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Appeared on: Monday, February 18, 2002
Prassi PrimoCD Pro8 CD-R Software


1. Installation

PrimoCD Pro Pro 8 v1.1.317 - Page 1

History

Prassi Europe SARL was founded on September 23, 1999 in Le Mans, France. The company was established to provide a worldwide freedom of choice in easy to use yet remarkably advanced CD and DVD recording software. In October 1999, Prassi Europe released its first product, a professional CD Mastering and Duplication software package called PrimoCD Pro. PrimoCD Pro is the first truly simultaneous, multitasking CD Mastering application capable of preparing and executing many different jobs at once.

Overview

PrimoCD Pro is a professional mastering software designed for CD and DVD Recorders, Towers and Autoloaders. It performs direct disc copy, perfect disc imaging to file, ISO and UDF mastering, Audio disc from Wave MP3 and WMA files. Several recording jobs can be prepared and run simultaneously, or queued and run in sequence.

If the autoloader is equipped with a printer, this application takes care of handling the disc printing as well. A complete activity log, full error code return, sophisticated verify, beside being suited for a fast computer equipped with several SCSI boards and many recorders (virtually up to 64), make this application the ideal tool for the professional in disc mastering and replication. However, even the advanced power-user with 2-3 cdr's will see several unique benefits too.

What PrimoCD Pro can do ? (Source Prassi PrimoCD Pro On-line Manual)
- Direct Disc Copy / Stream Job: Direct copy from a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM to the target recorders can be made. When running an Autoloader, the "Stream Mode" Job is available, where the source discs are put on the top and in the middle of the input stack, thereby minimizing user intervention.
- Global Image: A disc can be completely copied to a .GI (Global Image) file where all the information and the disc geometry are stored. This .GI file is one you can save or send over a network to recreate later or elsewhere the exact source disc. The Global Image stores also disc printing and user information.
- Audio Mastering: An audio disc can be made with Wave or MP3 files with pre-gap editing. The MP3 files are decompressed on the fly. It is possible to make an audio compilation from MP3 files directly, without any conversion on disk, Disc at Once, at 8x recording speed using 8 recorders simultaneously, with just a 400MHz PC.

What is this "job" and why is important ?
Every Job is a file and the application is MDI based. Therefore you can create and open several jobs at once, may be even prepare a new one while another is already running. The jobs can run simultaneously (the application will alert you if you try to use the same drives or if the same bus is engaged) or queued-up for sequential operations. A set of opened jobs along with their sequence and position in the main window, is called Workspace, and you can save and reload several jobs at once just saving or loading one of the 8 available Workspaces. The log will list in different colors the different Jobs for better control of simultaneous long operations.

Installation

Prassi PrimoCD Pro comes as a single exetutable. After you click on it, a nice message pops up and the installer is checking setup files for corruption and possible virus infection. During the installation procedure you will be asked to choose the installation directory. After that PrimoCD Pro setup gives you a detailed report about installation files and where they are keeped. You will notice that "PxHelper.vxd" installed into \WINDOWS\SYSTEM\IOSUBSYS\ folder.

Actually PrimoCD can be work with WinASPI layer but Prassi says "..Under both Windows 95/98 or Windows NT, the PxHelper drivers maximize the SCSI performance and perform the File System blocking while recording..". It enables several other possibilities to PrimoCD as changing CDRom-CDR/W Windows settings inside PrimoCD...

I had problems with "PxHelper.vxd" cause it my Teac 532E-A showed 2 times into PrimoCD so i decided to work with WinASPI. It also screwed up the aspi layer in our Win2000 pro installation, but that was easily fixed by the OS itself after the reboot...

I started PrimoCD and i got a message that PxHelper did not load and Prassi PrimoCD could work without it (could be nice to make that screen not apear every time you run PrimoCD with WinASPI layer..).

After pressing ok you see the main window of Prassi's PrimoCD Pro which is devided into 3 main windows. The Drives window, the Jobs window and the right window into which all jobs take place. You can also add the log activity window to monitor all current activities. This log records all user actions and system responses during the recording process by time of occurrence. You can see all possible Error Codes and then figure what was the problem. PrimoCD manual has a full list of possible error codes so if something come up you can see what the cause of the problem is...

