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Home > Hardware Reviews > Optical Storage

Friday, January 29, 2010
LiteOn eTAU108

3. Reading of scratched/defected CDs

This series of tests checks the drive's ability to correct/conceal possible erroneous data after reading artificially scratched / defective audio discs.

Using a CD-R in best shape to do the DAE test is generally not a safe way to test the drive's error correction capabilities. If your drive would not read audio CDs error free from an error free disc, you would probably bring the drive back to the vendor. It is far more interesting to see how a drive is behaving under critical conditions (which will also tell something about the DAE quality on CDs that have manipulated C2 error information on purpose). For that a special test CD like the ABEX discs from ALMEDIO can be used, that can be used to do a comparison between different drives. The ABEX test disc is actually an AudioCD that has artificial scratches and other physical disc error patterns on its surface.

Using a special software, we compare two audio files using FFT analysis. The first audio file has been extracted by a normal audio disc without physical error patterns on it . The second one is the result of the extraction of the ABEX test discs which hold the same audio tracks, but it also has specific defects on its surface. The similarity factor of the the two tracks unveils the error correction capabilities of the drive.

The differences between the two compared tracks are translated to a signal (noise) illustrated in the following graphs. Each graph tells a lot about the abilities of the drive. The quality of the optical system (and/or of the error correction capabilities of the firmware) is shown in at which time index the error start. The error hiding qualities are shown when the wedge gets bigger. The X position of a grid line is always a start of a new minute position on the CD (in play time, up to 74 min). The Y axis shows the dB(A) value of the error in the extracted file. The 0 dB(A) baseline at the top is marked slightly different. So the graph shows a range of 6 dB(A) down to -120.0 dB(A). Each line represents 6 dB(A) of volume (6 dB(A) louder means that the sound is double as loud).

- ABEX TCD-721R

Errors total Num : 1110919
Errors (Loudness) 55448 -73.6 dB(A) Max:-35.0dB(A)
Error Muting Num: 3481 Avg : 1.0 Samples Max: 9 Samples
Skips Num: 0 Avg: 0 Samples Max: 0 Samples
Score - Liteon eTAU1087 76.6 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
Score - Sony DRX-S70U-W 76.7 points (out of 100.0 maximum)
Score - LiteOn eSAU208 60,9 points (out of 100.0 maximum)

Error correction is good here, starting at the point where the defect is starting to grow, but error hiding mechanisms are average. We can tell that by the noise that almost all the time exceeds that -60 db(A) level, especially after the 32min mark where the scratch on the surface of the disc becomes bigger.

- ABEX TCD-726

Errors total Num 0
Errors (Loudness) Num: 0 Avg : -174,0 dB(A) Max: -174,0 dB(A)
Error Muting Num : 0 Avg : 0,0 Samples Max :0 Samples
Skips Num : 0 Avg :0,0 Samples Max :0 Samples

Score - Liteon eTAU1087

100 points ( of 100.0 maximum)
Score - Sony DRX-S70U-W 89.4 points (of 100.0 maximum)
Score - LiteOn eSAU208 94,0 points (of 100.0 maximum)

Good performance here, successfully hiding and correcting most defected data.

- CD-Check Audio Test Disc

The CD-Check Test Disc is another 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 more difficult tests. These tracks are referred to as Check Level-1 through Check Level-5.

The tracks are reproduced through a software multimedia player (e.g. Windows Media Player). Each level is considered as passed, if the tone 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
LiteOn eTAU1087
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5
0/5
Sony DRX-S70U-W
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5
0/5
LiteOn eSAU208
5/5
5/5
5/5
0/5
0/5

The drive managed to correctly play the first three tracks. Problems occurred with the fourth and fifth tracks. Average behavior here. Overall, the drive exhibited mediocre performance with our defective test discs.




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