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Yamaha CRW2200E

  August 9, 2001 Author: Tim Zakharov  
Special thanks go to Hyper Microsystems* for providing our evaluation unit.

* Remember, mention StorageReview.com when ordering from HyperMicro and receive FREE shipping!


Introduction

Yamaha has been in the CD-RW business for over 7 years, starting with the introduction of their CDR100PC in 1994. This SCSI-2 recorder boasted 4X write and read speeds, 500 ms access times and a 512 KB buffer.

Over the years, Yamaha has earned a reputation as a solid manufacturer of CD-RW recorders with nearly 30 models released in those 7 years. The CRW2200E represents Yamaha's current apex of CD-RW development: 20X burn speeds yielding 3 MB/sec writes. Read on as we compare the CRW2200E not only to Yamaha's previous-generation 16X burner, but to 20X competition from Ricoh and the cream of the 16X crop.

Specifications

Specifications according to Yamaha:

  • Maximum write speeds of 20X
  • Maximum rewrite speeds of 10X
  • Maximum packet-writing speeds of 10X
  • CD read speeds of 40X max
  • Digital audio extraction speeds of 40X max
  • 8192 KB buffer
  • 150 ms average random access time
  • ATAPI/ATA33 interface
  • SafeBurnTM Triple Error Protection
  • 1-year Warranty
Yamaha's buffer underrun protection technology is called SafeBurn - a "triple protection system." SafeBurn consists of a built-in buffer underrun protection technology that boasts "perfect linking" (meaning gap lengths of less than one micrometer); an 8MB buffer (most of today's drives offer no more than 2MB); and Optimum Write Speed Control (OWSC). OWSC examines the blank media in the drive and determines the best write speed for it. OWSC can be toggled on or off in Nero Burning ROM.

In addition, Yamaha keeps its Partial-CAV roots, bucking the Zone-CLV trend started by Sanyo and Ricoh. There are three major points to consider here. First, P-CAV writes avoid the coaster prevention "links" that Z-CLV creates between each zone. Second, P-CAV spends a greater percentage of its write process below 20X so average write speeds (18.5X) are slower than Ricoh's Z-CLV (19.5X). Third, P-CAV keeps spindle speeds much lower (5500 RPM max) than Z-CLV (8000 RPM max). These points can be studied in greater deal by reading this page on Yamaha's website.

For more information, click here to see Yamaha's CRW2200E product page.

The drive we received was a bare unit, so we cannot comment on retail box contents. Yamaha specifies the retail contents on their site, viewable by clicking here.

The Yamaha drive face features the company logo and maximum read and write speeds. There is a single small LED that flashes amber during writes, solid green during reads, and solid amber when no disc is in the drive. The eject button is large and easy to find in low visibility situations. The back of the drive includes a digital audio out in addition to standard optical drive connectors.

The drive arrived with firmware revision 1.0c. Prior to testing, we upgraded to the latest available revision, 1.0d.

One area where Yamaha's previous-generation burner was widely criticized was high noise levels. We are pleased to report that Yamaha has addressed the issue. The CRW2200E is significantly quieter than the CRW2100E in full-RPM operation. We put it about on par with direct competition from Ricoh and Plextor. In addition, the drive remains relatively cool even during extended stress tests.

Current online pricing is as low as $208 for the retail box. Our bare drive test unit from Hypermicro Systems goes for $179.

For an overview on methodology, click here.

CD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

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Ziff-Davis' CD Winbench 99 measures sustained transfer rates and random access times.

Like the previous-generation CRW2100E, the CRW2200E lags behind the other 40X max readers. While minimum read speeds approach 19X, maximum reads are limited to 38X. This keeps the Yamaha about 7% behind the Plextor in read speeds.

The CRW2200E averages 133 ms in our random access measure. Though significantly swifter than Yamaha's 150 ms specification, it still trails all but the Plextor in our comparison.

