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Appeared on: Thursday, December 05, 2002
TEAC CD-W548E CD-RW


1. Introduction

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 1

- Introduction

At last, Teac decided to support the 48X recording speed with the CD-W548E. The previous CD-W540E series deserved our "Editors Choice Award" given for the widely media compatibility, the high recording speeds and the low seek times. In the CD-W548E series, TEAC moved from SANYO to MediaTek chipsets and we will try to examine the possible effects and changes in the drive's performance. As usual we compare the drive with competitor drives from ASUS, Plextor, CyberDrive and SONY.

- Features

As we mentioned in the previous CD-W540E series review, the CD-W548E also supports the Fine Focus Control technology:

Most manufacturers"…The required strength of the laser varies greatly with writing and reading processes. With the movement of the write head with conventional CD-R (W) drives, faults often occur when writing and reading. TEAC has made a breakthrough with the new "Fine Focus Control" technology, in that the laser always remains constant and never enters a "jitter mode". The laser remains precisely in the same position on the track, regardless of the speed. This key CD writing technology from TEAC enables the high recording quality with very high speeds…"

The top left picture shows the solution from most manufacturers. Below is what TEAC proposes:

The "Intelligent Speed Control" technology sufficiently tests the status of the CD before the writing process and uses various parameters in order to determine the highest writing speed with the best possible quality. For example, the number of tracks, the disk balance, the power strength of the laser, the type of disk and any possible vibrations with higher rotation speeds are all tested.

- Specifications

The original press release from TEAC claimed that the drive supports the Zone-CLV recording method "...In order to achieve the high writing speed, the new TEAC drive works with Zone Constant Linear Velocity as recording technology. With Zone-CLV the CD is divided into three zones, internally and externally, in which the write speed varies. In more simple terms, the drive is able to automatically synchronize these three zones when burning and consequently can always achieve a linear speed..." However the drive that arrived in our labs supports CLV and P-CAV for the various recording speeds!

The drive's features according to Nero Info Tool are the following:

The drive supports 48X maximum reading / writing and 16X re-writing speeds. The buffer is 2MB and the reading of CD-Text and CD+G is supported. Nero Info Tool also reports that retrieving of C2 error information is supported but its accuracy would be examined later. Mt. Rainier format is also supported. The following pictures show the drive's supported reading/writing speeds:

- Recording/Re-writing speeds

The drive supports the 48X recording speed with the use of P-CAV recording technology. As Nero CD Speed revealed, the drive starts writing at 22.82X and gradually reaches the 47.69X speed at 66mins and keeps this speed until the end of the disc. That gives an average of 38.56X, making it probably the fastest 48X recorder. The actual recording results confirmed these CD Speed results.

With other CD-R media, the drive's average writing speed can be lower down to 38.22X:

- The package

The supplied package is the retail European version and contains: the drive, one TEAC 80min 52X certified blank disc, a printed operation manual in 7 languages, mounting screws and audio/IDE cables. The main software is Nero 5.5.x, and InCD v3.2.x. The drive has a 2-year warranty (only for Europe) and can be found at the retail price of less than Euro 99.

 

 

The TEAC 12X-52X CD-R media is based on Mitsui chemicals

The front panel of the drive is not different than all previous TEAC CD-RW drives. You can see the usual eject button, the headphone input jack/volume selector and two operation led:

The indicator Leds light in Seek, Play, Read, and Write operation. In the following table you will find a brief description of the different drive states and their associated indicator states

Operation
left LED
right LED
At tray loading/eject
OFF
Green LED flashes (0.24sec interval)
During write
Green LED flashes (1.48sec interval)
OFF
During Audio Play
OFF
Green LED flashes (1.48sec interval)
During Seek/Data transfer
OFF
Green LED lights
At start
OFF
Green LED flashes (0.48sec interval)
Self-diagnosis error / Start error
OFF
Green LED flashes (0.24sec interval)

On the rear panel of the drive you will find the usual connectors (IDE interface, power), the jumpers for setting the drive to Master/Slave option, three un-used jumpers on the right and the analogue and the digital audio output connectors.

- Inside the drive

After removing the bottom screws we can see the internal of the drive. The drive is based upon MediaTek chipsets, a big change from all previous TEAC recorders that mostly used SANYO chipsets:

Click To Enlarge!

