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Appeared on: Friday, January 02, 2004
Aopen CRW5232


1. Retail package - Installation

AOpen CRW5232- Page 1

- Features

JustLink

Buffer under run error prevention technology.

The amount of data accumulated in the buffer memory is continually monitored during the writing process. If for some reason, the data transfer speed from the computer falls below that of the drive's writing speed, the amount of data accumulated in the buffer memory will also fall. When the amount of data in the buffer memory falls below a certain level, and a buffer underrun error will occur should writing continue, writing is intentionally suspended. During this time, when writing is suspended, data transferred from the computer has a chance to fill the now depleted buffer memory. When enough data has accumulated, writing is once again resumed from the point directly after which it was suspended, and monitoring of the amount of data in the buffer memory is recommenced.

JustSpeed

Optimizes the recording speed of the drive in order to get the best quality.

Just Speed prevents writing errors when high writing speeds are selected (16x or faster), by deciding the most appropriate writing speed and writing at that speed according to the results of media calibration, (using among other things the ATIP information auch as maker name, model-number, etc. which are pre-recorded on the disc). When "Just Speed" is OFF and an inappropriate writing speed is selected, the drive tries to write at that speed, simply returning an error code to the software upon failure. However, when "Just Speed " is ON, even if an inappropriate speed is selected, after the drive tries to write at this speed and fails, it reduces the speed by an adequate amount so as to ensure proper writing.

SpeedBoost

With CD-R/RW drive reading speeds getting higher and higher, inevitably these higher speeds also produce more noise. However, such high reading speeds are not always necessary, as is the case when listening to music CDs. SpeedBoost is a feature to speed up the reading speed of the drive only when needed.

The default reading speed of the AOpen CRW5232 drive is 40x. At this reading speed, the CD-R/RW drive will operate quieter and the motor's life will be extended. When you need to increase the speed, simply press the Eject button for 5-7 seconds. The BUSY LED will blink two times, after which the reading speed will accelerate to maximum. After rebooting the system, the reading speed will revert back to 40X.

- Specifications

The AOpen CRW5232 uses a 2MB buffer store. The drive also supports RAW DAO 96 writing (CD).

- The drive

The AOpen retail package includes the drive, an installation guide along with mounting screws and audio cable, SpeedBoost leaflet and how to select it (by pressing on the eject button for 5-7 seconds), two extra faceplates with faceplate installation instructions, one CD-R disc, and the Ahead Nero Express software CD.

The two extra faceplates come in black and off-white. Our drive came with a silver faceplate prefitted.

The drive's front panel has on the tray door, the JustLink logo on the left, Compact disc ReWritable logo centre, and the 52x32x52x speed markings on the right. Beneath the tray door are the headphone input and volume control on the left and power led, next track and eject buttons on the right. Above the next track and eject buttons is the emergency eject hole.

On the rear panel there are the analogue and digital audio outputs (SPDIF), master/slave select pins, E-IDE interface and the power input.

Removing the screws and opening the drive's cover voids the drive's warranty. For reference reasons, we post the following pictures.

Click for Higher Resolution!

The drive uses the RL5E945 from RICOH. The same chipset was used in the previous Aopen CD-RW, the CRW5224.

- Installation

The AOpen CRW5232 was connected to our test PC and was identified as "AOPEN CD-RW CRW5232" under WinXP operating system.

The following pages include the test results of the AOpen drive in comparison with two other drives, the Plextor Premium and the Optorite CW5201.


2. Data CD Reading Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 2

Data CD Reading Tests

- Pressed CD results (Click for CDSpeed results)

The AOpen CRW5232 supports a maximum reading speed of 52x. The test was done with speed boost enabled. The start reading speed for the drive was 23.45x and reached an end speed of 52.67x, with average speed of 39.86x.

On the seek times test using the same pressed CD as in the first test, the AOpen drive was fast for both the Random and 1/3 seek modes.
However, for the full seek time test the drive needed 209ms being the slowest among the three drives.

- CD-R Media results (Click for CDSpeed results)

In the transfer rate test for CDR media, all drives returned virtually the same times. The AOpen CRW5232 was slightly faster with a reported average speed of 39.78x and end speed of 52.7x.

The AOpen drive's seek time results for CDR media are very similar to it's times for pressed discs tested earlier. The drive once again returned low seek times for both random and 1/3 seeks (97ms and 105ms respectively), while being quite a bit slower compared to the other two drives in the full seek test at 207ms. In fact, it was a bit slower when compared to the other drives in all three seeks, with the Plextor Premium being the fastest drive in all three cases.