CD-ROM Winmark 99

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CD Winbench 99's CD-ROM Winmark test runs through a timed script of routines from a variety of popular software programs. The presented score averages results from four different test discs obtained from Ziff-Davis. This tests each drive's ability to read from a range of discs pressed with identical data.

The CRW2200E averages 1185 KB/sec, improving slightly on the 2100E's performance. This places the Yamaha 3rd in the comparison, 20% slower than the Ricoh. Impressively, the Yamaha's scores vary by only 1% between the four test discs. This indicates that the drive reads at maximum speeds with a variety of pressed media. The 2100E, on the other hand, yields scores varying by 14%, frequently reducing read speeds during the test.

File and Disc Copy

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The file copy test places emphasis on sequential transfer rates by copying a single, 634 MB file. Here the CRW2200E again improves on its predecessor slightly with a copy time of 2:46. Only Ricoh's MP7200A completes this copy quicker.

The disc copy test introduces random accesses, due to the multiple files and folders on the test CD. Although the CRW2200E's copy time of 3:33 is only good enough for 4th place in our comparison, there is a tremendous improvement over the CRW2100E. The previous-generation Yamaha reduced spindle speeds frequently during the copy process, resulting in slow copy times. The 2200E again shows better consistency with pressed media.

Digital Audio Extraction

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SR measures DAE using two programs: CDSpeed99 and CDDAE99. CDSpeed99 assesses low-level DAE capabilities, while CDDAE99 is an actual audio ripping program that converts audio tracks on CD-DAs to .wav files on the hard drive.

When testing the CRW2100E (and the CRW2100S), we found it had problems extracting from scratched discs at full speed (indeed, Yamaha released a firmware update shortly after for "Improved audio ripping performance of a scratched source CD"). While we no longer have a CRW2100E to test Yamaha's firmware update, we have noticed that the issue returns with the 2200E. CDSpeed99 reports an average DAE of 26X, nearly identical to the 2100E (even the dip in the transfer rate graph looks similar). This leaves the Yamaha about 15% behind the other two 40X CAV extractors in our comparison. To narrow the cause down to scratches, two identical audio CDs (Extreme's "III Sides to Every Story") differing only in surface quality were used. One has normal wear from years of use while the other is brand new and used only in our formal tests. CDSpeed99 graphs:

DAE with the scratched disc

DAE with the new disc

Despite the dip in the extraction graph, CDSpeed99 reports perfect extraction quality and accurate streaming.

CDDAE99 confirms the issue. The test disc extracts in 2:37 for an average rate of 25X. By comparison, the Plextor extracts the same disc in 2:20 (28X). The pair of Extreme CDs again confirmed the issue. The brand new disc extracts in 2:52 for a 26.4X average, while the scratched version of the same disc extracts in 3:14 (23.5X). Like CDSpeed99, CDDAE99 does not report any extraction errors, so despite the slowdown, extraction quality isn't affected.

CD-DA Error Correction

Digital Recordings' CD-CHECK tests each drive's error correction abilities with audio CDs. CD-CHECK is a reference disc with five levels of error gap sizes, each isolated to its own track. Error size and other details may be viewed by clicking here.

In each track, a continuous 20-second tone is played. The larger the error gap, the more difficult it is for the drive's error correction to mask the error without an audible pop or click occurring during playback of the tone.

All drives are tested by playing each track five times with each successful playback (no audible pops or clicks) noted. A result of 5/5 indicates that no pops or clicks were heard in 5 out of 5 playbacks of a particular track. A result of 0/5 indicates pops or clicks occurred during all 5 playbacks of a particular track. Digital Recordings provides the following interpretation of results:

  • Level-1 Pass: Player meets minimum requirements
  • Level-2 Pass: Average error correction
  • Level-3 Pass: Good error correction
  • Level-4 Pass: Very good error correction
  • Level-5 Pass: Excellent error correction
CD-Check Performance
Error Level 1 2 3 4 5
Yamaha CRW2200E 5/5 0/5 0/5 0/5 0/5
Ricoh MP7200A 5/5 5/5 0/5 0/5 0/5
AOpen CRW1232A 5/5 5/5 4/5 0/5 0/5
Plextor PX-W1610TA 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5
Teac CD-W516EB 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5

