Using the PlexWriter 48/24/48A CD-RW with Firewire and a Mac G4
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scrypt

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I mentioned I'd post my findings on the new PlexWriter 48A on my G4 thread a few weeks ago. Here they are.

First:

To any who might be interested: I purchased my black Plextor PX-W4824TA (internal) at newegg.com for $104 and change. My Oxford Bridge Firewire/USB 2.0 enclosure (an ELTRI525USB2FW) was $89.99 at ESBuy.com, who also provided free shipping.

When I asked OtherWorldComputing why they stopped selling Plextor drives, I was informed that the previous model "didn't perform well with firewire," which I took to mean they hadn't any in stock. (I've since decided that most of what OWC says is drivel predicated on the idea that Mac users are intimidated by technical matters and will have to buy compromised prefab devices for too much money in exchange for being able to harass tech support.) I ignored OWC's advice, crossed my cables and ordered the drive.

The plastic silver and dark gray enclosure I purchased is decent enough. Still, in retrospect, I wish I'd gotten the sturdy and cooling aluminum enclosure I wanted originally -- though it's true the one I have matches the Plextor, my graphite G4 and various other pieces of lacquered metallic reflective external gear.

My enclosure arrived with no instructions, of course. Which was fine for me, but technophobes might prefer to try GraniteDigital.com, who build world-class enclosures, provide extensive documentation and include in the package the best firewire cables I've ever seen (gold jacks and substantial shielded cordage with a diagnostic light at one end).

I chose to connect the drive via firewire alone, since most Mac owners do not have USB 2.0 cards and use firewire exclusively.

Checking System Profiler, I found my Plextor was recognized but not supported, which was what I expected. iTunes could find pre-recorded CDs but would not allow the Plextor to burn new ones without some sort of hack (such as modifying iTunes's PlextorCDR.device-plugin). I didn't explore that option because I prefer a bit more control than iTunes allows.

Fortunately, I'd recently upgraded to Toast Titanium 5.2, which recognized the drive immediately and allowed me to burn whatever I liked. (The 5.2 upgrade, which is available on the Roxio site, can be made to work a la carte by removing one item from a folder, but that's another story.)

Since the Plextor boasts of their products being "Burn-Proof," I decided to find out what that actually meant. As an experiment, I burned a music CD at 48X while running my favorite web browser (Chimera) and typing in Office 2001. The resultant disk, which took a little over two minutes to burn, was playable but had enough glitches to please Geez n' Gosh. But that's to be expected. In the first place, music CDs should be burned no faster than 24X; in the second place, the media has to be compatible. This wasn't; it was an early generic Maxell.

At 24X and with no extra computer ADD activities, my next disk, a TDK 24X certified TY, burned perfectly. And truthfully, I haven't made any other coasters with this burner.

I also tried to copy a few difficult source disks, such as the soundtrack to Argento's Suspira, which came with my limited DVD of the film and was designed not to work on computers. The Plextor got the disk to mount, allowed me to make a disk image and burned a copy. I did not resort to my Super Drive at all, which doesn't recognize the Suspiria disk anyway.

To my ears, the copy sounded unusually crisp and, apparently, that isn't an accident. The Plextor allows you to reposition the laser for added sonic fidelity. (Plextor calls this feature VariRec.)

I also made copies of other problematic disks, such as a scratched VCD from Thailand and a bootleg CD-ROM. Again, my disks all mounted, though they would not play on any other drive II own. The copies were quick and flawless.

The Plextor has other features as well, but to utilize them, I'd need updated software (which might not exist, since the 48A is a new model). One such feature is overburn which, theoretically, allows one to cram 94 minutes and 55 seconds' worth of music on an 800 megabyte CD. So far, Toast and other Mac programs I know of do not support this feature. Perhaps someone on Head-fi knows of a program that does.

My previous drive was a hoary Yamaha 4416 SCSI from five years ago, which I've always hated. Not surprising, really, that my new PlexWriter should seem heaven-sent by comparison. Even so, I daresay many here would be as impressed with the PlexWriter's performance as I. Burn-proof seems not to mean multi-tasking glee at ridiculous burn speeds, but that's fine with me. The drive makes perfect copies from flawed discs, never burns coasters if used intelligently, seems to ignore copy protection schemes (I'll be testing that capability more later) and sounds really good, too. I doubt I'll be using another brand for as long as CDs retain their cache(t). And I'll be checking irregularly to see if DVD-A and SACD formats are ever allowed to become sufficiently generic to allow burners to follow suit (despite suits of the legal variety). If that happens, I'll probably buy another Plextor.

Equipment: My Mac is a Dual G4 450 AGP (with a Pioneer 104 Super Drive) from two years ago. My OS is 10.2.2. My speakers are NS-10Ms, my preamp is the EAR+ and my amp is a vintage Technics "Class AA" SU-V120 with a phono stage that sounds much better than my Rotel. I have other equipment, of course, but it had no bearing on my present findings.
 
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taoster

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interesting post, informative read.

too bad i lost all respect for you, mac users yikee
 
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scrypt

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I lost all respect for myself, too, the moment I first bought a Mac. Amazing, isn't it, how an aesthetically primped GUI can siphon the lobes right out of you (insert smirkey here)?

Then again, only idiots like us could be interested in a Linux-flavored OS that allows us to type command lines.

Love on the props peppered with pow'ful irony, dog. (By that remark, I didn't meant to imply you were actually a dog, Sirrah. Heavens, far from it!)
 
