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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage

Thursday, June 04, 2009
Pioneer BDR-203BK

2. CD, DVD, BD Reading tests

For our CD/DVD and Blu-ray transfer rate tests we used the Nero Disc Speed utility and a set of data and audio CD-R/RW/ROM as well as BD-R and BD-RE media. Here we test the maximum reading speed of the Pioneer drive for each type of disc. For comparison, we have included the corresponding reading results of another 8x Blu-ray burner based on the Panasonic reference design, the Sony BWU-300S.


Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 36.36x 31.47x

The Sony drive was faster here since it reads CD-ROM/-R disc at 48x. Pioneer's drive finished reading at 40x.


The following CD Speed graph shows the reading performance with US-RW media.

Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 25.21x 18.87x

Again, the Sony BWU-300S was faster due to the 32x max supported speed.

- AudioCD

In the CD Speed Advanced DAE quality test, the drive's average speed was 22.24X with a quality score of 100.

Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 17.56x 22.24x

The test was successful for the Pioneer drive. The 24x CAV reading speed for CD DAE was enough to leave behind the Sony BWU-300S.


Digital Audio Extraction or DAE is important when we try to read the files stored on an audio CD and store them in our hard disk drive. The procedure is not always that simple and the fidelity of the extracted data depend on the way each drive handles these data.

The majority of the software that support this procedure, commonly known as "ripping", will just read the audio files and store them on your hard disk. However, this approach is not recommended for all drives, since it may result to read or sync errors if your drive does not support report of C2 error pointer information and also what the author of the EAC (Exact Audio Copy) software describes as "accurate stream" and " non-caching."

According to EAC, the Pioneer BDR-203BK drive supports "caching ", "Accurate stream" but it doe not reports "C2 error pointer information

Accurate stream and C2 error reporting is always welcome and contribute to reliable and fast audio extraction. Generally, if you select a drive for extraction better have a look that the drive does not cache audio data.

If you are sure about the physical condition of your audio CD and you need faster extractions, you may chose other utilities such as the CD DAE software. A typical ripping task finished at an average reading speed of 26.8X, using CD DAE:

- 90/99 mins Audio disc

90min Audio disc

Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 35.93x 25.20x

- DVD Format

Now let's take a look at how the drive performs with DVD media. This time, a set of SL and DL DVD media was used. The drive is capable of reading at 16X maximum speed for single layer DVD ROM and at 12X for dual layer DVD ROM media.

DVD-ROM SL media -

Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 12.26x 11.75x


The two layers of a PTP DVD-ROM disc are read sequentially with the drive starting reading from the inner part of the disc, which is the beginning of each layer, progressing towards its outer range.


Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 9.20x 9.35x


The first layer of an OTP dual layer DVD-ROM is read exactly the same way as the first layer of the PTP disc we tested previously. The difference here is the reading strategy of the second layer of the disc. The beginning of the second layer is located in the outer part of the disc, so the drive starts reading from the outer tracks and progresses towards the inner part of the disc.

Sony BWU-300S Pioneer BDR-203
Average Speed 9.20x 9.34x

DVD-R- Average read 11.95x

DVD-RW - Average read 9.36x

DVD+R - Average read 11.97x

DVD+RW Average read 9.38x

DVD+R DL Average read 9.48x


The drive seems to have problems to read the datain the end of lyer 0 and right in the beginning of layer 1.

DVD Ripping speed -

Ripping of a single layer DVD movie:

  Pioneer BDR-203BK Sony BWU-300S
Average 11.798KB/s (8,5x) 6122KB/s (4.4x)
Maximum 17.220KB/s (12,4x) 8497KB/s (6,1x)

- Blu-ray format

Continuing, let's see how the drive reads the various Blu-ray recordable and ROM discs.






The Pioneer drive is also capable of reading/writing from/to the new BD-R Low-To-High (LTH) discs. The discs are not compatible with 1st generation BD drives unless their firmware allows it. Currently, the availability of such media is limited, with only Verbatim and Taiyo Yuden to offer them in Japan. Below you can see a reading test with a Verbatim SL BD-R LTH disc (VERBATIMw):





8cm BD-R SL

8cm BD-RE SL


The reading process of almost all media was completed without read errors and at speeds that match the drive's specifications. Compared with the Sony BWU-300S, the Pioneer drive was slower with the CD-R/ROM/RW media. Both drive read the DVD discs at the same speeds, while the Pioneer drive read the Blu-ray discs at its maximum supported speed for each type. Very good reading performance in general for the BDR-203BK.

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