1 (edited by matura713 2021-09-03 01:44:59)

OK, after no one replied to my question here:


I decided to research myself and found this article:

https://www.cdrinfo.com/Sections/Review … cleId=5095

where they praised "AOpen CRW2440A" as most capable to read such discs from long list of drives they tested including some very reputable brands like Yamaha, Plextor, etc.

In fact they achieved to get the exact same Hash ("Test CRC") on all, but only 2 tracks on the disc.

So, I have the same disc they tested and decided to try and reproduce their test - I was lucky and I found and purchased "AOpen CRW2440A" for only a buck (I must say it's in perfect, really like new condition, the original warranty seal wasn't broken and when I opened it - there was no dust inside or signs of use. I think it was hardly used if at all).

Long story short - I cannot reproduce their results with the same drive and the same disc and the exact same settings of which they included screenshot in the article - Every time I get different Hash for each track and not just that, but I've never get any of the Hashes ("Test CRC") they got and published in that article!

Later on, I found newer article by the same site, where they tested NEC ND-4550A drive:


in that article they claim:

Ripping process completed, EAC reports no problems, Read&Test CRC comparison successful for all tracks

I remembered I had NEC ND-4550A in my storage, I found it and tested - it's the worst of all drives on Cactus I've tested so far (which are Plextor PX-4824TA, Asus BW-16D1HT, Samsung SH-D162C, LG GDR-8164B and of course the aforementioned AOpen CRW2440A). It not just cannot get the same TestCRC twice, but it reads such disc slower and with more difficulties than any of my other drives. One more time I get nothing close to their test results.

I don't know how that's possible, but at this point, I don't trust any review on that "cdrinfo" website.... It cost me nothing, practically nothing, as I had the same disc they used for testing, I had NEC ND-4550A and I found and bought AOpen CRW2440A for a buck, but the main point is that their test results just cannot be reproduced and how they got them at the first place I really don't know, because I am using 2 of their exact setups and getting nothing even remotely close. Anyway, I just wanted to share in case someone else is mislead by those reviews...

Still, I have no any solution what to do exactly with those discs or just trash them as garbage.

[EDIT] just to add that all of the above was with the earliest version of the protection with discs having newer revisions of the same protection is many many times worse.

2 (edited by matura713 2021-09-03 03:13:07)

Hmm, I wonder is it disc aging and that 15 years ago the tests and results from the reviews in my previous post were actually valid?

I believe that's valid hypothesis, because I found disc that is protected with one of the latest Cactus 200 revisions of the protection "5.10.090" and thus it's probably the newest I have (i.e. 2-3 years less aging than the other discs) - that disc even it's stronger protection, my Plextor PX-5224 can read consistently (always matching "Test CRC" Hash) on about 50% of the Tracks (other 50% of that tracks PX-5224 cannot read).

Even more interesting and important finding:

I have that same disc later release without Cactus protection. Of course, that unprotected disc can be read by any drive I have without any problems. However, the important finding is those same Tracks from the Cactus Protected disc that my Plextor PX-5224 can read property have the same Hash ("Test CRC") as the Tracks on the Unprotected disc.

So, that means (actually proves) on those tracks that Plextor PX-5224 can read consistently it really beats the protection and there is no any loss of quality or something (i.e. errors in the data). I wonder if that disc wasn't 15 years old, maybe Plextor PX-5224 can fully read it. Very interesting... at least it's some progress, but I've never read any confirmation that if you can read Cactus disc the data you get are guaranteed 100% good - that lucky coincidence of that disc I found having both protected and unprotected release confirmed that.

3 (edited by matura713 2021-09-03 03:42:49)

Wow, it's crazy, when the conditions are extreme, the difference between drives becomes so huge and really night and day - on the disc from the post above here are how 3 drives do:

* Plextor PX-5224 : 8 out 16 tracks, 100% properly read (and that 100% for sure, because they have the same Hash as those track from later unprotected release of the disc). The most amazing think is that those 8 tracks it can properly read it's really very fast like 20X speed. The other 8 tracks it can read, but with errors

* Plextor PX-4824 : 5 out 16 tracks, 100% properly read, but contrary to Plextor PX-5224 it cannot read anything from the other 11 tracks. Those 5 tracks it can read properly the speed is like 10 times less than  Plextor PX-5224, i.e. maybe average speed of 2X

* Asus BW-16D1HT : complete failure, it reads with 0.3X speed, really straggles, cannot read any track properly.