Into Drives window (left top) you can see all possible CD Rom, CDR/W, DVD Rom devices that are present in the system. If you right click on them you can choose from: Disc Explore and drive properties, Open/Close Tray and select/deselect reader & recorder. (Note : select/desect reader & recorder apear only when a job is started otherwise it stays grayed out.)


2. Features

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PrimoCD Starter

PrimoCD offers a wizard for making various jobs more easy. It will be enabled not at start (why not?) but after you select a job and start it..You can find it under File>PrimoCD Starter. However no advanced options are located here..(Verify after burn, burn method : TAO,DAO,SAO..)

After you select it the main screen comes:

From there you can select PrimoCD standard jobs (Disc Copy, Data Disc, Audio Disc) and select Recorder.

Disc Copy

From here you can copy a CD. Select Reader, Recorder, Burning speed, Burning method and press RED button!..That simple!

Data Disc

Add folders and file, select Burn

Audio Disc

How make Audio CDs with PrimoCD ? Very simple..Add tracks (wav, wma, mp3) and burn!..No advanced options here. (pre-gap lenght..)


3. Recording options

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Make a Data CD

Open PrimoCD go to File > NewJob > Data Disc. The Data CD Job window opens. Now you can add folder and files by brownsing into local and network HD or CDs ( you cannot select both files and folders..). You can also add files and folders with Windows Explorer by drag & drop them into Data Job window.

When you add a folder PrimoCD gives you the following options : You can select from moving all files (*.*) from root ( \*.*), partial path (\emulators\*.*) and original full path (\test\emulators\*.*).

 

From Data Job window you can select : Number of copies, writing speed, burn method. After selecting recorder from drives window you can check file names for possible violation of the System Format (changing name of the file should be added here..). After that all are set to go.

Press the red button and the burn will start..After burn is finished ,if you had selected verify option, verify will begin and compare the data from source and CD if they are identical. You will get a full report about verify and possible problems occured. Only problem with Data Job is when inserting files and folders. PrimoCD should had Window Explorer for adding folders and files more easily. With current status you cann't add a folder and select specific file(s) to burned or add several files from another folder to other easily.. You can do it but manually and not with drag&drop as in others CDR Software..

Recording options


- Enable Pre-mastering cache:
This option is very important especially when you have to write a lot of small sized files. You can select from: No cache (default), Cache all files, Smaller than xkb (drag ruler from 1kb to 100kb)

- Recording Type:
Here you can select from 4 different recording options :
Track at Once (TAO), closed / Track at Once (TAO), not closed / Disc at Once (DAO), closed / Disc at Once , Not closed (Session at Once)

- Mode Option:
Mode 1 and Mode 2 XA are avaible. For a single closed session, it does not matter which one is chosen. However, if the session to be written will be appended to existing sessions, the mode of the new session must be the same as the existing ones. Mode 1 is generally the preferred mode for multisession due to better error correction.

- File System Type:
You can select from 4 different options. For most user Microsoft Joliet option is apropritate.

- File data and time:
"Original file date and time" or "All files set to the mastering date and time"

- Publisher ID, Data Preparer and Application ID.

Other Type of Data CDs which can be made with PrimoCD Pro:

- Mixed Mode CD:
PrimoCD can also make Mixed mode CDs (one track of CD-ROM data followed by n tracks of audio in a single session). Just into 1st track insert an image (ISO) track from HD and then desired audio tracks. You can modify, for each track, the pre-gap, the Indexes and the ISRC. These functions are available via the Edit menu (or right-clicking on the track).

- CD Extra CD:
A CD Extra (also called Enhanced CD) is a special Audio CD that contains also an additional data session. This disc is quite useful when you want to carry on a single disc some standard audio CDDA tracks and also a CD-ROM content. A CD Extra contains a first session, closed audio, with the CDDA audio tracks. Then, there is a second session, usually closed XA, with a Mode 2 XA data track inside.

