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CD-R error testing Mac 2014 DAW Software
Old 25th February 2014
  #1
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

CD-R error testing Mac 2014

I know this topic has been discussed quite a bit over the years, but has anybody found a true OSX solution for checking C1/C2 errors on a Mac?

I have a couple Plextor Premiums and can run PlexTools Pro XL in Parallels via XP, but I find myself wasting a lot of time just getting to the point where I can actually run the test. I find myself battling Windows XP settings for PlexTools to even seen the Premium drive, and then I battle a parameters error within PlexTools, and then eventually get it to perform the C1/C2 test.

I would love to hear of an OSX app that can perform C1/C2 tests using the Apple USB SuperDrive or something easier than my old Premiums in big loud enclosures.

90% of my masters are DDPs but now and then I get a client that needs a CD-R for duplication.
Old 25th February 2014
  #2
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MASSIVE Master's Avatar
 

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It's hardware dependent -- The drive needs to be capable (hence, the Plextor units) and the software needs to communicate with the drive (hence, me running Bootcamp on my Macs).
Old 25th February 2014
  #3
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As far as I know there are no Mac based solutions - and considering that optical discs are essentially being phased out it would be fairly senseless for a develper actually concerned with getting a return on the coding time invested to create an OSX based solution - AND as John noted - you need CD-ROM drives with pins properly connected on a hardware level in order to transmit C2 flags and BLER readings - something that most drives still being made don't actually offer.

Considering around $100 will get you a second hand desktop PC already loaded with XP or Win7 with more than enough power to run Plextools - seems to me getting a separate computer to solely do disc error checking is the most convenient and affordable solution.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 25th February 2014
  #4
Still no true Mac solution a.f.a.i.k.

Like you I'm just hanging in there with Parallels voodoo for the odd physical master request.

Your issue sounds familiar. Try reassigning the USB port designation to the external drive in Parallels after (each) launch.
Old 25th February 2014
  #5
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I'm with Steve.
Why don't you outfit an actual windows XP pc?
They are cheap enough second hand.
It takes a little time to set up, but you already know how because you did in Parallels, and after that it just sits there waiting for your physical burning requests.

Otherwise I would probably always prefer booting into Windows over Parallels, just so the software would be running native, it's drivers and protocols would not be translated or any other voodoo.
It is about being certain after all.

bests,
Old 26th February 2014
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkuijt View Post
Otherwise I would probably always prefer booting into Windows over Parallels, just so the software would be running native, it's drivers and protocols would not be translated or any other voodoo.
It is about being certain after all.
Absolutely. Parallels is fine if you're using Word or something. Well, it's probably fine if you're only using PlexTools Pro also...
Old 26th February 2014
  #7
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

Thanks guys.

I just keep Parallels/XP on my laptop (not my main iMac) for running PlexTools and the occasional work thing my wife needs IE or other Windows stuff for.

I can probably spend an hour figuring out how to streamline things so I know exactly what settings Parallels and XP are looking for when checking CDs with PlexTools, or find a cheap XP laptop just for testing discs. Any suggestions or links? I'm out of touch with the PC world.

My Plextor Premiums are hassle free for burning CD-Rs on my Mac via Wavelab, it's just the testing in XP that has been eating a lot of time lately.

I was hoping that CD drives had gotten good enough over the years and that I could just use my Apple USB SuperDrive to burn duplication masters but after comparing the discs burned with the Plextor and the Apple, the Plextor still had substantially lower error rates, so I guess it's worth still using them even though they're old and cumbersome.

Luckily it's rare that I need a CD-R master these days anyway.
Old 26th February 2014
  #8
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Odd though it may be that no Mac solution has ever been offered, I'm like many others in that I keep an old PC hanging around that just does CD testing and nothing else.
Old 26th February 2014
  #9
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Why bother now when 99% pressing plants accepts DDP?

Get a good Plextor recorder and TY CDR's. Will be fine.
Old 26th February 2014
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
Odd though it may be that no Mac solution has ever been offered, I'm like many others in that I keep an old PC hanging around that just does CD testing and nothing else.
The market for this sort of thing is probably tiny and, even on the PC side, there have only been 3 programmers that have actually written this error testing software for the PC - and all 3 of them have worked for Plextor at some point.

