Turn off the Ad Banner  

To print: Select File and then Print from your browser's menu.

    -----------------------------------------------
This story was printed from CdrInfo.com,
located at http://www.cdrinfo.com.
-----------------------------------------------


Appeared on: Tuesday, February 12, 2002
PleXWriter PX-W4012A CD-RW


1. Introduction

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 1

- Introduction

Plextor is one of the most important manufacturers of optical storage devices. Many times in the past, Plextor has kept up with the writing race, behind Sanyo, and now a new proposal comes up. Plextor's latest model with the codename PX-W4012A is the first ever recorder that supports 40x writing race and leads the writing race. At the same time frame, where the majority of other manufacturers have already or are about to ship their 32x writing proposals, Plextor moved ahead and presents a recorder that supports the faster recording speeds at both CD-R and CD-RW formats. Our review plans to examine if Plextor's 40x writing speed brings up any major performance differences from the already tested 24x/32x recorders and how the new adopted technologies by Plextor can affect to the overall drive's performance.

- Features

Plextor continues to use Zone-CLV as the main recording technology. In our question, "why P-CAV is not adopted" Plextor answered "...CAV recording can never be better than CLV recording. The drive sets a certain write strategy depending on the disc type and the speed. For CLV, these are kept the same throughout the disc. For Z-CLV, they stay the same within a certain zone. But for CAV, the speed constantly changes. So in theory you need millions of write strategies. It's as if you have thousands tiny Z-CLV zones. So you have to compromise, probably on quality and accuracy..."

Plextor's answer has one correct point. P-CAV is very hard to accomplish without sacrifice of quality. Only Yamaha uses P-CAV for now and their future CAV writers would be probably faster than the Zone-CLV recorders.

Plextor PX-W4012A includes the already known "Burn Proof" buffer underrun protection, and "PoweRec II", media quality control mechanism but also introduces a new system that promises higher quality AudioCDs.

comes from the "Variable Recording" words and allows the change of the laser power when writing CD-DA or CD-R at 4X. (TAO or DAO). Users are allowed to make slight adjustments to the default value (0). This will change the quality of the sound and will also increase the playability or compatibility (or in extreme cases in-compatibility) with the existing players. Plextor says that the default setting (0) already reflects to the optimised laser power with the lowest jitter.

Users may compare Plextor's "VariRec" towards Yamaha's "AudioMASTER" system. We asked Plextor the same question and the answer was that "...VariRec is not an answer to any technology of any other manufacturer. The write quality of Plextor recorders is already much better, several tests have proven this. However, the idea that VariRec is more an option to 'tune according to personal taste'..." doesn't seem to un-veil the whole truth. Both "AudioMASTER" and "VariRec" uses 4x-recording speed, and both technologies promise a reduction of jitter and better AudioCDs.

As it is already known, Yamaha's proposal is to increase the pit length, and has earned the industry's respect. We will have to see how easily Plextor's "VariRec" technology will be accepted from users. A good question here is whether if we can listen to such slight changes of the sound, since the sound digital signal is processed through many DA/AD processes and circuits before the analogue audio playback. Some people claim that they can hear to such changes, probably with high-end systems, but we don't seem to agree. The addition of such specialized technologies for AudioCD recording is reasonable for user who may needed them. I think most of you have forgotten how many minutes it takes to write a full CD at 4x ;-)

There are also other major improvements over previous models, with the concept to produce better quality CDs. Plextor PX-W4012A uses a black tray to reduce the jitter and to increase the quality of the burned CD. In addition an optimised PCB (power circuit board) circuit is used to reduce noise and to get a higher quality of CD. Both of those systems are found in Plextor's PLEXMASTER-01 recorder that costs over $10.000, and is used for PS2 mastering proposes.

Plextor says that "...We found from tests that a black tray reduces the number of C1 errors. This improves the write quality of course. At the same time we improved the PCB circuit to avoid spark noise. Our test equipment showed serious improvement for deviation and especially jitter over the whole range (3T-11T)..."

Let's now pass over the recording specifications. The drive supports the following writing modes: Track-at-Once, Disc-at-Once, Session-at-Once, Multisession, and variable/fixed packet writing. The Plextor PX-W4012A drive supports: 4X, 8X, 16X, 20x (CLV) and 24X, 32X, 40X Zone-CLV writing speeds.

When writing AudioCDs, the maximum speed is reduced to 16x-24x (Z-CLV). The main reason is that Plextor believes that others speeds (32x/40x) would have a cost of writing quality. Most other manufactures allow users to record AudioCDs at 32x speed. The PX-W4012A also supports 4X, 10X and 12X (CLV) re-writing speeds. The buffer of the drive is 4MB, Sanyo 40x also includes 4MB, TEAC CD-W540E 8MB and LiteOn LTR-40125S 2MB. Lastly, there is an improvement of "Seek Times" down to 120ms. Even Plextor hasn't announced it officially, the drive expected to support the Mt. Rainier format - as soon the format will be finalized - with a new firmware upgrade.

