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Starting the 2021 year with new Audio Gear

Starting the 2021 year with new Audio Gear

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I wrote about how my 2020 was in terms of audio gear. Today, I’ll be talking about my initial purchases and what’s to come over the next few days and weeks.

I’m always looking to try new digital audio players and DACs mainly, followed by some headphones, usually from KZ. This year, I’m starting it with new products from Hiby, Hidizs, and Fiio. Let’s see the products below.

Hiby R2

Audio Gear 2021-01 - 4 - Hiby R2

The Hiby R2 is Hiby’s newest ultra-portable player, which has most of the features of the R3, but in a smaller body. It is able to decode and render MQA, and can stream music from Tidal via Wifi. I’m a huge user of the Hiby R3 Pro Saber, so I’m really exited to give the R2 a try!

Hidizs H1

Audio Gear 2021-01 - 1 - Hidizs H1

The Hidizs H1 is a neckband Bluetooth cable that comes with the Hidizs MS1 Rainbow. For the price, it is a real bargain, considering you get both items and also considering that most people will already have 2-pin 2.5mm or 3.5mm cables. Since I already own the Hidizs MS1 and MS4 which I backed on Kickstarter, the MS1 Rainbow is the only one I still don’t own. I also already have Hidizs’ 2.5mm and 3.5mm cables, as well as their BT01 Bluetooth cable. This means that this cable will be new in my collection. The Hidizs H1 is also compatible with the Hiby Blue app. It supports the SBC, AAC, aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs.

Hidizs H2

Audio Gear 2021-01 - 3 - Hidizs H2

The Hidizs H2 is Hidizs newest Bluetooth receiver adapter. It shares a few design details from Hiby’s own W3 adapter, having physical buttons as well as the LED which will be green or blue depending on the audio sample rate. It supports the main Bluetooth codecs, while also having support for LDAC and Hiby’s UAT codec. The Hidizs AP80 and AP80 Pro, as well as Hiby’s products already support UAT, so it is guaranteed we will have the best audio quality when listening on those products with the Hidizs H2. It also supports the Hiby Blue app and can also be used as a USB DAC.

Hidizs S9

Audio Gear 2021-01 - 2 - Hidizs S9

The Hidizs S9 is Hidizs newest DAC, sporting an AKM AK4493EQ DAC. It has both 2.5mm and 3.5mm outputs and supports up to 32bit/768Khz.

FiiO BTA30

Audio Gear 2021-01 - 5 - FiiO BTA30

The FiiO BTA30 is a Bluetooth receiver and transmitter. It claims to transmit audio using LDAC when using an optical or coax cable. My main purpose of this product is to attach it to my TV and see how much the audio quality improves and to try LDAC with it.


And that’s my initial purchased for products I should be receiving in the next couple of days. The Hidizs S9 is the product with the most far date, presumably due to AKM DACs shortage due to their factory fire. I’ll patiently wait, and I’m really looking forward to try all of these new products.

See ya on another post!

My 2020 in Audio Gear

My 2020 in Audio Gear

Hi everyone,

Last year was a great one when it came to acquiring new Audio Gear. In this post, I’ll talk about my acquisitions with a bit of overview for each product.

Digital Audio Players

In 2020, I got the FiiO M5, the Shanling Q1, the Hiby R3 Pro Saber, and the Hidizs AP80 Pro. These 4 companies do great products, so I went ahead and ordered their newest products. I had the Shanling Q1 already preordered on Kickstarter.

FiiO M5

FiiO M5

The FiiO M5 is a hybrid DAP. I say it’s hybrid because it also has a Qualcomm Bluetooth chip inside that makes it work as a Bluetooth receiver and transmitter separately. While products like Hiby and Hidizs DAPs also have Bluetooth receive/transmit functions, these work entirely using their Ingenic X1000E CPU and their Bluetooth chip, while the FiiO M5 uses its CSR8675 chip for this purpose.

The sound quality of the M5 is musical, using an AKM AK4377 with Velvet Sound, which seems to focus on mid details. The only downside is that a USB DAC cannot be used when using it in Bluetooth receive mode, and that it does not supports Opus files.

Hiby R3 Pro Saber

Hiby R3 Pro Saber

The Hiby R3 Pro Saber is a derivative product from the Hiby R3 Pro. Its main difference is that it uses 2x ESS 9218p DACs as opposed to the dual Cirrus Logic DACs found in the Hiby R3 Pro. Hiby claims the R3 Pro Saber offers a more analytical sound, and I can describe the sound as being more airy and open than the R3 Pro. This has been my favorite DAP to this date.

