives have a special "recover" feature, accessible from
programs like Easy-CD Pro '95. This allows recovery of the CD-R media
after certain classes of failed writes.
All Sony drives can do packet writing.
Firmware for some models can be hard to find.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - CDU926 and CDU928. Believe it or not, the CDU926 and
CDU928 don't support disc-at-once recording (see section (2-9) for a
description). Instead they use "variable-gap track-at-once", which allows
TAO audio recordings with barely perceptible gaps between tracks. Some
popular software packages aren't as useful when disc-at-once isn't
available, so people considering these drives should carefully consider how
they plan to use them.
(All other Sony units do support DAO.)
Subject: [5-1-3] Smart & Friendly
See http://tech.smartandfriendly.com/ (some ROM upgrades)
CDR1002 (2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU920S)
CDR1004 (4x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-102)
CDR2004 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Sony 940S)
CDR2006 "Pro" (6x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Sony 926S)
CDR2006 "Plus" (6x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the JVC XR-W2020)
CDR4000 (4x4/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-100)
CDR4006 (6x4/2MB;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-400)
CD-RW226 "Plus" (6x2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the JVC XR-W2042)
CD-RW426 (6x4x2/2MB;IDE, based on the Yamaha CRW-4001/4260)
CD SpeedWriter 4012 (12x4/1MB;SCSI, based on the Teac CD-R55S)
CD SpeedRacer (16x4x4/2MB;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CRW-4416S?)
CD Racer 2x2x24 (24x2x2/2MB;IDE, based on the JVC XR-W2080)
CD SpeedWriter Plus (24x4x2/2MB;IDE (SCSI for ext), based on the JVC XR-W4080)
CD TurboWriter (24x6/2MB;SCSI, based on the Teac CD-R56S)
CD Rocket 8020 (20x8/2MB;SCSI, based on the Sanyo/Caravelle CRD-R800S)
CD Pocket RW (20x4x4/2MB;PCMCIA-2, based on ??)
CD Rocket RW (20x8x2/2MB;SCSI, based on ??)
CD SpeedWriter RW (24x4x2/?MB;SCSI, based on JVC XR-4424?)
CD TurboWriter RW (24x6x4/2MB;SCSI, based on Ricoh 7060A?)
CD CpeedWriter 32 (32x4x4/2MB;SCSI, based on Teac CD-W54E)
CD Rocket Mach 12 (32x12x4/4MB;SCSI, based on Sanyo CRD-RW2?)
All models are recorders built by major manufacturers, repackaged and
supported by Smart & Friendly.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - the company apparently went bankrupt in mid-May 2000. See
the article at http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2597858,00.html.
The web page was still running as of August 2000, but got changed to a
pointer to justdeals.com after JustDeals bought up S&F's inventory.
Subject: [5-1-4] Philips
See http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Bay/6893/ (2600/3600)
CDD3600 (6x2x2/1MB;SCSI) and CDD3610 (IDE)
CDRW200 (24x2x2/2MB;IDE, based on JVC XR-W2080? repackaged CDD3801?)
CDRW400 (16x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on Yamaha 4416E)
The CDD521 (2x2/256K) is an ancient model; if you use one, the firmware
upgrade is strongly recommended (but nearly impossible to find these
days). Some information that may be of use to CDD521 owners can be found
The Omniwriter/26 and /26A appear to be repackaged Ricoh 6200 and 6200I
OEMs. In Europe, the 3600 is packaged in a kit as the PCA350RW, the 3610
as the PCA362RW, and the 3610 with a parallel-port interface comes as the
PCA363RW. The CDRW400 might be packaged as the PCA460RW.
The CDD522 does not support reading of subcode-Q data. The CDD521, CDD522,
and Kodak-labeled PCD225 have a sensor that can read the barcode data from
the inner ring on a CD.
See the HP section for comments about the CDD2000 firmware. The firmware
is kept in flash ROM, so it can be updated with software obtainable over
the net. You should be at version 1.25 or later for best results.
Digital audio extraction may not work correctly at higher than 2x on the
CDD2600, especially near the end of the disc. Philips has acknowledged
that audio CDs and packet-written CDs may not read correctly at 6x, but
many users have had problems at 4x as well. It may also suffer from the
block offset problem described in section (4-19). The CDD2600 supports
packet writing, but is NOT flash upgradeable.
The CDD2600 may share the HP 6020i's difficulties with pressed CD-ROMs that
have a small amount of data on them.
The initial release (firmware v1.0) of the 3610 was unable to create audio
discs reliably using disc-at-once recording. Firmware v2.02 fixed this and
some other problems.
Philips' drives, notably the CDD2600, have been shown to hang on some
Amigas if SCSI disconnect is enabled and you try to read the session
information from a multisession CD. Philips does not believe this problem
happens on PCs, and consequently has declined to investigate further. If
you are experiencing hangs when examining multisession CDs, try turning
SCSI disconnect off for the CD recorder.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - CDD2000. Some users of Philips CDD2000 and derivative
units (like the HP4020i) have reported that the drives went bad over a
short period of time, often 1 to 3 months. While these cases represent the
minority of users, reports have been persistent. People with the technical
skills (and bravery) required to replace a spring and/or lubricate inside
the unit have reported good results (see section (4-10) for details). If
you buy a CDD2000-based unit -- of which there are many -- be sure the
dealer or manufacturer is aware of this problem and is willing to fix or
exchange the drive should problems arise.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against Philips on behalf of owners of
the CDD2000 and CDD2600. The case was eventually settled, with Philips
agreeing to compensate the members of the class, either by replacing the
defective drive with a newer model (which, unfortunately, was IDE instead
of SCSI) or paying money to those who had bought a replacement drive and
could document the expense.
Subject: [5-1-5] Hewlett-Packard (HP)
4020i (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2000) (#C4324)
6020 (6x2/1MB;SCSI, based on Philips CDD2600; i)nt, e)xt, p)arallel) (#C4325)
7100i/e (6x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on Philips CDD3610; 'i' is IDE (#C4353A),
'e' is parallel (#C4358A))
7500i/e (24x2x2/2MB;IDE, see note below, parallel 'e' model is 6x2x2)
8100i (24x4x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Sony CRX100E)
8200i/e (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on a Sony CRX120E; 'e' is 6x-read USB)
8250i (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, see note below)
9100i (32x8x4/4MB;IDE, see note below)
9200i (32x8x4/4MB;SCSI, based on Sony CRX140)
9300i (32x10x4/4MB;IDE, based on Sony CRX145E)
9500i (32x12x8/4MB;IDE, based on Sony CRX160E?)
9600i (32x12x8/4MB;SCSI, based on Sony CRX160S?)
9700i (40x16x10/8MB;IDE, based on ??)
9900i (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx8, based on ??)
cd12i (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
cd16i (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
cd24i (40x24x10/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
dvd100i (32x10x12/2MB;IDE, writes DVD+RW, based on Philips ??)
cd52i (52x52x32/?MB;IDE, 'e' is external)
The 7110 is identical to the 7100, but comes with an extra piece of
software and is only available in the USA. The 7200 is a 7100 with updated
firmware (2.x) and Easy CD Creator included. The 8110 is the same as the
8100 but with a bunch of extra software; ditto for 8210 vs 8200. The
6020ep appears to be the external SCSI drive with a parallel-to-SCSI
converter. It's usable as a SCSI device as well. The 71XXe drives are
71XXi drives with a parallel-to-IDE converter. The 7500 series is often
packaged as 7550 or 7570 (though these are now listed as having only 1MB of
buffer, so it's not clear what's going on).
There are indications that HP shipped two different drives as the 8250, both
with the same read and write speeds. The first was the Philips CDD4201,
identifiable by about 18 tiny horizontal indentations along the bottom of
the face, with a hinged "drawbridge" loading door. The second was the Sony
CRX120E, which has 4 horizontal indentations along the bottom of the face,
and no hinged door. The popular consensus is that the Philips versions
are problematic. It may be possible to tell the boxes apart using a code
on the barcode label: C4464A for Philips, C4464B for Sony. (It appears
there may even be a third variety: HP is rebadging Mitsumi 4804TE in their
Pavilion 6648C computers. There doesn't appear to be an HP model number
associated with the drive though, so it may not actually be sold as an 8250.)
It now appears that some 8250i drives are 32x4x4/4MB; these are actually
Sony CRX140E drives (32x8x4/4MB) with firmware that limits them to 4x
recording. It has been reported that, if you can get the HP9100i firmware
onto the drive, it will record at 8x.
There are similar indications for the 7500, which appears to have originally
been a JVC XR-W2080, but is now a Sony CRX100E with a reduced maximum
write speed. Drives based on the Sony mechanism can reportedly be
flashed with the Sony CRX100E firmware update and upgraded to 4x recording.
Most 9100 uints are based on the Sony CRX140, but there are indications
that units identifying themselves as "9100b" is actually a Goldstar
The initial release of the 7100/7110 was unable to create audio discs
reliably with disc-at-once recording. The 2.02 firmware upgrade fixes
Some people have criticized the 8100i (same as Sony CRX100E) for being unable
to write more than about 78 minutes on an oversized (e.g. 80-minute) blank.
It appears that the Sony v1.0n firmware upgrade removes this limitation, but
the upgrade was never made available for the HP drive. Some users have
had success flashing the drive with a "hacked" version of the Sony firmware,
but this can be dangerous (see warnings in section (5-24)). You can also
just use the Sony firmware, but that causes the front LEDs to stop working.
If you are having trouble getting the 7100e to work with your parallel
port, see http://www.hp.com/isgsupport/cdr/tech/7100/par95.html for some
important configuration advice. If your BIOS is configured to use address
03BCh, you should change it to 0378h or 0278h.
It appears that discs written with a 7110 can't be read on a Toshiba
XM6002B. Other models of CD-ROM drives, including other Toshiba models,
work fine. CD-Rs written on other CD recorders work fine with the
Toshiba. The 3.01 firmware upgrade fixes this.
The HP 4020i got off to a rough start because of buggy firmware and
problems with the AdvanSys SCSI controller shipped with the drive. Four
firmware upgrades have been made available so far (v1.20, v1.25, v1.26, and
v1.27), and most but not all problems with the firmware have been
eliminated. HP recommends that users with the v1.20 or later firmware who
aren't having problems should NOT get the upgrade. Contact HP tech support
for more information.
The comments about digital audio extraction problems and the CDD2600 apply
to the 6020i as well. Unlike the CDD2600, the 6020 apparently does not
support packet writing. The firmware is not flash upgradeable. (As it
happens, the SCSI ID string *can* be changed, and it *is* possible to make
the unit think it's a CDD2600. A representative from Adaptec has warned
that the procedure could cause problems later on, however.)
The 6020 with v1.07 firmware also has trouble reading some pressed CD-ROM
discs, notably single-track CD-ROMs with less than 27MB of data.