The drive's maximum reading speed is still 40x (CAV) and if you are wondering why Plextor hasn't supported the 48x, here is the answer "...For the same reason as why our CD-ROM drives would go 40X max: when you go higher, the forces become so strong that certain CD's may break (influence of speed, temperature, aging and tiny damages around the hub ring). And we don't want to take the risk of damaging our customer's property..." However, our experience with two specific recorders (AOpen CRW3248, CyberDrive CW058D) that support 48X reading speed didn't showed such problems.


2. Installation/Package

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 2

- The package

We got the European retail package which contains: the drive, an electronic PDF manual in 16 languages, an RMA request form, a registration card, a quick installation guide, 6 blank CDs - five 40x recordable (made from Hitachi Maxell) and one 4-12x HS-RW media (actual manufacturer Ricoh), an IDE cable, an audio cable and mounting screws. The attached CDR software comes from Ahead (Nero 5.5.7.3/InCD 3.20) and a separate CD with "PlexTools" v1.12. The drive has a 2-year guaranty (only valid in Europe, Middle-East and Africa) and Plextor's "on-site collect and return service" (EU countries + Norway and Switzerland). The retail package is expected to cost 180Euro.

The attached five pieces of 80min come from Hitachi Maxell

ATIP start of lead in: -02:34:46 (sector: -11596)
ATIP start of lead out: 79:59:74 (sector: 359999)
Manufacturer code: 97 25 29 - Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. (Type: 9)
Disc subtype: Medium Type B, low Beta category (B-)
Target writing power: 4

The front of the PleXWriter PX-W4012A is the same as the previous IDE models. The drive contains the "40/12/40", "BPRec" and the "High Speed" logos.

In the back of the drive, you will find the power connector, the IDE cable connector, jumpers for setting up the MASTER/SLAVE/CABLE select status and finally, the analog/SPDIF connectors. There is also 2 jumpers which represent "DMA" status, in case you need forcing DMA working mode:

- Installation

The Plextor PX-W4012A was installed as a Master in the primary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-33 model. After booting, it identified itself as a "PLEXTOR CD-R PX-W4012A". WinXP activated DMA without our interfearance.

The drive was a January 2002 model with firmware revision v1.00 and TLA#0000 hardware revision. We used Nero v5.5.7.3 Plextor Version, CloneCD v3.3.4.1 and Ahead InCD v3.21 for the recording tests. The unofficial project name of Plextor's PX-W4012A is "Windsor" in case you don't know ;-)


3. Data Tests
PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W- Page 3

Data Tests

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

The AOpen CRW3248 is the definite winner at the SCSI Mechanic tests, since it has the highest performance of the competitor drives. The drive has an average of 5514Kb/s when reading pressed CDs, due to its increased 48x maximum reading speed. The CyberDrive CW058D follows with 5367Kb/s and PleXWriter PX-W4012A, LiteOn LTR-32123S, Mitsumi CR-480ATE and Philips PCRW3210 follow. At the random I/O tests, the LiteOn LTR-32123S holds the first position with 895Kb/s. AOpen CRW3248 follows with 889Kb/s, PleXWriter PX-W4012A comes third with 856Kb/s.

- Pressed CD results: (Click to see the CD Speed graph)

At the Nero CD Speed test, the AOpen CRW3248 drive keeps holding the first place with 37.71X average reading speed. CyberDrive CW058D follows with 36.83X, PleXWriter PX-W4012A comes third with 31.78X, LiteOn LTR-32123S is fourth with 31.64X, and Mitsumi CR-480ATE, and Philips PRCW3210 follow. Even if both AOpen and CyberDrive have 48x maximum reading speed; AOpen is faster due to its increased start/end speeds.

AOpen CRW3248 continues to perform very well and gives the lower random seek times. The drive has a 89ms random seek time, while LiteOn LTR-32123S comes second with 93ms. The rest of the drives (Plextor, Mitsumi, CyberDrive and Philips) gave seek times higher than 110ms.

- CDR Media: (Click to see the CD Speed graph)

All drives improved their reading performance when CD-R media were used. The AOpen CRW3248 continues to take the first place with 37.77X and CyberDrive CW058D follows with a very low performance gap (37.6X). The LiteOn LTR-32123S comes third with 32.18X, PleXWriter PX-W4012A forth with 31.59X, Mitsumi CR-480ATE fifth with 31.45X and Philips PCRW3210 comes last with 31.2X.

- HS-RW media: (Click to see the CD Speed graph)

For the RW tests we used the Ricoh HS-RW written at 10x. The AOpen CRW3248 is currently the faster drive when HS-RW media were used with a 38.42X average reading speed. PleXWriter PX-W4012A comes second with 31.59X, Mitsumi CR-480ATE gets the third position with 31.35X CyberDrive CW058D follows with 30.61X and LiteOn/Philips last with 25.93X/25.43X respectively:


4. CloneCD reading Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W- Page 4

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.3.4.1) and 5 original CDs - Euro 2000 (SafeDisc 1), No One Lives For Ever (SafeDisc 2), Rally Masters (LaserLock 1), Desperados (LaserLock 2) and V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) - in order to test the reading time of the drives. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. The following pictures show the drive's reading/writing capabilities as CloneCD reports:

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to the HD with CloneCD. The PleXWriter PX-W4012A is the fastest reader with just 54 seconds. The LiteOn LTR-32123S follows with 138secs. The AOpen CRW3248 comes third with 174secs, Mitsumi CR-480ATE holds the fourth position with 263secs, Philips PCRW3210 follows with 272secs and CyberDrive comes last with 499secs:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

PleXWriter PX-W4012A is the winner here, with the very good performance of 2546,42 sectors/sec for both original/backup titles. Mitsumi CR-480ATE can only compete the Plextor drive, as it closely follows.

