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bcarr_1196
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Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Hello, all!

Two questions:

1. I am trying to find the highest quality CD-Rs available. To this end, I am looking for discs that offer superior longevity as well durability and playback performance. My research indicates that "Mitsui Gold Ultra II 24x" CD-Rs were the best, but they are no longer produced, having apparently been replaced by inferior products under the "MAM-A" label. From my readings, it seems discs manufactured by Taiyo Yuden (under various labels) are now regarded as the best, but their life-span is supposedly considerably shorter.

What do you use, and how satisfied are you with their performance? I am particularly interested in 80-minute discs with good overburning capabilities, as I need to burn almost 82 minutes of uncompressed audio.

2. What is the best burning software? I've used Exact Audio Copy to extract the audio, but its burning capabilites seem too complicated for my novice sensibilities. (I'm also not sure I should trust it, since it's still in beta.) Perhaps I should buy a plebian package such as Nero 6.6? What are the caveats?

Thank you all very much for your time and advice!

~Brian

FRANKe
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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

That's a great question Brian, and a lot of people are going to read my answer and think "that's just snake oil, it doesn't matter". So I say to you, ultimately you'll have to let your ears be the judge.

I have tested many different blank CD-Rs and at one point came to a conclusion that "black" CDs from Memorex sounded best, until Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released their quintessential "gold" CDs. You can read about them here:
http://www.mofi.com/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=11&idproduct=29

Anyway, I could definitely hear more clarity (most likely due to a reduction in jitter errors) from the MOFI Ultradisc Gold CD-Rs. But what really makes a difference is burning CDs at only 1x speed. There are significantly less errors this way and help to form better pits. But once again, let your ears be the judge.

As far as software, I use Nero because I am using a Yamaha CRW-F1 CD recorder, and Nero is the only software that supports Yamaha's "Audio Master Quality Recording" write method. I can also hear a difference utilizing this function vs. using "disc-at-once", but then again that's just me. A lot of people rave about the quality of Plextor's drives as well, and they especially work well with Exact Audio Copy, so you might consider that. (Yamaha's drives have been discontinued)

Again, let me repeat though, the biggest difference you are going to notice is simply recording at speeds 4x or less. Higher speeds have too many errors.

-FRANKe

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Hi, FRANKe!

I have two MoFi CD-Rs in front of me. A gentleman (and I use the word sincerely) from Mobile Fidelity kindly sent me the discs to test after I inquired about potential compatibility issues with my capricious Panasonic DVD-RAM burner. They are actually produced by Mitsui, a fact I can confirm using two different utilities as well as Internet research.

The disc's technical performance doesn't match the Mitsui Gold Ultra II; instead, it is nearly identical to the inferior MAM-A media I mentioned above (Mitsui recently renamed itself MAM-A). Yet in terms of sound quality, the MoFi's sounded indisputably superior to a no-name CD-R for which I paid $1. Unfortunately, I can't use them, since they're only 74-minutes and apparently do poorly with overburning.

I'll keep an eye out for those Memorex discs. Can you provide more specific information about them?

Many thanks,

Brian

carl valle
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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

I use Sony Sound Forge 8 and CD Architect. I have no problems with a Sony DVD drive burning at 40X on Imation Discs. Sony says burning at the designed speed produces the best result.

FRANKe
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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Hey Brian - the guys at Mobile Fidelity are indeed nice guys. They are located in Chicago and share the building with "Music Direct". I visited some relatives in Chicago last summer, and one day while I was killing time, I went to MoFi and bought a 50 pack of their gold CD-Rs. They were some of the nicest guys I've ever met. During the year since I bought them, I've only burned about 20 audio CDs. Your post reminded me that I haven't burned many CDs this year, and haven't done many tests on current CD-Rs. Up till now, my tests have been limited to what I could buy at my local retailer.