An unofficial HP 4020i FAQ maintained by Greg Volk can be found at
Drivers, software, and firmware upgrades are available from
The 7100/7110 firmware upgrade is available here:
IMPORTANT - 7100/7110. The 7100/7110 drew a lot of fire because it shipped
with DirectCD (packet-writing software), a CD Copier, and an audio CD
creator. It didn't include premastering software for data CDs. Because
packet-written CDs can't be read on all operating systems or all CD-ROM
drives, the inability to create plain Level 1 ISO-9660 discs was a problem
for some users. People who buy this drive should expect to buy additional
software. The software bundled with the 7200 was more wisely chosen.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - 4020i. See the notes on the CDD2000 in the previous
section. Also, the AdvanSys controller continues to cause problems for
some users, which is made worse by HP's refusal to support people who try
to use a different card. The best approach seems to be to try the card and
stick with it if it works, otherwise buy an Adaptec board (e.g. the 1522A)
and use it with that. There may be a newer rev of the AdvanSys board.
A few 4020 users have reported that, after getting lots of "-24 - Target
aborted" errors with jarnold's software, they successfully resolved their
problems by getting a new drive from HP.
A class-action lawsuit was filed against HP (for the HP4020i and HP6020i)
by the same people who filed the suit against Philips -- the drives were
repackaged versions of the CDD2000 and CDD2600.
Subject: [5-1-6] Plasmon
RF4100 (2x2/1MB+;SCSI, based on Philips CDD522 but with different firmware)
CDR4220 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2000)
CDR4240 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Panasonic CW-7501)
CDR-4400 (4x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-100)
CDR480 (8x4/1MB;SCSI, based on the Panasonic CW-7502)
The RF4102 is an RF4100 with more memory.
The RF4100 does not support disc-at-once recording.
Subject: [5-1-7] Kodak
See http://www.kodak.com/ [ no CD recorder info? ]
PCD225 (2x2/2MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD522)
PCD240 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2000)
4801 (??;IDE, based on the Mitsumi 4801??)
The Philips CDD522, Kodak PCD225, and Kodak PCD600 will interface with the
Kodak Disc Transporter, which supports unattended duplication of up to 75
CD-Rs, making it a useful combo for CD-R production.
Subject: [5-1-8] JVC
[on the JVC web site, no model number?] (12x4/1MB;IDE)
[ JVC stopped selling CD recorders somewhere around 2002. ]
The drives are sometimes sold with model numbers that have 2 added, so
XR-W2010 might appear as XR-W2012, XR-W2020 as XR-W2022, and XR-W2080 as
XR-W2082. The XR-W2626 appears to be an XR-W2020.
The drives often come bundled with JVC "Personal Archiver" or "RomMaker"
software. The XR-W2010 and XR-W2020 also come with "FloppyCD"
JVC only provides support for drives purchased directly from them, but
firmware updates can be found at http://www.jvcinfo.com/service/firmware.htm.
If you don't buy a JVC drive from JVC, make sure your vendor provides a
If you are getting "servo tracking error", "seek error", or "track following
error" messages with an XR-W2010 or XR-W2020, your drive may need to be
opened up and lubricated. Step-by-step instructions for doing so can be
found on http://www.smial.prima.de/old/howtoget.htm. If you're not quite
up to that, try turning the drive off and leaving it off until right before
you're ready to burn. Some units have trouble when they get warm.
Several users have reported difficulty installing the XR-W2020, but the
troubles appear to stem from the SCSI card bundled with the drive rather
than the drive itself.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - XR-W2010. Firmware version 1.51 has some serious flaws
that can cause problems when using the drive as either a writer or a
reader. The v2.05 update fixed most of the problems, but some conflicts
with 3rd-party software remained, so the update was withdrawn. Until these
problems are fixed, this drive should only be used with the JVC software,
and should not be used as a reader. Power-cycling the unit (i.e. powering
it off and back on) immediately before a write may cure some problems. For
examples and some tests, see http://www.fadden.com/doc/jvc-prob.txt.
While there are a large number of people who are using these drives without
problems, one person affiliated with a CD-R software company referred to
the XR-W2010 as their "#1 tech support nightmare".
CAVEAT EMPTOR - XR-W2020. The mechanism appears to have the same problems
with lubrication as the XR-W2010. After several months of successful use,
the unit will start returning "tracking error" messages.
Subject: [5-1-9] Pinnacle
RCD-202 (?x1/64K;SCSI, based on the JVC XR-W1001)
RCD-1000 (2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the JVC XR-W2001)
RCD-5040 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the JVC XR-W2010)
RCD-4X4 (4x4/1MB;SCSI, based on the Teac CD-R50S)
The -1000, -5020, and -5040 models are flash ROM upgradeable.
RCD-1000 units shipped after Sept 1995 can do audio extraction if they have
firmware v2.35 or later. An upgrade is available from their BBS.
If you are getting "servo tracking error", "seek error", or "track
following error" with a 5040, see the notes in the JVC XR-W2010 section.
CAVEAT EMPTOR - all drives. Pinnacle customer support is reported to be
almost nonexistent, except for some recent tech support via e-mail. Many
owners of the RCD-5040 are perfectly happy with their drives (see the
caveat on the JVC XR-W2010), but most of the stories about Pinnacle's
product support are negative.
Pinnacle earned a bad reputation after shipping drives with buggy firmware,
a poorly ventilated enclosure, and bad customer support. Some owners of
the RCD-1000 have gotten the unit to work, others have given up in despair.
Subject: [5-1-10] Ricoh
MP-6200 (6x2x2/1MB; 'S' is SCSI, 'A' or 'I' is IDE)
MP-7040 (20x4x4/2MB; 'S' is SCSI, 'A' is IDE)
MP-7060 (24x6x4/2MB; 'S' is SCSI, 'A' is IDE)
MP-8040SE (20x4x4/2MB;PCMCIA-2(SCSI), battery-powered)
MP-9060A (24x6x4/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx4)
MP-9120A (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx8)
MP-9200A (40x20x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx12)
[ Ricoh stopped selling CD recorders somewhere around 2002. ]
The MP-6200 uses a tray, the MP-6201 uses caddies and has a 2MB buffer.
The RS1060C does not support disc-at-once recording, reading of digital
audio, or subcode-Q data. (One user reported that his RO1060C *could* read
digital audio, but the drive took a little convincing. Another user says
that it has always been supported, but not documented, so it can be done
with the right software, e.g. CDDA v1.5.) The RS-1060C is the RO-1060C
in an external case.
The RS-1420C is flash upgradeable (though it can be a little tricky since
there are different variants of the drive, and each requires a different
ROM image). It does not support packet writing. Most of the commercial
versions come with a 2MB buffer (the last digit of the firmware version
will be 0, 1, or 2, indicating 512K, 1MB, and 2MB, respectively).
The firmware on the flash-upgradeable MP-6200 should either be at v2.20 or
later. Version 1.0 had several problems, version 2.0 didn't get along so
well with DirectCD 2.0, and version 2.03 had some DAE issues.
Firmware upgrades are available from Tom Varghese's page listed above
(arrakis-ttm.com) and http://www.ricoh.co.jp/cd-r/cgi/e-/version.html.
The MP-6200 "red/green" problem, where the drive starts having trouble
accepting media, and sits there flashing red and green, appears to be caused
by a buildup of oil on the drive's spindle clamp. See the arrakis-ttm.com
site for details.
Some people have found that the MP7040/7060 will start to "stick" after
a while, resulting in consistent write errors at roughly the same spot
every time. Some people have found that lubricating the drive helps.
This is a dangerous procedure, and should not be attempted unless
all other possibilities have been exhausted. Details can be found on
Subject: [5-1-11] Pioneer
See http://www.pioneerusa.com/cds.html [ mass replication ]
See http://www.pioneer.co.jp/ [ if you can read Japanese ]
The PDR-05 is an audio CD-R recorder, described in section (5-12).
Does not support disc-at-once recording. Mainly sold in large jukebox
Subject: [5-1-12] Olympus
CDS615E (2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU920S)
CDS620E (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU924S)
CD-R2x6 (6x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU926S??)
The CD-R2 is the CDS615E in an external case. The CD-R2x4 might be the
external version of the CDS620E. The CD-R2x6 probably has a name like
CDS640E, but it's not listed as such on their web site.
Subject: [5-1-13] Optima
DisKovery 650 CD-R (2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU920S)
DisKovery 1300 CD-R (6x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU960S?)
Optima CDWriter (6x4x2/2MB;SCSI, based on ??)
As of the middle of 2003, Optima was busily suing CD-R software manufacturers
and resellers over (among other things) US patent #5,666,531. This patent,
filed in April of 1995, appears to cover packet writing.
Subject: [5-1-14] Mitsumi
CR-2200CS (2x2/4MB;SCSI, based partly on the Philips CDD2000)
CR-2201CS (same as CR-2200CS but with 2x2/1MB)
CR-2401TS (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2000)
CR-4802TE (8x4x2/2MB;IDE) and CR-4802TU (USB)
CR-480ATE (40x32x12/2MB;IDE, sometimes referred to as 48xA)
In all unit designations, 'C' means caddy, and 'T' means tray, 'S' is SCSI,
and 'E' is IDE.
The devices based on the CDD2000 are flash upgradeable (you should be
able to use Philips CDD2000 images).
CAVEAT EMPTOR - CR-2600TE and CR-2801TE. These drives do not support
disc-at-once recording. Like the Sony 926 and 928 units, they claim to
support track-at-once with nearly imperceptible gaps instead. Ahead's Nero
can reportedly do this with the CR-2801TE.
The CR-4801TE with firmware 2.01 and later supports DAO recording. Earlier
versions do not. If your recording software doesn't believe that the drive
is capable of DAO, you may need to update the software to a version that is
aware of the changes in the firmware update.
Later drives, such as the 4802TE, do support DAO.
Subject: [5-1-15] DynaTek Automation Systems
CDM240J (4x2/512K;SCSI, based on the JVC XR-W2010)
CDM400 (4x4/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-100)
CDE260R (6x2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Ricoh 6200S)
[ DynaTek reportedly went out of business. However, the UK site seems
to be alive and well. ]
Older CDM240 units were based on the Yamaha CDR-102. Since the Yamaha
CDR-100 is no longer being made, chances are the CDM400 is now a different
unit as well.
They also sell the CDM4000, which is a stand-alone CD burner.
Subject: [5-1-16] Microboards of America
PlayWrite 2000 (2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Sony CDU920S)
PlayWrite 2040 (4x2/512K+;SCSI)
PlayWrite 4000 (4x4/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-100)
PlayWrite 4001RW (6x4x2/2MB;IDE, based on the Yamaha CDR4001t)
PlayWrite 2060R (6x2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Ricoh 6200S)
Subject: [5-1-17] Micro Design International
Model is the Express Writer. There are no apparent model numbers. They
used to sell the "old one" (2x2/1MB, based on a Pinnacle (i.e. JVC) drive),
more recently they sold the "new one" (4x2/?).
Subject: [5-1-18] MicroNet Technology
See http://www.micronet.com/HTDOCS/products.html#cdr [ site gone? ]
MasterCD Plus 4x4 (4x4/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-100)
MasterCD Plus 4x6 (6x4/2MB;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-400)
MasterCD Plus 4x12 (12x4/1MB;SCSI, based on the Teac CD-R55S)
Subject: [5-1-19] Procom Technology
PCDR-4X (4x4/512K;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CDR-100)
Subject: [5-1-20] Grundig
See http://www.grundig.com/ [mostly in German]
CDR100IPW (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2000)
Subject: [5-1-21] Plextor
PX-R24CS (4x2/512K;SCSI, a cousin of the Ricoh 1420C)
PX-W8432T (32x8x4/2MB;IDE), also SCSI PX-W8432Ti/SW with 4MB
PX-W1210TA (32x12x10/2MB;IDE), also SCSI PX-W1210TS with 4MB
PX-W2410TA (40x24x10/4MB;IDE, also 'U' portable USB)
PX-208U (24x8x8/2MB;USB2.0, reads DVDx8, portable)
PX-320A (40x20x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx12)
PX-W4824TA (48x48x24/4MB;IDE, TU model is external USB2.0)
For all units, 'C' indicates caddy, 'T' indicates tray, 'S' is SCSI, 'A'
is ATAPI, 'U' is USB.