The same scenery with the SafeDisc v2 protected CDs, with Plextor to lead with in the original CD test. With the backup medium, Mitsumi is slightly faster than Plextor with a 2049,43 sectors/sec reading performance.

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

With LaserLock 1 protected CDs, the LiteOn LTR-32123S performed good enough to get the first place. PleXWriter PX-W4012A had hard times with the original cd, but gave a very high performance with the backup title.

With the LaserLock2 protected disc, the Philips PCRW3210 gets the first place (with pressed disc). Again PleXWriter PX-W4012A strikes again in the backup cd test with a very good result.

- SecuROM Results

All tested drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. The LiteOn LTR-32123S gets the first place, Mitsumi CR-480ATE come second, CyberDrive CW058D third and Philips/Aopen/PleXWriter get the last places.


5. DAE Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 5

DAE Tests

- Test Method

We used CD DAE 99 v0.3 beta and EAC v0.9 beta 2 softwares in order to check the DAE performance of the drive with various AudioCDs (both pressed and CDR). The posted DAE results are the average of both applications. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speeds are displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features

We used EAC v0.9 beta 2 to examine the drive features. The drive does "Caching" data, supports "Accurate Stream" and includes "C2" error info.

 

- Pressed AudioCD results

AOpen CRW3248 supports up to 48x DAE ripping. The drive's average DAE speed was 35.3X outperforming the competition. PleXWriter PX-W4012A comes second with 30.1X, CyberDrive CW058D follows with 29.5X and LiteOn LTR-32123S is very close with 29.3X.

- CDR AudioCD results

AOpen CRW3248 doesn't have any problems ripping with the very good 35.4X from CDR media. The LiteOn LTR-32123S improves its reading speed and now reaches almost 30X (29.7X) while PleXWriter PX-W4012A gives exactly the same performance. CyberDrive follows with 29.4X and Mitsumi/Philips has the same performance (28.4X):

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

After many requests from numerous visitors we have added the EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the build-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
LiteOn LTR-32123S
4.4
5.0
Philips PCRW3210
11.6
11.5
Mitsumi CR-480ATE
11.0
11.1
AOpen CRW3248
20.1
20.3
CyberDrive CW-058D
11.2
11.3
Plextor PX-W4012A
7.3
7.0

- Advanced DAE Quality

All tested drives got a 100 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. None of the five drives produced any errors during the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. Aopen CRW3248 was faster with 35.32X and PleXWriter PX-W4012A gets the second position with 29.89X.

- Ricoh 74min 24x certified (made with Plextor PX-W2410A)

With Ricoh 74min 24x certified media, Nero CDSpeed Advanced DAE test showed that Plextor PX-W4012A produced data errors while simulating an on the fly copy. Also, the software stated that Plextor couldn't read CD Text… We decided to repeat the test with different media (Taiyo Yuden 74min 24x certified), as shown below, with better results:

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test stretches drive's mechanism to the max, we decided to do real life tests with a scratched disc. The disc was dirty, and with some light scratches, enough in order cause problems to most of the tested drives. We used CD DAE 99 software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) and the results were very interesting:

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
LiteOn LTR-32123S
14.4
906044
0.12
Philips PCRW3210
8.0
23302
0
Mitsumi CR-480ATE
10.9
353411
0.05
AOpen CRW3248
8.4
313
0
CyberDrive CW058D
27.2
17617
0
Plextor PX-W4012A
22.6
86674027
11.46

The best reader for this test comes from AOpen. The drive lowered its reading speed down to 8x and managed to produce the lower reading errors at this roundup. The CyberDrive CW058D comes second with much higher errors but a low overall error rate. Plextor PX-W4012A was also fast but it produced a high amount of errors (11.46%)! We must note that the drive had problems recognize the test disc. After several re-tries the drive did managed to read the disc contents so we completed this test.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

The drive recognizes both 90/99min AudioCDs without any problems. However it will stop reading at around 94mins.