- Create an Audio Job, with all the required Wave (or MP3) tracks.
- Select Job Options in the Edit menu and, in the field Recording Type, choose Disc At Once (DAO) Not Closed (Session at Once).
- Record the Audio Job on a blank disc.
- Make a Data Job with the required files. In the Job Options, this time, select to close the disc and the Mode as Mode 2 XA.
- Record the Data Job on the same disc

I think making CD-Extra CDs with PrimoCD should be more easy (maybe add a wizard ?..)


4. Disc Copy - Audio CD's

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Disc Copy Job

You can copy a disc directly from another drive, either a CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or an unused recorder. If you do not want to copy directly because a reliable and fast source CD drive is not available you may go via file image. PrimoCD Pro supports up to 8, 16, 32, 64 CDR-W drives working at the same time!

Positive features:

- Verify option:
It is recommended that verification be included in all job setups, since recording on CD-R discs is a "blind" process (there is no check on the data after it is written by the laser). Serious media defects that cause the writer to lose track of the guide groove will cause a disc to be rejected.

However, less serious defects (fingerprints on the media, for example) may not cause a failure during writing, but the disc may not be readable on many reader drives (8X recording are more susceptible since the laser power is weakened by the defect). Read-after-write verification provides a means of determining that the written disc is readable and is the only quality-control method available with commercial CD-R drives.

- Stream job:
The stream job is available only when using an autoloader. Stream job is useful when it is needed to minimize the user intervention and to do multiple masters replication in a batch mode.

Missing features (or not ?): PrimoCD hasn't any advanced option like : "Ingore Read Errors", "Raw read/write", "Scan gap/indexes", "Ignore illegal TOC" or even select reading speed of CD Rom. What this mean ?...Forget PSX & Game <backups>.. For testing this i tried to backup an advanced protected CD (Bleem!) but PrimoCD had another opinion. After inserted the CD into Drive properties the drive was not ready (meaning couldn't see it..)

However all the above <desired> options are not a real problem for mastering use. All those CDs have no protection. The most important thing there is the reliablity issue (and PrimoCD is able to verify the burned CD) according to Prassi.

Make and record a Disc Image Job

This procedure is useful when you need to make several copies of the same disc and you do not want to read from the source drive every time. Also, by having the Global-Image file stored on the hard disk allows you the possibility to return immediately the source.

After insert the master disc into a drive right-click on it (from drives window) and select "Disc Explorer and Drive Properties". Press "Global-Image Panel" button and enter the name of the disc image (.GI extension) and then press "Build".

You can record image from File > New Job > Global Image or Other Image. Browse or search from local HD for an image. Then select copies, burn speed, action (Test,Verify..) and of course recorder. Press red button to finish action.

Make AudioCD

PrimoCD can make AudioCD from wav and mp3 files. We tested with all the main wav/mp3/wma sample-rates, and also with some tiny 2kbyte sized wav/mp3's. Some programs have problems with really small audio files, but this is not the case here. Decompression was also a little faster than Adaptec's EazyCD 4.0, although both programs seem to use the same codecs for the task. Mixing various compression-rates & formats as source for the same audioCD is also painless.

Making AudioCDs with PrimoCD is quit easy. Select from File Menu >NewJob>AudioCD Job and the AudioCD Job window will apear. You can add files (wav,wma or mp3) and PrimoCD will display the pre-gap time, start and length time.

You can move files up and down (in order to make the track list). PrimoCD can also search on all local HDs for audioCD files. From the options menu you can select the burn method (TAO,DAO,SAO), UPC and pre-emhasis. If you press right click on a file you can select also the pre-gap (sectors/second). Final you can select the burn speed, and burn method..

PrimoCD supports CD-Text (as mensioned on Homepage). Since Yamaha 4416s doesn't support it, CD-Text option didn't apear on any menu..


5. Drive Tuning

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Drive Tuning:
The Drives Tuning option under the Tools menu provides you with a means of easily modifying the settings of all of your CD-R and CD-ROM drives simultaneously.

