TDK veloCD 48x16x48 CD-RW Review

While CD drives have become rather stagnant as far as speeds are concerned, the CD-R/RW market is still gaining speeds faster than one can keep up with. Join Mike "Darthtanion" Wright as he takes a look at the newest offering from TDK; namely the veloCD 48x16x48. With blistering speeds and some very nice additional features, it may be the drive to beat in the near future. Come see what makes it so special!
| Aug 31, 2002 at 11:00 pm CDT
Rating: 95%Manufacturer: TDK Electronics

TDK 48x16x48 - Introduction

IntroductionIt wasn't too terribly long ago that the concept of getting an internal CD Burner was a reason to start saving the dollars. After all, the top of the line 4x burners were reaching exorbitant ceiling prices. I can recall seeing Plextor burners for prices in the $300-400 range and this wasn't including the price of media. Add to this the distinct possibility of burning several coasters and you can see that it wasn't your average impulse purchase.But then things started to get interesting. Everybody started making rewriters that were just a step ahead of the competition. Prices became much more affordable and the development of buffer underrun technologies made things both affordable and reliable. Since media had already started coming down in price too, things were just looking good all over.Enter TDK, a Japanese company that has been in business since 1935. They have long been manufacturing electronics components, but a few years ago they decided that they could make a better burner then some of the big players. But since everyone was making these things, there had to be something that could be done to make their product stand out from the crowd. So they took up the gauntlet, made some extremely fast optical devices and then put on a fancy blue tray cover to let folks know that they were there.This brings us to today's contestant, the veloCD 48x16x48 CD-RW. It advertises itself as an Ultra-Speed burner capable of creating DVD compatible videos, recording music and MP3 mixes, and also claims to be easy. Can this TDK drive stand up to the hype? Let's find out!

TDK 48x16x48 - Specifications

SpecificationsConsidering the speeds that this drive is purported to achieve, it stands to reason that there is more to it than just a pretty blue faceplate. So let's take a peek under the hood, shall we? The facts and figures shown here are straight from the TDK website.
Looking at the Performance Specifications section of the table shows some rather impressive numbers. Though there are a few other 48x burners on the market, not many are claiming a Digital Ripping speed of 48x as well. This could be interesting.

TDK 48x16x48 - What You Get

The Goods
When you tear open the box of your new toy you will be greeted by several items of interest. You get the drive (of course), Quick Start guides that cover the installation of the drive and installation of the software programs, a standard IDE ribbon cable, a small bag with mounting screws and a tray release tool, a marker for labeling newly burned disks, a blank CD-R, a blank CD-RW, the software disk and a pamphlet advertising several different types of TDK blank media.Pretty standard fare, but let's take a closer look at the software package included with this drive:
I'd like to start right off with a huge THANK YOU TDK. Why? Because we finally have a major player in the burner market that realizes that Adaptec CD Creator sucks. And no matter how many name changes it goes through, it is still the same sub-standard program for burning disks. Ahead Nero has been praised time and time again for being one of the best burning utilities available and TDK has added this very program to the package we see here today.You will also get the TDK Digital MixMaster program and InCD, which is a packet writing program. If you've never used one of these programs before, it allows you to throw a RW disk into your burner and then use the RW just like a small hard drive. You can even drag and drop from within either Windows Explorer or My Computer. Very simple and InCD program works fine.Besides these utilities, you get some very basic Adobe type freeware programs and some how to guides, but nothing else of real note.

TDK 48x16x48 - The Drive

The Drive
Now for what we've been waiting for; the drive. About the first thing you notice when you start removing the protective plastic packaging is the blue face. While the remainder of the drive is nothing out of the ordinary, that blue front keeps drawing the eye. Even now after using it for a few days, I still open up the door to my case and look twice at the drive because of the colored tray covering.
The back of the unit is pretty standard, but then, I wouldn't expect anything else. You have the power receptacle, the ribbon cable connection, jumpers for Master, Slave and Cable Select, and ports for both analogue and digital cabling to your sound card.
Once installed, it gives your PC a rather unique look. Now maybe you can understand why I still have to do double takes when I open up my front door.
Many people ask why the blue tray and cover. There is some speculation that darker colored trays equate to a more accurate burning process. It has something to do with the way the laser within reflects. While I can't say for sure how much actual truth there is to this, I can say that even manufacturers like Dell Computers is shipping their burners with a black tray for this same reason.
Pictured above is something that seems to be missing on more and more optical drives made today. You see marked with arrows two tabs that allow you to mount this drive in a sideways position. Though I don't usually mount my drives in this manner, I DO lay my case on it's side when troubleshooting from time to time. With these tabs holding steady the disk, you can still access the CD drive with no problems at all.

