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Appeared on: Monday, July 16, 2007
DVD Burning, Speed vs Quality


1. Introduction

Today we will look into the matter of how much does the writing speed of a DVD recording session affect the disc's writing quality. For this test, we used two separate DVD-recording drives with 20X maximum DVD writing speeds (HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00 & LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05) and two discs from each format (DVD±R) as follows:

Obviously, a more complete test would require the inclusion of more drives and media brands, in order to statistically produce more conclusive results regarding the influence of burning speed on the writing quality. However, we consider that the results of this review will if nothing else, be interesting to say the least.

The discs from the CD DVDspeed writing sessions with the LG drive, were read on the LITE-ON drive and vice versa. The reason being that each drive is well suited to reading its own burns, as well as having the capability of correcting the errors that are caused by its own recording sessions, according to our experience with some previous tests.

So, producing a series of flawless graphs, which is what in the main occurs when each disc is read with its own burner, does not really contribute to our aim in this review. Furthermore, writing quality is also about how well a burnt disc can be read by a large cross section of drives. As well, we needed our tests to be as consistent and reliable as possible, since even the slightest difference in the writing quality of the same brand disc at two different speeds can be pretty important here.

Apart from the discs and optical storage drives that are mentioned above, we also used the Nero CD DVD Speed Software and of course the DaTARIUS Analyser 2X to measure each disc's writing quality.

The pages of this review are sorted by disc and drive combination, and each one contains the results produced from recording the DVD media at 4X, 8X, 16X, 18X and 20X writing speeds, which are the most frequently used by everyday users.

Below are the two drives used in our tests. Both have been reviewed in our labs.

HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L

Read more about this drive, as reviewed on cdrinfo.com

LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05

Read more about this drive, as reviewed on cdrinfo.com


2. LG - Verbatim MCC 03RG20
Disc: Verbatim MCC 03RG20 (DVD-R)
Burner: HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00

Writing - 4X (3.97X Average) in 15:01

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.37X Average) in 9:14

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (11.92X Average) in 5:31

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 18X (13.45X Average) in 4:59

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 20X (14.93X Average) in 4:36

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

It was not possible to read the disc with the LITE-ON drive, so we tried reading it with the LG drive, with which it was originally burned. Below, the results.

So, we find that the specific disc burned at 20X is readable by its burner but not by another drive, in this case the Lite-On LH-20A1P. Let's see what the DaTARIUS Analyser has to say.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

With the DaTARIUS Analyser, reading was possible to the end of the disc, but the results show that there are severe problems with the quality, towards the end of the disc, probably at the point where the Lite-On drive failed.


3. Lite-On - Verbatim MCC 03RG20
Disc: Verbatim MCC 03RG20 (DVD-R)
Burner: LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05

Writing - 4X (4.00X Average) in 15:17

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.81X Average) in 8:26

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (12.10X Average) in 5:52

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

4. LG - Taiyo Yuden TYG03
Disc: Taiyo Yuden TYG03 (DVD-R)
Burner: HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00

Writing - 4X (3.97X Average) in 15:02

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.37X Average) in 9:12

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (11.93X Average) in 5:31

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 18X (13.45X Average) in 5:00

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 20X (14.93X Average) in 4:36

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

Another "unreadable" disc. Let's see how the LG drive does when reading the same disc.

Again we see that with a disc that is "borderline" as far as burning quality is concerned, when read with a drive different to the one used to do the writing, there's no guarantee that it won't fail altogether, let alone complete the reading process.

The DaTARIUS scans also confirm the not so good writing quality with high POF counts towards the end of the disc, which is where the Lite-On drive had problems. As an observation, it is interesting that the DaTARIUS Analyser has so far, not had problems reading to the end of any disc, whereas the Lite-On drive has failed on two occasions. I say interesting because commercial drives will usually fail, only after making several attempts when reading over problem spots, while the DaTARIUS Analyser is designed to only make one attempt or pass. This enhances the view that the final readability of a disc is not only dependent on the burner used or the media itself, but also on the reading drive as well. Had we used something other than the Lite-On DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05, there's no doubt we would have had entirely different results.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

5. Lite-On - Taiyo Yuden TYG03
Disc: Taiyo Yuden TYG03 (DVD-R)
Burner: LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05

Writing - 4X (4.01X Average) in 15:16

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.80X Average) in 8:24

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (12.10X Average) in 5:54

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 18X (13.63X Average) in 5:22

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 20X (14.60X Average) in 5:07

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

There was no problem reading the various discs, although those written at 18X and 20X did introduce errors as shown by the DaTARIUS scans even though the CD DVD Speed graphs do not indicate any problems.