There are always the stand-alone testers from people like Stagetech or Clover - but an old PC is cheaper.
Old 26th February 2014
  #11
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I keep a 2008 Mac Book running XP via Bootcamp and a PX-716 & PlexTools off to the side, and out of the way, strictly for CDs testing. Some days I'm just burning refs or uploading files and not cutting physical masters, but when I need it, it's 2 feet from my left hand. Just connect the power supply and FireWire cable to the 716. The report printing is via wifi to the front office. Still it's a waste of a good Mac, adding a cheap PC laptop would do as well.
Best, JT
Old 26th February 2014
  #12
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Justin P.'s Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by sat159p1 View Post
Why bother now when 99% pressing plants accepts DDP?

Get a good Plextor recorder and TY CDR's. Will be fine.
Agreed, but it seems that short run duplication orders still require a physical master for CD duplication and those orders come up for me about once a month.

There were a few replication brokers that were still asking me for CD-Rs but I've either steered clear of those or convinced them to not be afraid of DDP.

And then there is United Record Pressing that is annoyingly still asking bands/customers to mail them a CD-R to cut lacquers from or else pay a setup fee. As you can imagine, most people doing stuff on the cheap and don't get the difference between 16 and 24-bit just take the cheapest route I try like hell to steer clients away from URP for lacquers but there are a few that still insist. The funny thing is that they can either pay me to reduce their vinyl pre-master to 16-bit CD-R and mail it, or they can pay UPR the setup fee to cut from 24-bit. As clearly as I try to explain, I still end up sending CD-Rs to United for those clients that want to do it cheap and easy. I don't even think United accepts 24-bit vinyl masters via download. This is the main reason I can never refer a client direct to them for lacquering. Who knows what they even end up using in the end for lacquering. They seem to do good work though when my usual lacquer guy does the lacquer and sends to United for the rest of the job. I'm guessing they're just too slammed to change their workflow.

Rather than raise my rates, I've just started itemizing things for those that still need physical copies...back when it was more common I just worked the cost of physical copies into my rate.
Old 27th February 2014
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sat159p1 View Post
Why bother now when 99% pressing plants accepts DDP?

Get a good Plextor recorder and TY CDR's. Will be fine.
If the client wants a physical master, they get a physical master. Even if it's a minority of the time now, you still need to be able to offer it, and when it's called for you want to be able to test it before it goes out.
Old 1st March 2014
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayfrigo View Post
If the client wants a physical master, they get a physical master. Even if it's a minority of the time now, you still need to be able to offer it, and when it's called for you want to be able to test it before it goes out.
Devil's advocate for a moment: yes duplication requires physical masters however the meaningfulness of an error test can actually depend entirely on the read speed used at the other end, which IME is more of an issue (read: variability) with CD-R duplication than for CD replication.
Old 1st March 2014
  #15
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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It's still good to know when you've hit that one bad blank in a hundred or if your burner has started going bad.

I got my first PC when blanks started going to hell around 2000, discovered Samplitude, found Pro Tools ran better on it than on my mac and never looked back. Plextools runs perfectly in xp compatibility mode on win 8.1.
Old 4th March 2014
  #16
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aleatoric's Avatar
Similar to Jerry Tubb I also have a late 2000's Mac Book running XP via Bootcamp with PlexTools installed and a Plextor PX-716UF. I only use this for error checking and burn with whatever is in my Mac Pro (a Pioneer drive I think). I use Taiyo Yuden/JVC blank media. About 1 in every 25 CD's or so I'll get a bad burn (C2 error, never had a CU error or a high C1 rate). It's absolutely worth it to me to have this error checking rig running. Even though I am not burning that many Production Master CD's these days (a lot more DDPi's and projects not being released on CD) the last thing I ever want is to hand over a none error checked PMCD to a client and have it get rejected by the plant, or even worse, the plant does not catch the error and the client is stuck with hundreds or thousands of CD's with an audible hiccup.
Old 4th March 2014
  #17
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The difference between a master and a dub is testing.
Old 4th March 2014
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleatoric View Post
..About 1 in every 25 CD's or so I'll get a bad burn (C2 error, never had a CU error or a high C1 rate)..
That still seems a bit high to me. Could indicate that your MacPro's burner is getting tired?
One of the exact reasons for checking your own masters; to monitor the health of your own equipment. Not just the medium itself.
Old 4th March 2014
  #19
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Originally Posted by finetuner View Post
That still seems a bit high to me. Could indicate that your MacPro's burner is getting tired?
One of the exact reasons for checking your own masters; to monitor the health of your own equipment. Not just the medium itself.
I would agree that it seems high, I have found that maybe 1 disc in 100 or so here will show a C2 and it's not uncommon if you do get a C2 error for it to show up on a couple of consecutive discs on the spool.

