In our original review of Pioneer's DVD-304S, we found three issues which kept us from recommending the drive over its main competitor, Toshiba's SD-M1401. These were, difficulty reading CD-RW media during random accesses, digital audio extraction quality issues, and lower-than-expected DVD transfer rates. Since the DVD-305S has nearly identical specs to the 304S, we're led to believe that the introduction of the 305S is primarily to address these and perhaps other issues. For the most part, the 305S succeeds. The worst issue, inability to read CD-RW media when random accesses are attempted, does not exist at all in the 305S. However, the DAE issue has not been addressed at all to our knowledge. In fact, in all appearances the 304S DAE issues were just traded in for the DVD-115's DAE issues. Lastly, it appears as if the DVD transfer rate issue has been resolved.
Is this enough to dethrone the Toshiba SD-M1401? We feel it depends on how seriously one takes the DAE issue. In our view, this issue is limited and in many cases may never come into play for most users. We understand the needs of serious audiophiles, though, and cannot recommend the 305S to such folks if they plan to use this drive to extract digital audio. To most others, though, we have no qualms with recommending the DVD-305S over the Toshiba SD-M1401. It is a superior CD, CD-R, and CD-RW reader, and DVD transfer rates are about equal to those of the Toshiba.