- ReWritable Media (Click for CDSpeed results)

From the specifications, we can see that the AOpen CRW5232 supports a reading speed of 52x for rewritable media.
For this test we used 32x High Speed rewritable media from Mitsubishi Chemicals.

The above graph shows that the drive didn't manage to reach the 52x reading speed, but instead finished with an end speed of 49.79x. The fastest drive was the Plextor at 52.44x end speed, while the Optorite's end speed was 41.78x.


3. Error Correction Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 3

Error Correction Tests

In the following tests we check the drive's behavior when reading scratched / defective audio discs. The test discs used were the ABEX series from ALMEDIO.

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total
Num: 1059230
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num: 57779
Avg: -73.8 dB(A)
Max: -8.7 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 6547
Avg: 2.2 Samples
Max: 248 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 43
Avg: 7.5 Samples
Max:24 Samples
Total Test Result
63.6 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
67.0 %

As can be seen from the graph above, the drive had a bit of difficulty with the ABEX TCD-721R test disc. The maximum of -8.7 dB(A) for loudness errors is a little high, as is the number of errors at 57779. Muting sample errors also returned a high count, but the skipped samples count is significant and shows the drive is not capable of correcting badly damaged discs.

Also, from the above table, it can be seen that the C2 accuracy for the drive is quite low at only 67%.

The total test result is 63.6 points out of 100 while the C2 accuracy is 67.0%

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total
Num: 238
Errors (Loudness) dB(A)
Num:82
Avg: -90.8 dB(A)
Max: -61.8 dB(A)
Error Muting Samples
Num: 1
Avg: 1.0 Samples
Max:1 Samples
Skips Samples
Num: 0
Avg: 0 Samples
Max: 0 Samples
Total Test Result
91.1 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
C2 Accuracy
66.8 %

The Abex TCD-726 test disc is much easier for drives in general to read, and as such, the AOpen drive managed a better score with this disc than it did with the 721R test disc previously. Here, in all three cases (i.e. loudness, muting and skipped samples), the results are quite good. The average error loudness was -90.8 dB(A), with 1 sample muted and no samples skipped. C2 accuracy however, was again low.

The total test result is 91.1 points while the C2 accuracy is 66.8%

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is a very useful tool for evaluating the Sound Reproduction / Error correction capabilities of a CD player. The disc offers a signal combination with disc error patterns to rate the drive's abilities to read music and reproduce it completely. Five tracks on the disc contain a sequence of progressively difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced (played) through a software multimedia player (i.e. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone coming from the speakers is smooth, continuous without interruptions, skipping or looping. The higher the Check Level passed, the more reliable the sound reproduction of the tested drive.

Error Level
1
2
3
4
5
Aopen CRW5232
5/5
5/5
2/5
0/5
0/5

The drive had problems with this test disc. From as early as the 3d track on the disc, sound reproduction produced audible clicks. The error size on the 3rd track is 0.750mm and the drive only managed to playback the track without interruptions for two out of the five times. It did not manage to playback the 4th and 5th tracks at all.

- Summary

Test Disc
Reading Speed
Score
ABEX TCD-721R
Max
63.6
ABEX TCD-726
91.1
Average Score
77.7

Combining the two scores from the ABEX tests gives an average total score of 77.7 points out of 100. This score is not one of the better scores we have seen from a drive and certainly indicates that there is room for improvement here. What is obvious is that while the drive can probably handle minor defects on a discs surface, it does have problems with anything major.


4. Protected Disc Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 4

Protected Disc Tests
- Reading Tests

We created an image of various protected titles to the hard disk, using CloneCD v4.3.1.9 with the appropriate settings and according to the protection type of the inserted discs. Below are summarized the capabilities of the AOpen CRW5232 drive as presented by the CloneCD programme.

The game titles used and their respective protection schemes are illustrated in the following table :

Game Title
Protection Scheme
PSX "NBA Jam Extreme"
Lybcrypt
Serious Sam The Second Encounter v1.07
SafeDisc v.2.60.052
VRally II
SecuROM v.2
PSX Pressed Media

The AOpen CRW5232 was fast when it came to creating an image of the PSX game disc. The drive ripped the disc at 1204.87 sectors/sec, a result that is very close to the Plextor Premium drive, while the Optorite CW5201 was very slow in comparison.

SafeDisc v.2

Ripping of the Safedisc v2 protected game finished after 8:55 minutes.

SecuROM

For the SecuROM protected game disc the drive returned the slowest results among the three drives as can be seen from the above graph.
It completed the process after 3:20 minutes.

