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Appeared on: Tuesday, February 19, 2002
Sony CRX175A CD-RW


1. Introduction

SONY CRX175A IDE CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

This is the Sony's turn to present a ambitious proposal for optical recording at 24x. The new drive is the "Sony CRX175A". As it is well known, the competition level is very high and is established by TEAC, Yamaha, Plextor, Sanyo, Liteon and many other manufacturers. To obtain the performance required, Sony uses the 24x-16x Z-CLV writing technology, 40x max CAV for reading and 2MB buffer memory, among with the "PowerBurn" anti-coaster technology. We will try to examine the drive's capabilities in writing and reading tasks and of course the quality of the given performance.

- New Technologies

is the technology designed to prevent errors in writing data onto a CD-R/RW disk in a CD-R/RW drive by automatically setting up the optimum recording conditions for the media while automatically adjusting to the delay in data transmission from a host PC. Even if data writing onto a CD-R/RW disk is interrupted due to delays in data transmission from the host PC (buffer under-run), Power-Burn technology instantly controls and accurately connects the interruption and resumption points of the data recording to give continuous writing indispensable for CD-R/RW playback compatibility.

In addition Power-Burn automatically optimizes recording conditions for the CD-R/RW drive such as the writing speed and the strength of recording laser light,analyzing the disk quality by reading pre-recorded information like the recommended recording speed and the conditions of a recordable side of the disk. In general, the acceleration of writing speed of CD-R/RW drives increases the possibility of delay in the data transmission from the host PC, which causes buffer under-run. Because CRX175A stops its data transmission when buffer under-run occurs and resumes writing only after a sufficient amount of data has been transmitted from the host PC, it avoids writing errors.

With high performance in both of the timing of when to resume writing and the location of where to resume writing, CRX175A allows recorded data to be read out smoothly during playback. In addition, the CRX175A tests data writing in order to automatically set the optimal recording conditions for each recording media as it reads out the maker's pre-recorded information on the disk. When a large gap is detected between the center core of a recording media and the rotation axis of a drive, CRX175A automatically changes its recording conditions to a recordable writing speed.

- The package

The supplied package is the retail Europe version and contains: the drive , an operation manual, audio and the necessary IDE cables. The package also contains an application software CD-ROM by Sony, which includes the "B's Recorder Gold" as a main writing software, the "B'sClip" software for packet writing, the "Retrospect Express" software for file backup. Also in the same CD-ROM you can find the "Photo Base" application by Arcsoft, a digital album photo software which includes Photo Studio for editing, the "ArcSoft's "Video Impression" as a video software and the "MusicMatch jukebox" for playing and creating music CDs. The software CD-ROM comes with a quick start guide for all the provided software. Lastly, the retail box also contains a useful cd marker pen.

The front of the drive contains the "Sony", "HS-RW", "24/10/40" and the "Power-Burn" logoes. You will also find the usual eject button, the headphone input jack/volume selector and one led:

In the back of the drive you will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for setting the drive to Master/Slave option, the analogue and the digital audio output connectors:

- Installation

Sony CRX175A was installed as Master in the secondary IDE BUS. The drive worked in PIO-Mode4 mode and after boot up, it identified itself as the "SONY CD-RW CRX175A". We unchecked the Auto Insert notification, checked DMA and rebooted.

The drive was a September 2001 model with firmware revision v1.0h installed. For most of our tests we used the Nero v5.5.5.7 among with Ahead InCD v3.14 (for packet writing tests), CloneCD 3.1.1.0 and Padus DJ 3.50.799.

- Test Machine
WinMe OS
Soyo 7VCA
Celeron II 566 over clocked to 850 MHz
128MB SDRAM PC 133
WD 18GB UDMA 66
Quantum Fireball EX 6.4 GB UDMA 33
DAWI 2975 - PCI (ULTRA) SCSI Host Adapter
ATI AIW 128
Sony CD-RW CRX175A firmware v1.0h
TEAC CD-W524E firmware v1.0A
PleXWriter PX-W2410A firmware v1.02
Yamaha CRW3200 firmware v1.00


2. Data Tests

SONY CRX175A IDE CD-RW- Page 2

Data Tests

- Test Method

* SCSI Mechanic v3.0x: This was used to compare the drive's I/O performance against other various CDR-W drives (see charts). We used a pressed CD containing PlexTools v1.08 for all tests.