I also run PlexTools under boot camp on a mac and have found that it has been a stable option. I also used opti drive control for a while but found its error reading to always be extremely low, and completely different to what plex tools would report on the same cd.
Old 4th March 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strut78 View Post
I also used opti drive control for a while but found its error reading to always be extremely low, and completely different to what plex tools would report on the same cd.
At one point Erik (Opti Drive Control's author) had an agreement with Plextor to not support error testing on Plextor drives with his software. I'm not sure whether this is still the case now that Plextools is no longer supported.
Old 4th March 2014
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesp View Post
At one point Erik (Opti Drive Control's author) had an agreement with Plextor to not support error testing on Plextor drives with his software. I'm not sure whether this is still the case now that Plextools is no longer supported.
I was using Opti Drive control with a different drive, one of the ones that was listed as compatible at the time. I just found that it always had super low errors usually a BLER of 0.1, which was out with what one of my cd pressing plant had showing up on their eclipse system.

Moving to a plextor/PlexTools setup has been very close to their system and the error reports are much higher. I would much rather reject masters on my end and have my system show higher errors, than to have one that shows a lower number and may be rejected by the plant.

This is also a good reason to develop a relationship with you local pressing plants/brokers, as they will often happily let you know what the error rate was on their end.
Old 4th March 2014
  #22
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aleatoric's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by finetuner View Post
That still seems a bit high to me. Could indicate that your MacPro's burner is getting tired?
One of the exact reasons for checking your own masters; to monitor the health of your own equipment. Not just the medium itself.
You know what, it's probably a bit lower than that. Maybe 1 in 35 tested discs? I don't know exact figures but once in a blue moon I'll get a C2 and have to do a re-burn. Maybe 2-3 times out of a 100 TY disc spindle? Never had a CU or high C1 rate. My thoughts are it's related to an occasional bad disc or perhaps a small scratch occurred during the label printing or something (I always test after label printing). Either way, not a big deal. If I ever start to consistently get bad burns across multiple CD spindles than I'll replace my CD drive in a heartbeat. Right now though it's not an issue.
Old 4th March 2014
  #23
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This discussion leads to the question: how often should one replace CD burners? What is the normal lifespan of the CD burner in a MacPro for example?
Old 4th March 2014
  #24
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aleatoric's Avatar
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Originally Posted by edva View Post
This discussion leads to the question: how often should one replace CD burners? What is the normal lifespan of the CD burner in a MacPro for example?
That really depends on a few factors. The specific model of burner and how well it was engineered, how often you burn discs, etc. CD Burners definitely do die though and before total failure (i.e. they completely stop working) will typical cause an increase in errors with audio CD burns. I think I replaced the drive in my G5 three times over the course of 3.5 years, however back when I was on a G5 I was burning a lot more discs. The drive in my Mac Pro is still going strong and it has been about 14 months.