- Writing Tests

The AOpen drive supports the DAO-RAW writing mode. For checking the drive's EFM correction status, we used 3 different game titles with different SafeDisc 2 versions and the latest software patches installed. After creating images of the various titles to the hard disk, we burned them (maximum speed) with CloneCd. Two different discs were created for each title; one with the "Amplify Weak Sectors" enabled and one with the function disabled.

In the table below can be seen whether the produced backups were working (game installed / played normally), or not.

Drive
Game Title
SD2 Build
Settings
Amplify Weak Sectors On
Amplify Weak Sectors Off
Aopen CRW5232
Max Payne
v2.51.020
Yes
Yes
Serious Sam - The Second Encounter v1.07
v.2.60.052
Yes
Yes
The Sims Unleased
v.2.8
Yes
Yes
The Sims Superstar
v2.9
NO
NO

After the end of the writing tests we can conclude that the AOpen CRW5232 was able to make working backups up to v2.8 of the safedisc protected games. Under both settings, Amplify weak sectors on and off, the drive made working backups.


5. DAE Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 5

DAE Tests

- Pressed and CDR AudioCD results

The AOpen CRW5232 uses 52x CAV strategy for CD-DA. Below is a screen shot from the CDSpeed transfer rate test with a pressed audio CD:

According to CDSpeed, the disc was read using CAV, returning a start speed of 23.28x while the average reading speed was 39x. The drive fell short of the 52x mark, reaching an end speed of 51.16x. On the seek times test the random and 1/3 seeks finished fast while the drive needed more time to finish the full seek test. The seek times here are not very different from those returned in the same seek times tests completed with pressed and CD-R media where times hovered around the 100ms for random and 1/3, and just above 200ms for full seek.

We then ripped the contents of the same audio disc to the hard disk with CDDAE software.

From the above graph we can see that all drives gave back similar ripping speeds for the pressed audio disc.The AOpen drive finished the test with an average DAE speed of 36x while the Premium and Optorite drives reported a speed of 36.8x each.

The same pressed audio disc was copied onto a CD-R and was read again with CDspeed. The AOpen CRW5232 returned exactly the same ripping speed as the Optorite drive at 36.2x while Plextor was a bit slower at 34.2x

- Advanced DAE Quality

After the end of the CDSpeed Advanced DAE Quality test, the software results are presented in the following screen shot:

The AOpen CRW5232 received a score of 100 (perfect). CDSpeed reports that the drive can read Leadin, LeadOut, Cd Text and Subchannel Data.

In the above graph we present the quality scores and average speeds for the AOpen CRW5232, Plextor Premium and Optorite CW5201 drives. All drives have a quality score of 100 while the average speed was almost the same for all drives, with AOpen being marginally slower at 37.07x

- Support of 90/99mins AudioCDs

Supports 99min disc

- Reading/Ripping Protected AudioCDs

For the test procedure we used two audio discs with different audio protections schemes. The tasks we tested for are recognition and ripping to the hard disk. The software we used is Exact Audio Copy.

* Pressed Audio disc protected by Sony Key2Audio (Celine Dion - New Day Has Come)

* Pressed Audio disc protected by Cactus Data Shield 200 (Natalie Imbruglia - White Lilies Island)

Key2Audio
CDS200
EAC
Aopen CRW5232
Cannot recognize
OK
Optorite CW5201
OK
OK
Plextor Premium
OK
OK, with few errors

The AOpen drive could not recognize the Key2Audio protected audio disc, but had no problems with ripping and playback of the CDS200 protected disc.


6. CD Recording Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 6

CD Recording Tests

- CD-R Writing Tests

The AOpen drive supports 8x, 12x, 16x, 24x, 32x, 40x, 48x, and the maximum 52x CAV writing speeds. Below you can see the CDSpeed writing simulation graph with Taiyo Yuden 48x CD-R media.

The drive starts writing the disc at 23.87x and reached a writing speed of 52.32x at the end of the process. The average writing speed was 39.86x.

 

 

 

- Recording Times

For the burning tests we created an 80min data compilation using Nero Burning Rom and recorded the data on a 700MB disc. The AOpen CRW5232 finished the writing process in 2:36 minutes with selected writing speed of 52x. From the above graph we can see that the AOpen drive was fastest among the three drives on the writing process with maximum speed.

Below you can see the best writing times of the AOpen CRW5232 for 12x, 16x, 24x, 32x, 40x, 48x and 52x. In each case, the Just Link feature was enabled:

The following graph illustrates the recoding times for various media.