Anyway, the Memorex I mentioned are probably not that reliable anymore. At one point, they were manufactured by CMC (Dye Type 6), then when I was turned on to them, they were made by Prodisc (Dye Type 9) (which is highly recommended). Now they are made by Ritek (Dye Type 7). Too inconsistent. I had read an interesting article on black CDs which you might find worthwhile:
http://www.genesisloudspeakers.com/whitepaper/Black_CDsII.pdf

But back to the MoFi's. You are correct, I had a look at these with my Nero CD-DVD speed utility, and they do show up as Mitsui (Dye Type 5). I decided to rip a CD and burn it to test, since I haven't done it in awhile and here are my results:

Original (pressed) CD (Two Against Nature - by Steely Dan) - no C2 errors
C1 Errors: Average (.09) Maximum (15) Total (263) Quality Score (98)

CD (burned) on MOFI Ultradisc Gold CD-R - no C2 errors
C1 Errors: Average (.03) Maximum (9) Total (95) Quality Score (99)

The burned CD is actually better than the original! I was not aware that they are the "inferior" MAM-A, but I'm sure you've done your homework. Unfortunately, as you say, they are only rated for 74 minutes. But if you say the Mitsui Gold Ultra II were better, I'd sure like to hear that!

Anyway, according to the article (above link), the "Melody Black Diamond" are supposed to be good and on a preliminary search, I found they are made by Prodisc. Go figure.

Incidently, I'm not too confident in the Nero utility for measuring errors and providing disc information. What do you use?

-FRANKe

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

1- Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab Ultra Disc CD-R. They're about two bucks apiece

2- Switch to Apple. iTunes under the current operating system (Tiger) offers great hardware and software support - variable burn rates - everything you need.

Now I have a question: What format is the stuff you want to burn in ?

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?


Quote:
Original (pressed) CD (Two Against Nature - by Steely Dan) - no C2 errors
C1 Errors: Average (.09) Maximum (15) Total (263) Quality Score (98)

CD (burned) on MOFI Ultradisc Gold CD-R - no C2 errors
C1 Errors: Average (.03) Maximum (9) Total (95) Quality Score (99)


Now here's an interesting development!

Using both Nero and a free utility called KProbe 2.4.3, my MoFi disc obtained the following scores (4x speed):

Average: 4.86
Maximum: 27
Total: 18887
Quality Score: 19

The disc could be defective, but to my recollection the results seem consistent with at least one other site's tests from 2004. (I'll find the link later.) In the meantime, see this thread, and be sure to read this one as well.

How old are your CD-Rs? I have a hunch yours are Mitsui Gold Ultra II, while those I got are the current Mitsui/MAM-A junk. Although Mitsui is still supplying the discs to MoFi, Mitsui's bottom may have fallen out where quality is concerned.

~Brian

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?


Quote:
I use Sony Sound Forge 8 and CD Architect. I have no problems with a Sony DVD drive burning at 40X on Imation Discs. Sony says burning at the designed speed produces the best result.


Thanks, straycat.

If I remember correctly, some Imation are produced by Taiyo Yuden (Japan) while other, lower-quality CD-Rs originate from Taiwan or Malaysia. It seems you got lucky.

I'll keep the Imation's on my list.

As for burning at the rated speed, I think you might want to be careful. It seems companies often try to justify the higher costs of particular media by "rating" them to burn faster. Who knows, maybe on occasion faster truly is better. But I'm the kind of guy who takes things slow, and the general consensus seems to be that "slow but steady" reduces the potential for errors.

bcarr_1196
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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?


Quote:
Now I have a question: What format is the stuff you want to burn in ?


Thanks for your question. The answer: WAV. The recordings I'm trying to copy contain the most treasured, precious music I own, and I'd never compress or otherwise compromise their quality.

Nothing less than the best will do, and the WAV format seems to be it.

FRANKe
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Quote:
Using both Nero and a free utility called KProbe 2.4.3, my MoFi disc obtained the following scores (4x speed):

Average: 4.86
Maximum: 27
Total: 18887
Quality Score: 19

Whoa nellie! What's going on there Brian. Those scores are attrocious. Maybe it's not the CD-R that's to blame. What CD Recorder and software are you using?