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 3 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with CD DAE v0.3b/EAC v0.9 beta2) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony Key2Audio
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)
* CDR AudioCD protected with Cactus Data Shield (CDS100) - made with Clone Audio Protector v1.1 (adding 30 secs lead-out)

Key2Audio
CDS200
CDS100
CDDAE
EAC
CDDAE
EAC
CDDAE
EAC
AOpen CRW3248
Cannot recognize disc contents
Rips up to 91%
Rips entire disc without problems
Reads all tracks as Data tracks - ripping impossible
CyberDrive CW058D
Rips entire disc without problems
Rips entire disc without problems
Problems recognize 1st track
Rips entire disc without problems
LiteOn LTR-32123S
Cannot recognize disc contents
Problems recognize 1st track, cannot rip
Recognizes tracks, cannot rip
Mitsumi CR-480ATE
Recognizes disc contents cannot rip
Rips entire disc without problems
Cannot recognize Audio Tracks
Cannot recognize Audio Tracks
Philips PCRW3210A
Rips entire disc without problems
Rips entire disc without problems
Recognizes disc contents cannot rip/PC Halts
Rips all tracks exept 1st one
Plextor PX-W4012A
Rips entire disc without problems
Rips entire disc without problems
Cannot recognize Audio Tracks
Rips entire disc without problems under special settings

The Plextor PX-W4012A can "handle" protected CDs with the right software/settings. The drive will rip contents of Key2Audio/CDS200 discs with EAC 0.9beta 2. In order to rip CDS200 discs, you will have to use EAC's "Detect TOC Manually" option, "Burst" reading mode and "Read Command D8". If you use the "Secure" mode, the drive rips contents at almost 0X.


6. CDR Tests - Page 1

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 6

CDR Tests - Page 1

- Procedure

We tested the drive with latest version of Nero/CloneCD. We used various media for our tests: Mitsubishi Chemicals 74/80min 24x/32x certified, Mitsui 74min 24x certified, Taiyo Yuden 74/80min 24/32x certified, Ricoh 80min 24x certified, Hitachi-Maxell 80min 32x/40x certified and Ricoh 4-10X HS-RW media.

Plextor currently supports 40x-writing speed with the following media:

That means you can forget low priced media written up to 40x. For the 32x writing speed, more media are supported:

For a complete supported media list visit Plextor Europe website. We burned CDs at almost all recording speeds from 16x up to 40x using the SAME amount of data for all the drives. The drive will not warn you if a medium cannot be burned at 40x or 32x recording speed. Other manufacturers automatically drop recording speed when media cannot handle maximum recording speed. The good in that case is that user can understand which media can be used for each recording speed. With PX-W4012A you just select the 40x recording speed, and the drive chooses automatically, through PoweRec II system, the appropriate burning speed.

The posted recording times are the best we had from our test results. Using other media can increase the final burning time.

- Comparison

Before starting the recording tests, let's see how the drives are compared in the writing/rotation speeds:

As we can see the Plextor PX-W4012A starts writing at 20x CLV, same as Philips PCRW3210, shifts up to 24x at 10mins, up to 32x at 30mins and up to 40x at 58mins. That gives Plextor PX-W4012A a theoretical average writing speed up to 29.91X when using an 80min CD. The Philips PCRW3210 has an average writing speed of 26.85X and CyberDrive CW058D 26.85X As we can see the incensement of the average writing speed, compared to the 32x recorders is not such high as we might expected. The main reason are the drops of writing speed, during the various speed shifts:

CDR-W drives
Average Writing Speed with 80min CD (X)
AOpen CRW3248
25.49
LiteOn LTR-32123S
26.23
Mitsumi CR-480ATE
26.34
CyberDrive CW-058D
26.41
Philips PCRW3210
26.85
PleXWriter PX-W4012A
29.91

Plextor PX-W4012A starts writing at very high rotation speed (9800rpm), which is gradually reduced towards 6mins. The drive keeps its rotation speed high in order to be able to write at such high recording speeds. The Philips PCRW3210 drive keeps its rotation speed below 9000rpm. This must be the noisest Plextor recorder ever tested.

- 74min CD-R Tests

We created a "DataCD" job with data slightly more than 74mins (74:03:65). We burned the same job with all five tested drives:

The faster drive at the 16x writing speed comes from AOpen. The drive ends the task at 310 (JustSpeed disabled). The Philips PCRW3210 comes second with 311, CyberDrive third with 312secs, Mitsumi CR-480ATE forth with 314 and LiteOn LTR-32123S follows with 315secs. Plextor PX-W4012A comes last with 319 seconds


Mitsumi CR-480ATE doesn't support 20x writing speed option

The faster recorder at the 20x writing speed comes from CyberDrive with 257secs. Plextor PX-W4012A comes second with 259secs, very close to the LiteOn drive (260 sec).

At the 24x writing speed, we have a few surprises. The faster recorder comes from CyberDrive with the incredible time of 224secs. Plextor PX-W4012A comes second with 227 seconds, LiteOn LTR-32123S third with 236 seconds. Even the Plextor PX-W4012A supposed to be faster, due to its 20x CLV starting writing speed, the final recording time is higher than CyberDrive's CW058D.


Philips PCRW3210 doesn't support 20x writing speed option

At 32X writing speed, Plextor PX-W4012A was the fastest drive with 201 secs, followed by CyberDrive CW058D with 203 seconds. Here the 20x CLV writing speed of Plextor drive does make a difference.