* Nero CD Speed v0.84b was also used to check the drive's performance with pressed CDs. For that test, we also used the PlexTools v1.08 pressed CD.

- SCSI Mechanic v3.0x results

In the average random I/O test, Sony CRX175A gave an 610 kb/sec performance and did not manage to stay close enough to how the other drives performed. The sequential test results were better for Sony since it gets the second place behind the Plextor drive.

- Nero CD Speed v0.84 results: (Click to see the CD Speed Graph)

In the Nero CD Speed results the Sony drive gave exactly the same performance as Yamaha CRW3200E! The drive gave the second best reading speed with 30.56x.

In the same test, we write down the seek time of Sony CRX175A in random, 1/3 and full disc access. The drive had a good performance with 116sec in the Random test. Yamaha and Teac offer a different approach, since they hold the lead in the seek time issue with 84 msec and 77 msec respectively.

- PSX Pressed Media

For this test we used the PSX game 'NBA Jam Extreme' and we ripped the image to HD with CloneCD. We measured the reading time of the SONY CRX175A , which is one of the best with 57secs.

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

As in the pressed cdr reading test, Sony managed to give a good 31.2x performance, and shares the second place with the Yamaha drive.


3. RW reading tests
SONY CRX175A IDE CD-RW - Page 3

RW reading tests

- Nero CD Speed v0.84 Results: (Click to see the graph)

For the RW tests we used the Ricoh's HS-RW media written at 10x speed. As you can see below, Sony has the best reading performance among with Yamaha CRW3200E:

CloneCD Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD (v3.1.1.0) 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 TEAC CD-W524E. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. For comparison reasons we added the results of the already tested PleXWriter PX-W2410A, Teac CD-W524E and Yamaha CRW3200. The following picture shows the reading/writing capabilities of Sony as the CloneCD reports:

- SafeDisc 1/2 Results

Sony CRX175A had hard times to read the original SafeDisk 1 label. Reading the backup cd was easier and the drive finished the task with a 2097,41 sectors/sec reading performance.

With SafeDisc2 protected CDs, things are slightly better for the original CD test. However SONY CRX175A did not give the best performance...

- LaserLock 1/2 Results

Again, with LaserLock 1 protected CDs, the Sony drive performs differently with the original than with the backup CD. The drive, while it needs 20mins for the original disc, it finishes the backup CD at only 3mins. The overall performance of Sony is good and the drive is placed in the second position for this test.

The LaserLock 2 protected CDs are very hard for all recorders to read. Sony CRX175A did manage to finish the task in 26.5 min for the original CD and has the best performance as shown above.

- SecuROM Results

The Sony CRW175A does support reading of SubChannel from Data/Audio Tracks. The reading performance however is slow and comes in the last place since it needs approximately 20 min to read the original or the backup cd.


4. DAE Tests

Sony CRX175A IDE CD-RW - Page 4

DAE Tests

- Test Method

We used CD DAE 99 v0.21 beta and EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 software 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, but the CPU usage was only taken from CD DAE 99, since EAC occupies the system a lot more. As a last note, we used the "BURST" reading mode of EAC. We made a full CD Rip starting from the first to the last track of the CD. The Average DAE reported speed along with the CPU Usage is displayed in the test graphs.

- DAE features

We used EAC v0.9 prebeta 11 to examine the drive's features. As the program reported, the drive supports "Caching" of data and supports "Accurate Stream"/"C2" error info. All 4 tested drives supports up to 40x (CAV) DAE speed.

 

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

Sony CRX175A performed good with pressed Audio CDs. Its average DAE ripping speed is 29.05X and gets the second place very close to PlexWriter PX-W2410A.