TDK 48x16x48 - Testing

TestingSince I don't have any comparable drives to do a direct comparison with, I'll do what I can to paint as complete a picture as possible with different benchmarking utilities. This should give a reliable viewing of the capabilities of this burner while working in its main purpose plus that as a normal CD drive. Let's begin with the test system:AthlonXP 1800+EPoX 8KHA+ Motherboard512MB Crucial PC2100 DDRSeagate Barracuda 40GB HDDPioneer 16x DVDSoftware used will consist of SiSoft Sandra 2002, Ahead Nero v5.5.9.0, Nero CDSpeed, Nero CD DAE and CD Tach. These utilities should do a fair job of letting us know what the performance levels are concerning this drive and also validate any results between programs.SpeedOne of the first things we really want to know is whether we can expect a reasonable amount of normal speed from the TDK burner. With the performance levels on the rise, there is little need to even have a normal CD-ROM drive anymore. So how well can we expect this one to handle the daily grind?
We have discovered in the past that when a disk is capable of reading at a given rate, this reading is done towards the outer edge of the disk. Since there is a lot of data towards the inner portion of the disk as well, we don't get an average score that matches the given specifications from the manufacturer. As a general rule, if you can get more than half of the stated speed as an average speed, then you're normally doing pretty well for yourself.That said, we have attained a result of 32.1x under CD Tach and 34.5x under Nero CD Speed. This equates to a very workable speed for your normal CD needs. Whether you're going to be installing programs, listening to music or watching a VCD disk, this drive will suffice easily in the task at hand. Also note that under CD Tach, this drive was able to test at 49x burst speed!One thing that concerned me a little was the CPU utilization of this drive. While not the highest I've seen, it does tend to be a bit higher than some of the competitors out there. I don't think it will be a real issue with the strong processors available today, but it was an item that needed mentioning.BurningNow that we have determined that the veloCD is capable of being used as a regular CD drive, it is time to see how it does what it was really made for; namely copying disks. To do this, I simply took a 60-minute audio disk and burned a copy. Since I want to see how this drive performs, I will burn the disk as an ISO image to my hard drive and then burn that image to the blank media. This will put all the stress onto the drive itself and not have it slowed down by a slower optical device.
The numbers speak for themselves in this case. The disk was burned at 48x and the time to burn was a very fast 2:16 including Lead-Out. This is very sweet!Digital Audio ExtractionWith more and more folks recording music onto disk, there has been a lot of concern with the quality of the files being extracted. After all, what good is a fast copy of your favorite music if it sounds like garbage?To check the ability of this drive to accurately extract this digital material, I used a program from Nero called CD DAE. What it does is take a music CD and extract the contents digitally and then copies this data to your hard drive. Not only that, but it checks the integrity of the data twice during the copy and then also converts it to a .wav format. It also gives you the number of errors that occurred during the copy process.
Again, the results speak for themselves. In a total of four minutes and three seconds, I had an hour of music on my hard drive in .wav format. Not only that, but there were absolutely no errors during the ripping process! This will ensure that you don't have those cracks and pops when listening to that custom music disk you want.Overall PerformanceWhat drive review would be complete without the results of the SiSoft Sandra benchmarking utility? Certainly not this one, so here are the numbers:
Unfortunately there are no higher baseline standards within the Sandra interface than the ones listed above. Even with SP1 installed, the highest they compare to is 32x, but the scores still accurately reflect the top-notch performance gains to be expected by using a drive rated at 48x.Of course, I still don't understand why Sandra identified this drive as a meager 20x when the results smoked everything they had on the chart.

TDK 48x16x48 - Conclusion

ConclusionThough TDK has been around for quite some time now, they haven't always been in the business of making optical drives. But from looking at this specimen, these folks believe in doing the job right. The speeds we see here are easily at the upper reaches of what you could expect from a CD drive and the burning performance is outstanding.But if you think this is good enough, then stand fast because there is even more. TDK claims to be able to perform rewrites at a staggering 24x! Of course there isn't any 24x media currently available so you'll still be limited to the 16x, but it's nice to know that you'll already be prepared for the future without having to do a thing.Another consideration when looking at this drive is price. With the Yamaha F1 being the main competitor for this model, the TDK version costs considerably less. As an example, I priced the Yamaha model at US$153 for the retail bundle. The TDK model reviewed today cost US$85. Sure, this TDK unit doesn't engrave the fancy designs and logos into the blank area of the disk like the Yamaha does, but I think I can live without that.Bottom line...If you're in the market for a new CD burner and have an eye for speed, then take a serious look at this TDK veloCD 48x16x48. It offers awesome performance at a very reasonable price. This is a combination that is just too good to be true.- ProsFast speedsAwesome burn ratesAccurate Digital Audio ExtractionsLow price- ConsCPU usage rather highRating - 9.5/10 and TweakTown's Editors Choice Award

Last updated: Apr 7, 2020 at 12:25 pm CDT

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