Just for good measure, I downloaded KProbe v2.4.3 and re-ran the tests:

Original (pressed) CD - Average(.08) Maximum(13) Total(257)
CD (burned) on MOFI Ultradisc Gold - Average(.12) Maximum(8) Total(376)
CD (burned) on Memorex Black (Ritek) - Average(.43) Maximum(12) Total(1336)

The scores are a little different than Nero's, but still in the same ballpark. BTW, just to illustrate the benefit of burning at slower speeds, the above scores were burned at 1x. The following score is burned at 8x:

CD (burned at 8x) on Memorex Black (Ritek) - Average(.90) Maximum(24) Total(2768)

Incidently, the MOFI CD-R that I'm using is still off the spindle of 50 that I bought last June in Chicago. I don't know what to tell you buddy.

If I may get a little off-topic, there's something else I wanted to add to my original post. Brian, you're probably already aware of this, but FYI for anyone out there reading - you should not use those stick-on labels for your burned CD-Rs. They will create an uneven weight on the CD and cause the read to have errors. Also, over time they will bubble and peel. The alternative to labeling is to simply write on them, but do not use a permanent marker like a Sharpie that is alcohol based. (The alcohol can seep through the CD and damage the recording layer on the other side.) I use an opaque "paint" marker (called Pen-touch by Sakura) with gold metallic ink.

-FRANKe

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?


Quote:
Whoa nellie! What's going on there Brian. Those scores are attrocious. Maybe it's not the CD-R that's to blame. What CD Recorder and software are you using?


You're not kidding! I doubt it's my Matsushita (Panasonic) SW-9572 DVD-RAM burner. And it's certainly not the software, since I'm using Nero 6.6 with the latest patches. Indeed, I was under the impression the tests measured a disc's quality rather than the integrity of the data burned. Am I wrong?


Quote:
BTW, just to illustrate the benefit of burning at slower speeds, the above scores were burned at 1x.


4x is the slowest speed at which I seem able to burn discs. Is it possible to force Nero to have the drive write at 1x?

I've ordered what certainly seems to be a 50-pack of the fabled Mitsui Gold Ultra II. Goodness help me if they aren't, or they don't work with my drive. . . .

FRANKe
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Quote:
Indeed, I was under the impression the tests measured a disc's quality rather than the integrity of the data burned. Am I wrong?

I'm not sure about this Brian, I thought the quality of the CD burner could affect this.

BTW, I was searching the web to find out more about KProbe and found out that it was written specifically for LiteOn DVD Burners. Using it with other drives will either not work or give inaccurate results. Check out:
http://www.k-probe.com/
There is also a section that lists compatible drives for Nero CD-DVD Speed utility:
http://www.cdspeed2000.com/go.php3?link=cdspeed30.html

This MAY account for your strange results. (Unless your drive is OEM for LiteOn?) (I am using a Sony DRU-700A for reading - my Yamaha is not supported)

Anyway, too bad your drive does not support 1x. I don't think you can force it. Let me (us) know if the CDs you ordered are the Mitsui Gold Ultra II. How will you be able to tell? Do you know the MID code? My MOFIs tell me the MID is 97:22:55. Does this mean anything?

-FRANKe

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I'm not sure about this Brian, I thought the quality of the CD burner could affect this.



Quote:
BTW, I was searching the web to find out more about KProbe and found out that it was written specifically for LiteOn DVD Burners.


Yes, I learned about that after I starting using it. Apparently, for whatever reason, KProbe will also work with a few other drives. My Panasonic is among them. Indeed, my results with KProbe were comparable to those I received from Nero CD-DVD Speed. Incidentally, my drive was not mentioned on the CD-Speed compatibility chart, but I'm sure the list isn't exhaustive.


Quote:
Let me (us) know if the CDs you ordered are the Mitsui Gold Ultra II.