- CDR AudioCD results - (Click to see the Nero CD Speed graph)

SONY CRX175A showed a stable behavior with CDR media and improved its reading performance to 29.87X. The PleXWriter PX-W2410A is still the faster drive for DAE:

- 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
TEAC CD-W524E
5.6
4.5
PleXWriter PX-W2410A
8.7
9.6
Yamaha CRW3200
5.5
4.9
Sony CRX175A
8.5
7.2

- Advanced DAE Quality

Sony CRX175A got a 100 score (best) in the Nero CD Speed Advanced DAE test. The drive's average reading speed was 28.18x and no errors were produced. As the following picture shows, the drive cannot read CD-Text but can read SubChannel Data (not from the lead in/out area)

- Bad CDR Media results

Despite the fact that CD Speed 99 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 (%)
PleXWriter PX-W2410A
27.7
2946403
0.39
TEAC CD-W524E
26.5
1
0.00
Yamaha CRW3200
5.2
58476010
1.17
Sony CRX175A
12.2
74597
0.00

Sony CRX175A read the cd with 12.2X and did not produce many reading errors (0%). The Plextor drive is the faster with 27.7X but it produced more errors. The TEAC CD-W524E has the best performance in this test.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

SONY CRX175A does not recognize both 90/99 minute AudioCDs. The drive cannot complete the test since it stops reading either at approximately 86mins.


5. CDR Tests
Sony CRX175A IDE CD-RW- Page 5

CDR Tests

Sony CRX175A uses Z-CLV for achieving 24x writing speed. Below is a graph which represents the main differences of Sony implementation of Z-CLV writing technology compared to the fastest 24x Z-CLV recorder from Plextor. A quick look shows that the Sony drive shifts from 16x to 20x and to 24x later than the PleXWriter PX-W2410A. That means Sony''s total recording time would be higher than Plextor's. Our tests confirmed that claim but the maximum difference in times is no more than 4-5secs:

Click To Enlarge!

In the following table we can see the average writing speed of the TEAC CD-W524E, PleXWriter PX-W2410A, LiteOn LTR-24102B and Sony CRX175A, according to the Nero CD Speed:

CD-RW drives
Average Writing Speed with 80min CD (X)
TEAC CD-W524E
22.55
PleXWriter PX-W2410A
22.77
LiteOn LTR-24102B
22.78
Sony CRX175A
22.40

Sony CRX175A gave an average writing speed of 22.40X, which is the best performance among the other drives shown above. However the compilation we wrote for the test with the Sony drive had a 79.59.00 sec length, (in an 80min cd), slightly smaller than the one we have used for testing the other drives. And that because the Sony CRX175A does not support overburning.

Click To Enlarge!

As the Sony CRX175A shifts its writing speed later than the PleXWriter PX-W2410A, it has lower rotation speeds which never exceed 8000rpm. Higher rotation speeds produces more noise but also give higher recording speeds.

- Procedure

We tested the Sony CRX175A with Nero v5.5.5.7, Ahead InCD v3.14, CloneCD v3.1.0.0 and, Padus DJ v3.50.799 software. We used various of media for performing our tests: Mitsubishi Chemicals 74/80min 24x certified, Mitsui 74min 24x certified, Taiyo Yuden 74/80min 24x certified, Ricoh 74min 24x certified and Ricoh's 74min HS-RW.

- 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 4 CDR-W drives:

Sony does not seem to like writing at 16x and took 322 seconds to complete the task. However, it occupied the only the 9% of the CPU. The best performance in this test comes from Yamaha CRW3200 with 310 seconds.

In the above test we measured the writing time of four drives which support writing at 20x. The lowest writing time belongs to PlexWriter PX-W2410A. Sony CRX175A needs 268 seconds, a performance close to those from Liteon LTR-2410B and Aopen CRW2440.