All units are flash upgradeable. All units except the PX-R24CS support
Users having trouble with the PX-R412C should try turning synchronous
transfer off for that drive.
There appears to be an issue with the Plextor PX-320A and a SiS IDE chipset.
Using the DMA jumper to change the Plextor drive from UltraDMA to multi-word
DMA fixes the problem.
Subject: [5-1-22] Panasonic (Matsushita)
Panasonic is part of Matsushita, so the units may also be sold under the
All units are flash-upgradeable. The CW-7501 should be at 2.0 or greater,
and the CW-7502 should be at vX.10 or later (1.10, 3.10, or 4.10 depending
on which recorder variant you have; check your current version). Upgrades
are available from http://www.acscompro.com/ (click on "Support") [site
was down as of May 2002?].
NOTE: there is a known conflict with the Diamond FirePort 40 and the
Panasonic CW-7502 CD-R drive. You should upgrade the 7502 firmware to the
latest (www.acscompro.com/support/s_cdr.htm), upgrade your FirePort 40
drivers (http://www.diamondmm.com/products/drivers/fireport.html), and
add "DisableAutoReqSense=1;do_SCAM=0;" to the FirePort driver (go into the
Win95 device settings, select the host adapter, click on Properties, and
select the Settings tab).
This problem may affect other NCR/Symbios Logic-based SCSI cards as well.
Falling back to the original (1.01) NCR SCSI drivers that come with Win95
should fix the problem.
NOTE: the 7502/7503 units may have a problem with writing near the end of
80-minute discs. The problem is fixed by a firmware upgrade. If you get
errors reading data stored near the end of the disc (e.g. errors creating
a disc image from a full 80-minute CD or CD-ROM), make sure you have the
Subject: [5-1-23] Teac
CD-W512 (32x12x10/4MB; 'E' is IDE, 'S' is SCSI)
CD-W516 (40x16x10/2MB; 'E' is IDE)
CD-W540E (48x40x12/8MB;IDE, F540 is external USB (6x4x4) or USB2.0)
DW552G (52x52x32/?MB;IDE, reads DVDx16)
Apparently the CD-R50S needs to be at firmware 1.0E or later to do
quad-speed writing reliably. Power calibration is done via a lookup table
rather than adjusted dynamically, so a flash upgrade may be required before
some brands of media will work.
The CD-R50S and CD-R55S appear to use the same command set as the JVC
has a nice HTML page about the CD-R55S upgrade.
Subject: [5-1-24] Wearnes
See http://www.wpinet.com.sg/ [site gone?]
CDR-432 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2000)
CD-R 622 (6x2/1MB;IDE)
CD-R 632P (6x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Philips CDD2600)
The CD-R 622 does not support disc-at-once recording. According to the
CDRDAO "readme" file, it is possible to upgrade the 622 (and its Memorex
cousin) by writing the D4.0 ROM image for the CRW-1622 to a 27c020 PLCC
EPROM and replacing the socketed ROM chip in the drive.
The CDRW-622 supports packet writing, and is flash upgradeable.
Subject: [5-1-25] Turtle Beach
2040R (4x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Ricoh RS-1420C)
Many users have had trouble installing the AdvanSys SCSI card that is
bundled with this unit. Most of the problems can be corrected by enabling
PnP installation, which is disabled by default.
Subject: [5-1-26] Creative Labs
CDR2000 (2x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Ricoh RS1060C)
CDR2224 (24x2x2/2MB;IDE, based on JVC XR-W2080?)
CDR4210 (4x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Panasonic CW-7501)
CDR4224 (24x4x2/2MB;IDE, based on a JVC XR-W4080)
CDR?? "CD Studio" (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
CDR6424 (24x6x4/2MB;IDE, based on Ricoh 7060A)
CDR8432 (32x8x4/2MB;IDE, based on PX-W8432T; also 8433/8435/8438/8439)
CDR8433 (same as 8432, based on Panasonic CW-7585)
CDR8435 (same as 8432, based on Samsung SW-208)
CDR8438 (same as 8432, based on Samsung ??)
CDR8439 (same as 8432, based on Panasonic CW-7586)
CDR121032 #1 (32x12x10/2MB;SCSI, based on Plextor PX-W1210)
CDR121032 #2 (32x12x10/2MB;SCSI, based on Lite-On LTR-1210)
CDR161040 (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
CDR241040 (40x24x10/2MB;USB or FireWire, based on ??)
CD-RW 52.24.52 (52x52x24/?MB;IDE)
CD-RW 52-32-52x (52x52x32/?MB;IDE)
Creative sold several drives with the 32x8x4 rating, starting with
the Plextor-based 8432. According to some information [formerly at]
http://www.ping.be/satcp/writer04.htm, the 8433, 8435, 8438, and 8439 are
similar but different devices. Looks like they did something similar with
the 32x12x10 drive.
Generally speaking, reading the retail box won't tell you what's inside.
Subject: [5-1-27] Taiyo Yuden
Subject: [5-1-28] Memorex
CR-622 (6x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Wearnes CD-R 622)
CRW-1622 (6x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Wearnes CDRW-622)
CRW-2642 (6x4x2/2MB;IDE, based on the Yamaha CRW-4260??)
CDRW-2216 (16x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Yamaha CRW-2216E)
CDRW-2224 (24x2x2/2MB;IDE, based on JVC XR-W2080?)
CDRW-4206-USB (6x4x2/2MB;USB, based on ??)
CRW-4224 (24x4x2/2MB;IDE, based on JVC XR-W4080?)
CDRW-8220 (20x8x2/2MB;SCSI, based on ??)
CDRW-12432 (32x12x4/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
"32X CD ReWritable Drive" (40x32x12/?MB;IDE)
"40X CD ReWritable Drive" (48x40x12/2MB;IDE)
"48X CD ReWritable Drive" (48x48x12/2MB;IDE)
"48Xv2 CD ReWritable Drive" (48x48x24/2MB;IDE)
"52X CD-ReWritable Drive" (52x52x24/?MB;IDE)
Subject: [5-1-29] Hi-Val
Hi-Val doesn't build CD recorders. They repackage and provide support for
recorders built by others. The actual model you get will vary (Wearnes,
Ricoh, Philips, JVC, Mitsumi, and others have been reported).
Subject: [5-1-30] Dysan
CR-622 (6x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Wearnes CD-R 622)
CRW-1420C (6x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Ricoh 1420C??)
CRW-1622 (6x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Wearnes CDRW-622)
CDRW-2216 (16x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Yamaha CRW-2216E)
The CRW-1622 often came bundled with NTI's software, but the version
included didn't work correctly. Upgrading to a more recent version of the
software (http://www.ntius.com/) resolved the problems.
Subject: [5-1-31] Traxdata
See http://www.traxdata.com/ [ site requires Flash ]
CDR4120 (12x4/1MB;SCSI, based on the Teac CD-R55S)
CDRW2260 "Pro" (6x2x2/1MB;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CRW-2260)
CDRW2260 "Plus" (6x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Philips CDD3610?)
CDRW-4260 "Pro" (6x4x2/2MB;SCSI, based on the Yamaha CRW-4260)
CDRW-2224 "Plus" (24x2x2/?MB;???, based on Philips CDD3801?)
CDRW-4424 "Plus" (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on the Philips CDD4201?)
The CDRW2260 "Pro" may also use a Philips CDD3600?
Subject: [5-1-32] BenQ (nee Acer)
CRW2410MR (32x24x10/?MB; external USB2.0)
CRW3210A (40x32x10/?MB;IDE 'AI' is USB2.0)
CRW4012P (48x40x12/?MB;IDE, 'EU' is USB2.0)
CRW5224P (52x52x24/2MB;IDE, 'WU' is USB2.0)
A user who was getting nothing but power calibration complaints with the
CRW1032A and firmware 7.EZ found a laser power adjustment tool in the
7.GZ update from the www.acercm.com site. The North American version
reportedly doesn't come with the tool, but it may not be needed.
Subject: [5-1-33] Waitec
WT4046 (6x4x2/2MB; "EI" model is IDE)
WT2036 (6x2x2/1MB; "EI" model is IDE)
WT2082 (20x2x2/4MB;SCSI, "EXT" is external, based on ??)
WT2444EI (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on the Philips CDD4201?)
WT3244EI (32x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
WT3284EI (32x8x4/4MB;IDE, based on Plextor PX-W3284?)
"Raptor" (32x12x10/4MB; "Red" is IDE; based on Sanyo CRD-BP1300P??)
"X-File" (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx8, writes DVD+RWx2.5)
"T-Rex" (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, based on Sanyo CRD-BP1400P??)
"SfinX 16" (40x16x10/8MB;IDE, also reads DVDx10)
"Storm 24" (40x24x10/?MB;IDE)
"Storm 32" (40x32x10/4MB;IDE)
"Frisby II" (40x40x12/2MB;USB2.0, portable)
"Storm 40" (48x40x12/4MB;IDE)
"Storm 48" (48x48x16/2MB;IDE)
"Storm 52" (52x52x24/2MB;IDE)
"Storm 52/3" (52x52x32/2MB;IDE)
[ See also the "Action" line of DVD/CD recorders. ]
Subject: [5-1-34] BTC
BCE62IE (6x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Philips CDD3610??)
The BCE62IPE is the BCE62IE with a parallel-port IDE converter.
Subject: [5-1-35] Caravelle (Sanyo)
CRD-BP4 (40x16x10/2MB;SCSI, also in 4MB)
CRD-BP1400P (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, also in 4MB)
CRD-BP1500P (40x24x10/2MB;IDE; 'U' is USB)
CRD-SBP15A (32x24x10/2MB;IDE, portable, for OEM only)
CRD-BP1500U40X (40x40x12/4MB;IDE, external is USB2.0)
[ Sanyo stopped selling CD recorders somewhere around 2002. ]
Firmware v1.10 or later is highly recommended for the CRD-R800S. For some
reason, the firmware update was only available on the "BURN-Proof" web
site at http://www.sannet.ne.jp/BURN-Proof/. [ It doesn't seem to be
there anymore. ]
It looks like Mirai Technologies (http://www.mirai-technologies.com/)
resells these drives.
Subject: [5-1-36] Micro Solutions
190100 (6x2x2/1MB;Parallel, based on the Ricoh MP-6200)
190120/190126 (6x4x2/?MB;Parallel, based on the Yamaha CRW-4261)
190127 (8x4x2/2MB;Parallel, based on the Mitsumi CD-4802TE)
All products are standard recorders combined with Micro Solution's
Subject: [5-1-37] Pacific Digital
224ei (24x2x2/2MB;IDE, based on the JVC XR-W2080)
226ei (6x2x2/1MB;IDE, based on the Philips CDD3610??)