I really think 15 years ago with those discs without aging and in top shape, Plextor PX-5224 will read 100% of the tracks - the fact that it do so well on disc with latest strongest revision of the protection, but at the same time that disc is less older, i.e. less aging.

4 (edited by matura713 2021-09-10 10:03:50)

OK, a little progress... I found some more drivers in my storage, collected over the years. So, I further tested:

* Pioneer A03S : completely fails to read the Cactus protected disc,  i.e. recognizes it as data instead of audio disc

* Optiarc AD-7850S : cannot overcome the protection, struggles and goes down to 0.1X speed and generates errors

* LG GSA-H30N : cannot overcome the protection, struggles and goes down to 0.5X speed and generates errors

* NEC ND-1100A : similar to Pioneer, see above

and the Big Surprise:

* NEC ND-3530A: It was able to read 93% of the disc properly, beats in that regards PX-W5224, it failed to read only the last Track (probably due to disc aging). Amazing result and completely unexpected!

It's also the first time I get result consistent with the review here:


where they say ND-3530A is the first NEC model that is able to deal Cactus, because the previous ND-3520A and ND-3500A fail to overcome the protection.

Now, the most interesting thing is that my NEC ND-4550A drive (see my first post) is really the worst drive I have on Cactus and I get nothing close to the review here:


It's possible my NEC ND-4550A drive is faulty, i.e. the laser is worn out or something, but I really don't know. In any case ND-3530A demonstrates unbelievable performance!! I cannot believe it beats PX-5224 in regards to Cactus.

So,  ND-3530A cannot read the Lead-Out and even if it was able to break the protection for the last track (which it failed to do) still probably the end of the track won't be correct, but on my test disc PX-5224 can do the last track. However, since Cactus disc are multi-session and Plextor CD drives cannot really do the Lead-Out for multi-session discs, probably PX-5224 end of the track is not totally correct too.

In any way, currently for me ND-3530A is the way to go and try with PX-5224 only on the tracks on which ND-3530A fails.

Last, but not least, even I already explained in my previous posts, why I am sure I am doing proper testing, but to mentioned it again:

I have the same disc protected with "CDS" (according to ClonyXXL tool) and 1 year later reissued without a protection. So, the unprotected disc can be read with any drive and that's how I know the Correct Hash ("Test CRC") of each Track. So, if a drive is able to read the Cactus protected one, then the Hash of each Track matches the Hash of the unprotected one. That's how I am testing and know for sure how good a drive performance is.

[EDIT] just found another drive:

* LineOn SOHR-5239V: cannot overcome the protection, struggles and goes down to 0.2X speed and generates errors

[EDIT2] found 2 more drives:

* Teac CD-W54: it's exactly like Pioneer A03S - completely fails to read the Cactus protected disc,  i.e. recognizes it as data instead of audio disc

* LG GTC0N : cannot overcome the protection, struggles and generates errors

[EDIT3] found 1 more drive:

* Asus E612 : cannot overcome the protection, struggles and goes down to 0.8X speed and generates errors

[EDIT4] found 1 more drive:

* Toshiba SD-M1502 :  cannot overcome the protection, it struggles so much when reading such disc that it freezes the whole computer!

5 (edited by matura713 2021-09-14 21:13:33)

just to add few more drives I tested and are totally not working:

* Sony CRX230EE
* LiteOn DH52R2P
* Hitachi GD-7000
* Yamaha CDR200t

So, I don't keep count, but it feels that I already tested over 20 drives and only ND-3530A and Plextor PX-5224A can do the job, but together - none of them alone is able to extract all the tracks. However, ND-3530A is very close to be able to do all the tracks. Basically, ND-3530A is like over 90% of the disc and Plextor PX-5224A is like 50-60%.

BTW, mine ND-3530A has very strange firmware version 1.E0 and it refuses to be recognized by any of the ND-3530A firmware updates available online. I don't know if that is relevant, but my NEC ND-4550A is totally not working with Cactus (even some claim ND-4550A should work) and that ND-4550A is recognized by all available firmware updates available online. So, I don't know, but maybe my ND-3530A strange firmware is causing the big difference.

I wasn't familiar with this protection until I saw this thread, and I'm a bit intrigued now.