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chadbang

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Interesting post (and that plexi sounds awesome, I've heard they're the best. I'm still clunking along with a Yamaha myself), but two questions: How could repositioning a laser add to the sonics of a burn? I would think adding or subtracting data alters the original recording, which results throw out the term "fidelity" or truthfulness. Is this the burning equivalent of cranking up the bass or treble to eq a recording? Strange. Also, maybe a hint of which file to move out of that Toast folder?


I'm on a powerbook g-3 still running 9.1. Death to OSX.
 
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scrypt

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The position of the laser does affect the sound of what's burned, just as a disk written with a dirty laser will not sound as good. For audio recordings done with *particular* media, a closer position is said to be slightly better. This shouldn't come as a shock to you, when you think about it, since cleaning the lens of your CD player also results in better sound.

Supposedly, VariRec settings depend on the manufacturer and model number of your CD media. When you insert a disc, the PlexWriter reads that information and adjusts both the laser and the writing speed accordingly.

Sadly, the Toast 5.2 folder trick only works with OS X. You might find more relevant answers to your questions in forums like these.

I have 9.2 running on another drive as as well and have only upgraded to 10.2 now that the music limitations are gone and correct software is appearing. I still have to use Digital Performer and certain other music/audio programs in 9.

You might want to install 10.2 on another drive and keep 9 on your main boot drive, which is what I've done. The next generation G5s won't even *run* OS9, so it might be best to make the transition gradually, with a machine that can handle both.
 
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taoster

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Quote:

Originally posted by scrypt
I lost all respect for myself, too, the moment I first bought a Mac. Amazing, isn't it, how an aesthetically primped GUI can siphon the lobes right out of you (insert smirkey here)?

Then again, only idiots like us could be interested in a Linux-flavored OS that allows us to type command lines.

Love on the props peppered with pow'ful irony, dog. (By that remark, I didn't meant to imply you were actually a dog, Sirrah. Heavens, far from it!)


mac users, command line?? sif you can type with a one button mouse but tis true, two MAC OS to run your software is pretty awesome.. i'll just reboot now and show you something cool! damn, cool.
 
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scrypt

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Oh, I see. You actually do have no respect for people who use the Macintosh. And here I thought you were merely being ironic.

You wouldn't be trying to bait people on a Mac thread by saying anti-Mac things, would you? Because if you were, your loss of respect for me or anyone else would be irrelevant. Your taking the low road would negate the question entirely.

I mean, really -- you don't like the Mac, so why would you post on this thread if not for trollish reasons?
 
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MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by taoster
interesting post, informative read.

too bad i lost all respect for you, mac users yikee


Taoster, as a moderator, I would hope that you'd have some reason to post in this thread other than to troll.

As a cross-platform IT-type, I would hope you'd learn a bit more about Macs before you try to troll
For starters, the Mac OS has supported two- (and three-) button mice for years. And the Mac OS is based on UNIX, which means it does indeed have a terminal/command-line interface to the OS, if desired.
 
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taoster

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take it lightheartedly or can i plead insanity?

mods sure are a sharp lot, just dont shoot, yet. i am getting back in line.
 
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chadbang

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Again, thanks for this post. Your Plexor sounds amazing, reading the post for a second time. Yes, "hoary" is a nice description of my SCSI Yamaha. Does the trick okay, but bad disc recognition isn't so spiffy. The only thing worse in the world is the drive that came with the powerbook.
 
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scrypt--

Thanks for the useful and informative review of the Plextor drive. I've been planning on getting one (I, too, use an older Yamaha SCSI), and would like to upgrade to a faster drive.

I had read that the Plextor drives will copy copy-protected disks because of Plextor's error-correction algorithms, and although that is not my main purpose, I've always heard that they make the best CD burners.

Also helpful was your comment on the best speed for burning music.

You've helped me make up my mind!!
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by MacDEF
Taoster, as a moderator, I would hope that you'd have some reason to post in this thread other than to troll.


yeah, that's MY job! right, macdef?


glad the plextor is working out for you. most people i see just say "buy a liteon, it's $50" but i'd rather stick to plextor. sad thing is, plextor kinda sold us scsi users out a while ago and they don't even make scsi versions of their drives anymore.


so i got the new yamaha instead. disc tattoo thing is pretty neat, but the "audio master recording" mode is what i really dig. it's different from your varirec as it changes the way a cd is written to make it sound less harsh. it uses more space than the cdda standard has rated, so like an 80 minute blank will only get you 68 minutes (or something like that).

i've been meaning to startup a little a/b package and send some copies out to see what some of head-fi's top reviewers thing, but i haven't gotten around to it. maybe soon.
 
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MacDEF

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Quote:

Originally posted by grinch
yeah, that's MY job! right, macdef?


Yeah, for a minute I thought you'd hacked into Taoster's account


But I've noticed an increase of such thread-crapping lately, whether it's the above, or someone entering into a Music forum discussion just to say "I can't stand that band"
 
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Quote:

Originally posted by scrypt

One such feature is overburn which, theoretically, allows one to cram 94 minutes and 55 seconds' worth of music on an 800 megabyte CD. So far, Toast and other Mac programs I know of do not support this feature. Perhaps someone on Head-fi knows of a program that does.



I dont know much about macs, but I do know that overburning is a good way to destroy your drive. Not a guaranteed way, but it has happened enough that I will never try it.
 
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scrypt

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Are you sure about that? I haven't been able to use overburn with a Mac (no sw that I know of), but the PlexWriter 48A is designed to support it. It's in the manual and Plextor also mentions the feature in product lit.

A friend of mine has also been raving about the Yamaha F1. He claims it somehow allots "more space" for audio information, which supposedly makes it better for mastering. I'll have to research this to find out what he's talking about.
 
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