- Installation

The TEAC CD-W548E was installed as a Master in the primary IDE BUS. The drive worked in UDMA-33 mode. After booting, it identified itself as a"TEAC CD-W548E". We used Nero v5.5.9.17, CloneCD v4.1.0.1 and Ahead InCD v3.51.61 for the recording tests. The drive is an October 2002 model with firmware revision v1.05 installed.

The drive will automatically reduce the maximum writing speed (48X) when it detects that the inserted media cannot be burned in the selected writing speed. Teac does not offer any way through software/hardware to overpass this feature. The pictures below come from Nero when a non-supported blank media was inserted (maximum speed dropped at 40X).


2. Data Reading Tests
TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW -Page 2

Data Tests

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

The faster drive is the ASUS with an average reading speed of 37.29X. The TEAC CD-W548E gets the forth position with an average reading speed of 36.28X.

The seek times of the drive were good compared with other drives, except from the Plextor PX-W4824A, which was the fastest drive. The CyberDrive CW088D gets the last position with a 104ms random seek performance. The previous CD-W540E series was faster by a 72ms in random seeks mode.

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

With CD-R media, the TEAC drive still gets the forth position. Its reading performance was improved but is still slower than the other drives. The main reason is that the drive starts reading in a quite low speed (20.86X).

The seek times with CD-R media, were the high with a 117ms in the random and 210ms in the full stroke. The Plextor PX-W4824A still holds the first place.

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

The drive supports the 32X (CAV) maximum reading speed for HS-RW format. That drops the average reading speed down to 25.64X, slower than the competitor drives.


3. CD Error Correction Tests
TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we examine the reading error correction capabilities of the drive.

- EAC CD-R Test Disc

- Test Results (Max Reading)

Errors total
Num: 3130389
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 15631
Avg:-21.8 dB(A)
Max: -6.2 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num:1881
Avg:774.3 Samples
Max:3584 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 2
Avg: 408 Samples
Max:408 Samples
Total Test Result
59.7 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The average level of errors is high and mainly produced from the scratched areas of the test disc. Many samples were also muted, and it seems that the most of them were long enough. The performance is low and the score is evaluated to 59.7 points out of 100.

- ABEX TCD-721R

- Test Results (Max speed)

Errors total
Num: 20918090
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 144656
Avg:-42.0 dB(A)
Max: -5.7 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 34620
Avg: 92.6 Samples
Max: 3584 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 52
Avg: 81.8 Samples
Max: 1129 Samples
Total Test Result
52.7 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The ABEX 721R test disc is very hard for many drives and the Teac W548E doesn't seem to be an exception. The amount of total errors is higher than in the previous test, and the average level is -42 dB(A). But the main problem seems to be the error muting samples that are present in a high amount among with some skip samples. The performance is very low and the total score is only 52.7 points out of 100.

- ABEX TCD-726

- Test Results (Max Speed)

Errors total
Num: 0
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 90
Avg:-29.3 dB(A)
Max: -17.9 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Skips Samples
Num:1 0
Avg: 326.4 Samples
Max: 468 Samples
Total Test Result
75.9 points (of 100.0 maximum)

The ABEX 726 test disc was easier for the TEAC drive to read. There were less errors loudness and some skip samples. The overall score is 75.9 points.

- Conclusion

Test Disc
Reading Speed
TEAC CD-W548E
Score
EAC CD-R
Max
59.7
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
52.7
ABEX TCD-726
Max
75.9
Average Score
62.3

TEAC W548E did not showed the accuracy we expected in these tests. The average score is less than average and hardly reaches the 62.3 points out of 100.

- C2 Information accuracy

- Test Results (MAX Speed)

Below is the CDSpeed DAE quality test result of Teac W548E. As you can see, there were many unreadable areas and many compare errors. The drive looses control and produces many sync error after a specific scratch width. The quality score cannot be -5 as the software indicates, but is certainly low. The C2 accuracy is also very low, reaching the 41.24% only.

The C2 accuracy of the Teac W548E seems to be very low. The ABEX 726 test did not gave a C2 accuracy result, since no errors were returned. The overall accuracy score is only 52.1%. Both results from CDSpeed and EAC software show a similar behaviour for the drive.

Test Disc
Reading Speed
TEAC CD-W548E
Score
EAC CD-R
Max
51.00
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
53.2
ABEX TCD-726
Max
-
Average Score
52.1

Below are the C2 error graphs as produced by EAC analyser software...