Have you tried ripping the audio tracks in CUERipper and then repairing the rip with CUETools? Assuming the disc is present the the CTDB that CUERipper / CUETools uses, you can correct your rip if it's "close enough" (i.e., there aren't too many audio samples that are corrupted). I've not dealt with this protection before, as I said, but I've been able to rip some really terrible condition discs that were close enough to be corrected with CUETools. If the disc doesn't return consistent results on re-reads, though, you'll probably find that CUERipper takes a long time. If the results are consistent but the drive reports C2 errors, I'm honestly not sure how CUERipper handles that. Might be interesting to find out?

It should also be possible to repair audio tracks ripped with DIC in CUETools IIRC, but it's not very straightforward. CUETools doesn't deal with raw CDDA, so you have to use something like ffmpeg to go from the raw audio to WAV or FLAC.

This doesn't really help in terms of finding a drive to image the data, though, and instead more relies on other people having been able to image the disc in the past. In any case, though, it's saved my ass many times when I had an audio disc with a defect or damage.

One other thought -- have you tried using Plextools Professional XL to rip the audio? It has some options like hiding the second session on the disc. I wonder if that allows reading the last track on one of the Plextor drives? I think the only reputable place to get Plextools Professional XL these days is via the Internet Archive's mirror of the Plextor files: https://web.archive.org/web/20101219101 … w.download

7 (edited by matura713 2021-09-17 11:31:26)

OK, update - I purchased (used from eBay, but again as mine in perfect shape - no any nasty scratches or any visible scratches, etc) another copy of my test disc protected with Cactus 200 revisions "5.10.090". So, lets call my own disc "TEST_DISC_MINE" and the one I've just purchased "TEST_DISC_USED". Here are the results:

* NEC ND-3530A:
---> TEST_DISC_MINE : Cannot read Track15
---> TEST_DISC_USED : Cannot read Track03

in both cases my NEC ND-3530A really fails with those tracks, i.e. hard fail, no matter how many times try to reread, etc.

in both cases though, I can get full content of the disc properly thanks to the (lucky) coincidence that my Plextor PX-5224 can do both Track03 and Track15 without any problem. In any case the performance of NEC ND-3530A is mind blowing to me, because it doesn't struggle at all - no noise, no desperate motor movement, etc and on 2 discs it's always do over 90% of the content.

Now, the biggest surprise - my Plextor PX-5224, which I purchased with the fault I described here:

http://forum.redump.org/topic/39467/rep … -to-close/

and I guess, because of that fault wasn't used for many many years, before I bought it, Initially it was really struggling with Cactus discs - very noise (like vacuum machine level), very slow at times, desperate motor movements back and forth and as result it was able to do only like 60% of the tracks on Cactus discs, it really looked like 2nd class citizen on those discs compared to my NEC ND-3530A.

However, yesterday, like magic, completely sudden, my Plextor PX-5224 starts working 100% on Cactus discs - the only explanation I have is that the laser "wake up" after it wasn't used for so long. I mentioned earlier in this thread that I believe Plextor PX-5224 problems with Cactus is due to disc aging and 15-20 years ago it was able to do such disc when they were fresh, but now it seems the laser of my Plextor PX-5224 needed to work some time to wake from all those years in the drawer.

So, both NEC ND-3530A and Plextor PX-5224 amazed me in their own way. Even now I can get 100% dumps two different ways:

* my preferred one:  NEC ND-3530A and use Plextor PX-5224 only on tracks that ND-3530A cannot do, as well as on the last track, because ND-3530A has no Lead-Out read and positive offset (see my comment at the end - it's possible Plextor PX-5224 is even more wrong on LeadOut, than no LeadOut at all with ND-3530A).

* use Plextor PX-5224 for the whole discs

Still those dumps are not DiscImageCreator approved, because all Cactus discs are Multi-Session and DiscImageCreator supports only Plextor DVD-drives for Multi-Session discs, because apparently on Plextor CD-drives, Lead-Out reading is not correct for Multi-Session discs.

8 (edited by matura713 2021-09-17 11:26:38)


thanks for the suggestions!

what you're saying for Plextools - that option with hidden session is useful for another protection "Key2Audio", but that is perfectly handled by ExactAudioCopy too.

So, using things like CUERipper/CUETools is not an option, because the whole goal is to have 100% rip, not approximations.

