The list and explanations
What is good quality media? which media is best for my writer? Why does a media not record well time after time on my writer? These are questions we get asked all the time at CDR-Zone.COM forums and by email. It's a minefield for the first time user to try and find the right balance between price and quality for their DVD backup needs.
Quite often it can be something as simple as a writer preferring DVD-R over DVD+R or just liking a particular brand of media better than others. Sometimes due to batch variance some discs can record at faster than rated speeds while the next disc won't. Sometimes the recording software, system setup or writer used can take the blame but more often than not. it is a media issue that has caused the bad recording to happen. Well if there's one thing I do have experience with, it's media! and I have tried to draw upon this experience to give our readers a basic guide to media quality.
I have catergorised all the brands of media I have extensively tested into 4 main sections, Premium, Recommended, Budget and Landfill with an explanation for each. Now media quality is an highly contencious area as what works for one might not work for others. Also media quality is in the eye of the believer but if you buy the Premium media you will get a lot less issues in my opinion. Middle range media is usually very good most of the time but can vary. Budget media is for short term backup only and please, if you buy any media I have in the Landfill section - don't blame the writer or software for the issues you have with bad recordings.
This is just a basic guide but if followed will result in a better understanding of media quality and hopefully more sucessful recordings. There will be companies who feel their media maybe badly or wrongly catergorised. I make no apologies but if you send me a few batches I can retest and update if required. This is based on my experience only although I have done have a lot of tests to draw my conclusions from.
Premium Media :
The best of the best. Should record at its rated speed with low error and jitter rates, whilst also producing a perfect transfer graph. You may pay a premium for this media but it will work time after time when recorded at their rated speed and quite often higher. Very rarely will you get a bad disc and if you do, they will give you a replacement! The best media to use for your long term valuable backups. It comes as no surprise that most of this media is made in Japan. Just because a brand of media is labelled as premuim doesn't mean it will make our premium list!
|Taiyo Yuden *
Plextor, Miflop Xtreme
DVD+R versions only
It depends who manufactured this for Verbatim. Look for made in Japan on the spindle or DVD case for the best stuff in the 8x range
again look for Made In Japan on the packaging
As you can quite clearly see, not a lot of media makes it into our Premium section. The companies listed have a reputation for consistently high quality media over many many batches. Using the media listed in this section should give very high quality backups of your important data or with a guranteed replacement for any defective media found. They also offer great compatibility with many writing devices showing a very good level of research has been undertaken.
Recommended media :
Will record at its rated speed with error levels within set specifications but there may be a small variance in quality from disc to disc occasionally. This is normally media that doesn't have a premium price tag ( but not always ) but has prooved itself good enough time after time. They quite often offer money back or replacements but not always.
Some brands listed here may use different companies to produce their media which only exaggerates media variance for the end user. You will also find that not every writer as optimised support but on writers that support the media well you will have very good results. Usuallys offer the end user a great balance of Price Vs Media Quality.
always uses Ritek A grade dyes - it's as good as Ritek media gets
DVD-R versions only
This was the hardest catergory for me. Alot of the media mentioned here can be as good as the Premium stuff if the recording device supports it properly in the firmware. You can see some big names in here as well like TDK, HP and Philips. They feel their name warrants a Premium rating but it takes some to get one here at zone! There is no shame in being placed here and you still have many happy hours of recording pleasure but the error levels will be slightly higher than the premium stuff consistently.
Budget Media :
With this media there is quite often a big variance in media quality from disc to disc. You may also find that sometimes the whole disc cannot be recorded to without major dips in the transfer test. It is quite often supported by writers at less than its rated speed. Everynow and again you will get a really good batch but generally they are short term usage only. A good reason for variance in this range of media is the fact the companies don't normally manufacture the media themselves and so can't check the quality at it's source. Another reason is the fact this range of media is quite often 'B' grades.
|New Star Digital
||Generic 'no name' media
Some may say its Recommeded media and not Budget media - it really does depend on your batch.
This is the cause of many headaches for consumers. Being Budget media it is aimed at the end user who wants real value for money. You will often find a certain brand will have many varying Media ID codes as the manufacturers constantly try to source the cheapest possible media whilst trying to keep some sort of quality. These are also often 'B' grade versions of more popular recommended media. The Arita can be considered a B grade version of Traxdata for example - they both use Ritek dyes but the Traxdata version has much better quality.
Best used for short to middle term backup needs, these can be considered the most popular due to their extra value for money. Expect the odd bad one but many discs will record fine and quite often theres a gem to be found.
Landfill Media :
What can I say? - This is the cheap of the cheap price wise and should of gone straight to the rubbish dump! Quite often its the pirates friend and responsible for very bad recordings. As the title suggests this is media that should never of left the factory but rather gone straight to the local rubbish dump. You will see very high levels of errors and jitter with goddamn awful transfer curves.
Quite often it is impossible to get the data off this type of media and you usually get cylinder redundancy errors whilst trying to transfer. This category is dedicated to Fake media and obvious low grade versions of well known media. Good luck trying to back up anything recorded onto this media and if you see this rating next to a media on cdr-zone, be advised - we dont recomend it!
Why do these media brands exist? Put quite plainly we allow their existence by being fooled by their extremely attractive price. I quite simply wouldn't touch these with a bargepole. Quite often they pray on the names of Premium media and mimick them using fake Media ID codes to make you think they are the real thing. Please support our campaign to rid the world of such media by refusing to be tempted into buying them and tell everyone you know too!
Use this media at your own risk and don't complain if those important family photos or the grand daughters christening video stops working 1 day after you recorded it.
End thoughts :
During my time testing media for CDR-Zone.COM one thing has stayed constant. Taiyo Yuden media has always been of very good quality time after time as long as you stick to the known brands such as Plextor and Miflop Xtreme who always use TY media. Its consistently the best of the best and this has led to many companies trying to produce fake media which looks like Taiyo Yuden but certainly doesn't perform like it.
It is quite noticeable too where the main market is for recordable DVD media. Our Budget to Recomended range covers almost all of our mentioned brands and value for money really does drive the market. Of course, the higher you raise the bar the better the quality becomes for those really important memories.
As long as you stick to the Premium range for long term or important backup needs and the recommended media for short to mid term backup needs you should rarely be too disapointed in your finished recording. Please feel free to discuss this article or maybe make a submission via our Media forum. As mentioned earlier, any retailer or media manufacturer who feels they are in the wrong section, proof me wrong by sending me some samples to test against my results.
Some media brands are under further investigation and are to be retested soon. These brands include :
Mediarange with MCC dye : media coming to test shortly