At last we hit the maximum recording speed of 40x. At this time Plextor PX-W4012A has no competition. The task was finished after 3:18 seconds. As you can see the writing time is very close to the one the drive has given when writing at 32X. (3:21 secs). This probably happens, because the drive shifts up to the maximum writing speed 40x just at the 58 minutes spot (74 min entire CD), and so the max writing speed is applied for a limited time frame. The same results are expected to be better with higher capacity media, i.e. with 80 min CDs. The best time came with Mitsubishi's Chemical media.


7. CDR Tests - Page 2

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 7

CDR Tests - Page 2

- 80min CD-R Tests

In our normal burning tests the 80min CD contains slightly more than 80min data (80:01:47):

With 80min CDs, the CyberDrive CW058D holds the first place with 324secs. The drive doesn't write exactly at 16.00X but at 16.33X, which gives an advantage over the competition, producing lower recording times. AOpen CRW3248 comes second with 334secs, Philips PCRW3210 third, the Mitsumi CR-480ATE forth and LiteOn LTR-32123S/Plextor PX-W4012A last with 339/340 secs, respectively.

In the 20x write test, Plextor PX-W4012A finished the writing task faster than the other drives after 276 secs, and the LiteOn/Philips drives follow closely with 280/278 secs results.


Mitsumi CR-480ATE doesn't support 20x writing speed option

 

At the 24x writing speed, the CyberDrive CW058D holds the fist place with 239secs. The Plextor PX-W4012A is approximately 2 seconds slower. The LiteOn LTR-32123S comes third with 251secs, Mitsumi CR-480ATE forth with 255secs and AOpen CRW3248 last with 265secs.


Philips PCRW3210 doesn't support 20x writing speed option

In the 32X test, Plextor PX-W4012A gave the best performance with 213 seconds, followed by CyberDrive with 218 secs. Philips gave the third best performance with 222 secs.

 

The Plextor PX-W4012A wrote a 80 min CD at the maximum 40X speed after just 206 seconds. By the time we write this article, we have not any other 40x drive in our hands to compare this performance.


8. CDR Tests - Page 3

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 8

CDR Tests - Page 3

- Comparison of different writing technologies

The above graph shows the main differences between the 24x Z-CLV, 24x P-CAV, 32x Z-CLV and 40x Z-CLV recording technologies. The above recording times are the best you can have with the tested recorders. The PleXWriter PX-W4012A is the faster recorder at 40x (Z-CLV) writing speed and with 74min CDs the drive is:

- 32secs faster than PleXWriter PX-W2410A
- 27secs faster than Yamaha CRW3200E
- 13secs faster than Philips PCRW3210
- 5secs faster than CyberDrive CW058D

With 80min CDs, the time differences with the rest of the recorders are different:

- 43secs faster than PleXWriter PX-W2410A
- 34secs faster than Yamaha CRW3200E
- 16secs faster than Philips PCRW3210
- 12secs faster than CyberDrive CW058D

The above results show that, the 40X recording performance is close to the one you have at 32X and of course worth to experience if you currently use the 24X writing speed. The Plextor PX-W4012A is 5-12secs faster than CyberDrive CW058D and 13-16secs than Philips PCRW3210 recorders (both 32x recorders).

- Overburning Tests

Using Nero, we saw that the drive can overburn up to 95mins

- CD-Text Results

We created several AudioCDs with CD-Text enabled. The Plextor PX-W4012A supports read/write CD-Text AudioCDs without any problems.

- 8cm Media Tests

For this proposed we used a 8cm RW media and we burned up to 185MB. The Plextor drive didn't have problems to write/read when 8cm discs are inserted.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD v3.3.4.1 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. We performed our usual tests and we confirmed that both drives support the DAO-RAW writing mode at the following CD protections: SafeDisc 1.0, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2. Under DAO-RAW mode, the drive uses the 32x speed, not the maximum 40x:

- SD2 Support

For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever", "Max Payne" and "Serious Sam - The Second Encounter" game titles. We used the Plextor PX-W4012A both as reader/writer at the maximum reading/recording speed and at 4x reading/maximum recording speed. The produced backups were tested with various DVD-ROM and CD-ROMs.

* No One Lives For Ever

The No One Lives Forever has the SD2 v2.05.030 build protection. Plextor PX-W4012A doesn't have any problem to produce a perfect backup. The produced backup worked without any problems with the following drives:

Drive
Worked (Yes/No)
Plextor PX-W4012A CD-RW
Yes
Plextor PX-W40TS CD-ROM
Yes
LiteOn LTD163 DVD-ROM
Yes
ASUS DVD E616 DVD-ROM
Yes
Creative CD5233 CD-ROM
Yes
TEAC 540E CD-ROM
Yes

* Max Payne

The Max Payne has the SD2 v2.30.033 build protection. The produced backup with maximum reading/writings didn't work so well since the game failed to be installed (crc errors during setup process). The produced backup at 4x reading/maximum writing speeds worked without any problems with the following drives:

Drive
Worked (Yes/No)
Plextor PX-W4012A CD-RW
Yes
Plextor PX-W40TS CD-ROM
Yes
LiteOn LTD163 DVD-ROM
Yes
ASUS DVD E616 DVD-ROM
Yes
Creative CD5233 CD-ROM
Yes
TEAC 540E CD-ROM
Yes

* Serious Sam - The Second Encounter

The Max Payne has the SD2 v2.51.021 build protection. The produced backups either at the maximum reading/writing or at the 4x reading/writing speeds worked in some drives and failed in others:

Drive
Worked (Yes/No)
Plextor PX-W4012A CD-RW
Yes
Plextor PX-W40TS CD-ROM
Yes
LiteOn LTD163 DVD-ROM
Yes
ASUS DVD E616 DVD-ROM
No
Creative CD5233 CD-ROM
No
TEAC 540E CD-ROM
No

We also tried the Amplify Weak Sectors (AWS) setting of CloneCD and also second software that is capable of RAW reading/writing (PadusDJ v4.0x) but the results were more or less the same.