6. LG - Verbatim MCC 004 000 (00h)
Disc: Verbatim MCC 004 000 (00h) (DVD+R)
Burner: HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00

Writing - 4X (3.97X Average) in 15:02

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.37X Average) in 9:09

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (11.90X Average) in 5:46

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 18X (13.42X Average) in 5:16

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 20X (14.89X Average) in 5:00

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

7. Lite-On - Verbatim MCC 004 000 (00h)
Disc: Verbatim MCC 004 000 (00h) (DVD+R)
Burner: LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05

Writing - 4X (4.00X Average) in 14:55

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.81X Average) in 8:20

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (12.09X Average) in 5:50

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

There's no denying the fact that at 16X, there is a noticeable change in the quality. It seems that up till now, with all the discs tested, the problem area is consistently located at the end of the disc, which isn't surprising since this is the most vulnerable part of a disc and especially so at the higher burning speeds.


8. LG - Taiyo Yuden YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h)
Disc: Taiyo Yuden YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h) (DVD+R)
Burner: HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00

Writing - 4X (3.97X Average) in 15:01

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

The reading speed drops down to around 4X just around the half way point, and doesn't go any higher that 6X at the end. We then read the disc with the LG drive, resulting in a smooth graph where the maximum speed reached 16X.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.37X Average) in 9:09

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

The same problem here as well. When we then read the disc with the LG drive, it produced a much smoother graph but this time, there were some glitches near the end.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (11.89X Average) in 5:47

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

Very slow reading speed which only reached a maximum of 6X. This is worrying, but lets see how the disc does with the LG drive.

As smooth as it gets.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 18X (13.41X Average) in 5:16

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

Again there are problems reading the disc with the Lite-On drive.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 20X (14.89X Average) in 5:00

Reading (LiteOn LH-20A1P)

Surprisingly, the reading speed reached its maximum value with some ups and down near the end of the reading session. Let's try it now with the LG drive as well, so that we will have a full complement of reading from both drives with the disc on this page.

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

9. Lite-On - Taiyo Yuden YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h)
|
Disc: Taiyo Yuden YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h) (DVD+R)
Burner: LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05

Writing - 4X (4.01X Average) in 14:55

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 8X (7.80X Average) in 8:22

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 16X (12.07X Average) in 5:50

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 18X (13.60X Average) in 5:17

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

Writing - 20X (14.66X Average) in 5:01

Reading (HLDS GSA-H55L)

DaTARIUS Scanning Test Results

Click on thumbnails for larger view

10. Conclusion

We have created a series of tables below with the discs used for each burner. For each disc, we have the PISum8 and POF measurements from the DaTARIUS scans at each of the burning speeds. This allows for a quick and easy comparison of the quality of any particular disc at each of the burning speeds. Our aim here, is to see whether writing quality is affected by burning speed.

Numbers in bold indicate the smallest number of digital errors for each media, and as a result the best recording quality. Numbers in red indicate values that exceeded the limits for the particular digital error measurement of each recording session. Finally, the speed with the best burn quality for each disc, has the respective measurements shown with a bright  yellow background .

We also created a couple of charts using the maximum values from the PiSum8 measurements for each writing session. The dotted red line on each graph, indicates the limit for the PiSum8 signal, according to the specifications for DVD (280).


HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00
 
MCC 03RG20
TYG03
MCC 004 000 (00h)
YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h)
PiSum8
POF
PiSum8
POF
PiSum8
POF
PiSum8
POF
Avg.
Max.
Avg.
Max.
Avg.
Max.
Avg.
Max.
4X
14
70
2
6
25
0
4
13
0
232
596
0
8X
24
164
0
13
48
1
9
49
0
23
150
0
16X
291
1664
8
103
1116
1
29
407
1
18
77
0
18X
509
3177
10
28
226
1
73
585
0
23
128
0
20X
380
3261
16
102
552
2
218
1657
8
37
546
1


LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05
 
MCC 03RG20
TYG03
MCC 004 000 (00h)
YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h)
PiSum8
POF
PiSum8
POF
PiSum8
POF
PiSum8
POF
Avg.
Max.
Avg.
Max.
Avg.
Max.
Avg.
Max.
4X
15
88
0
7
22
0
6
41
1
29
147
2
8X
12
65
0
9
34
1
5
31
0
15
50
0
16X
21
329
1
37
820
0
260
1808
3
18
84
0
18X
-
-
-
123
980
1
-
-
-
110
715
3
20X
-
-
-
526
2058
7
-
-
-
32
407
0

As can also be seen in the respective measurement pages of this review, the Lite-On drive was incapable of burning Verbatim media (both DVD-R & DVD+R) at 18X and 20X writing speeds. This is why we only have results for 4X, 8X and 16X writing speeds for the specific drive-disc combinations.



So let's see if indeed writing speed plays a role in the quality of a disc.

Immediately discernable from the above tables, is that all but one of the best burns for each disc (bright yellow background) occurred at either 4X or 8X burning speeds, and 4 out of the 8 best burns occurred at the 8X speed. There was one case, with YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h) DVD media recorded with the HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00 drive, where the 16X and 18X writing speeds produced the lowest digital error counts. The speed at which the least number of POF counts occurred was at 8X, followed by 4X, 16X, 18X and finally 20X. So from this, we can say that 8X is probably the best burning speed.

The case of the 16X and 18X burns producing fewer errors than at the slower speeds, is quite interesting. This isn't surprising though, since the media we have chosen for this test is generally considered as high quality, and the majority of DVD burner manufacturers have optimized their drives for 16x ~18X writing strategies using these discs. And we have often seen in our drive reviews, some media brands producing very good burning quality at high speeds, so this cannot be considered as an isolated case.

All of the above conclusions are based on the DaTARIUS Analyser measurements. But what about the drives themselves, how well did each see the other's burns. The two tables below, show how the two drives used in this test, rated the discs burned by the other drive. The rating used is not based on any quantitative measurement, but on how good the CD DVD Speed graphs were in each case. Good indicates that the graph was clean and reached the maximum reading speed without any problems. Fair indicates a few speed drops but still without problems. Poor indicates that the disc was read, but it did not reach maximum speed or suffered severe speed drops. Failed is when the disc was not read, failing somewhere during the process.

Burner: HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GSA-H55L 1.00
  MCC 03RG20 TYG03 MCC 004 000 (00h) YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h)
4X Good Good Fair Poor
8X Fair Good Fair Poor
16X Good Good Good Poor
18X Fair Fair Good Poor
20X Failed Failed Fair Fair

 

Burner: LITE-ON DVDRW LH-20A1P KL05
  MCC 03RG20 TYG03 MCC 004 000 (00h) YUDEN000 T03 000 (00h)
4X Good Good Good Good
8X Good Good Good Good
16X Good Good Good Good
18X - Good - Good
20X - Good - Good

The first and most striking thing is that all discs burnt by the Lite-On drive and read with the LG, were good. There wasn't a single disc that produced the slightest hint of a speed drop. In this case, it is impossible to come to some conclusion as to whether burning speed affects the writing quality.

In contrast, discs burned with the LG drive and read with the Lite-On resulted in a mixed bag with regard to quality. Unlike our conclusions from the DaTARIUS scans, 8X is not the best speed, that honour goes to 16X. In fact, the only conclusion we can come to here is that 20X is not a good choice.

With the limited number of media used and only two drives (apart from the DaTARIUS Analyser), it is difficult to come to an absolute conclusion on whether writing speed affects quality. What complicates things even more is that we cannot tell with any certainty whether the all "Good" burns with the Lite-On, as indicated by the table above, are due to the Lite-On being a good burner, or the LG being a good reader. This can only be resolved by doing more tests which will include more media and a larger number of drives.



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