4. CloneCD Reading Tests

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 4

CloneCD Reading Tests

- Procedure

We used CloneCD and 4 original CDs - Serious Sam 2 (SafeDisc 2), Desperados (LaserLock 2), V-Rally 2 Expert (SecuROM 2) and NBA Jam Extreme (PSX) - in order to test the reading times of the drive. We also tested the reading performance with backups of the original CDs, since the reading speed varies between original and backup media. The following picture show the drive(s) reading/writing features 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 TEAC drive is the fastest drive and first place with only 45secs!

- SafeDisc v.2 Results

The TEAC drive performed quite well and gets the second place behind the ASUS CRW4816A. The drive needs 4:11mins to finish the task.

- LaserLock v.2 Results

The TEAC drive was slower with LaserLock2 media, as was expected. With the original disc it needs 11mins, while with the backup one only 5mins.

- SecuROM v.2 Results

All drives can read SubChannel data from Data/Audio tracks. The faster drive comes from CyberDrive. The TEAC CD-W548E performed quite well and gets the second position with the CD-R media.


5. DAE Tests

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 5

DAE Tests

- DAE features

- Pressed AudioCD

The TEAC CD-W548E was a fast performer, but there are faster drives from SONY and CyberDrive. However, the difference is not that important (0.4X-0.5X).

- Audio CD-R media

With CD-R media, the TEAC drive is close to the top, but the ASUS CRW4816A is faster by a 0.3X. The slowest drive comes from SONY with a 29.6X.

- EAC Secure Extract Ripping mode

EAC's secure extract ripping mode results, which ensures maximum produced WAV quality. Note that for each drive we used the built-in detection function:

Tested Drives
Average DAE Speed (X)
Pressed
CDR
TEAC CD-W548E
10.9
11.0

- Advanced DAE test

All the drives got a "100" score. The DAE speed for the TEAC CD-W548E drive is 26.71X. The drive can also read Leadin information, CD-text and Subchannel data.

- Bad CDR Media results

We used CD DAE software to rip the whole disc (756539616 sectors) to the hard disk.

Average Speed (X)
Errors
Errors Of Total Disc (%)
TEAC CD-W548E
Drive halts, you need to re-start the PC

The condition of the disc can be considered as very bad, so the purpose of this test is not to get the best results with any read errors, but to estimate the capabilities of the drive. The drive could not recognize the disc contents and PC a reboot was unavoidable in order to eject the test disc from the tray.

- Ripping 90 and 99mins AudioCDs

 
Tested drives
Ripping up to
TEAC CD-W548E
Can read up to 99 minutes

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used 2 protected AudioCDs, which we tested in both recognition and ripping (with EAC BURST mode) processes:

* Pressed AudioCD with Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)
* Pressed AudioCD with Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

Key2Audio
CDS200
TEAC CD-W548E
Cannot recognize disc contents
Rips entire disc without any problems

The TEAC CD-W548E was able to rip the CDS200 protected Audio discs, but it failed to recognize the Key2Audio protected Audio disc.


6. CDR Tests

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 6

CDR Tests

The drive supports 4X, 8X, 12X, 16X (CLV), 24X, 32X, 40X, and 48X (P-CAV) writing speeds.

- Recording Tests

The amount of the data we burned was 704MB (80:01:26), for all the drives. The TEAC CD-W548E finished the task first in only 152secs (2:32mins)! The current 52X recorders are faster by only 3 secs, so the performance is really good. The second place is shared between two drives (SONY CRX-210E1 and CyberDrive CW088D). The ASUS CRW4816A comes third with 161secs and PleXWriter PX-W4824A follows with 167secs.

The above graph shows the differences of the recording performances for the three tested drives in all the supported writing speeds. The results are the best we had for each speed. As we can see the Teac drive takes the lead at the 48X and 40X speeds. At 32X the drive is only three seconds slower than ASUS CRW4816A.

- TEAC CD-W548E recording results

- Overburning Tests

The drive can overburn up to 99mins with specific media. However, when we used 99mins media from Disc4You the drive halted at the lead-in area. The below picture is the procedure result with a 99min disc from Unitech.

- CD-Text Results

Both drives can read/write CD-Text without any problems.