This is the test you probably waiting the most. Sony did not manage to perform as the other drives, as shown above. The drive is slower than the competition and the answer may be the use of "PowerBurn" technology. We noticed that the drive spins up and down several times in the begining of the writing process in order to perform power calibration. This may have an affect in the writing time but possibly gives a higher quality result.. We will find it out in the C1 testing.

- 80min CD-R Tests

In our normal burning tests the 80min CD contains slightly more than 80min data (79:59.00 for the Sony CRX175A)

Sony CRX175A gave a good result and the 337 seconds it needed to finish writing is close to the competition. Also, Sony's CPU usage is very low. (9%)

Behaving as in the previous test, Sony does not give the best performance while writing at 20x, but gives a compatible result.

- Overburning Tests

Sony CRX175A does not support overburning. Users should have in mind that the data to be recorded should definitely fit in the cd they are using.

- CD-Text Results

Sanyo officially claims that the drive supports the CD-Text format. However we did not manage to write or read any audio cds with CD-Text. Nero Burning Rom produced an error when we tried to write an audio cd with cd-text in DAO mode.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD v3.1.1.0 reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW and SAO features. We performed our usual tests and we confirmed that the drive supports fully the DAO-RAW writing mode (SafeDisc 1.0/2.0, LaserLock 1/2 and SecuROM 2) as well as the SAO mode.

- SD2 Support
For the SD2 test we used the "No One Lives For Ever", "Max Payne" and "Emperor Battle of Dune" game titles. We used the Sony CRX175A both as reader/writer. The produced backup worked partially, since it can work only in the same drive.

- Buffer Underrun tests

SONY CRX175A supports the "PowerBurn" anti-coaster technology which worked fine in any case of sudden buffer underrun.


6. Writing Quality Tests
Sony CRX175A IDE CD-RW - Page 6

Writing Quality Tests

We used Ricoh's 74min 24x CD-R media. All CDs were burned at 24x writing speed for each drive with Nero 5.5.5.6 and were Audio CDs with 74:51:27 in size. The produced CDs, were measured from DigitalDrives and results are illustrated in the following tables:

Ricoh 74min 24x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
17
0.9
227
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
20
0.8
LiteOn LTR-24102B
28
3.8
252
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
22
1.3
247
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
40
1.5
246
Plextor PX-W2410A
14
0.5
234
Sony CRX175A
15
0.6
242
TEAC CD-W524E
41
1.0
237

Sony CRX175A has a very good writing quality with Ricoh's 74min 24x certified media. The average C1 error rate is 0.6 and the average burning time is 242secs. However, the PleXWriter is faster and also produced slightly higher quality CDs. Remember that PleXWriter PX-W2410A has been in the market from August and already 2 new firmware updates have been released. The following graphs come from the Ricoh 74min (24x-20x) media:

SONY CRX175A gave a high quality writing result, as you can see in the above graph. The produced C1 errors are below 5 cps for the largest recorded area, except from a small area (peak on the graph), which raise the average C1 result. Very good writing quality from SONY CRX175A!

Click To Enlarge!

Writing at 20x in the same type of media still gave very good results. The drive produced an average C1 error rate of 15 cps and kept the quality of writing in a high level throughout the whole 74min cd.

- More Writing Quality Results

Mitsui 74min 24x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
20
0.7
227
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
17
0.7
LiteOn LTR-24102B
64
0.9
242
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
18
1.2
246
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
26
1.7
245
Plextor PX-W2410A
17
1.5
230
Sony CRX175A
56
1.1
244
TEAC CD-W524E
17
0.8
237

With Mitsui 74min 24x certified media, SONY CRX175A gave an 1.1 average C1 error rate which is the third best quality among the 24x Z-CLV tested recorders.

Taiyo Yuden 74min 24x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
28
0.6
228
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
53
3.0
LiteOn LTR-24102B
7
0.2
246
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
10
0.5
253
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
11
0.5
249
Plextor PX-W2410A
9
0.6
232
Sony CRX175A
14
0.2
242
TEAC CD-W524E
9
0.4
238

With Taiyo Yuden 74min 24x certified media the Sony CRX175A and LiteOn LTR-24102B produce the lower C1 error rate. Aopen CRW2440 comes second with 0.5 C1 error rate, Plextor and Yamaha come third with 0.6.