The Yamaha produces the worst error correction results yet seen. While Level-1 passes 100% of the time, all other levels deliver countless pops and crackles. Therefore, as a CD-DA player, the Yamaha meets only minimum error correction requirements. Perhaps this is related to the drive's problems with less-than-perfect media in DAE tests.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

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To test each drive's ability to read from a variety of CD-R and -RW media, we duplicate our pressed test CD to these discs and measure low-level performance with them.

The CRW2200E improves on its pressed CD transfers with minimum rates of 2840 KB/sec (19X) and maximum rates of 5760 KB/sec (38X). However, with many CD-Rs (the disc utilized in the transfer rate test - TDK 12X Certified with blue dye - happens to be an exception), transfer rates become jagged towards the outer edge. No correlations arise - it appears almost random as to which discs will have smooth transfer graphs and which will have jagged ones. This even occurs whether the CD-Rs are burned on the Yamaha or by other burners. Only Verbatim's 16X media with azo blue recording dye consistently delivers smooth graphs. Even Yamaha's own 20X certified media occasionally creates jagged graphs. Reduced read speeds seem to be the only consequence within these jagged areas.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

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With CD-RW media, transfer rates improve yet again to 2880 KB/sec inside and 5857 KB/sec (39X) outside. No issues arise with low- and high-speed CD-RW media from TDK, Verbatim, Memorex or Sony. All transfer rate graphs remain perfectly smooth. The CRW2200E proves to be the 2nd fastest CD-RW media reader ever tested.

Write/ReWrite Tests

Optimum Write Speed Control (OWSC) Tests

CD-R Media Performance
CD-R Media Dye Color OWSC - Enabled OWSC - Disabled
Attempted Write Speed Actual Write Speed Attempted Write Speed Actual Write Speed
Yamaha 20X Certified blue/green 20X 20X 20X 20X
Verbatim 16X Azo blue  20X 16X 20X 20X
TDK 12X green 20X 16X 20X 20X

A 620 MB burn was timed with three different types of media, with OWSC enabled and disabled in Nero. Yamaha's 20X Certified media successfully burns at 20X speeds (just under five minutes) with OWSC enabled and disabled. Verbatim's 16X Azo media burns at 20X speeds with OWSC enabled, but when it is disabled, write times reduce to 16X (five and a half minutes). Finally, TDK's 12X green dye media burns at 20X with OWSC disabled, and 16X when enabled.

All media was tested in CDSpeed99. As mentioned earlier, the Yamaha has intermittent trouble reading CD-Rs at the outer edge, unrelated to OWSC. Therefore, problems arise with spikes in the transfer rate graph on all media except Verbatim's 16X Azo. Both Verbatim discs read normally in the Yamaha, and all the discs read normally in two other optical drives. As a result, it appears that Yamaha's read issues are unrelated to OWSC quality; rather, the drive seems to prefer certain brands/dye colors more so than others. OWSC at least appears to work as advertised. However, since no quality issues arise when OWSC is off, it can be safely disabled as long as high-quality media is used.

CD-R Based Duplication

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Ahead Software's Nero Burning ROM measures how long each drive takes to duplicate audio and data test discs when burning at maximum speeds. All drives are tested as "source" and "destination," creating results for "imaging" as well as "writing."

With the audio disc, Yamaha's 20X P-CAV burn times complete in 4:39, 7% slower than Ricoh's 20X Zone-CLV and 6% faster than the Plextor's 16X CLV writes. Total duplication time is 9:10, the 2nd fastest measured to date.

With the data disc, the Yamaha takes 5:02 to complete the burn. This places it 12% behind the Ricoh and only 5% ahead of the Plextor. Total duplication time is 7:48, again good for 2nd, but nearly equaled by the 16X Plextor.