As the test results showed, Plextor PX-W4012A can backup earlier builds of SafeDisc 2 protected CDs but not the latest v2.51 builds (and possible future builds too). Reading at 4x won't help with the latest SD2 versions, but probably will create accurate backups of earlier v2.3x builds. We don't know if this "problem" can be fixed with a newer firmware update..


9. Writing Quality

PleXWriter PX-W40120A IDE CDR-W - Page 9

Writing Quality Tests

We used many media ,mostly 24x certified, and burned them at various recording speeds with AOpen CRW3248. We used Nero 5.5.7.3 (Plextor Version) as the CDR software. The produced CDs, were measured from DigitalDrives and results are illustrated in the following tables:

- 20x writing speed

Brand
C1
Average Burning Time (mins)
Max
Average
Taiyo Yuden 74min (24x)
28
1.8
4:26
Mitsubishi Chemicals 74min (24x)
54
4.0
4:19
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min (24x)
56
6.3
4:36
Taiyo Yuden 80min (24x)
65
4.2
4:42

The best result comes with Taiyo Yuden 74min (24x) and the drive produced an average 1.8 C1 error rate. The Plextor drive seems working faster with Mitsubishi Chemical media as it gave lower recording times at both 74min/80min tasks.

- 24x writing speed

Brand
C1
Average Burning Time (mins)
Max
Average
Taiyo Yuden 74min (24x)
15
0.2
3:53
Taiyo Yuden 74min (32x)
13
0.2
3:54
Mitsubishi Chemicals 74min (24x)
14
1.4
3:47
Ritek 80min (24x)
19
1.3
4:09
Ricoh 80min (24x)
29
0.9
4:06
Taiyo Yuden 80min (32x)
15
0.7
4:08
Taiyo Yuden 80min (24x)
20
0.2
4:08
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min (24x)
17
3.5
4:01

Again, the Taiyo Yuden 24x/32x media are recommended for more quality results. However with Mitsubishi Chemicals media the drive will burn faster.

- 32x writing speed

Brand
C1
Average Burning Time (mins)
Max
Average
Taiyo Yuden 74min (24x)
14
0.3
3:28
Taiyo Yuden 74min (32x)
13
0.2
3:28
Mitsubishi Chemicals 74min (24x)
17
1.6
3:21
Mitsui 74min (16x)
15
0.5
3:46
Mitsui 74min (24x)
18
1.3
3:46
Taiyo Yuden 80min (32x)
20
0.8
3:40
Taiyo Yuden 80min (24x)
18
0.6
3:40
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min (24x)
25
3.7
3:33
Ritek 80min (32x)
42
4.8
3:41

At the32x recording speed, the C1 error rate are really low with TaiyoYuden media. The Mitsui 16x worked very good but again the Mitsubishi Chemical media produced faster results.

- 40x writing speed
Brand
C1
Average Burning Time (mins)
Max
Average
Hitachi Maxell 74min (40x)
27
1.9
3:20
Mitsubishi Chemicals 74min (32x)
38
1.8
3:18
       
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min (32x)
64
1.4
3:26
Hitachi Maxell 80min (40x)
27
2.2
3:27

For this test we used the Hitachi Maxell 74/80 min (40x) and the Mitsubishi Chemicals 74/80min (32x) media. The overall quality with all the media was adequate and the drive seems to be slightly friendlier to Mitsubishi Chemicals CDs.


10. RW-Packet Writing Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4012AA IDE CDR-W - Page 10

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.7.3 for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives. Plextor PX-W4012 supports 12x re-writing speeds, and among the drives above, Philips PCRW3210 supports 10x-writing speed:

The CyberDrive CW-058D continues to be the faster re-writer at 12x writing speed. The Plextor drive needs 402 seconds to end the task, while CyberDrive CW058D 394secs. Plextor supports 12x re-writing only with the Ricoh CDRW74/80-10XCW media. If you use other HS-RW media, the recording will be automatically lowered at the 10x writing speed.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.21 for the packet writing tests with the Plextor's HS-RW media bulked in the retail package. The formatted disc had 534mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 kbs) from a Hard Disk (on the same PC as the writers) to the formatted RW media using Windows Explorer (we dragged and dropped) and we completed the test twice to eliminate any possible time measurement faults and user errors:

The Mitsumi CR-480ATE and CyberDrive CW-058D are the two faster re-writers under the packet-writing mode with 8.81X. The LiteOn LTR-32123S follows with 8.55X, AOpen CRW3248 with 8.35X and Philips PCRW3210 and Plextor PX-W4012 come last with 7.1X / 7.02X respectively. AOpen CRW3248 takes the lead over the reading part with 23.17X. Plextor PX-W4012 gets the third place with a 17.35X average reading speed.