In fact I believe I am the first one that really confirmed there are drives, that can no just read such Cactus protected discs, but read them 100% correctly, i.e. bypass the protection. That is due to very lucky coincidence, as I mentioned in the previous posts, that i happen to have the same CD protected with one of the latest (and thus hardest to break) revisions of the Cactus 200 protection and that same discs re-issued few years after without the protection. That allowed me to know the exact correct Hashes of the tracks, because the unprotected CD can be read perfectly by any drive. So, if when I read the protected CD the Hash doesn't match - then the drive cannot do it.

BTW, at least in the UK, almost all discs in 2001-2004 period were protected with Cactus...

Anyway, see the update I wrote in the post above.

matura713 wrote:

So, using things like CUERipper/CUETools is not an option, because the whole goal is to have 100% rip, not approximations.

I assume by 100% rip you're referring to having a "proper" DIC image of the disc as opposed to just audio tracks, and I definitely agree that it would be preferable to have a proper DIC image of the disc for archival. But, just in case I was unclear in what I said about CUETools, I want to say that, when CUETools corrects an audio disc, it makes the audio samples on the disc bit-for-bit identical to a existing rip of that disc. It's not like with record albums where there's software that just tries to find pops and clicks based on audio signature and mindlessly smooth them out. The database used by CUETools (CTDB) is, in part, a big database of data parity information that can be used to correct rips such that they match other known rips of the same disc. Essentially, you can go from a bad rip to a perfect one by correcting the bad audio samples in your rip to match an existing exact rip that someone else made of the disc. It doesn't simply clean up the audio to mask any audio artifacts that might be present -- it makes the audio samples match another known (presumably good) rip.

But, yes, it's definitely not as "archival" as getting a proper rip with DIC -- especially since it doesn't archive the data session. (Though CUERipper might record the existence of the data session in the CUE sheet -- I can't recall.) Fortunately, I don't think any of my audio discs have this protection. In fact, very few of my audio discs have any data tracks present at all, so I've mostly just been using CUERipper for audio discs (so I can use AccurateRip / CTDB to verify my rips) and DIC for anything that has data.

On another note, I kind of wish we had a parity database for the Redump rips. I have some discs I've acquired over the years that have a few bad sectors. I could have perfect rips of those discs with probably just a few KB of parity data...

10 (edited by matura713 2021-09-18 15:27:07)

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

I assume by 100% rip you're referring to having a "proper" DIC image of the disc as opposed to just audio tracks..

no, by 100% rip, I mean one that has 100% correct hashes of the tracks and that is for sure.

So, maybe it was lost in my long posts here, but until now (at least I cannot find any such confirmation made in the past), there was no way to confirm that a track ripped from Cactus disc is proper, i.e. if a drive can read the disc that what you get is really proper data with protection bypassed - for example "AOpen CRW2440A" can read such discs, but Hashes of the Tracks are totally wrong - of course, you can tell that only if you know the real Hash. So, what made the breakthrough for me and allow me to test and confirm for sure was the following:

matura713 wrote:

I have the same disc protected with "CDS" (according to ClonyXXL tool) and 1 year later reissued without a protection. So, the unprotected disc can be read with any drive and that's how I know the Correct Hash ("Test CRC") of each Track. So, if a drive is able to read the Cactus protected one, then the Hash of each Track matches the Hash of the unprotected one. That's how I am testing and know for sure how good a drive performance is.

So, build "5.11.90" is one of the latest of the Cactus protection (CDS200, aka Cactus Data Shield 200) and thus is one of the hardest to overcome. It's real luck that there is disc with it and the same one reissued without the protection - that gives the sole ability to test a drive and be sure that test is correct. Also, if a drive can read one of the latest "CDS" revisions (in fact the latest at least that I know), you can be sure it can do older version of the protection, as well.

As far as DIC image is concerned - all those discs are Multi-Session and DIC supports such Multi-Session discs only with Plextor DVD drives - I don't currently own working one to test it. So, the  only way to get DIC image is if Plextor DVD drives can handle the protection like PX-5224 can do it.

It was long journey for me, because initially my PX-5224 cannot do it (as I mentioned above, now I believe the laser needs some hours of work to awake up) and I don't know, if it's bad luck or it's that rare, but none of the tens of other drives I tested and listed here was working, except that lucky find of NEC ND-3530A, which I don't believe is an ordinary NEC ND-3530A, because firmware update for NEC ND-3530A doesn't recognize it due to its very strange 1.E0 firmware version.