428ei (8x4x2/2MB;IDE, based on the Mitsumi CR-4802TE)
428USB (8x4x2/2MB;USB, based on the Mitsumi CR-4802TU)
416si (16x4x4/2MB;SCSI, based on Yamaha CRW-4416S?)
448USB (8x4x4/2MB;USB, based on ??)
8824si (24x8x8/4MB;SCSI, based on Yamaha CRW-8824??)
8832ei (32x8x8/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
121032ei (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, based on Lite-On 32x12x10)
161040ei (40x16x10/8MB;IDE, based on CRW-2100?)
241040ei (40x24x10/2MB;IDE, also as USB)
Xtreme32 #1 (40x32x10/2MB;USB2.0 and USB (8x4x4))
Xtreme32 #2 (48x32x12/2MB;USB2.0 and USB (8x4x4))
Mach40 #1 (48x40x12/2MB;IDE)
Mach40 #2 (48x40x16/2MB;IDE)
Xtreme48 (48x48x12/2MB;USB2.0 and USB (8x4x4))
Mach52 (52x52x24/2MB;IDE, also available in USB2.0)
Blue Lightning52 (52x52x24/?MB;IDE)
[ Some DVD/CD recorders are also available. ]
Subject: [5-1-38] Iomega
ZipCD (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on the Philips CDD4201)
ZipCD external (6x4x4/2MB;USB, based on ??)
CD-RW Predator 8x4x32 FireWire (32x8x4/2MB;FireWire)
ZipCD 12/10/32 (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, based on Plextor PX-W1210T)
ZipCD 16/10/40 (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, based on ??)
CD-RW 24x10x40 USB (40x24x10/2MB;USB)
CD-RW 40x12x48 USB (48x40x12/2MB;USB2.0), also available as FireWire
CD-RW 48x24x48 USB (48x48x24/2MB;USB2.0)
CD-RW 52x24x52 USB (52x52x24/2MB;USB2.0)
CD-RW 52x32x52 USB (52x52x32/?MB;USB2.0)
Subject: [5-1-39] Goldstar (LG Electronics)
GCC-4120B (32x12x8/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx8)
GCC-4320B (40x32x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx16)
GCE-4480B (48x48x24/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx16)
GCE-4520B (52x52x24/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx16)
The first two *might* be based on the Sony 100/120 models. There are
indications that, at the very least, the firmware is different (the Goldstar
units reportedly can "overburn" discs, while the mentioned Sony units
couldn't when these were released.)
Subject: [5-1-40] AOpen
CR1420C (4x2/512K;SCSI, based on the Ricoh RS-1420C?)
CRW620 (6x2/1MB;SCSI, based on ??)
CRW622 (6x2/1MB;IDE, based on Wearnes CD-R 622??)
CRS446U (6x4x4/1MB;USB, "crab shell")
CRW9420 (20x4x4/2MB;IDE, based on Ricoh MP-7040A?)
CRW9624 (24x6x4/2MB;IDE, based on Ricoh MP-7060A?)
DRW4624 (24x6x4/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx4)
RW5120A (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx2.4)
DVRW2412PRO (32x12x10/2MB, also reads DVD+RW)
CRW3248 (48x32x12/2MB;IDE, has an option for 8MB buffer)
[ Some DVD/CD recorders are also available. ]
Subject: [5-1-41] Toshiba
SD-R1002 (24x4x4/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx4)
Subject: [5-1-42] TDK
8/4/32 veloCD (32x8x4/4MB;IDE, based on ??)
12/10/32 veloCD (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, based on Plextor PX-W1210TA)
16/10/40 veloCD (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, based on Sanyo CRD-BP1400P?)
24/10/40 veloCD (40x24x10/2MB;IDE, also external USB2.0 and FireWire)
32/10/40 veloCD (40x32x10/2MB;IDE, based on Sanyo CRD-BP1600PN?)
40/12/48 veloCD (48x40x12/2MB;IDE)
48/16/48 veloCD (48x48x16/2MB;IDE, also external USB2.0)
52/24/48 veloCD (52x48x24/2MB;IDE)
Subject: [5-1-43] Lite-On
LTR-48125S (48x48x12/2MB;IDE, same as 48125W/48126S?)
[ Combo DVD/CD recorders are also available. ]
Some of the drives appear to be based on Plextor units. It has been claimed
that the LTR-0841 can be upgraded to an LTR-12101B with a firmware upgrade;
Customer support issues are deferred to the dealer.
There is an internal configuration program called "WSES" that can be
used for testing drives and discs. Copies can be found on the web.
Subject: [5-1-44] CenDyne
CDI CD00000 (20x4x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00001 (20x4x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00015 (20x4x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00016 (24x4x2/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00017 (24x4x4/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00018 (32x4x4/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00023 (32x8x4/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00028 (32x12x4/4MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00029 (24x6x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00030 (24x6x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00032 (24x6x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00036 (20x8/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00037 (20x8/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00038 (20x8/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00039 (20x8/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00040 (24x6x4/2MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00045 (32x12x4/4MB;SCSI)
CDI CD00047 (32x6x4/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00055 (32x12x10/4MB;IDE)
CDI CD00056 (24x4x4/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00057 (32x8x8/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00059 (32x12x10/2MB;IDE, reads DVDx8)
CDI CD00063 (32x12x10/?MB;Firewire)
CDI CD00068 (20x4x4/?MB;PCMCIA)
CDI CD00086 (20x4x4/?MB;USB)
CDI CD00087 (40x16x10/?MB;IDE)
CDI CD00090 (40x20x10/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00091 (40x24x10/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00092 (20x4x4/2MB;PCMCIA or USB)
CDI CD00094 (40x24x10/2MB;FireWire)
CDI CD00102 (32x12x10/2MB;USB2.0)
CDI CD00103 (40x16x10/2MB;USB2.0)
CDI CD00104 (40x24x10/2MB;USB2.0)
CDI CD00107 (40x32x12/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00116 (24x8x8/2MB;USB2.0)
CDI CD00117 (48x40x12/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00118 (48x48x12/?MB;IDE)
CDI CD00122 (48x40x12/2MB;IDE)
CDI CD00123 (40x16x10/2MB;IDE, read DVDx12)
CDI CD00134 (40x40x12/2MB;USB2.0, top-loading)
CDI CD00137 (48x48x12/?MB;IDE)
CDI CD00154 (40x32x12/2MB;USB2.0)
CDI CD00167 (40x32x10/2MB;IDE, read DVDx12)
CDI CD00172 (48x40x12/2MB;USB2.0)
[ CenDyne was acquired by Genica Corporation in December 2003. The range
of products and services appears to be much smaller than before. ]
All models are recorders built by major manufacturers, repackaged and
supported by CenDyne. In many cases the model numbers refer to slight
changes in packaging (e.g. Windows vs Mac) or internal vs external variations
of the same drive.
CenDyne has the distinction of using the least imaginative naming scheme
of any distributor (the polar opposite of Waitec).
Subject: [5-1-45] VST (SmartDisk)
VST Portable CD-R/RW (20x4x4/2MB;FireWire;portable)
Subject: [5-1-46] ASUS
CRW-4012A (48x40x12/2MB;IDE, "-U" model is external USB2.0)
Subject: [5-1-47] Samsung
SN-308B (24x8x8/2MB;IDE, read DVDx8)
SM-308B (32x8x4/2MB;IDE, read DVDx8)
SM-316B (40x16x10/8MB;IDE, read DVDx12)
SM-332B (40x32x10/8MB;IDE, read DVDx12)
SM-348B (48x48x24/8MB;IDE, read DVDx16)
SW-252 (52x52x24/2MB;IDE, retail version has 8MB buffer)
[ Some DVD/CD recorders are also available. ]
Subject: [5-1-48] APS / LaCie
APS "52x24x52 FireWire & USB CD-RW" (52x52x24/?MB;FireWire & USB2.0)
[ APS was purchased by LaCie in 1998. ]
Products are repackaged drives from other manufacturers.
Subject: [5-2] How long do CD recorders last?
The MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) on these drives is typically 50,000
to 100,000 hours, and they come with a 1 year warranty. Compare that to
hard drives rated at between 500,000 and 1,000,000 hours with a 3 or 5 year
warranty and that should give you some idea.
Most of the drives available today weren't meant for mass production of
CD-Rs. The only exceptions are the venerable Philips CDD 522, Kodak PCD 600,
and Sony CDW-900E.
Incidentally, MTBF is not an estimate of how long the drive will last.
Rather, it's an estimate of the failure rate of the drives during the
expected lifetime of the device. Once you exceed the expected lifetime,
which is often on the order of a couple of years, the anticipated failure
rate increases. If you have new drives with an MTBF of 25,000 hours, and
you run 1000 units for 100 hours, you can expect to see four of them fail.
It does NOT mean you can expect them to run for 2.8 years and then all fail
Subject: [5-3] What kind of PC is recommended?
If you're about to buy a computer system and are seriously thinking about
buying a CD-R, here are some things to keep in mind. (See the next section
if you're interested in Mac hardware instead of an IBM PC.)
CPU: buy a mid-range Pentium-class machine or better. In general it's a
good idea to buy a fast machine, since systems tend to be outdated after a
year and obsolete after three or four. A '486 is a *minimum* configuration
for a CD-R system; a Pentium gives you some breathing room. Pentium II and
above is more power than you need, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Motherboard: for SCSI, anything with PCI slots is fine. For IDE, anything
above UDMA/33 is overkill. See section (5-15) for configuration notes
and a warning about certain bus-mastering drivers.
SCSI: the SCSI interface remains a popular choice for CD recorders and
CD-ROM drives, though improvements like UDMA/133 are changing the way people
build high-end computers. Whether it's built into the motherboard or on a
separate card, make sure the host adapter supports ASPI and ASPI for Windows
(see section (5-7)). Wide Ultra-SCSI is useful if you're buying a fast
hard drive, but CD recorders don't move data fast enough to require it.
Bus-mastering SCSI cards are preferred over non-bus-mastering cards,
because they can move data to and from system memory directly, without
the CPU's involvement, making things faster.
Parallel: some vendors are selling parallel-port CD-R drives. You should
have an EPP-enabled parallel port (if you have a Pentium or later, chances
are you have one).
Sound: the Creative Labs SB16 and AWE32 boards are widely supported and
very popular, but if you're thinking seriously about recording sound
through it, you'll want to consider alternatives. See sections (3-12)
and (3-13) for other options.
Hard drive: needs to be reasonably fast, and large enough to hold whatever
data you plan to put on a CD. IDE hard drives work fine. See section
(5-6) for more details.
Video card and monitor: depends on what you want to do. A PCI-based video
card is practically a requirement these days, and 17" monitors are
inexpensive now. If you're planning on creating multimedia products, scale
CD-ROM: SCSI and IDE both work, but some drives work better than others.
See section (5-5).
Subject: [5-4] What kind of Mac is recommended?
Any Mac of Quadra 700 or higher capability with a reasonably fast disk should
be suitable for 2x writing. All PowerMac-class machines, and probably
most Mac clones, should work fine at high speeds. PowerBook users should
proceed with caution on machines earlier than the 3400 and G3 models.
Any of the SCSI or (for appropriately equipped machines) USB and FireWire
recorders should work. Verify with the vendor of the software you plan
to use that the drive you have in mind is supported. You may be able to
use the internal IDE connector on some Macintoshes as well.