- CD-RW Writing Tests

The AOpen CRW5232 supports the 32x P-CAV maximum rewriting speed for the CD-RW format. Below are the results of the CDSpeed writing simulation test with blank 32x HS-RW media from Mitsubishi Chemicals. CDSpeed reported that the maximum writing speed was 32.34x while the average speed was 30.89x.

 

 

We also used Nero Burning Rom in order to burn a 32x US-RW data disc from MC. The data compilation burnt had a size of 651 MB and the duration of the recording process was 2:58 minutes. The following graph illustrates the time that each drive needed to burn the specific compilation and also the time to quick erase the HS-RW media. The AOpen drive proved slightly faster in both cases.

- Packet Writing Tests

InCD

We used InCD and Mitsubishi Chemicals 32x US-RW media for all Packet Writing tests. Quick formatting of the media took 30sec. The formatted disc had 530mbs of free space. We copied a 403 MB file (403.147 KB) from the hard disk (on the same PC as the CD writers) to the formatted RW media via Windows explorer (drag and drop).
Duration
Average speed
Read
2:24 min
19.11x
Write
2:25 min
19x

The test result summaries are given in the above table. For both read and write tasks the drive needed almost the same time and the average reported speed is 19.11x for the reading and 19x for the writing processes.

MountRainier

Duration
Average speed
Read
3:19 min
13.8x
Write
4:26 min
10.34x

According to the specifications, the AOpen CRW5232 supports MountRainier packetwriting. Just as we did with InCD, here too we used a 32x HS-RW media form Mitsubishi Chemicals. Because of the background format that occurs during MountRainier writing, the drive needed more time in comparison to InCD. The average write speed is 10.34x while the average read speed is 13.8x

- Other features

Overburning
Up to 98min
CD text reading/writing
Yes


7. Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 7

Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

We used 80min 48X CD-R media from Taiyo Yuden and burned the same AudioCD project at 12x, 16x, 24x, 32x, 40x, 48x and at the maximum 52x. On this page are presented the resultant 3T Pit & Land Jitter graphs.

- 3T Pit results

Media that was written at speeds from 12x to 40x returned low Pit values. The 48x written disc hovered around the 35nsec Red Book limit most of the time, up until the 70 minute mark where it exceeded by a fair amount. The highest reading however came from the 52x written disc. Especially towards the end (i.e. outer tracks on the disc's surface) the values are far higher than the 35nsec limit, where the 3T Pit Jitter level reached 50nsec.

The average 3T Jitter values for all recording speeds are illustrated in the following table.

- 3T Land results

The Land Jitter values are slightly lower than the Pit Jitter values. All discs except for the 52x, returned results below the 35msec Red Book limit.

The lower writing speeds which never exceeded the 35nsec limit, appear to be the most appropriate for writing your audio CDs.

Recording Speed
Average 3T Pit Jitter (ns)
Average 3T Land Jitter (ns)
> 35ns
Max 3T jitter values (ns)
12x
29.00
28.10
No
30 Pit, 30 Land
16x
25.41
26.80
No
27 Pit, 29 Land
24x
31.32
28.32
No
33 Pit, 31Land
32x
30.20
28.80
No
33 Pit, 31Land
40x
31.44
29.80
No
35 Pit, 32 Land
48x
35.32
31.76
Yes
43 Pit, 43 Land
52x
38.10
32.78
Yes
50 Pit, 38 Land
- Summary

At low speeds, up to 40x, the AOpen drive returned quite satisfactory results in the jitter measuring tests. The 48x and 52x writing speeds introduced the highest jitter values especially in the outer areas of the disc's surface, where the jitter reached 50nsec (52x).

On the following page we examine the Pit and Land Jitter using various manufacturer's media.


8. Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 8

Writing Quality Tests - 3T Jitter Tests

We conducted the same tests as in the previous page, but this time we burned a variety of CD-R media with the AOpen drive.Following are the 3T Pit & Land Jitter result graphs.

- 3T Pit results

As can be seen from the graph above, all media tested exceeded the 35nsec limit at some point. Only EMTEC 48x and MAM 48x media produced satisfactory results. All other manufacturers media produced high levels throughout.

The average 3T Pit Jitter table below simply confirms our conclusion from above, with EMTEC and MAM media having acceptable values. TDK also has what appears to be an acceptable level at 34.22, but don't forget this is the overall average and one look at the graph above shows that towards the outer tracks, the TDK disc reaches 50nsecs.

- 3T Land results

The 3T Land Jitter results don't really present a very different picture from the Pit Jitter results. Here too, only EMTEC and MAM media managed to stay below the 35nsec level, and while TDK and SKC both start off quite well, they exceed the limit towards the end.