Anyway, currently, the open question for me is - can Plextor DVD drives really overcome CDS200 protection, because that's the only case in which DIC image will be possible.

just to add another not working drive to the list:

* LiteOn DH-20A3P

matura713 wrote:

just to add another not working drive to the list:

* LiteOn DH-20A3P

After seeing what a struggle CDS can be, I kinda wish I had some CDS protected discs to do my own experiments on. However, I've almost completed ripping my audio CD collection, and I haven't found one yet. Most of my discs are North American releases, and I think that's why I've unwittingly avoided CDS. From reading about it, it sounds like it was more common in Europe compared to the Americas or Asia.

Do you know if there's a comprehensive list of CDS discs anywhere? MusicBrainz has about a handful of discs tagged as "Cactus Data Shield" (~8 discs), but there are obviously many more than that. That was the most extensive list I found in my searches so far, though.

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

Most of my discs are North American releases, and I think that's why I've unwittingly avoided CDS. From reading about it, it sounds like it was more common in Europe compared to the Americas or Asia.

yes, indeed, and in Asia, more specifically Japan, they used some special "builds" of Cactus. however, in Europe, a lot of discs released in Germany and especially in the UK use it, that applies for CDs in the period 2001 to 2004.

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

Do you know if there's a comprehensive list of CDS discs anywhere

I don't know any available lists, but such discs have the Cactus logo on the back cover. In any way, it's a lot more than 8 discs. I've just check that site MusicBrainz and I noticed they seems to use the term "Enhanced CD" for some Cactus titles I know. So, that seems like a code word.

14 (edited by matura713 2021-09-22 13:07:16)

Bad news - chances for a possibility of 'DiscImageCreator' dumps for Cactus CDs are getting slimmer and slimmer.

So, finally, I found cheap PX-708A and got it - that one contrary to my previous cheap buys of PX-712A and PX-716A is with working laser on CDs - it also has its original laser, i.e. warranty seals is unbroken. Unfortunately, It fails miserably on Cactus:

* PX-708A : really struggles, speed goes down to under 1X, i.e. 0.8X-0.9X, at the end it fails to even rip my test track (if i recall correctly "lost sync" or something like that was the exact EAC error in such case). Performance reminds that of Asus BW-16D1HT, which goes to even slower speeds...

I read in other forum that Laser OPU from PX-708A is compatible with PX-712A and now I personally confirmed that - I took the laser from that PX-708A unit and installed it in my PX-712A unit with broken laser - it immediately came back to live, in fact PX-708A laser in PX-712A is beneficial, because the performance on Cactus CDs of PX-712A (even with PX-708A laser) is much better than PX-708A itself. That shows the laser is not of primary importance. So, to put  PX-712A Cactus performance in few lines:

* PX-712A : it doesn't struggle, reads the tracks with speed 2 to 4 times faster than PX-708A and basically reaches the speed of NEC ND-3530A, but unfortunately all the track hashes are totally wrong, i.e. it just gives the illusion it works fine, but it's not

BTW, another 2 totally fake cdrinfo dot com reviews, because they said, both PX-708A and PX-712A, are "OK" for Cactus:

https://www.cdrinfo.com/d7/content/plex … 08a?page=6

https://www.cdrinfo.com/d7/content/plex … 12a?page=5

I am interested to hear their exact definition of "OK" for CDS200 protected disc! I mean be able to read, doesn't mean what you read is correct. So, what I see from PX-712A: it can read the disc - many of the drives I listed here are not even able to do that, but what it reads it's not 100% correct data, which after all is the goal. PX-708A is much worse than PX-712A in that regards and it's very good comparison as for both I used the exact same laser that came from my PX-708A unit.

15 (edited by matura713 2021-09-23 11:56:41)

Wow, I've just spotted album from 2003 reissued in 2008 and the reissued disc in 2008 still has the Cactus logo on it - that is really unbelievable, because I was thinking by 2005 no more such discs were made, because I have album from 2004 (and that is using the latest revision of Cactus, at least the latest one that I know of, who knows what is the wild), which when was reissued in 2005 they dropped the protection, i.e. only 1 year later, but this one 5 years later reissued and still with Cactus. Now, I wonder do they use the same revision of Cactus or 5 years later use even newer and harder revision of the protection? I guess with second hand prices like 1-2 bucks shipped, that's an easy thing to answer, i.e. if they use same revision, but unfortunately, if the disc is scratched we cannot judge if a drive can rip it or not with that particular Cactus revision and make a conclusion... it's still interesting if in 2008 they still used the same Cactus revision from 2003, though.