Using the "simulated cut" feature available on Toast and other software is
also prudent, at least until you get a feel for the system. Make sure you
turn off file sharing before you start a burn, or things will fail if it
tries to read a file that's already open. You may also have trouble
writing from the boot/system volume, since it will always have files open.
The good news for Mac owners is that the hardware and software
configuration for CD-R usually goes rather smoothly.
Subject: [5-5] Which standard CD-ROM drives work well with CD-R?
Besides the obvious question - can it read CD-R discs that you create -
there's also the question of how well the drive works as the source device
when copying discs. To be more specific:
- Does the drive support digital audio extraction?
- Does the drive hog the SCSI bus, obstructing writes to the CD-R?
- Does the drive support multisession discs?
Plextor SCSI models generally work well. The Plextor 6Plex and higher can
extract digital audio at high speeds, and come with a set of utilities that
are actually useful. The 8Plex and more recent models are often
recommended. The 12Plex can extract audio at about 9x, and the 12/20 will
extract at up to 20x. The error correction on the 12/20 seems to slip a
little above 8x though, so unless the disc is very clean you should extract
at a slower speed. Many hard drives have trouble streaming data at that
You can see speed and quality test results on http://come.to/cdspeed.
Older NEC models tend to hog the SCSI bus. Older NEC, Mitsumi, and Acer
models (e.g. NEC 3x and Acer 8x) may have trouble reading CD-Rs.
There is one hard and fast rule for direct CD-to-CD duplication: the
source drive must be faster than the target drive (e.g. source 4x if
target is 2x, source 6x if target is 4x).
A quick summary of features for several models can be found at:
Subject: [5-6] What kind of HD should I use with CD-R? Must it be AV-rated?
Any recent hard drive will work fine. Back in 1998 this was the subject
of some concern, but modern drives are much faster and more intelligent.
There is a fair amount of confusion over what exactly is an "AV drive". A
brief discussion is presented here; for more information see Bertel
Schmitt's article at http://www.fadden.com/doc/avdrive.txt.
The most important issue is thermal recalibration. Older hard drives
would pause for up to half a second (or even up to a full second, depending
on who you believe) every so often to adjust the head positioning to the
current operating temperature. For most applications this goes unnoticed,
but when recording a CD-R you must write the current track to completion
without interruption. "AV" drives deal with the problem in a way that
doesn't disrupt the disk activity.
A drive that does a quick thermal recalibration is acceptable if the system
is otherwise fast enough or the buffer in the CD-R unit or in the recording
software is large enough (early drives had only 64KB, while current drives
have 2MB or 4MB, making it much less of an issue). You need to be sure
that the recorder's write buffer won't empty during the recal period, or
you'll end up with a buffer underrun.
Most modern hard drives do smart thermal recalibration. This really isn't
something you need to worry about anymore.
What separated a Seagate Barracuda from a Seagate Barracuda AV is that the
latter is tuned for AV performance. This was simply a software change
that affected cache allocation algorithms, error correction, and other
SCSI parameters to get better performance for transfers of large blocks
of contiguous data. These sorts of optimizations were very important for
digital video running at a few MB/sec, back when that was close to the
maximum capability of the drives.
If you think AV optimizations will help you, you should take a look at
"Dr. SCSI" at http://www.scsitools.com/.
Subject: [5-7] What SCSI adapter should I use with a CD recorder?
Some systems have SCSI built in, some don't. This section is intended for
PC users who want to add SCSI devices. Owners of SCSI-less Macintoshes
should use an interface recommended by Apple.
Using different SCSI adapters for the HD and the CD recorder used to be
recommended, but should not be necessary with non-ISA adapters. If your
recorder hogs the SCSI bus, though, the HD may not be able to keep the
write buffer full. Under some operating systems, particularly OS/2,
devices that support SCSI disconnect will work better than those that
In general, the faster the better. PCI or the (now uncommon) VLB is better
than ISA, and the board should support (and have enabled) SCSI disconnect.
It is not necessary to use Wide or Ultra SCSI for a CD recorder; the speed
requirements for all existing recorders are easily met by "narrow" Fast
SCSI. If you think you may be buying a speedy SCSI hard drive or other
device in the near future, though, you may want to buy a card that supports
You should enable synchronous transfers for devices that support it. Most
CD recorders should. If the device doesn't work with it on, turn it off
and try again.
The adapter MUST support the ASPI standard (ASPI provides an interface
between software and the SCSI controller) for both DOS and Windows.
If you want to boot from a CD-ROM on a SCSI drive, make sure the SCSI card
supports booting from removable media.
For some tips on cabling and termination, see Bertel Schmitt's article
The next few sections detail the more popular SCSI cards. There are
many others, e.g:
Advansys - http://www.advansys.com/
DTC - http://www.datatechnology.com/
CSC - http://www.corpsys.com/
Subject: [5-7-1] Adaptec - 1510/1522A/1540/1542CF
These are all ISA controllers, good for putting a CD recorder on, not so
good for putting a hard drive or fast CD-ROM drive on. If you have an
IDE-based system and just want a SCSI card for driving your CD recorder and
maybe a scanner or tape drive, any of these (as well as any of the
variations of these) will work fine.
Subject: [5-7-2] Adaptec - 2840/2910/2920/2930/2940
The Adaptec 2940 (PCI) is a popular choice -- if not *the* most popular
choice -- though some users have reported problems with the Adaptec 2840
(VLB). See the README that comes with Adaptec EZ-SCSI v4.0 and later for
some important performance tests you can do with SCSIBench. The 2930 is
also a good choice for CD recording.
If you're having trouble writing CD-Rs with the 2940UW, go into the
configuration menu (hit Ctrl-A while booting) and make sure the drive is
set for 10MB/sec with Wide Negotiation disabled.
A few notes on the 2910, 2920, 2930, and 2940 cards:
Bus-mastering, no BIOS, Fast SCSI-2.
Not bus-mastering, has BIOS, Fast SCSI-2.
Bus-mastering, has BIOS, Fast SCSI-2.
Less expensive than 2940, but similar features.
Bus-mastering, has BIOS, fast/ultra/wide/whatever depending on model.
Booting from a CD-ROM requires that the card have a BIOS that supports
booting from CD-ROM, and that the PC also supports booting from CD-ROM.
The 2940U2W has four connectors (internal 68pin Ultra2-LVD, internal 68pin
Ultra2, internal 50-pin, external 68-pin Ultra2) and comes with a special
50-pin cable that ends in a 50-pin (HD) external plate. So you can have
both 50-pin and 68-pin external connectors, as well as 50-pin and 68-pin
internal connectors. On previous cards, you could only use two connectors
at a time, but on this card you can use all five at once.
Subject: [5-7-3] ASUS - SC-200/SC-875
The ASUS SC-200 is one example of a Symbios Logic 810-based card (in this
case, the NCR 53C810). Such cards offer solid performance at a reasonable
price, and may be a better choice than the Adaptec cards for many users.
(Be sure to examine these types of cards closely though: the least expensive
among them are only meant to work with a motherboard BIOS that supports SCSI.
This could cause trouble on other motherboards if you wanted to boot from
a SCSI hard drive.)
The ASUS SC-875, based on the 53C875 chip, offers Wide SCSI connectors as
Symbios Logic is currently owned by LSI Logic. For product information,
Subject: [5-7-4] Tekram - DC-390U/DC-390F
Inexpensive SCSI cards based on the LSI Logic SYM53C875 chip. The DC-390U
supports Ultra SCSI, while the DC-390F supports Wide Ultra SCSI.
Subject: [5-7-5] Adaptec - 1350/1460/1480
The "SlimSCSI" 1460 and 1480 are PCMCIA SCSI adapters for use in laptops
and other portable devices. The 1460 requires a PC card slot and supports
SCSI-2, while the 1480 requires a CardBus slot and supports UltraSCSI
The "MiniSCSI" 1350 allows you to connect SCSI devices to your parallel
port. If you use this you will be limited to parallel-port speeds, so
you may not be able to record at more than 2x.
Subject: [5-8] Can I use a CD recorder as a general-purpose reader?
You can, though there may be reasons not to. The seek times tend to be
slower than a standard CD-ROM drive because the head assembly is heavier.
Early CD recorders were optimized for writing, which doesn't require
fast seeks, and some users experienced jerky video playback as a result.
Most current models have pretty good seek times though (about 100ms vs.
80ms for a playback-only drive).
The MTBF on CD-R units has historically been lower than that of CD-ROM
drives, so it may be wise to use a different drive for general use to
preserve the life of the CD-R. Now that CD recorders are cheap enough to
be nearly disposable, though, there's not much point in worrying about them.
See also section (5-27) on laser diode lifetime.
(What follows are instructions for getting some of the early consumer CD
recorders to work as CD-ROM drives. You shouldn't need to worry about
any of this unless you bought an old drive in an auction.)
If you're using Win95, some older CD recorders don't show up as readers
without additional drivers, or (for SCSI drives) show up as 8 separate
LUNs. (LUNs are Logical UNits, useful for distinguishing between different
items loaded in a CD jukebox.) The reason why some older recorders don't
show up by default is that they're classified as "type 4" SCSI-2 devices,
which is used to indicate write-once devices. Standard CD-ROM drives are
HP and Philips used to supply drivers for their older units, and
Corel used to supply several drivers for with their CD Creator
product. You used to be able to get get a patch from Adaptec at
ftp://ftp.adaptec.com/pub/BBS/win95/cdr4up.exe that would allow many type
4 drives, including the Yamaha CDR-100/102 and JVC XR-W2010, to appear as
CD-ROM drives, but it appears to be gone. You may be able to find these
archived on the web.
If you don't have the drivers, you can still get old SCSI drives to work
under Win9X by loading the real-mode drivers like this (example is for an
LH C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND\MSCDEX.EXE /D:ASPICD0 /M:12
Incidentally, to *remove* the Adaptec cdr4up driver, you should remove
the file "CDR4VSD.VXD" from \Windows\System\Iosubsys, and reboot.
For IDE recorders, you need a more specific driver. The manufacturer's
web page likely has a link. See also http://www.drivershq.com/ and
Subject: [5-9] To caddy or not to caddy?
This is a general CD-ROM question rather than a CD-R question, but since
some of the newer recorders are available in either configuration it
seems worthwhile to address it here.
The advantage of a tray is convenience. If you want to put a CD in the
drive, you can just drop it in, instead of buying a pile of caddies and
hunting for a free one.
The advantage of a caddy is durability. CDs are less likely to be
scratched if they're put into a caddy and left there (VERY important if
you have children), and the internal mechanism is less likely to collect
dust. The tray units usually have a worse MTBF rating, because they have
more moving parts.
There have been reports that, at 12x and higher, some CDs will cause loud
vibrations in tray models, but work fine in caddy models. Not everyone
has had this problem though.
It used to be the case that you had to get a caddy drive if you wanted to
mount it sideways, but many tray models have tabs that will hold the CD in
place. Having to use the tabs does reduce the convenience normally offered
by a tray model though.
Which you should choose depends on your needs and circumstances. If you
are planning to write to a disc several times (multisession, packet
writing, or anything with CD-RW), you are better off with the disc in a
Subject: [5-10] Can I burn CDs from a Jaz drive? Tape drive?
With a little extra care, yes. For a Jaz drive, defragmenting the drive
right before starting a burn seems to be the key to success. It's also
very important to ensure that nothing else is trying to access the drive
while the write is underway.