Note that even we tried several media (including Plextor's HS-RW) we didn't managed to increase the drive's writing speed from 10X to 12X (under packet writing mode).


11. VariRec

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 11

VariRec

We explained in the first page, the basic use of VariRec (Variable Recording). This page has the propose to exposure how this technology works and if really does bring anything new to user.

Most users may have noticed differences between the playbacks of the various recordable media. The different manufacturing process, the different precision during manufacturing, the coating material of media and the differences between polycarbonate material and thickness are the main reasons. The "VariRec" function can adjust the way each CD is listened back to various playback sources by fine adjusting the laser power - already optimized at that writing mode. That is the VariRec is about.

Through the recording software, user can fine adjust laser power and change the record state to the CD-R media. The final effect can be sound different to each user ear. When you adjust the slide bar of the VariRec plus, minus and you are giving a more delicate phase impression of sound. For high end users this could mean adjusting the sound quality of "hardness vs. tenderness" of the playback sound, even it would be very hard to hear the difference... With the VariRec, the sound quality differs with every equipment where the media is played back. User through his personal verification will decide which values should be use for the specific playback device.

- Technical Background

VariRec can change the value of the laser power. The resulting effects are:

Warning:

Q & A

Q: How much reduction of Jitter is noticed when VariRec is enabled?

A: As you can see from the graph, the jitter is already at minimum. Therefore we don't allow the offset to be changed too much as this might cause the jitter to increase.

Q: In which cases users should use the -1/+1/0 values?

A: The values will depend on the system that is used. '0' is the default setting and will deliver the optimised laser power. Increasing or decreasing the setting will affect the writing, but the degree of improvement depends on the playback system.

Q: In which cases users should/or not use those values?

A: VariRec can be used if a person would like to change the sound according to his preferences (although the changes are minimum, but there are people with a 'trained' ear who claim they can hear the difference) or in environments where the playback of standard devices is difficult (like cheap CD systems, some car CD players, etc). In most cases, the user will not want or need to change the default setting, but for most people it's reassuring that 'the option is there in case they want to use it'.


12. VariRec Tests

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 12

VariRec - Tests

So far Nero and PlexTools support "VariRec" function. In order to activate "VariRec" you need to select the AudioCD project and over the "Write" tab you will find a new button "VariRec" options. If we press it, a new window "Options for VariRec" will show up, giving us some information about VariRec and the slide bar to select between -2,+2 values:

After pressing "Ok' the writing speed dialogue disappears since VariRec works only at 4x (either TAO or DAO). The BURN-Proof function is still enabled when VariRec is selected. Note that VariRec cannot be used with RW media. If you try so, Nero will prompt you that:

At the PlexTools v1.12, VariRec function can be found under the "Drive Settings" tab:

In case you need more information about VariRec, PlexTools will give you a short description of this new technology:

- Tests

In order to test VariRec, we used a high quality AudioCD with classical music. We ripped the contents of the disc with EAC v0.9 beta 2 using the Plextor PX-W4012A under the secure mode (with C2 error information option enabled). The extracted tracks were tested two times in order to ensure maximum quality.

For all burns the same media was used - Noname based upon Plasmon Data and Acer. Both media are low X speed rated (12x). This would give us the chance to see if VariRec technology produces higher quality CDs as Plextor claims. We made 6 discs with the same Audiotracks at various recording modes and VariRec values (-2, -1, 0, +1, +2) and at 4x, 16x and 24x recording speeds. For comparison levels we burned the same task with Yamaha's 3200E "AudioMASTER" technology.

Plasmon Media

ATIP start of lead in: -02:32:56 (sector: -11456)
ATIP start of lead out: 79:59:74 (sector: 359999)
Manufacturer code: 97 27 19 - Plasmon Data systems Ltd. (Type: 9)
Disc subtype: Medium Type B, low Beta category (B-)
Target writing power: 5

Recording Mode
C1
C2
Max
Average
Max
Average
4x recording
49
12.8
0
VariRec (-2)
62
13.4

VariRec (0)

43
13.3

VariRec (+2)

50
13.5
Yamaha's AudioMASTER
35
8.7
16x recording
58
21.2

As the results show, the Plasmon based media produces lot of C1 errors at 16x recording speed. At the 4x recording speed, the PX-W4012A produces much lower C1 errors. When user activates VariRec function the C1 error rate seems increased. The various (-2, +0,-2) values doesn't seem to affect the C1 error rate. On the other hand, Yamaha's AudioMASTER does produce better quality CDs with lower C1 error rate.

