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Sony Spressa CRX160E - CD-ROM Performance Results

  November 22, 2000 Author: Tim Zakharov  

For an overview on methodology, click here.

CD-ROM Performance Results

Low-Level Measurements

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Compared to the other three CD-RWs we've tested so far, Sony's CRX160E comes in near the bottom in sustained transfer rates, though only by 3%. Its transfer rates are well within the specs for a 32X CAV reader.

The Sony surprised us in our random access time measurements, though. With a measured average of 115 ms, the CRX160E comes in a full 35 ms faster than Sony specifies, 2nd only to the Ricoh out of the four CD-RWs. Let's see if these speedy results lead to high Winmark scores, as one would expect.

CD-ROM Winmark 99

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In another surprise, the CRX160E did not meet our expectations in the Winmark test. With access times significantly faster than both of the Plextors (along with equal transfer rates), we expected the Sony to pull ahead; instead, it nestles between the two with an mediocre score of 1051.

File and Disc Copy

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The CRX160E edges out Plextor's 12/10/32A in our sequential file copy test. Its average time of 3:15 grants it miniscule lead of less than 1% over the other three burners. Put into perspective, this equates to a bit over 3 MB/sec, or around 22X, about what a well-tuned 32X CAV reader should be pulling in such a test.

However, in our disc copy test the Sony does quite poorly. Remember the mediocre Winmark scores despite the quick measured random accesses? It looks like a replay of the same scenario here. Our disc copy test generally rewards drives with fast random accesses, but the CRX160E averaged 4:08, the slowest of the bunch. The fastest CD-RW in this test, Ricoh's MP9120A, averages about 19X, while Sony's drive averages 17X, roughly 10% slower.

How does the Sony do when extracting digital audio? Let's find out!

Digital Audio Extraction

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Prior to testing, there was some question as to what the CRX160E could do here. After all, Sony does not list DAE speeds in any of their specs for this drive, so curiosity ran high prior to tests. As we can see, the Sony extracts audio at 12X CLV (constant linear velocity) speeds, not the fastest we've seen, but adequate for most situations. However, compared to the competition the Sony is a bit slow. Examined against average extraction rates across our entire test CD-DA, the CRX160E came in 3rd out of four drives. Even the 4th place Ricoh is where it is only because it had difficulty reading our test CD-DA at its full-rated speed (14X-32X CAV). We feel that for today's burners, 12X CLV is the bare minimum acceptable speed for DAE.

On a positive note, the Sony showed outstanding extraction quality in our tests. CDSpeed99 gave the CRX160E a perfect 10 in extraction quality and detected support for accurate streaming. Our real world tests with CDDAE99 confirmed 12X extraction rates for all tracks on our test disc, zero extraction errors, and subjectively excellent audio quality when listening through our Grado headphones. Trouble is, the competition has equally outstanding DAE quality, leaving the Sony trailing in overall DAE performance.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

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When it comes to CD-Rs, the Sony had no problems reading our test discs at full speed. Measured results were nearly identical to its pressed CD performance-15.7X at the inner tracks and 32X at the outer tracks. Random access times with our CD-R test disc were even quicker at 112 ms, confirming our pressed CD results. We find it very odd that this drive's impressive low-level figures don't translate to the expected application-level performance.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

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Our CD-RW tests show the CRX160E slowing down its read speeds to 10X-20X CAV, roughly the same as Plextor's 12/4/32 SCSI drive. This is again on the slow side compared to the competition (Ricoh's drive transcends 32X while Plextor's 12/10/32A surpasses 24X), but should suffice for most applications. Our random access test with CD-RW media clocked in at 132 ms, a bit slower than pressed CDs and CD-Rs, but still well under Sony's 150 ms spec. No compatibility issues were found using Verbatim, Sony, and Memorex media.

Overall, we found the Sony CRX160E to be a mediocre CD reader compared to its competition (only Plextor's 12/4/32 was a slower reader overall). Let's see if it can pull a comeback in our burning tests.

 Write/ReWrite Performance Results...


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