CD-RW Based Duplication

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Here the test drive duplicates the pressed data disk to CD-RW media at the drive's fastest rewrite speeds. At present, 10X is the maximum rewrite speed available- all drives in the comparison are 10X rewriters.

The Yamaha's rewrite speeds of 8:07 tie it with the Teac for last place in the comparison, less than 3% behind the Ricoh MP7200A. This is a significant improvement over the Yamaha 2100E, which provides only 8X CD-RW writes.

CD-R Based Stress Tests

During a burn process at the drive's maximum write speed, we first run CPU-intensive tasks to see how the drive is able to maintain its task under heavy-load conditions. Then, we hit Ctrl-Alt-Del to bring up the Close Program dialog box. This freezes the testbed mid-burn. When Nero indicates the drive buffer is empty, we hit Esc to cancel the dialog box and resume the burn.

No problems are reported in these tests. The burn process pauses when we freeze the system and resumes properly when we continue the burn. The burned data reads reliably from the disc.

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InCD Formatting

Ahead's InCD formats CD-RW media. The CRW2200E completes the task in 11:44 to take 2nd place in our comparison. Only the MP7200A formats faster.

InCD Packet-Writing Performance

Packet-write speeds are tested by timing the copy of a 195 MB folder from the hard disk to an InCD-formatted CD-RW via Windows Explorer. Here the Yamaha takes first place with write times of 2:32. This makes it the quickest packet-writer tested by a slim margin.

Interestingly, Yamaha still offers the 4X-10X CAV packet-writing speeds originated in the CRW2100E as an option. With the CRW2200E, 4X-10X CAV can be selected from InCD's option menu. When the same tests run in CAV mode, write times slow to 4:29.

Nero CD-RW Erasing

Nero's CD-RW eraser utility times how long the drive takes to return a formatted CD-RW to a blank state. The CRW2200E completes the task in 8:10 in a very tightly grouped race.

Conclusion

The Yamaha CRW2200E offers a mixed bag of performance.

In summary, its strengths include:

  • Reduced drive noise over previous generation
  • Consistent read performance with a variety of pressed discs
  • Excellent read speeds with CD-RW media
  • Inclusion of coaster prevention technology
  • 8 MB buffer considerably reduces the chance of coaster prevention tech coming into play
  • P-CAV writes keep drive RPMs low and eliminate forced gaps that Zone-CLV creates
  • 10X CLV rewrite and packet-writing speeds are a big improvement over Yamaha's previous burner

The drive's weak areas are:

  • Read speeds are still mediocre compared to Teac and Ricoh
  • DAE easily slows down with scratched audio discs
  • Poor CD-DA playback error correction
  • Spotty read performance with some brands of CD-R media
  • 20X write performance less than 10% faster than 16X CLV competition due to P-CAV strategy
Overall, the CRW2200E is a significant improvement over its predecessor. Rewrite and packet-writing performance ascend to industry standards, buffer underrun protection is added, and the monstrous 8 MB buffer is retained. However, its weak areas keep the CRW2200E from gaining ground over the top 16X burners. Drives like Teac's CD-W516EB and Plextor's PX-W1610TA write at fractionally lower speeds but offer more robust DAE, CD-DA playback error correction, and general read performance. Ricoh's 20X writer outperforms the Yamaha in every category except packet-writing speeds, where it's edged by 4 seconds by the CRW2200E.

The CRW2200E excels at creating gap-free burns. Its 8 MB buffer staves off coaster prevention technology; the P-CAV write strategy offers up to 20X burn speeds without introducing forced gaps in data like the Ricoh's Zone-CLV does (even if they are only 2 microns wide); and even when coaster prevention is activated, gap sizes are less than one micron across.

Hopefully Yamaha can address issues such as spotty CD-R readability and DAE with less-than-perfect discs with future firmware revisions. Until then, this drive is difficult to recommend over the current Leaderboard top-dog Ricoh or even higher-rated 16X burners like Teac's CD-W516EB.


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