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Eleven 20x/24x CD Burners

One On Its Own: Audio Master Quality By Yamaha, Continued

The value of Audio Master is the direct result of a paradox: it is designed for music lovers because it improves the quality of the recording to the detriment of disk time; however, you need to have "commonplace" equipment to get the most out of it.

We noted another fairly strange quirk during our tests. If you make a copy of an original CD Audio in Audio Master Quality and then compare the two on the same equipment, you notice a definite difference. High and low notes seem more marked and the stereo distribution more emphatic. Yamaha says this is due to the fact that the Audio Master recovers the quality lost between the recording and mastering of the original! Given that the data are stored digitally on a CD, it would be nice if Yamaha explained how this miracle happens, jitter or no jitter.

Conclusion

From the tests carried out on these eleven 20x or 24x burners, we may conclude that, on the whole, most have satisfactory features and performance. We can, however, cite two in particular: the Plextor 241040A and the Yamaha CRW3200E. They have results as excellent as they are consistent, and, furthermore, they have an extended guarantee and after-sales service that the user will appreciate. The Yamaha is, of course, more expensive than the others, but it does have 8 MB of cache and advanced functions such as the Mount Rainier and Audio Master Quality Recording. Not far behind these two is the Teac CD-W524E, which offers solid, reliable performance, and is to be recommended.

Nor must we forget the financial side of burner purchase. Some of the cheapest include good burners like the Memorex 24Maxx (Lite-On 24x10x40), the Ricoh MP7200A or the Waitec Megalus. The TDK Cyclone 241040 and the Phillips CDRW2010 are no slackers either, when it comes to features or results, but they are somewhat more pricey than the others. The Hewlett Packard CD24ri is also rather expensive, and it is not perfectly compatible with low-quality media, so will not only be costly to buy but also to use. Finally, the Sony CRX175A, while not a poor burner, does not give consistent results, and some options are lacking or don't work properly.