Gladly!


Quote:
How will you be able to tell? Do you know the MID code? My MOFIs tell me the MID is 97:22:55. Does this mean anything?


Yes, indeed it does provide important clues. My MoFi MIDs are 97:27:55. This may not seem like a huge difference, but it signifies we have completly different discs. (Mine were actually sold as "Mitsui Gold 16x.")

Now I'm really curious how the discs I ordered will identify. If they match your MID, I'll know I have good stuff!

FRANKe
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Quote:

Yes, indeed it does provide important clues. My MoFi MIDs are 97:27:55. This may not seem like a huge difference, but it signifies we have completly different discs. (Mine were actually sold as "Mitsui Gold 16x.")

I'm terribly sorry, I goofed and made a typo. The MID of the MoFi I have is indeed 97:27:55. In fact, in KProbe (at the bottom) it is listed like this: (9)972755:740510 [Mitsui Chemicals, Inc.] My Bad!! (Too many late nights)

Anyway, I'm sure you've come across the "cdfreaks" forum, but I copied a little snippet from the "interpreting error scans" thread:
http://club.cdfreaks.com/showthread.php?t=75573

---
There are at least 5 variables that affect the outcome of the error scan.

1) the burning drive
2) the media burned
3) the burn speed
4) the reading drive
5) the reading speed

1) Every drive has a "preference" for the media it likes to burn, which can include different batches of the same media.
2) Every media varies from batch to batch, disc to disc, and even from the start of the disc to the finish.
3) Every burner has a "preference" for burning speed, regardless of what media is in the drive.
4) Every drive has a preference for what kind of media it likes to read.
5) Every drive has a preference for what speed it likes to read a given media at.
---

Food for thought. When you get those gold CDs you ordered, try burning samples on a drive other than your Panasonic so you can compare. Maybe you have a friend with a Plextor drive.

-FRANKe

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

From the Exact Audio Copy site I sound the link to nch.co.au with some very nice downloadable recording software for $50. It allows recording in higher rez formats up to 88.2 and 96 and what sounds like a pretty good truncation algorithms back to cd redbook. There is also ripping and burning software included. It seems like a much better buy than my Basic Sony Sound Forge that does not allow for hi-format recording above 48KHZ. There is a free trial version for download off their site.

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Quote:

There are at least 5 variables that affect the outcome of the error scan.

1) the burning drive
2) the media burned
3) the burn speed
4) the reading drive
5) the reading speed


I hadn't seen that particular thread, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

I'm beginning to notice each of these variables in action. For example, the MoFi disc that rated a quality-score of 19 in my Panasonic ranked a 0 (yes, that's "zero," as in "nada") when read by my PC's basic Pioneer DVD drive. The screen lit up like candle flame when displaying all the disc's supposed errors. Of course, I have no way of verifying the accuracy of any scan, other than EAC's vague assurrances that my Panasonic is better than my Pioneer for ripping audio.

Perhaps I'm just a cantankerous crank, but all this strikes me as absurd. Don't you all agree? At the minimum, optical media itself should maintain a decent quality standard across all variations. A person ought to have the peace-of-mind of knowing the plastic platters they buy aren't liable to go belly up "just because." And when a device is touted as offering certain functions, it shouldn't mean those features are half-baked, and will only operate properly under stringent conditions and on alternate Tuesdays. I buy a disc to write in my disc drive, not to work only in certain drives at certain times. <Sigh ...>

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Quote:
From the Exact Audio Copy site I sound the link to nch.co.au with some very nice downloadable recording software for $50. It allows recording in higher rez formats up to 88.2 and 96 and what sounds like a pretty good truncation algorithms back to cd redbook. There is also ripping and burning software included. It seems like a much better buy than my Basic Sony Sound Forge that does not allow for hi-format recording above 48KHZ. There is a free trial version for download off their site.