This screen is arranged into 4 columns. The first column indicates the drive by its name, SCSI Host ID, SCSI Drive ID, and Drive Letter. The second column lists the status of the Disconnection Option for each drive. The third column lists the status of the Synchronous Data Transfer Option for each drive. The final column lists whether Auto-Insert Notification is enabled or disabled.

You may handle each drive individually in this screen by clicking on the drive and selecting the ON or OFF button for each option, or you may select multiple drives by holding down the CTRL key and clicking on each drive. You may also click the first drive, hold down the Shift key, and then click the last drive, and all drives between will be selected. While the drives are selected, if the ON or OFF key is clicked for any option, it will be applied to all selected drives. When you have completed your changes, you may select the Save Changes, Reboot Now option, or the Save Changes, Do Not Reboot option. Your changes will not go into effect until the system has been rebooted.

Drive Options:
From drives window when you press right click you can choose from various options..

If you select "Disc Explorer and Drive Properties" you can see detailed Drive properties,CD Media Properties and CD contents.

The Disc Explorer provides detailed information about a disc inserted into a selected drive. It can be used with either a CD-ROM, a DVD-ROM or a recorder.At the completion of the analysis the Disc Explorer panel will present the following disc and drive information:

- Drive Properties
- Session/Track list
- Visual diagram of the disc:
> Yellow - If the outer ring of the diagram is yellow the disc is appendable (open)
> Green - The inner ring of the diagram shows the portion of the disc that is recorded on an appendable disc
> White - If the outer ring of the diagram is white the disc is not appendable (closed)
> Grey - The inner ring of the diagram shows the portion of the disc that is recorded on a non-appendable disc
> Blue - The disc is a rewritable format. Use only as a copy source
> Red - The disc is DVD format. Use only as a copy source

From there you can extract image of CD or specific tracks of CD. Press Global Image button, select name of image and extraction speed and press "Build". PrimoCD give details about extraction speed (instand and overall) and progress bar. Extraction file is at *.gi format (only read by PrimoCD).

Same way work Track extraction. You select the desired track of CD and after choosing file name you press "Extract". Here extractioned file has either ISO or wav file extension. Bad thing here is that on IDE devices (aka Teac 532E-A) you couldn't select extraction speed (only max was avaible). This could cause problems since Teac can't do perfect DAE above 6x...

You can also do various tests to see how your drive performs on Data and DAE extraction. PrimoCD results : Teac (15.2x Data & 16.4x DAE 98% correct), Plextor (19.0x Data & 18.3X DAE 100% correct) and Yamaha 4416s (9.3x Data & 7.4x DAE speed..NO % of how much it is correct). From this menu default blank size can be inserted and print the layout of CD.

Program Options:

From Tools>>Options you can select:

General:

The General Tab gives you the standard options for the application and it's default settings.

You can modify default speed of the recording, default type of recording.

If you select one of the radio buttons which will automatically select a recorder or multiple recorders which will be selected by default for your recording job. The General Tab also provides you with the ability to set the length of the Log Panel's Log. You may select to save 500 entries, 1000 entries, 5000 entries, or 10000 entries. The option to use a small font for the log panel is also found here.

View:
The first option on the View Tab is the Refresh While Adjusting The Windows Split tab. When this is checked, the screen status will be updated when you modify the column and row borders. You may also select to use Flat Toolbars from this screen. The next option is for Guidelines in the List Views. When this is checked, and screen which is divided into columns and rows will have guidelines displayed. The View Tab also allows you to configure the picture which is displayed by default on your desktop. You may also select to not display a graphic, or to display another graphic (.bmp, jpg, and .gif images.).

Data Job:
The Data Job Tab allows you to set the default Path for your data files when added to a Data Job. The default setting is set to Ask. Whenever you add a file to a data job, the program will prompt you to select the destination folder on the CD for the selected files. You may change this option to automatically remove the directories from which the file or directory is nested under (No Path), or you may select it to automatically use the full directory path for the file (Full Path).

