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Lite-On LTN526S - CD-ROM Performance Results

  September 20, 2001 Author: Tim Zakharov  

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.

In transfer rate measures, the LTN526S tops out at 7820 KB/sec, or 52X - fulfilling specs. This leaves it 5% behind the Afreey for the top spot.

The Lite-On averages 82.4 ms in our access time test, a bit slower than specifications. Creative's 52X drive remains the swiftest here with a 76 ms result.

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 drawn from four different test discs obtained through Ziff-Davis. This tests each unit's ability to read from a range of discs pressed with identical data.

Despite impressive low-level performance, the Lite-On turns in the lowest Winmark scores in the comparison: 1458 KB/sec. This leaves it trailing Creative's 52X by 14%.

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. The LTN526S completes the task in 2:13, leaving it 4% behind the Digital Research. All drives in the comparison complete the test within 7 seconds of each other.

The disc copy test introduces random accesses through multiple files and folders on the test CD. Once again Lite-On's finishes 4% back of the 56X Digital Research and holds its own with the other 52X readers.

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.

With CDSpeed99, the LTN526S yields an odd, nearly-20X CLV extraction rate. Rates begin briefly at 18X before jumping to 19X at two minutes into the disc. From there, rates climb gradually to about 19.8X by the end of the CD. Spindle speeds start at 9000 RPM on the innermost tracks and gradually slow to about 4400 by the outer edge. This means that the drive is significantly quieter when extracting latter tracks than when extracting earlier tracks. CDSpeed reports perfect extraction quality, but does not detect support for accurate streaming.

Accurate streaming is a feature built into many optical drive controllers that permits more precise positioning of the pickup during audio seeks, in effect simplifying the amount of algorithms involved in the extraction process. As we've gathered over the course of testing many drives, accurate streaming is not always required for good extraction quality, but is a consideration for those interested in the most accurate DAE. Lite-On's average rate of 19.56X is significantly faster than competition from Delta, Creative and Digital Research, but trails drives from Afreey and Artec by margins of 50% and 28% respectively. Before rendering judgment, though, let's see how the drives fare in CDDAE99, a real world audio extractor.

According to CDDAE99, Lite-On's unit averages 17.3X (the 65-minute disc is extracted in 3:46) when extracting audio from our test disc. The Afreey, despite what CDSpeed99 reports, extracts the same CD in 3:21 (19.5X) while Artec's drive does it in 3:07 (20.9X). So despite the large differences in CDSpeed99, these three drives all perform similarly when actually extracting audio tracks in CDDAE99. Also, despite the Lite-On's reported lack of accurate streaming, there are no problems with quality in our tests. Even with moderately scratched audio discs, the LTN526S extracts with perfect quality...CDDAE99 reports 0 errors on multiple passes with various audio CDs. Finally, in addition to expected DAE speeds when extracting an entire disc in a single session, individual tracks extract at anticipated speeds as well.

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.

A continuous 20-second tone plays in each track. 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 tested drives play 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 means 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
Pioneer DVD-116 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5
Lite-On LTN526S 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 0/5
Artec CHA-52 5/5 5/5 4/5 2/5 0/5
Lite-On LTD163 5/5 5/5 3/5 0/5 0/5
Kenwood 72X 5/5 4/5 0/5 0/5 0/5

We're quite impressed with the LTN526S's error correction abilities during audio playback! The drive equals the best performance we've seen to date with perfect error correction playback up to Level-4.

CD-R Media Compatibility and Performance

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Low-level performance measurements on duplicates of the pressed test CD assess a drive's ability to read from a variety of CD-R and -RW media.

With CD-Rs, the Lite-On pulls in performance nearly identical to its pressed CD reads: minimum speeds of 3890 KB/sec (26X) and maximum speeds of 7863 KB/sec (52X). No issues arise when reading a variety of brands and speeds of CD-R media.

CD-RW Media Compatibility and Performance

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It's always interesting to see how various drives do when reading CD-RW media. Not so long ago, many drives were incapable of reading CD-RWs; today, the issue has more to do with how fast the drives can read such media. As is usually the case, the LTN526S reads CD-RWs at reduced speeds- about 20X CAV. This places the Lite-On ahead of the Artec, Delta and Afreey, but significantly behind Creative's and Digital Research's units.



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