Acer Media

ATIP start of lead in: -02:37:09 (sector: -11784)
ATIP start of lead out: 74:25:00 (sector: 334875)
Manufacturer code: 97 22 66 - Acer Media Technology, Inc. (Type: 6)
Disc subtype: Medium Type B, low Beta category (B-)
Target writing power: 5

Recording Mode
C1
C2
Max
Average
Max
Average
4x recording
28
1.7
0
VariRec (-1)
44
2.7

VariRec (0)

26
1.8

VariRec (+1)

23
1.5
Yamaha 's AudioMASTER
20
1.0
24x recording
88
5.4

With Acer media, the Plextor drive worked better. We now were able to write up to 24x writing speed and the C1 error rate is higher than with 4x recording speed. Again the VariRec doesn't improve much the C1 error rate. Last Yamaha's AudioMASTER continues to produce very good quality CDs with the lower error rate at this test.

The above tests showed that in general Yamaha's AudioMASTER produces slight better quality AudioCDs. Of course the withdraw of that technology is the lower recording time ,due to larger pits. The VariRec doesn't seem to offer any major difference than normal 4x recording speed of PX-W4012A at C1/C2 error rate...

- Compatibility

Drive
VariRec (-2)
VariRec (-1)
VariRec (0)
VariRec (+1)
VariRec (+2)
Denon DCD-950 (stand alone)
No problems during playback
Cannot recognize disc contents
JVC XL-P31 (portable)
No problems during playback
AIWA LCX-257 (midi system)
No problems during playback

Our tests showed that in general the VariRec function creates compatible AudioCD with CD Players as Plextor claimed. However when the maximum values are being used (+2,-2) you might get partial working AudioCDs. The Denon DCD-950 standalone CD player didn't recognized the CD that burned with VariRec (+2) value. It is possible that other CD players cannot be able to recognize CDs with VariRec (-2) even we didn't witnessed that that in our tests.

What about hearing differences? Even we tried we couldn't saw any major quality difference between various values of VariRec. The correct testing method would be to have two identical high-end CD players side by side to make such tests. If someone got such equipment, we would be glad to send our test discs for such "hearing" tests.


13. Conclusion

PleXWriter PX-W4012A IDE CDR-W - Page 13

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Supports 40x writing, 12x re-writing speeds
- "BURN-Proof" anti-coaster technology
- "PoweRec II" quality monitor system
- "VariRec" recording mode
- Plextor promises Mt. Rainier support with firmware upgrade
- 4MB of Buffer
- Very Good DAE ripping speed
- Very good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports DAO-RAW writing mode
- Can read/write SubChannel Data from Audio/Data tracks
- Supports CD-Text (read/write)
- Supports Overburning (up to 95mins)
- Supports Ultra-DMA 33 connection interface
- More than complete retail package(Nero 5.5x, 5 pieces of 40x CDR media and PlexTools)
- European retail package offers 2 years of warrantee

- Writing at 40x isn't as fast as you might expect
- AudioCD authoring is limited to 24x
- Limited media support for 40x writing speed
- Maximum reading speed is only 40x. Drive is slower than competition in several tests
- High seek times
- Cannot produce perfect SD2 backups/ DAO-RAW writing only at 32x
- Some problems recognize our bad CDR Audio test disc
- Packet writing only at 10x (?)
- Price ($180-$200)

Some months ago, the first 24x recorders appeared. Many people thought that recording speeds had begun to reach their speed limits. Reality now shows us that not only are these thoughts incorrect, but boundaries are being pushed further and further. Never say never when it comes to CD writing speeds! Most manufacturers have already introduced 32x speed recorders but along come Plextor to leap frog the competition and introduce the first 40x CD writer!

The PX-W4012A drive supports 40x recording, 12x rewriting and 40x reading. The "PowerRec II" feature automatically adjusts writing speeds whilst the 4MB of buffer and built in "BURN-Proof" eliminate buffer underruns. Plextor promises that the new "VariRec" technology, the "black tray" and re-designed PCB will create higher quality Audio CDs. Plextor promises support for "Mt. Rainier" format with future firmware upgrade. The European retail package comes complete with Nero and five 40x CDR blanks. Plextor's two-year warranty (only available in Europe) and the on-site collection service will also please the discerning buyer.

Our tests show that the PlexWriter PX-W4012A has very good DAE performance, and is a very fast reader for protected CDs. The drive does support DAO-RAW writing and can read/write SubChannel Data from Audio/Data tracks. If you need to overburn, then the drive will let you write up to 95 minutes, on the appropriate media. The reading/writing of CD-Text AudioCDs present no problems at all.

However there are some points should users be made aware of:

Finally, the PlexWriter PX-W4012A will not disappoint any user who wants to keep up with the latest recording technology. We did expect a little more from the quoted 40x write speeds, especially when compared to some other 32x recorders we have reviewed previously. We do have questions about the actual effectiveness of the "VariRec" technology and we do wonder whether audio quality is actually improved upon...Despite that PlexWriter PX-W4012A definitely earns our "Safe Buy" Award.



Home | News | All News | Reviews | Articles | Guides | Download | Expert Area | Forum | Site Info
Site best viewed at 1024x768+ - CDRINFO.COM 1998-2014 - All rights reserved -
Privacy policy - Contact Us .