- CloneCD Writing Tests

The CloneCD software reports that the drive supports the DAO-RAW feature. With the use of proper media, DAO-RAW writing can be performed at 48X (CAV). For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions with the latest software patches installed. We used the drive as reader/writer at maximum reading/recording speed. Two discs were burned for each game. One disc was burned with PadusDJ and the other with CloneCD (Amplify Weak Sectors On). The results are posted in the following table:

Game Title
Tested Drive
SD2 Build
Settings
CloneCD (Amplify Weak Sectors On)
PadusDJ
Max Payne v1.05
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.50.020
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v.2.60.052
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM
The Sims - Unleashed
Creative 52X
CD-ROM
v2.80.010
Ok
TEAC 40X
CD-ROM
BTC DV316
DVD-ROM

Shifting from Sanyo to MediaTek chipsets affected the drive's performance with the SafeDisc 2 protected discs. The drive can now backup them without the need of any special software...


7. Writing Quality Tests

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 7

Writing Quality Tests

We used various media and burn them at the maximum allowed writing speed. The writing quality scores are in the following table:

Brand
Maximum Writing Allowed speed
C1 Errors
Average Burning Time (mins)
Comments
Max
Average
CMC Magnetics
80min 48X
48X
26
1.1
2:32
Prodisc 80min 48X
48X
37
1.3
2:32
Postech 80min 48X
48X
72
12.9
2:33
Mitsubishi Chemicals
80min 48X
40X
17
0.6
2:40
Allows 48X but the recording is performed at 40X!!
TEAC 80min 48X
40X
19
0.6
2:41
That is the included retail package media, but drive allows only 40X not 48X
Imation 80min 48X
48X
35
2.8
2:32
TDK D-VIEW
80min 24X
48X
36
1.7
2:34
Plextor 80min 48X
48X
12
0.8
2:34
ASUS 80min 48X
48X
19
1.2
2:33
RITEK 80min 48X
48X
44
1.2
2:33

The TEAC CD-W548E showed a very good writing quality. The drive's writing policy is rather strict with the inserted media, but it produced very good results. The lowest C1 error rate at the maximum speed came with Plextor 80min 48X media, while the absolute recording times came with CMC Mangetics based media. The only problem was noticed with Postech 80min 48X media, where a 12.9 average C1 error rate was reported. The drive will not allow 48X writing on Mitsui and Mitsubishi Chemicals based media.

The following media was allowed burning only at 16X

- C1/C2 Error rate from ASUS 80min 48X @ 48X

- C1/C2 Error rate from CMC Magnetics 80min 48X @ 48X

- C1/C2 Error rate from Imation 80min 48X @ 48X

- C1/C2 Error rate from Postech 80min 48X @ 48X

- C1/C2 Error rate from Prodisc 80min 40X @ 48X

- C1/C2 Error rate from Plextor 80min 48X @ 48X

In the following table you can see the manufacturing details of the media we used for our tests.

Name
Real Manufacturer
ID Code
Capacity
Mitsubishi Chemicals 80min 48x
Mitsubishi Chemicals
97m34s23f
79:59.73
Intenso 80min 40x
Prodisc
97m32s19f
79:59.74
Mitsui 80min 40X
Mitsui
97m27s58f
79:59.74
Taiyo Yuden 80min 32X
Taiyo Yuden
97m24s01f
79:59.73
Ciba Plasmon 80min 48X
Plasmon
97m27s18f
79:59.74
Imation 80min 32X
CMC Mangetics
97m26s66f
79:59:74
RITEK 80min 48X
RITEK
97m15s17f
79:59:70
ASUS 80min 52X
ACER
97m22s67f
79:59:74
CMC Magnetics 80min 48X
CMC Mangetics
97m26s66f
79:59:71
TDK D-VIEW 80min 24X
RITEK
97m15s17f
79:59:73
That's 80min 48X
Taiyo Yuden
97m24s01f
79:59.72
Hitachi Maxell 80min 40X
Hitachi-Maxell
97m25s29f
79:59:74
Fuji 80min 40X
Fuji Photo Film
97m26s45f
79:59:73

- Compatibility with WSES software

The drive can work with the WSES software.

Unfortunately the drive does not work either with the C1/C2 measurement test or the Read C1/C2 error count


8. RW/Packet Writing Tests

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW - Page 8

RW Writing Tests

The supported writing speeds for the HS-RW format are the 4X, 8X, 10X, 12X and 16X (CLV).