One user reported being able to write at 1x from a DDS tape drive using
Seagate's Direct Tape Access, but this isn't recommended. Copying the data
to a hard drive and doing the burn from there is much more likely to
There are no known instances of successful CD-R burns using punched card
readers as the source device.
Doing a test run is strongly recommended when using any of these devices.
Subject: [5-11] What is "Running OPC"?
OPC stands for Optimum Power Control (or Optimum Power Calibration,
depending on who you believe; the process is sometimes known as Dynamic
Power Control (DPC) or Direct Read During Write (DRDW)). Most CD-R units
do a power calibration test before writing to adjust the laser power to the
correct strength. Different brands of media and different recording speeds
require slightly different power levels. Too much power can create oversized
marks which can interfere with each other, and too little power can produce
undersized marks which, in extreme instances, can cause read failures.
The recorder reads a recommendation for the initial power level from the
Recommended Optimum Recording Power value from the ATIP (section (2-38))
on the disc. This is used as a starting point for a series of write tests
in the Power Calibration Area (PCA) of the disc.
Running OPC goes a step farther by actively monitoring the write process
and adjusting the laser power as needed. If the writer encounters dust or
fingerprints, the laser power can be increased to burn through the
obstacles. This is especially useful for discs that are moved around
between recording sessions, such as CD-RW discs or multisession CD-Rs.
For more information, see the OSTA white paper on the subject
at http://www.osta.org/specs/pdf/opc.pdf. Another good site is
Subject: [5-12] What's the story with stand-alone audio CD recorders?
Audio CD-R/CD-RW recorders are similar to computer CD-Rs, except that
they're intended to be part of a recording system rather than attached to a
Mac or PC. They have audio inputs and front-panel controls like you'd find
on a tape deck. They are usually more expensive than CD-Rs meant for
computers. Some CD-Rs have both audio and SCSI-II interfaces.
There are two classes of audio CD-R, consumer and professional. The units
targeted at consumers require special audio blanks, and employ SCMS (Serial
Copy Management System, section (2-25)) to prevent making copies from a
copy. The audio blanks used to be 4x to 5x the cost of computer CD-R
blanks and only held 60 minutes of audio, but 74-minute "Consumer Audio"
blanks are now available for moderately more than regular CD-R blanks.
The "professional" units use regular CD-R blanks and don't obey SCMS, and
generally have a wider set of features and input/output connectors.
If you already have a computer, it's probably cheaper to buy a computer
CD-R and a good sound card or digital transfer card (see sections (3-12)
and (3-13) for more info). The ability to edit the sound on a computer
before writing a CD can be very useful. However, there are some advantages
to using an audio CD-R (not all features are present on all models):
- much easier to configure the hardware, and no software to learn
- the A/D converter is probably better than most PC sound cards
- automatic DAT start_id to CD index mark conversion
- sample rate conversion for 32K - 48K DATs
- analog inputs
- pause button
- buffer underruns are unlikely
Of course, if you're recording the music "live", it has to happen at 1x,
and any skips or pauses in the audio input will show up on the duplicate.
Depending on your situation, this may not be a problem.
You can't copy data CD-ROMs with an audio-only recorder.
(Incidentally, the difference in price for the audio CD-R blanks is due
to licensing agreements and volume. The manufacturer pays a royalty to
a studio consortium under the assumption that everything recorded to an
audio CD-R is pirated material. The technology is identical; the "audio"
discs just have a mark that says a royalty has been paid. See also
It is theoretically possible to convince a "consumer" audio CD recorder to
accept regular blanks, but in practice this requires modifying the hardware.
Some dealers will sell modified units, with altered firmware or additional
circuitry, for a higher price (and perhaps a separate warranty). With the
Philips 870/880 units manufactured prior to November 1998, it's possible
to trick the recorder by manually ejecting and replacing the disc right
before recording. Some of the "code free DVD" sites also sell CD-R chips,
e.g. http://www.dvdupgrades.ch/. See also section (7-18).
(And now for some increasingly outdated examples...)
Examples of "consumer" audio CD-R units are the Pioneer PDR-04 and
Marantz makes professional-grade CD-R units, e.g. the CDR615 and CDR620.
Philips sells the CDR870 and CDR880 (based on the CDD3600), which support
both CD-R and CD-RW media. http://www.acdr.philips.com/products.htm.
If you're interested in the Philips CDR765, a consumer-grade dual CD deck,
see a detailed article at http://www.gallagher.com/music/cdr.htm and some
notes at http://members.tripod.com/~charleswolff/cdr765.html.
HHB sells a "professional" unit, the CDR880. http://www.hhb.co.uk/.
There are many other models and vendors -- Denon, Harmon Kardon, others.
Subject: [5-13] What's firmware? How and why should I upgrade my recorder?
In computer terms, hardware is the stuff you can hit with a baseball bat,
and software is the stuff you can only swear at. Firmware is software that
lives on your hardware. In more concrete terms, the firmware on your CD
recorder is what controls the operation of the device, and handles
everything from decoding CD-ROM sectors to writing the disc table of
Sometimes there are bugs or missing features that are added by updates.
Firmware upgrades have been used to add features like disc-at-once
recording and fix bugs like reversed left and right audio channels.
Sometimes the upgrade will inadvertently add bugs, causing the recorder to
Firmware can be stored in an umodifiable form, such as a ROM chip, or in a
rewritable form, such as "flash" ROM. In the former case, firmware
upgrades are accomplished by physically removing a chip from inside the
device, and replacing it with a new one. Devices with "flashable"
firmware, on the other hand, can be upgraded by downloading a new set of
firmware over the Internet.
You have to be careful when upgrading the firmware on a drive yourself. If
it requires physical replacement, you run the risk of breaking pins off of
the chip. Flash upgrades won't result in physical damage, but in some
cases a failed upgrade can render the device unusable. Always follow the
instructions exactly, and NEVER do an upgrade with anything that didn't
come from the manufacturer or a trusted source.
Suppose you want to upgrade your recorder. The first step is to remember
famous words of wisdom: if it ain't broke, don't fix it!
The second step is to figure out if your firmware is upgradeable. The
manual should tell you. Most drives are, but some exceptions are noted for
specific drives in the subsections under (5-1).
The third step is to determine what version of firmware you currently
have. Some SCSI cards on PC or UNIX systems will display a list of
attached devices when the system boots. There's usually a column with a
version number in it.
On a PC running Win95, go into the Device Manager (either from the Control
Panels or by asking for Properties on My Computer), and find the CD-ROM
drives in the device tree. Select the CD-R drive, hit the "Properties"
button, and then click on the "Settings" Tab of the window that opens.
Look for "Firmware Revision".
Mac users with Toast can hit Command-R to display the information. If your
software doesn't have such a feature, you will need to run SCSI Tools to
check the identification string.
The fourth step is to find the upgrade file. Usually the manufacturer's
web site will have them. If not, sometimes you can find a repository on
the web. (There was a nice one on http://www.ahead.de/en/firmware.htm,
but that appears to be gone now.)
The fifth step is to apply the upgrade. This can be trivial or fairly
challenging, depending on the device. Be sure to read the instructions
*carefully* before applying the upgrade -- if it fails, the recorder could
be rendered inoperable.
Section (5-24) discusses the somewhat dangerous practice of flashing a
drive with firmware intended for a different drive.
Subject: [5-14] How well do parallel-port, USB, and 1394 recorders work?
By all accounts, they work just fine. Most such drives are IDE devices
with a converter (e.g. an enclosure with a parallel-to-IDE converter).
Parallel-port drives require an ECP/EPP parallel port, which most (all?)
machines have. Some BIOSs allow you to switch between ECP/EPP and
"standard" mode; if you're having trouble, be sure it's set correctly.
Some people who have bought off-the-shelf parallel-to-IDE converters have
found that writing at 4x doesn't work very well. This may account for
why all drives that ship with parallel port support are 2x writers.
USB recorders work fine at 4x when connected directly to the computer.
You may need to reduce speed to 2x if you use a hub. Some people have
reported that their Windows systems were crashing until they turned
auto-insert notification off (see section (4-1-1)). Windows users should be
running Win98 or later -- Win95b may or may not work. Be warned that some
USB SmartMedia readers install drivers that interfere with the ASPI layer;
if you have problems with one, uninstall the drivers for the device and
You need USB 2.0 to take advantage of drives faster than 6x4x4. Support
for USB 2.0 has been spotty, but as of mid-2002 it's becoming more
common on new motherboards and software support is improving.
A PC user with USB 2.0 ports discovered that their recorder would only work
successfully under WinXP or Win2K. Older versions of Windows wouldn't work.
If you're having problems when disconnecting a device from the USB hub,
IEEE 1394 (FireWire/i.Link) devices should only be used with recent
versions of Windows on PCs (e.g. Win98SE or Win2K, not Win95, Win98,
or WinNT). Linux support for 1394 was still listed as "experimental"
in early 2002.
Some personal notes on FireWire:
I bought a Western Digital PCI 1394 card, an ADS Technologies Pyro 1394
Drive Kit, and an HP DVD100i CD/DVD+RW recorder with an IDE interface.
As an experiment, I put the HP recorder into the ADS case, and plugged
Under Windows 98SE, I was able to use the drive as a CD-ROM reader and DVD
video player. The HP software got a little confused during installation,
claiming that it couldn't find the drive, but when asked to record a CD it
was able to find the device. However, neither the HP RecordNow software
nor Nero was able to successfully record an audio CD. The drive just
stopped working a few minutes in.
When the drive was subsequently connected to the IDE bus, it worked fine.
Subsequent experiments showed that the problem appears to be some sort of
incompatibility with the motherboard -- my VIA-based Soyo K7V Dragon+ seems
to be incompatible with 1394 devices. I haven't tried the experiment,
but my guess is that the recorder would've worked just fine in the ADS
case on a compatible system.
For the curious, http://www.fadden.com/techmisc/my-pcs.htm#1394 has the
gory details on what I went through.
Subject: [5-15] How should I configure my system for an ATAPI CD recorder?
(This section assumes you're using a PC.)
You generally want the hard drives and CD-ROM drives on different channels,
or CD-ROM accesses can interfere with hard drive accesses. Most older
devices can't share the ATA bus, so only one device can be active at a time.
For example, suppose you have a hard drive as master and a CD recorder as
slave on the same channel. If you issue a command to write some blocks
to the CD recorder, the system can't read anything from the hard drive
until the CD write request completes. As long as the system is fast
enough, and can read enough data between writes to keep the CD recorder's
buffer full, this doesn't create any problems.
If you put the hard drive and the CD recorder on different channels,
the commands are allowed to overlap. In practice, on Win9x systems this
doesn't make much of a difference, because Win9x won't usually access
more than one IDE device at a time. On systems like OS/2 and Linux,
the difference is more significant.
Proposals for command overlap (sending commands to multiple devices
simultaneously) and command queueing (sending several commands to the
same device all at once) were introduced as optional features during the
development of the ATA-3 specification. They're part of ATA/ATAPI 4.
For command overlap to be effective, both devices on the channel must
support the feature. If the hard drive does but the CD recorder doesn't,
you won't get much benefit.
If you're not sure that your CD recorder has an ATAPI-4 interface, you
probably ought to put it on a separate channel from the hard drive.