OK, it seems some re-branding was going on around 2005-2006, after Macromedia acquired Cactus. So, CDS300 has nothing to do with CDS200, but they continued to use same/similar logo and it's just using fake TOC and session to confuse the CD drive, but not C1/C2 errors like the previous very hard and evil CDS200 and CDS100. Basically, CDS300 is from technical point of view completely unrelated to CDS100 and CDS200. Now, from what I read, CDS100 could be even more secure than CDS200, because reportedly after first revision of CDS100 it was abandoned due to even home and car equipment refusing to play the CD. I know only one CDS100 disc - if I find and buy it, then I will test and tell more. Anyway, allegedly there is one revision of CDS100 and 7 revision of CDS200 - last CDS200 ones are 5.10.90 and 5.11.90. My test CD, based on which all above posts are made is 5.10.90 and that is the, again allegedly, the strongest among CDS200 - in 5.11.90 they supposed to relax it a little bit again to avoid too many home and car equipment completely not working. I cannot confirmed any of those statements right now, just making summary of my research so far. BTW, I made another post about list of some Audio CD copy protections with some Cactus information there as well:

http://forum.redump.org/topic/40001/int … otections/

in any way, as far as I can tell from forum posts all over the web and all over the years, people seems happy when they were able to read the disc and think that they cannot get perfect copy anyway - something that I proved is wrong - PX-5224 and NEC ND-3530A can get perfect copies, i.e. tracks are byte by byte identical with later re-releases of some of those Cactus CDs without or with weaker protections. So, I am glad my efforts so far, were not pointless, but bring new information and results.

Regarding the failure of the Plextor drives, as someone who was far too frugal to purchase a Plextor during their heyday (and my CD burning days), I always felt like maybe I was missing something. I had my cheap LiteOn or AOpen drive (or whatever drive I found cheap at a local retailer), and there were legends about the great Plextors that cost however many times what I was paying for my drives.

Having since acquired some Plextor equipment, I feel like it's...not that great. At first, I thought it was just because of the age. For example, I splurged and bought a used Premium some time back. The Premium is absolutely awful at reading damaged data discs. I thought it was just because it's 15+ years old. However, I went back and looked at the review of the Premium on cdrinfo.pl. They reviewed it back in 2003 and found it was among the worst of all the drives they tested for reading damaged data discs. (It was essentially tied with another Plextor drive, the PX-W4824A, for last place.)

On the flip side, the same review acknowledges the Plextor as a good audio reader. In fact, the review claims that the Premium can read CDS200-protected discs. However, I'm not sure they actually test such a disc in the review. I didn't go through the whole thing (and I'm reading it through a machine translator, so some details are iffy in any case), though.

Then there's the fact that it's nearly impossible to find a fully working Plextor DVD drive, which I also attributed to age. However, from reading about that, it sounds like PX-716s were dropping dead shortly after they were made too.

Anyway, my apologies that this rant isn't directly on topic, but I've been dealing with some damaged data discs (actual scratches -- not manufactured errors), and I was amazed to see how much better almost every drive I own is at reading damaged discs compared to the Premium. I'm still happy with the drive just to have another drive for dumping with DIC, though. And, I guess Plextors were really famous for their writing quality more than their reading prowess, so maybe in some ways my frustrations aren't fair.

More on topic, I think I might hunt around some at a local shop and see if I can spot any CDS discs. If I end up with one, I'll add my experiences here in trying to rip it.

True. All my Plextors: 2x760, 716, 4012 are not that great at reading scratched discs. Other drives perform much better.

18 (edited by matura713 2021-09-24 15:33:34)

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

Having since acquired some Plextor equipment, I feel like it's....not that great.(It was essentially tied with another Plextor drive, the PX-W4824A, for last place.)

I totally agree with you and I am one miserable original owner of PX-W4824A - in fact it's the only Plextor that I purchased until few weeks ago when I joined here. It stayed for 20 years in the drawer, because was total disappointment. So, at least those 2nd hand Plextors I bought recently for testing purposes, they were all sold as faulty (and were in fact faulty, except 708A I bought), etc and that's why sold cheap, not like my PX-W4824A, which buying it as new cost me a lot of money.