Temporary:
The Temporary Tab allows you to select the directory which the application will use when creating temporary files or temporary images.

Advanced:
The Advanced Tab allows you to select the type of error reporting (command, sense, ASC, and ASCQ codes) of the failure when your recording fails. The Advanced Tab also allows you to select the mix for the CD-R drives. The nice here is that you can mix different models of CDR-W drives!..However PrimoCD suggests to use only default option (same model and same firmware).

Job/Round:
The Job/Round Tab allows you to set the various options for use when doing multiple job or round recorders. The first option available is to "Compute the discs still to go, count only the good ones". When this option is checked, it will only count the discs recorded successfully as being completed.

The Job Start box allows you to select the default setting for when a recording begins. You may have the recorders automatically check to see if the blank discs are inserted (default), or you may have the recorders eject their trays for loading. The End of Recording option gives you different options. You may also select how the recorders will treat the discs once they have been completed. You may select to have the drives Eject All Discs whether the recording completed successfully or not (default), have the drives Eject Only Good Discs, or to not eject the discs when the recording completes.

Blank Size:
The Blank Size Tab allows you to input the default size of your blank recordable media. As you might understand from this menu you can select the overburning feature by inserting not the actual size (ex. 74min) but the max size of CD (ex. 76min). CD size is inserted into sectors and also you can see size & time of inserted sectors.


6. Tests

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Tests

As you will read below I made several tests to test Prassi capabilities for multitasking Jobs. Since I had only 2 CDRW I made all possible compinations:

- 1 CDR Test :
Target: Data CD from HD D: (4440 Folders, 6764 files)
Recorder: Yamaha 4416s (frimware 1.0f)
Cache all files below 30k, 4x, SAO burning method, Record and Verify

And at the same time with PrimoCD I made 2 Disc Images on other HD (C:) with 2 readers:
1st Reader: Teac 532E-A (firwmare 3.0a) - Extract track from CD (649.9MB) to HD C: , read speed max
2nd Reader: Plextor 40x (firwmare 1.01) - Extract track from CD (640.4MB) to HD C: , read speed max

Propose: Test PrimoCD stability & multitasking capability..After Data Job started I started also making at the same time images from both readers. Burn and images tests ended ok!. We also used PrimoCD for making AudioCDs from Mp3+Wav files and all produced CDs were ok.

- 2 CDRW Tests:
This time I tested PrimoCD Pro with 2 CDRW (Yamaha 4416s & 8424s).

1st Test: I Made a CD Copy from Plextor40x to both Yamaha CDRW at 4x. Same time I started making Image of an CD from Teac 532E-A to HD.Test ended ok!

2nd Test: I started a Data Job to 4416s (big files above 3mb). After this I started an Audio Job from Mp3 (same HD!). Both jobs burning speed was at 4x.

When I pressed the red button for the 2nd Audio Job I got a warning message had 2 options. Either Queue the Audio Job and start it when Data Job finishes or Start now even Data Job was in progress..I decided to select 2 option..Start the Audio Job ..Now both jobs ran simultaneous. Both Job ended ok!!

3rd Test: Decided to go even further for the most difficult test..I was going to start an Data Job into 4416s..(a LOT small files..cache limit 30k..DAO burn mode..from both (C:),(D:) HDs)..After Data Job recording started I opened an Audio Job (source :Mp3 (C:) HD) and in the same time start making images from BOTH CD Roms into ((C:)..Sounded kind difficult.. ;)..However both Images and CDs produced ok!

Final Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- No problems in Both Win98 & Win2k with existing programs
- Easy interface
- Data verify after burning
- Overburning
- Section At Once (SAO) support
- CD-Text Support
- Support for 8 CDR-W
- Can mix different models of CDR-W drives!
- Several recording jobs can be prepared and run simultaneously, or queued and run in sequence
- On the fly decoding Mp3 with 8x recording speed using 8 recorders simultaneously, with just a 400MHz PC (as Prassi claims..)

- No full On-Line manual
- No AutobootCD support
- No HybridCD (MAC) support
- No Read speed selection
- Adding data needs improving


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