The table below shows that no manufacturers media managed to stay within limits. However, both EMTEC 48x and MAM 48x media were only marginally above the limit for 3T Pit Jitter and certainly appear to be a good choice for this drive.

Recording Speed
Average 3T Pit Jitter (ns)
Average 3T Land Jitter (ns)
> 35ns
Max 3T jitter values (ns)
TDK 48x
34.22
29.20
Yes
50 Pit, 49 Land
MAM 48x
31.93
30.15
Yes
36 Pit, 32 Land
EMTEC 48x
30.34
28.51
Yes
39 Pit, 34 Land
PRODISC 40x
41.17
36.61
Yes
50 Pit, 43 Land
SKC 48x
39.63
32.02
Yes
60 Pit, 37 Land
- Summary

The AOpen CRW5232 in general did not provide good results in the jitter measurement tests. While often, it may be acceptable for some media to exceed the 35nsec Redbook limit, in this case the values were consistently high, and in many cases very high, exceeding 50nsec.

On the following page we examine the C1 and C2 error rates.


9. Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

AOpen CRW5232 - Page 9

Writing Quality Tests - C1 / C2 Error Measurements

We measured the C1 / C2 error rate on the recorded discs burnt at the various supported writing speeds. The software we used is UMDoctor Pro.

The charts below present the resultant C1/C2 error measurement graphs produced when reading various manufacturers media, previously recorded at the indicated speeds with the AOpen CRW5232 drive. The tests include Taiyo Yuden 48x media with recording speeds of from 12x up to 52x, and EMTEC 48x, MAM 48x, TDK 48x, SKC 48x, Prodisc 40x media each recorded at 52x.

  • Taiyo Yuden 48x recorded at 52x

  • Emtec 48x recorded at 52x

  • MAM 48x recorded at 52x

  • TDK 48x recorded at 52x

Summary

With Taiyo Yuden (at all recording speeds), as well as EMTEC and SKC media, the results are quite good, there being very low C1 levels and no C2 levels. With the other manufacturers media, the C1 levels had some nice peaks and in some cases C2 levels were registered, something that could spell problems.

Below is presented information on the CD-R media used in the error measurement tests.

Disc
ID Code
Capacity
Taiyo Yuden 48X
TaiyoYuden 97m24s01f
79:59:72
EMTEC 48x
Moser Baer India 97m17s06f
79:59:74
MAM 48x
Mitsui 97m27s58f
79:59:71
TDK 48x
TDK 97m15s05f
79:59:74
SKC 48X
SKC 97m26s26f
79:59:73
Prodisc 40x
Prodisc 97m32s19f
79:59:72

10. Conclusion

Aopen CRW5232 - Page 10

Conclusion

Pros

Cons

  • 3 different colored tray faceplates
  • 52/32/52 CD-RW
  • Creates working backups of SafeDisc v.2.80
  • Overburning up to 98min
  • Supports CD-Text (reading/writing)
  • Supports 99min audio discs
  • Mount Rainier support for CD
  • Supports writing CD+G
  • Supports Reading LeadIn and LeadOut
  • Supports MountRainier PacketWriting
  • Low error correction performance
  • Slow full seek times
  • High Pit and Land jitter values, at high speeds
  • Cannot recognize Key2Audio protected audio CD's

The AOpen CRW5232 drive is a competent CD recorder without providing anything extraordinary. It does anything you would expect of a CD recorder, with possibly the only major blemish being its poor fairing when it comes to error correction. It is not very often that a drive will fail to read up to at least the 3rd check level of the CD-Check Test Disc. And in general the ABEX test discs showed that the drive is not one for handling major defects on a disc's surface. The majority of drives can easily playback at least the fourth level.

While it is a 52x reader, in our reading tests, it seemed to fall just short of the mark, although it's random seek times and transfer rates were quite respectable.

When it comes to backups of games and audio ripping, the drive is something of a mixed bag. It easily handled the SafeDisc protection scheme, up to v2.8. Failing with SafeDisc v2.9 however is not uncommon as virtually all drives have problems with this newer version. With audio discs, it managed to rip the CDS200 protected disc but failed to recognize at all, the Key2Audio protected disc.With digital audio extraction, the drive faired well, being able to read Leadin, LeadOut, Cd Text and Subchannel Data.

Another small downfall was the high pit and land jitter values, especially when recording was done at high speeds. These particular tests also showed that the drive is not very tolerant with a wide variety of manufacturers discs, Taiyo Yuden, EMTEC and SKC being the only manufacturers discs that performed satisfactorily.

At around $40, generally speaking the AOpen drive is a good purchase for anyone wanting a cheap CD recorder.



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