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

the same review acknowledges the Plextor as a good audio reader. In fact, the review claims that the Premium can read CDS200-protected discs. However, I'm not sure they actually test such a disc in the review.

I don't believe it, those reviews are all fake - I mean I already proved that cannot be for 4 reviews:

* NEC ND-4550A: https://www.cdrinfo.com/d7/content/nec-nd-4550a?page=4
* PX-708A: https://www.cdrinfo.com/d7/content/plex … 08a?page=6
* PX-712A: https://www.cdrinfo.com/d7/content/plex … 12a?page=5

and my favorite fake review of:

* AOpen CRW2440A:

https://www.cdrinfo.com/Sections/Review … cleId=5095

because they praised it as most capable to read Cactus (it failed only on 2 tracks on the disc) from a long list of drives including Plextors and Yamahas of that time. So, all those reviews are fake, there is really no other explanation.

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

it sounds like PX-716s were dropping dead shortly after they were made too.

That I will not attribute to Plextor alone, but to Sanyo OPUs they used, e.g. DB10 in PX708/712 and DS10 in PX755/766. Those were used in NEC drives as well and I have literally pile of NEC drives next to me with dead DB10/DS10 OPUs, exactly like the Plextor. the OPU in PX-716 is the only one that no one was able to identify, but I guess is again some re-branded Sanyo.

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

Anyway, my apologies that this rant isn't directly on topic...

actually, it's all on topic from my perspective. And speaking about things not directly on topic and ranting, I want to say that I understand I am new here, but I am already very confused by some of the directions taken by the community here and lack of common standard, when exactly otherwise is claimed. So, for example, when make DiscImageCreator dump of Wii disc - it's decrypted, i.e. all protections are stripped down and thus the dumped image is not anything close to the source, i.e. it's not byte-by-byte identical to the source data - it couldn't be even, the source and the dump data, to be more different, in fact. However, at the same time, when Cactus disc is dumped, not only its 2nd session is not stripped (which is only there as part of the protection), but DiscImageCreator even refused to start dumping with capable PX-5224 drive, because of that 2nd session instead remove it:


So, where is the common standard?! I mean, if that is the standard for Cactus discs, then why not leave the Wii image encrypted and that way list it in the ReDump database? So, if we use the DiscImageCreator own standard for making Wii dumps, i.e. strip its protections, then what make sense is to do the same for Cactus 2nd session - ignore it and do not dump it, because it's garbage data - everything on the disc is in the 1st session. Anyway...

scsi_wuzzy wrote:

I think I might hunt around some at a local shop and see if I can spot any CDS discs.

IMHO, it's very good to have, especially if you find one that is with no any heavy scratches, i.e. even more C2 errors and using Cactus from 2003/2004, i.e. with latest heaviest versions. So, it's excellent for testing real drive performance for correcting errors, because it has like 5000-8000 C2 errors pressed at factory as part of the protection. So, it really gives you idea about the drive performance like nothing else.

reentrant wrote:

True. All my Plextors: 2x760, 716, 4012 are not that great at reading scratched discs. Other drives perform much better.

Cactus protection is like scratches on steroids, I mean I haven't seen yet, a scratched CD that can go into thousands of C2 errors...

19 (edited by matura713 2021-09-27 16:49:29)

Another not working drive:


and this one is really bad - with it, even ExactAudioCopy cannot see the Audio Tracks, let alone try to copy it. So, this is worst drive of all tested so far!

[EDIT] I need to investigate further, because ExactAudioCopy now even stopped to work with Plextor. Maybe, something messed up in my installation...

20 (edited by matura713 2021-09-27 16:44:57)

PX-716A is not working either - in fact I see no any difference in its behavior and performance compared to my previous tests with PX-712A. if I didn't know it's 716, I would think it's 712.

So, currently, PX-708, 712 and 716 confirmed - as not capable to deal with Cactus.

Only 2 are left: 755 and 760. I already bought cheap 755 and it's on its way to me - I hope it has working, laser because otherwise the test will take more time until I find spare laser for it.

