Yamaha Corporation, originally founded in 1887, started as a manufacturer of reed organs. In the century that followed, their reach has expanded to all manner of musical instruments, semiconductors, home appliances, computer equipment, machine tools, and even industrial robots. Their foray into CD-RW drives began with what was at the time a state-of-the-art 2X/2X/6X SCSI burner featuring 1 MB of buffer and 250 ms access times.
How times have changed! Today we'll look at Yamaha's latest offering, the CRW2100E. Featuring impressive specs, the CRW2100E is the first kid on the block to offer 16X write speeds. Other manufacturers are still working on 16X offerings, leaving their 12X models to hold up the fort in the meantime.
We spent weeks trying to get a retail sample from Yamaha; despite an early affirmative from their PR firm, a sample never arrived and our follow-up queries never received a response. Therefore, when Hyper Microsystems offered to loan us an OEM sample, we jumped at the chance.
We were shocked at how loud our sample was during full-RPM operation. Even after securing the drive with all four screws and closing the testbed case, the noise and vibration generated by this drive when reading pressed CDs at full speed was unbelievable. Moving the drive into my personal system's Fong Kai case did not help. It was at this point that we voiced our concerns to Hyper Microsystems; they offered to send us a second sample. We were certain the original drive had a damaged spindle or something. Unfortunately though, the second sample was just as loud. The good news is, the drive is relatively quiet while burning (when RPMs are obviously much lower), but the racket starts up as soon as the drive starts spinning up to 40X CAV speeds.
A nice side effect of having the 2nd evaluation sample was the ability to confirm unexpected results. We're thankful to Hyper Microsystems for letting us hold onto both for the duration of our tests.
It should be mentioned that while the full-rpm hum never wavers, noise from the vibration varies dramatically depending on what disc we use. Obviously this points to issues of weight and balance, as well as sound deadening. CDs that aren't perfectly balanced (most aren't) will exhibit varying degrees of wobble, which translates to vibration in the drive housing. We'll briefly touch on the noise issue again on our Specifications page.
Since the CRW2100E is the only 16X burner around at the moment, our focus will be on how much better it is than the almost-but-not-quite previous-generation 12X burners on the market. Is it a worthwhile upgrade for those already at 12X, or should final judgment be reserved until other manufacturers start releasing their 16X models? Join us as we explore.