Eleven 20x/24x CD Burners

One On Its Own: Audio Master Quality By Yamaha

Apart from its Mount Rainier compatibility and 24x maximum speed, the main new feature of the CRW3200 is its Audio Master Quality function. This is a brand new technique dedicated to CD Audio alone.

To understand this new function properly, let's explain what the word 'jitter' means. On a CD, the 0s and 1s of the digital sound are represented by what are known as 'pits' and 'lands,' pits being the zones burnt by the laser. Next to these data is information for error correction. In theory, the data representing the 0s and 1s should not contain any errors. But sadly, every electronic appliance produces interference and random events, which complicate matters. In a burning operation, errors called C1 and C2 occur - and this is what is known as 'jitters.'

Yamaha claims that Audio Master Recording reduces jitter by 30% compared to standard burning, and improves the quality of sound restitution. They have done this by modifying the laser speed in their new model, which burns a CD-R at 1.4 m/s instead of 1.2 m/s. So if the speed is increased from 1.2 m/s to 1.4 m/s, the length of the pits increases by about 15%. This gives pits and lands which are slightly longer than usual, though still within the standards laid down in the Red Book. The CD Audio, though burnt at high speed, is more "legible" for audio decks and players. The downside is a substantial loss of space: 63 minutes for 650 MB (instead of 74), and 68 for 700 MB (instead of 80). Another thing worth mentioning is that the CRW3200E burns CD Audio Masters in 4x maximum, and, as of yet, only Nero Burning Rom 5.5 supports this function.

The charts above show the theoretical effect of Audio Master Quality on a CD Audio. In practice, the gain is definitely noticeable on playback, but can vary depending on the equipment used. In any case, you need adequate audio equipment to notice any difference at all. On a standard hi-fi, the gain in quality is fairly significant, especially with regard to instrument location. But you can hardly tell the difference between a CD burned conventionally in 4x and one burned in Audio Master on a top-range CD player like the Denon DCD1550AR. This is undoubtedly because a player of this quality already has an effective error correction system.