PX-755A is not working either - same behavior as PX-716A. so, it's obvious now what to expect from PX-760A....

we have a winner and that is LG GGW-H20L, my gut feeling was correct:


that installing it to my system somehow messed up my ExactAudioCopy installation - after full uninstall and install of ExactAudioCopy LG GGW-H20L not only works with my "CDS200.5.11.90 5.10.090" test CD, but it made PX-5224 to look stupid, because it reached speed of 39X on the last track and average of 30X for the whole CD - absolutely mind-blowing performance. And on that speed it achieved perfect copy, because it has LeadOut capability as well.

LG GGW-H20L is HD-DVD drive and that format was very short-lived. So, I wonder, it demonstrates such unbelievable performance, because its laser is in like new condition or the laser they use in that HD-DVD drive is that good. After all modern and brand new Asus BW-16D1HT is pathetic on the same CD - about 0.3X read speed and it cannot do a single track.

I don't know, but at least for "CDS200.5.11.90 5.10.090", there is nothing that can even come close to LG GGW-H20L!

23 (edited by matura713 2021-09-29 12:53:18)

bad news again: while "CDS200.5.11.90 5.10.090" is really solved by LG GGW-H20L - extraordinary reliability and performance on reading such discs, I cannot read a single track properly with the drive on "CDS200 V4". It looks like each CDS200 revision is beast of its own and it's a myth that the older it gets the easier to read. The disc I am testing is own by me - I cannot see a single starch on it. Maybe, at play now, is what I was thinking and mentioning in my previous posts - disc aging, because newer the Cactus revision, newer the disc, i.e. this "CDS200 V4" one is 3-4 years older. So, NEC ND-3530A cannot do a single track properly on it - at least it can read all the tracks, which majority of drives cannot do. Plextor PX-5424, was able to read Track05 entirely properly, but that's only 1 track out of 12. So, Cactus is really evil and a nightmare. I guess really nothing better to use than Cactus discs to assess a drive performance on CDs and its C1/C2 error correction capabilities. So, I have a feeling LG GGW-H20L will be OK with all CDS200 V5 discs, but for V4 currently I don't see a solution. I don't have CDS200 V3 discs and I cannot test on that major revision, but I soon I will tests CDS100 - I expects it is absolutely the hardest, because it was immediately abandoned, because of that and that virtually nothing can read it....we will see...

[EDIT] one very interesting "feature" of "CDS200 V4" is that drives like LG GGW-H20L and NEC ND-3530A always read the same Track with the same Hash - that leads to believe it was properly read and even databases like AccurateRip are "infected" with wrong hashes, because of that. it's a stark difference with "CDS200.5.11.90 5.10.090" when you can get 2 times the same hash only when the track is read properly. So, it's like "CDS200 V4" is corrupted in a way that is harder to properly error-correct, but at the same time, more often error correct attempt results in the same (wrong) data and hence more often you get the 2 times the same hash even the track is not read (entirely) properly.

[EDIT2] I further analyze manually in a hex-editor, for example on Track01 of  "CDS200 V4" disc, PX-5224 made number of errors that you can count even manually, i.e. they were less than 30 bytes for the whole track, but LG GGW-H20L made thousands of wrong bytes, even it fools you the track is read properly giving everytime the same "Test CRC" in ExactAudioCopy - that is AccurateRip (and CueTools) database were "infected" with wrong data for the tracks on those Cactus CDs.

24 (edited by matura713 2021-09-29 14:01:00)

a little lucky break with analysis of "CDS200 V4" disc, I found I have later re-release without any protection, but at first glance the data in the tracks were fundamentally different. however, using what I mentioned above that "Plextor PX-5424, was able to read Track05 entirely properly", I found out that the re-release just uses offset of 2472 bytes - enough to make the data look totally different for a naked eye. That finding allowed me to code small tool (a little like what CueTools is doing) that recovers the errors in all tracks from my Plextor PX-5424 dump and reports the number of errors:

track01: 30 wrong bytes
track02: 14 wrong bytes
track03:   4 wrong bytes
track04: 33 wrong bytes
track05:   0 wrong bytes!!

Doing the same with LG GGW-H20L and NEC ND-3530A gives wrong bytes in thousands.

So, PX-5224 is pretty close to error-free. That's why I am quite confident 20 years ago when the disc has no any aging and the same for PX-5224 it was possible for PX-5224 to do it fully without problems. In any way "CDS200 V4" is different enough from "CDS200.5.11.90 5.10.090" to cause major issues for drives that can do "CDS200.5.11.90 5.10.090" without problems.