For the burning tests, we burned a full 74mins disc with all the drives. The results are showed in the following chart. We used the maximum supported speed for each drive.

The TEAC CD-W548E ends the task at 5:00mins. The same time is needed from the ASUS CRW4816A. The Plextor PX-W4824A is the faster drive due to its US-RW re-writing speed. The SONY CRX-210E1 is the slowest drive since it supports the 12X speed.

- Packet Writing Tests

We used Ahead InCD v3.51.61 for the packet writing tests. The formatted disc had 534 MB 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 more than once, to eliminate any possible time measurement faults and user errors.

The TEAC drive performed quite well with a 12.16X writing and 12.3X reading speed under the packet-writing mode. The PleXWriter PX-W4824A gets the first place; due to increased 24X US-RW supported writing speed, while the SONY CRX-210E1 leads in the reading process with 20.45X.

- Mt. Rainier Tests

For testing the Mt. Rainier performance, we used was InCD v3.51.61 by Ahead Software. After the format process, we immediately started the recording process (drag & drop). When the drive finished, we started the reading process back to the HD. While we could perform the writing/reading tasks, the drive couldn't eject the media and locked. We had to reboot in order to remove the disc. This should be looked from TEAC engineers and fixed with a future firmware upgrade.

Drive
Average Writing Speed (X)
Average Reading Speed (X)
PleXWriter PX-W4824A
10X HS-RW
6.36
16.60
24X US-RW
12.80
16.13
SONY CRX210E1
12X HS-RW
8.27
19.75
ASUS CRW4816A
16X HS-RW
1.35
22.46
TEAC CD-W548E
16X HS-RW
9.58
11.56

- EasyWrite tests

The Philips Easy Write tests checks the quality level of the Mt Rainier implementation. The drive accepted the EasyWrite test suite commands however failed to eject the media, as with the tests with the InCD software...


9. Conclusion

TEAC CD-W548E IDE CD-RW- Page 9

Conclusion

Positive (+)

Negative (-)

- The faster 48X recorder ever tested
- Supports "SuperLink" and Fine Focus Control technologies
- Supports Mt. Rainier format
- Very good 16X HS-RW writing performance
- Very good writing quality
- Very fast DAE ripping speeds either with pressed/CD-R discs
- Can rip CDS200 protected Audio discs
- Good CloneCD reading performance
- Supports DAO-RAW writing and can backup SafeDisc v2.80.010 builds
- Supports reading/writing of SubChannel Data
- Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
- Supports Overburning (up to 99mins)
- Supports UDMA33 connection interface
- Low price of <$99

- Supported media for 48X writing speed needs improvement
- Low CD error correction capabilities
- C2 error information is present but with low accuracy
- The drive won't eject written media under Mt. Rainier format
- Cannot rip Key2Audio protected Audio discs
- Cannot recognize our BAD DAE test disc
- Retail package doesn't include 16X HS-RW media, while the bulked 52X media cannot be burned at 48X!

The TEAC CD-W548E possibly comes a little late since nowadays the 52X recorders are already sold in the market. The TEAC name ensures the optimum writing performance with good writing quality and of course high CD error correction capabilities. The CD-W548E completes the two of the three mentioned abilities since it is without any doubt the faster 48X recorder we have ever tested. The recording result of 2:32 mins for a full 80min disc is absolutely amazing if you consider that the faster 52X recorder needs 2:29mins for the same task. The writing quality remained at high levels with 24X~ 48X certified media. Of course we would like to see a higher media compatibility for the 48X media, since several 48X branded media was allowed to written only at 16X...

Continuing mentioning the positives, the drive had very good re-writing performance due to the 16X writing speed, increased DAE speeds (34X) either with CD-R or pressed media, it can rip CDS200 protected Audio discs, its reading performance with protected discs under CloneCD was good (!) and due to the change of used chipsets it can backup SD2 discs without the need of any special software. Lastly the drive's price of <99 Euro makes it an attractive recording solution.

On the negative side we could mention that the drive is picky with the inserted discs at the 48X speed, the CD error correction is low and even C2 error information is present cannot be retrieved with high accuracy. The drive also has some problems under Mt. Rainier, halted when inserted our BAD DAE test discs and cannot rip Key2Audio protected discs. Last, the retail package doesn't include any16X HS-RW media (!) while the bulked 52X media are allowed to be burned only at the 40X speed...



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