For information related to this topic, see "Does an old HD or CDROM
slow down a new drive?", in section 5.3 of the IDE/Fast-ATA FAQ at
The recommended configuration looks like this:
master: first hard drive
slave: (optional) second hard drive
master: CD-ROM drive
slave: CD-R/CD-RW drive
It doesn't seem to matter whether the CD-ROM or CD recorder is the master.
If you use the CD recorder as your only CD-ROM drive, make it the master.
Having the CD-ROM drive and the CD recorder on the same channel doesn't
necessarily prevent CD-to-CD copying, but you're still better off writing
from the hard drive. At high speeds, the CPU utilization for CD-ROM drives
without DMA enabled can be very high.
Keep the cables as short as you can. Sometimes the longer (60cm) cables
will work fine with one drive but start having integrity problems when two
devices are attached.
NOTE: early versions of the Intel PIIX Bus Mastering IDE driver may
interfere with the ability to use a CD recorder. The typical symptom
is a system hang when writing or test-writing to a disc. The latest
version of the Intel driver (which includes an uninstaller) can be
found at http://developer.intel.com/design/chipsets/drivers/busmastr/.
The Adaptec page http://www.adaptec.com/support/configuration/cdrecide.html
also describes the problem.
NOTE: early versions of the VIA Bus Mastering IDE drivers were similarly
afflicted. See http://www.via.com.tw/support/faq.htm.
Win95/Win98 users can resolve the bus-mastering IDE driver problems by
installing Win98 Second Edition (a/k/a Win98SE) after removing any
manufacturer-supplied bus-mastering drivers.
The ASPI (Advanced SCSI Programmer's Interface) layer is used during CD
recording, even for IDE recorders. See section (4-44) for information on
how to make sure you have what you need. The original Win95A/B WinASPI
may have problems with IDE recorders.
Subject: [5-15-1] Should I have DMA enabled for an ATAPI recorder in Windows?
Yes. If your drive is in PIO mode you can get bad results when recording
or ripping audio. (PIO is "Programmed Input/Output". The computer has
to sit and wait for small I/O operations to complete, instead of handing
the drive a big data buffer and letting the drive manage things. DMA,
"Direct Memory Access", is much more efficient than PIO.)
Sometimes Win2K and WinXP will revert to PIO mode when a number of DMA
errors are detected. See http://www.microsoft.com/hwdev/tech/storage/IDE-DMA.asp
and http://www.gmayor.com/cd_writer_udma_mode.htm for details.
Under Win98, you can toggle the DMA setting by opening the Control Panel
window, double-clicking on System, selecting the "System Properties"
tab, expanding the "CDROM" branch, selecting the device, clicking on
"Properties", clicking on "Settings", and then checking or unchecking
the "DMA" checkbox. Win2K, WinXP, and later versions of Windows have
the setting in a similar location. Under Win2K, you can set DMA on a
per-channel basis. Under WinXP, select the adapter that the drive is on
rather than the drive.
On 1990s-era hardware and software, the answer was more of a "maybe". The
rest of this section is "historical".
Some drives in some configurations will not work correctly, so the right
answer is "try it and see". If you are having lots of problems getting a
drive to work, turn it off. If you're running with it off, and are having
performance problems, turn it on.
As with any other "try and see" procedure, don't change more than one thing
at a time. For example, don't rearrange your drives and toggle DMA without
doing some testing in between. Otherwise, if something breaks, you won't
know which change caused it.
Subject: [5-16] How important is CD-RW?
This was an interesting question back in the early part of 2001, when
CD-RW support was not present in all drives. All CD recorders made today
support both CD-R and CD-RW media. However, the question is still of some
academic interest, so the original answer follows.
It depends on what you're doing. CD-R media is incredibly cheap these days,
so using CD-RW to burn a a test disc doesn't make much sense unless you're
burning a *lot* of test discs. Besides, CD-RW discs aren't readable on
many older CD-ROM and audio CD players.
The manual for Easy CD Creator Deluxe v3 says that CD-RW discs are
"more cost effective for near-line data storage requirements than CD-R."
The definition of near-line storage puts it somewhere between online
storage and offline storage.
On the other hand, if you're expecting to use packet writing to treat the
disc as a big floppy, it may be useful. You should consider other forms of
media for such purposes though, such as Jaz drives, which are faster and
hold more, but are slightly harder to find readers for (but only slightly:
CD-RW discs aren't readable on all drives, and packet-written discs may not
be readable under some operating systems).
Software developers who need to create test CDs frequently will find CD-RW
Subject: [5-17] What is an "MMC Compliant" recorder?
Historically, each manufacturer of CD recorders used a different command
set, and perhaps even altered the commands with each new recorder. This
has placed a significant burden on CD-R software authors, who have to
write new drivers for each new device.
MMC (Multi Media Command) compliant recorders use a common command set.
Programs that can write to one MMC-compliant recorder should be able to
write to all others, and consumers should be able to use their choice of
software without the long delays usually associated with the introduction
of new hardware.
The reality is not so kind, unfortunately, due to firmware bugs or
deliberate deviations from the standard. Do not assume that a particular
piece of software will work with your recorder simply because it works for
other MMC-compliant devices.
The spec sheets for recorders usually indicate whether or not the drive
is MMC compliant.
The MMC-2 standard is documented in ANSI/NCITS 333-2000. You can buy a
copy of the standard from http://www.ncits.org/ (specifically,
Subject: [5-18] What do I need to record on a UNIX (Linux, Solaris, etc) system?
The choice of what hardware to buy is dictated by software availability.
Find the software you want to use (common choices include "cdrecord",
listed in section (6-1-20), GEAR in section (6-1-3), and CDR Publisher in
section (6-1-9)). All support a variety of recorders, primarily SCSI
Consult the software manufacturer's web site for any specific
It's possible to get IDE recorders working under Linux, by installing
an "ide-scsi" module that makes the recorder work more or less like
a SCSI device. This is similar to what the Windows ASPI layer does
for IDE devices. See the CD-Writing HOWTO for more details (try
The Sun CD FAQ at http://www.datamodl.demon.co.uk/suncd/ has some
helpful tips on using CD recorders and creating bootable CD-ROMs for
Subject: [5-19] What do I need for recording CDs from a laptop?
You need a way to connect the recorder to the laptop. After that, it's
really no different from a desktop.
You can connect a typical recorder via USB (if you have a USB connector),
SCSI (if you have a port or want to buy a PCMCIA SCSI card like the
Adaptec 1460), FireWire (if supported or you have a PCMCIA 1394 card),
or parallel port. SCSI is the fastest, but PCMCIA SCSI adapters tend
to be expensive. FireWire is the next best bet. USB is a good choice,
and should be available on most recent laptops, but you're limited to
recording at 6x or less with USB v1.x.. Parallel port works fine, but
you will probably be limited to recording at 2x.
A small selection of portable CD recorders is now available. These are small,
battery-powered devices that come with a PCMCIA connection. Examples include
the Ricoh MP-8040SE and Smart & Friendly Pocket RW.
In some cases it may be possible to replace the CD-ROM drive included in
the laptop with a CD recorder.
Search section (5-1) for "portable" devices.
Subject: [5-20] I need to make *lots* of copies
If the software options described in section (3-17) are insufficient, you
may want to buy dedicated hardware. You can learn about the types of
equipment available at http://www.octave.com/library/cdduplicating.html.
Subject: [5-21] How do I connect two drives to one sound card in a PC?
The purchase of a CD recorder often results in what used to be an unusual
situation: a machine with two CD-ROM drives in it. This leads to a
number of interesting phenomena, usually having to do with poorly-written
software that can't figure out which CD-ROM drive it's supposed to use.
CD-ROM drives are typically connected to a sound card via a small cable
(a couple of wires twisted together, ending in small molex connectors).
This allows audio CDs to be placed in the CD-ROM drive and played through
the speakers attached to the sound card. Some people, upon discovering
that they have two CD-ROM drives and can use both simultaneously, want to
connect both drives to the sound card's input.
This is where the trouble starts. Sound cards often only have one input.
The immediate temptation is to buy or construct a Y-cable, but this won't
always work. The trouble is that Y-cables only work when you have a single
signal and more than one listener, like a stereo that sends its output to
two sets of headphones. The situation with two CD-ROM drives is of two
outputs and one listener.
Connecting two outputs together is, in general, a bad idea. Remember that
electricity isn't like water: it does not come out of the output and flow
downhill. The voltage at any point on the wire (ignoring minor
distortions) is going to be exactly the same. So if you have a device
that's trying to set it to one level, and another device that's trying to
set it to another level, the two devices are going to fight, and the
results aren't going to be what you want.
In some cases, if a device is inactive, it will allow its output to
"float". The other device can set the voltage to whatever level it wants.
So long as you only use one device at a time, all is well. Many devices,
however, force the output to ground level when not in use. This generally
manifests as a volume level that is almost inaudibly quiet.
Devices that combine multiple audio inputs into something reasonable are
called "mixers". Buying one and embedding it into your PC case is probably
not the best solution.
One possible option, if you're handy with the soldering iron, is to rig up a
mechanical switch that selects which signal gets passed to the sound card.
So long as you weren't planning to play two audio CDs simultaneously,
this should work well.
Some sound cards have multiple connectors on them, suggesting that the card
itself could handle multiple inputs. More often than not, these connectors
are not electrically isolated, so even though they're not sharing the same
cable they will still cause the devices to compete. If the sound card
isn't advertised as allowing multiple independent inputs, don't assume it
Some of the Sound Blaster cards, e.g. SB Live!, do have two independent
inputs ("CD in" and "AUX"). Stay away from the TAD (Telephone Answering
Device) connector though, it's monaural. You may need to un-mute the
auxiliary input in the volume control panel.
You can get an inexpensive Y-cable with a "passive mixer" from "Cables N
Mor" at http://cablesnmor.com/cdrom.html. If you're the build-it-yourself
type, some instructions for building a similar cable can be found on
Subject: [5-22] How fast is 1x? What are CAV, CLV, PCAV, and ZCLV?
A player spinning a CD at 1x reads 75 sectors per second. On a CD-ROM,
where a sector has 2048 bytes, this is exactly 150KB/sec. On an audio CD,
with 2352 bytes per sector, this works out to about 172.27KB/sec. (Note for
the nit-pickers: the actual bit rate is considerably higher, because of EFM,
CIRC, L2 ECC, and other magic acronyms. The channel bit rate is 4.3218MHz.
See Ken Pohlmann's _Principles of Digital Audio_, 4th edition, page 249.)
In terms of revolutions per minute, the answer varies depending on which
part of the CD is being read. At 1x, the speed at which bits flow under
the read head (the "linear velocity") needs to be fairly constant. You can
get more bits in a circle at the outside of the disc than you can in a
circle at the inside of the disc, because the circumference is greater.
This means that the disc needs to spin more slowly (reduced "angular
velocity") at the outside than it does at the inside.
To play an audio CD, you always want to be reading at 1x. This means you
need a constant linear velocity that gives you 172.27KB/sec. The angular
velocity changes as you move toward the outside of the disc.
To read files from a CD-ROM, you want to be reading as fast as you can.
This means you'd like to maintain a constant angular velocity, spinning
as fast as the spindle can go, with a linear velocity that increases as
you move out to the outside of the disc. This is why a drive like the
Plextor 12/20 reads at 12x at the start of the disc and 20x near the end.