Mitsubishi Chemicals 74min 24x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC on)
12
2.1
259
Yamaha CRW3200E (OWC off)
12
2
225
LiteOn LTR-24102B
10
1.8
244
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed on)
13
1.6
247
Aopen CRW2440 (JustSpeed off)
16
1.6
243
Plextor PX-W2410A
17
1.9
234
Sony CRX175A
14
0.4
242
TEAC CD-W524E
15
1.8
236

Sony CRX175A made the difference in the above table. It produced the lower C1 error rate (0.2) with the Mitsubishi Chemicals media, when all the other drives gave bigger rates.

Various Brands at 24x media
Model
C1
Average Burning Time (secs)
Max
Average
Ritek 80min 24x
22
0.5
261
Taiyo Yuden 74min 24x
14
5
285
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 24x
15
2.7
256
Ricoh CD-R 80min 24x
42
1.6
256
Mitsui SGULTRA Inkjet 16x
14
0.4
242
Mitsui SGULTRA II 24x
1.1
56
244
TDK D-View 74min 12x
46
5.9
244

7. RW Writing Tests
Sony CRX175A IDE CD-RW- Page 7

RW Writing Tests

We used Nero 5.5.5.7 for writing CDs at the maximum RW speed for all the tested drives. Sony CRX175A supports fully the HS-RW format:

Sony CRX175A has the third best re-writing time with 487secs. The drive used in average the 6% of the CPU while burning and erased the HS-RW CD in only 35sec!

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.14 for all Packet Writing tests with a Teac HS-RW medium. The formatting of the media takes around 11 minutes. 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:

Sony CRX175A has slightly lower writing speed than the first PlexWriter PX-W2410A. The average writing speed is 7.2X, which is a very good performance. The average reading speed (17.4X) is also adequate, slightly faster than the Plextor drive but slower than Yamaha CRW3200E.


8. Conclusion
Sony CRX175A IDE CD-RW- Page 8

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- Excellent writing quality with all inserted media!
- Supports "Power-Burn" anti-coaster technology
- Good DAE ripping performance
- Good DAE ripping quality
- Supports HS-RW standard (10x re-write)
- Supports DAO-RAW
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel data
- Very good packet writing performance
-
Very good reading pressed/CDr/hs-rw performance
-
High PSX ripping speed

- Higher writing times than competition
- Higher seek times than competition
- No CD-Text support reading/writing
- Very bad CloneCD reading performance
- Doesn't support Overburning
- Doesn't support reading higher than 86mins
- Creates partial working SD2 backups
- One year of warranty (?)
- Firmware is not upgradable (?)

SONY CRX175A came late to market considering the competition already established by the other 24x CD-RW manufacturers. However, Sony developers seem to have done a good job here. The drive produces very high quality CDs in various CD brands, even in those that are not supposed to have the "best writing quality". The reading performance of the drive is very good and so is the produced DAE quality. Candidate users will have no problem when they will try to rip any PSX CD or try to use the supported packet writing option.

Sony CRX175A supports the "PowerBurn" anti-coaster technology to protect you from buffer underrun problems and to optimize the writing quality. However, this option will cost some extra seconds while performing writing to a CD-R due to the calibration occurred in the beginning of the writing process.

The main weakness of the drive is the absence of the overburning option, that will prompt you if you try to write more data than the CD capacity can offer. Also, the drive cannot backup protected titles and will not recognize any 90min-99min CDs you may insert in the tray. Lastly, the lack of SD2 support is something that the competition does offer while Sony doesn't.

The expected price of the drive is around $170 higher enough from what the competition offers, compared to the LiteOn/AOpen and the TEAC drives. The PleXWriter PX-W2410A costs around the same, while the Yamaha CRW3200E costs about some extra $20-$30.



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