This is again why having an error checking rig of some sort is crucial in my opinion. It will let you know when you need to replace your drive. If you start to see an increase of bad burns across multiple CD spindles then you can say with almost full certainty your drive is dying and should be replaced. Often times when a drive is going it will start to sound funny (louder, like it's trying harder) but not always. Best way to be in the know is a PlexTools rig or similar.
Old 4th March 2014
  #25
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edva's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleatoric View Post
That really depends on a few factors. The specific model of burner and how well it was engineered, how often you burn discs, etc. CD Burners definitely do die though and before total failure (i.e. they completely stop working) will typical cause an increase in errors with audio CD burns. I think I replaced the drive in my G5 three times over the course of 3.5 years, however back when I was on a G5 I was burning a lot more discs. The drive in my Mac Pro is still going strong and it has been about 14 months.

This is again why having an error checking rig of some sort is crucial in my opinion. It will let you know when you need to replace your drive. If you start to see an increase of bad burns across multiple CD spindles then you can say with almost full certainty your drive is dying and should be replaced. Often times when a drive is going it will start to sound funny (louder, like it's trying harder) but not always. Best way to be in the know is a PlexTools rig or similar.
Thank you.
Old 5th March 2014
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by aleatoric View Post
You know what, it's probably a bit lower than that. Maybe 1 in 35 tested discs? I don't know exact figures but once in a blue moon I'll get a C2 and have to do a re-burn. Maybe 2-3 times out of a 100 TY disc spindle? Never had a CU or high C1 rate. My thoughts are it's related to an occasional bad disc or perhaps a small scratch occurred during the label printing or something (I always test after label printing). Either way, not a big deal. If I ever start to consistently get bad burns across multiple CD spindles than I'll replace my CD drive in a heartbeat. Right now though it's not an issue.
Maybe, seems logical. But what if (hypothetical) the drive is leaning on the edge of it's tolerance. That might result in higher than normal yet acceptable results.

Anyway, you'll know if/when the errors increase over time. Referring to your last post, you're keeping a good eye on that.

If all remains consistent and has been like tis for quite a while, you may consider other ways to reduce error rate. Have you experimented with burn speeds for your specific TY discs? For me it's 8x

I find it strange that the c1 rate remains low. Leads to the question: what is low?
What's your average - average C1 rate per second?
Old 5th March 2014
  #27
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aleatoric's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by finetuner View Post
Maybe, seems logical. But what if (hypothetical) the drive is leaning on the edge of it's tolerance. That might result in higher than normal yet acceptable results.

Anyway, you'll know if/when the errors increase over time. Referring to your last post, you're keeping a good eye on that.

If all remains consistent and has been like tis for quite a while, you may consider other ways to reduce error rate. Have you experimented with burn speeds for your specific TY discs? For me it's 8x

I find it strange that the c1 rate remains low. Leads to the question: what is low?
What's your average - average C1 rate per second?
The bad burns have not increased over time. I think I had my first one on the Mac Pro's drive about a month after I got it. They have not increased over time and I honestly can't remember the last bad burn. This past summer I think was the last time I error checked a disc and it had a C2 and I had to re-burn a new CD, which is no big deal and not at all time consuming. It's definitely not a cause of concern for me. If I started getting lots of bad burns in a row, or they increased in frequency, like I said in previous posts, I'd replace the drive.

To answer your other questions; I have experimented with burn speeds. 16X seems to provide me with the lowest C1 rate. I actually burned a Master CD yesterday and it error checked at an average C1 rate of 0.6 per second. I'd say 0.7 per second is about average for most discs I burn.
Old 5th March 2014
  #28
Although I usually reach 0.4 per sec average, 0.7 is still good I guess.
They way you describe it now, you seem to be doing fine indeed.
Old 6th March 2014
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finetuner View Post
Although I usually reach 0.4 per sec average, 0.7
0.7 is fine and well well well below Red Book specs. Out of curiosity though, what drive are you using for burning? When/if I do need a new drive I might go with what you're using since you are getting such low C1 rates, that's assuming it's compatible with my Mac Pro. Thanks.
Old 6th March 2014
  #30
It's a Plextor Premium II in a Mac Pro (!)
I've heard of other folks reaching 0.3 consistently and they were all using Plextors. So I bought a few when still available.

There's a link on this subject:
CD burner suggestions?

I've had good results with Pioneer drives also.

It's a good idea indeed to save your Plextor for testing solely.
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