In practice, there is a maximum angular velocity because of physical
constraints, and a maximum linear velocity because of hardware and software
constraints. This results in drives that use constant angular velocity
for the first part of the disc, but limit themselves to a maximum linear
velocity. As the read head moves further out on the disc, the drive
switches to constant linear velocity mode.
Devices that always spin at the same rate are called CAV (Constant Angular
Velocity) drives. Devices that maintain a fixed linear velocity are called
CLV (Constant Linear Velocity) drives. Devices that switch from CAV to CLV
when the maximum speed is reached are called PCAV (Partial Constant Angular
Velocity) drives. Most of the recent high-speed CD-ROM drives are PCAV.
Devices that are CLV, but use different speeds on different parts ("zones")
of the disc, are called ZCLV. Most CD recorders use CLV while writing,
but some (e.g. 20x and higher) use PCAV or ZCLV.
See http://www.plextor.be/english/technical/zoneclv.html for a graph
illustrating ZCLV. http://www.cdspeed2000.com/go.php3?link=faq_general.html
has some nice charts showing CDSpeed output on different drive types.
You can compute how long it will take to record a disc with a CLV drive by
taking the amount of data and dividing it by the record speed of the drive.
A 74-minute disc will take about 19 minutes to record at 4x and a little
under 10 minutes at 8x. With a PCAV drive, this calculation is no longer
valid, because the velocity changes as the write head moves outward.
In terms of actual rotational speeds, a disc being read at 1x spins at
about 530rpm when reading near the center of the disc, slowing to about
200rpm at the outer edge. The linear velocity is constant, ranging from
1.2 m/s to 1.4 m/s depending on the disc. Discs with longer playing times
(e.g. 74 minute discs vs 60 minute discs) use the slower velocity.
It has been stated that, at a rotational speed equivalent to about 50x
at the inside of a disc, the polycarbonate starts to deform and the disc
becomes unreadable. Experiments (e.g. an episode of the "Mythbusters"
TV show from 2003) have demonstrated that discs will warp when they get up
around 25,000 to 30,000 RPMs. However, recent 52x drives only read data
that quickly from the outside of the disc, actually reading at about 21x
near the inside. This requires a speed of 10,000 to 12,000 RPM, which is
safe for discs in good condition. Reading at 52x from the very inside of
the disc would require a speed of about 27,500 RPM, and read data at 137x
near the outside.
Discs with minor defects can and will shatter at these speeds, so some
care must be taken with drives rated at 40x and above. See section (7-25)
for more information.
An unbalanced disc can cause noisy vibrations in high speed drives.
Some devices will actually reduce the spindle speed if the vibrations
become too severe.
Incidentally, "1x" on a DVD-ROM drive is 1353KB/sec, which is roughly 9x
the speed of a "1x" CD-ROM drive. A 16x DVD-ROM drive reads at a speed
equivalent to a 144x CD-ROM drive! The DVD doesn't actually spin 9x as
fast, though, because the DVD "bit density" is higher. The drive can read
roughly three times more data in a single revolution from a DVD than it
can from a CD. (Incidentally, the 1353KB/sec figure comes from the DVD
maximum user data rate of 11.08Mbps, where the 'M' is 1000*1000.) For
more details, see http://www.dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html#4.2.
Subject: [5-23] Will playing CD-Rs damage my CD player?
Generally speaking, no, though warnings have started to appear.
One proposed line of reasoning is that the lower reflectivity of CD-R media
causes the laser to work too hard. This only makes sense for players
with an AGC (Automatic Gain Control) circuit, in which the laser power
adjusts automatically. This feature is generally found in newer players,
because it's required for reliable playback of CD-RW discs.
It seems unlikely that a player with an AGC would fry itself while running
at a valid power level, unless the device were poorly constructed. In any
event, the reflectivity of CD-R is close to that of CD -- if it weren't,
CD-R would have the same playback compatibility problems that CD-RW has.
The laser shouldn't have to work any harder to read CD-R. It's possible
that some devices might "strain themselves" over CD-RW discs, but any
device built to work with CD-RW should be able to handle the media without
A more likely scenario relates to differences in physical dimensions.
One car dealer claimed that CD-R media is too thin, causing their 6-disc
changer to occasionally grab two discs and jam itself. On the opposite end
of the spectrum, some "slot-in" dashboard players will get stuck ejecting
a CD-R that has had an adhesive label added, because the disc is too thick.
It's possible that the players with warnings simply don't support CD-R
well for one reason or another. Rather than admit to poor construction,
the manufacturers are trying to make it seem like there's something wrong
with CD-R media.
Subject: [5-24] Can I "overclock" my CD recorder?
Not in the sense that you can make a slow drive work faster, but in some
cases you can make a speed-limited drive work at its full capacity.
Every drive model in a manufacturer's lineup costs additional money to
make, because the manufacturing line has to maintain a larger inventory of
parts and has to re-tool the assembly line whenever they switch production.
In the world of high-volume, low-margin products, eliminating these costs can
be a huge win. Changing hardware components also creates opportunities for
things to fail, so every new hardware design must be extensively tested.
(The above is true of many consumer electronics products, not just CD
Some manufacturers build a high-speed drive and then use firmware to limit
the drive to slower speeds. There can be technical reasons for doing this
-- it's possible the parts they're using don't work well or they haven't
finished getting the firmware working well at higher speeds -- but often
its for marketing reasons. The higher-speed drives can initially be sold
at a higher cost. If you build a 20x-capable drive, you can sell it for
more than the same drive limited to 12x performance. By selling the same
drive as the 12x unit and the 20x unit, you're cutting manufacturing costs
even if the 20x-capable parts cost slightly more.
(CPU manufacturers typically build chips for a single speed and then sort
them into speed bins based on how quickly they were able to run before
they got flaky. The expensive "turbo" versions of your favorite graphics
card are the same hardware as the base versions, but they ran at a faster
speed without crashing. You're paying a premium for the performance
boost, but it follows the laws of supply and demand: the chips that run
at the highest speeds have the lowest yields, hence they cost more.)
Computer overclockers like to push the boundaries of what their components
can do by assuming that the chip manufacturers put some tolerances into
the bin-sorting, meaning that they can run the chip faster than rated
without it becoming unstable. Or at least not *too* unstable.
With CD recorders, the speed differences might be due to hardware limitations
or might be due strictly to marketing reasons. The common experience among
"overclockers" is that the firmware change simply converts the drive from one
kind to another. It's unclear, however, if such updates introduce more
subtle problems, such as worsening the jitter present in audio recordings.
It should be pointed out that updating your drive with firmware for a
different drive is VERY DANGEROUS and could result in your drive being
unreliable or irrevocably dead. You should not attempt to "overclock"
your recorder unless you were planning to get rid of it anyway.
Remember, this change only works on drives that were deliberately
underpowered, so for many devices "overclocking" simply isn't an option.
For details on performing these modifications to a variety of drives, see:
Some other notes can be found here:
- http://www.cdfreaks.com/news2.php3?ID=4169 (Lite-On)
- http://www.cdfreaks.com/news2.php3?ID=4181 (LG)
- http://www.cdfreaks.com/news2.php3?ID=4401 (Sony)
Subject: [5-25] I need some help installing the drive
When in doubt, read the manual. If a tech support phone number is
included, call it. Read section (5-15) for information on IDE
configuration for a PC.
Yamaha has some interactive instructions for the PC on their site at
navigation is a little counter-intuitive, but it's okay once you
The book _CD and DVD Recording for Dummies_ by Mark L. Chambers has a
section on drive selection, installation, and troubleshooting. If you're
new to CD recording, the software tutorials may be helpful as well.
Subject: [5-26] How much power does a CD recorder use?
About the same as a CD-ROM drive, even when recording. Some simple
experiments suggest that the only significant power drain occurs when
the disc is spinning up. Some personal notes follow.
I connected an external Plexwriter 8/20 through a "Watts Up?" power meter.
The Watts Up? device is designed for moderate loads (20W up to about 1700W)
and isn't good at detecting small fluctuations, but it's accurate enough
for this purpose. I connected the CD recorder and a fan drawing 50W
through the meter, and subtracted 50W from the results.
When completely idle, the CD recorder and its power supply draw 8-9W.
Since the recorder isn't actually doing anything, I'm guessing most of
this is loss in the power supply itself. In any event, it establishes an
While playing an audio CD through the front panel headphone jack at 1X,
there was no change in power usage.
While playing an audio CD through Windows Media Player, the load increased
to 9-10W. I got a similar drain while extracting audio at 8x with jitter
correction and at 20x without jitter correction (about 13x actual speed,
according to Nero). Recording a disc at 8x gave the same result.
The only time I saw the recorder draw more than 10W (1-2W above idle)
was during transitions. Inserting an audio CD gave a quick 16W pulse, and
there were similar small blips at the start and end of recording the CD.
Spinning up the spindle appears to draw an extra 6-7W over the idle load,
but very briefly.
A drive with a higher speed rating would draw more power while spinning
up, but would probably use the same amount while actually doing work.
While installing Linux on a different system with an Asus 52x CD-ROM drive,
I noticed the load for the entire system went from around 50W when idle to
a fairly stable 90W while doing CD media verification. How much of that
was the drive and how much was the CPU is unclear -- the load on the system
would go from 50W to 70W when quickly raising and lowering a window under
X11 -- but it's clear that there's more to the story than the drive itself.
My earlier hypothesis -- that CD recorders draw significantly more power
when recording -- appears to be incorrect. There have been cases where
people could do test writes but not actual writes, and solved the problem
by upgrading their power supply. However, this appears to have more to
do with the power supply's stability than changing load requirements.
The power supply that fixed the problem may have been more reliable, or
perhaps the old one was always overtaxed and the problem didn't manifest
itself until something requiring precise power management was in use.
Subject: [5-27] Will the laser in my drive wear out?
Yes, eventually. Depending on a number of factors, though, it's quite
possible that your device will suffer mechanical breakdown or simply
become obsolete before that happens.
There are many different ways to construct a laser diode. Different
approaches result in different wavelengths, maximum power levels, and
lifetimes. The lifetime of a laser is usually measured as MTTF (Mean
Time To Failure) at a particular power level and ambient temperature
(e.g. 10,000 hours at 5mW and 50 degrees Celsius).
Higher power levels mean higher heat dissipation -- the optical conversion
efficiency of a laser diode is around 30% -- and in the semiconductor world,
more heat usually equates to shorter lifetime. Recording for an hour at high
speed will take a greater toll on the laser than playing a CD for an hour.
The bottom line is, there really isn't anything you can do to make the
laser last longer. It'll last a very long time when used to read CDs,
so there's no point in reserving the drive just for recording. It might
last a little longer if you use lower recording speeds, but if you're
willing to do that then why pay for a high-speed recorder?
Sony Semiconductor's "Laser Diode Guide" is available from
Laser diodes can suffer catastrophic failure (they suddenly stop working)
or gradual degradation (reduced optical power for a given input power
level). The power calibration sequence ((4-13), (5-11)) automatically
adjusts the power supplied to the laser for a given disc and write speed,
so reductions in output are compensated for automatically. However,
if the laser's efficiency is reduced, more DC power must be supplied,
more heat is generated, and the likelihood of failure increases.
For a discussion of laser diode reliability, see
[ continued in part 4 of the FAQ ]