Interesting--thanks, I'll certainly investigate! One question comes immediately to mind, though: Would upsampling make an audible difference? After all, the source material is only 16/44.1, and I would think the music could only sound as good as its initial limitations permit.

FRANKe
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Quote:

Perhaps I'm just a cantankerous crank, but all this strikes me as absurd. Don't you all agree?

Absolutely!


Quote:

And when a device is touted as offering certain functions, it shouldn't mean those features are half-baked, and will only operate properly under stringent conditions and on alternate Tuesdays.

Well, therein lies the rub. You see, CD-R manufacturers and CD/DVD Recorder manufacturers do not create products that are errorless. And they don't even lie about it. The quality control "standard" is that they operate within a certain range of "acceptable errors". Do you know that the Orange Book specifies a maximum of 10% errors?!

-FRANKe

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Mitsui Ultra Gold IIs they ain't.

Attached is the rating for my disc, along with the ATIP data. My next post will contain an image of specifications for an actual Ultra Gold II.

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Now that you've seen mine in the attachment above, take a look at the genuine article, attached here.

I'm disappointed, but I spent what I was prepared to pay if I was wrong. At less than 74 cents a disc, I didn't lose too much money. But these 80-minute discs, like their 74-minute Mitsui/MoFi counterparts, allow no overburning whatsoever (trust me--I tried). So, I still can't use them for the particular purpose I intended.

I should note the company's website was deceptive--instead of the 24x advertised, Nero indicates a maximum of 12x.

Where to go from here? It seems I'll need to buy a good Plextor drive. When I bought the Panasonic, it hadn't occurred to me I'd want to burn many CD-Rs; now that I do, my current burner doesn't seem up to the task. Unfortunately, I'm not in a position to get a new drive. It's irritating, as I have certain reasons for wanting to copy the music ASAP.

Oh, well; enough whining! Are there particular Plextors I should consider for the coming months--or even well into next year?

Thanks,
Brian

FRANKe
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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Well, Brian, I'm sorry you didn't get what you were looking for. I am very satisfied with my results with the MOFI discs. And I think you might be more satisfied if/when you switch to Plextor. As far as which model, if I were you I would go for the PX-716SA. It has a lot of great features, one of which includes the GigaRec function. This controls the amount of underburn/overburn you achieve.

Which brings me to a question I have for you. How are you trying to achieve your "overburned" CDs? Does the Panasonic support a special overburn feature, or are you simply trying to write more than 80 minutes?

On the Plextor, the GigaRec function works by changing the size of the pits and lands. You can change the capacity from 60% up to 130% (105 minutes). The reverse of this (using GigaRec 0.8x) will work like my Yamaha's "Audio Master Quality" setting, and only fit 62 minutes on a 74min disc. I get less C1 errors from my burns when I use this setting and the audio sounds better. (Something about the pits and lands being easier to read)

Anyway, good luck!
-FRANKe

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Hi All,
This question seem to be a perennial one. An important point to remember is the reflectivity of the disc, that's what matters! I purchase Toyo Yuden discs with a 100 year life? I have found it impossible to be sure of the manufacturer of a boxed disc from a store, no matter whose name it has on the packaging. There are a number of companies who are making discs for a lot of well known brands and I choose not to buy them due to their dubious quality.

David James

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Re: Highest Quality CD-Rs/Burning Software?

Remember this is an audio hobby and if you hear an improvement trust your ears. I felt like the files that I recorded at 16/88.2 sounded better than files just recorded in cd redbook. Try it and see what your ears tell you.

It may have to do with a reduction in jitter at a higher sampling rate. Synchronous converions down to redbook (mulitples of 44.1) have been found to be best in less expensive software even by JA). If you owned the DCS sample rate converter I doubt this would ever be an issue.

If you do not mind trying it the extra time may not matter to you if it sounds better. Good luck. My little Echo Indo I/O card in my laptop sounds very good to me with 88.2 files. Redbook files are good as well. For $165 24/96 I/O card who could go wrong.

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