Hidizs AP80 Pro

The Hidizs AP80 Pro is the successor of the original Hidizs AP80 (pictured on the left). Its main difference is that it now offers dual ESS 9218p DACS and the Hiby HBC3000 FPGA. These same DACs and FPGA are found in the Hiby R3 Pro Saber, but they sound completely different. I would describe the sound of the AP80 Pro as being more warmer, especially in the bass, while the sound of the Hiby R3 Pro Saber is more open and fuller. I think that the AP80 Pro would fit those who seek deep bass while the Hiby R3 Pro Saber fits those looking for a more musical and open sound.

Shanling Q1

Shanling Q1

The Shanling Q1 (Pictured in the bottom center) was launched in Kickstarter. This player didn’t had Wifi until a later update added it with the DLNA feature. It also uses an ESS 9218p, but sounds different than the Hiby R3 Pro Saber and Hidizs AP80 Pro. The sound seems to be centered around mids. It sounds good, but different at the same time. The only downside is that the headphone jack is right in the middle and it is slippery. The buttons are also sensitive, but otherwise it’s a good DAP.

DACs and Dongles

Moving to the DACs and Dongles category, last year I got the new Tempotec BHD, the IFI Hip-Dac, and an off-brand very cheap DAC that’s surprisingly good.

IFI Hip-Dac

IFI Hip-Dac

The IFI Hip-Dac is an affordable DAC with a Burr-Brown DAC. It also renders MQA. Its sound is warm. On the back, it has a USB-C port which is only for charging, while a USB-A Male port is used for data. I rarely use this DAC because of the weird ports and I’d rather prefer it having 2 USB-C ports rather than its USB-A port. On the good side, the analog volume potentiometer works great, but be careful with sensitive IEMs as the volume gets extremely loud!

Tempotec Sonata BHD

The Tempotec Sonata BHD can be considered a “successor” to the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro. This one has dual Cirrus Logic CS43131 and has a 2.5mm output. It also shares the independent volume controls as the HD Pro. On the downsides, this one doesn’t have a detachable cable, and like the HD Pro, it has few volume steps. On the good side, it shares the same sound signature as the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro and doesn’t get warm.

Geekuy USB DAC

Geekuy DAC

This one was a surprise find on Amazon. It is very cheap, considering it has an XMOS controller and an ESS DAC. It also features a 3.5mm output. For the price, I was surprised at how good it sounds. It also doesn’t generate heat, is USB Audio Class 2.0, and works great with the PC. However, it had compatibility issues with my DAPs.

Bluetooth receivers

In this category, I got the FiiO UTWS1 (My favorites!), the Shanling UP4, the Qudelix 5K, and the new TRN BT20S Pro.

FiiO UTWS1

FiiO UTWS1

The FiiO UTWS1 seems to be a rebranded TRN BT20S with a different button configuration and better volume control. Its advantages are a more functional button configuration that includes raising and lowering the volume. This is the most warm Bluetooth adapter I have, which would satisfy bass lovers.

Shanling UP4

Shanling UP4

The Shanling UP4 is yet another product using dual ESS 9218p DACs. It, again, sounds differently than other products with the ES9218p. This time, it is warmer yet musical at the same time. When compared to the similar FiiO BTR5, which also uses the same dual ES9218p DACs, the sound of that one is more analytical, working best for treble and more analytical detail retrieval, while the Shanling UP4 works best for concert-like music and to be immersed into the music experience. It has a volume knob and supports major Bluetooth formats, which is standard in this kind of products nowadays. It also supports USB DAC functionality up to 16bit/48khz due to it its Qualcomm CSR8675 SoC.

Qudelix 5K

Qudelix 5K

The Qudelix 5K is made by a team of people who, according to sources, are the same ones who did the original EarStudio ES100 Bluetooth adapter. The Quidelix 5K is unique in that it uses the newer Qualcomm QCC5124 SoC versus the usual CSR8675 that others use. It also supports USB DAC mode up to 96Khz due to the improvements of the chip. It, again, uses dual ES9218p DACs, but sounds different due to the implementation used as well as their DSP processing. It sounds clean and not harsh. My only complaint is the button learning curve.

TRN BT20S Pro

TRN BT20S Pro

The TRN BT20S Pro is the successor of the TRN BT20S. They now include their own charging case which replaces the Micro USB port on the units. The hooks are also replaceable shall they go bad or you’d like to switch from 2-pin to MMCX. Unfortunately, it doesn’t play well with my phone as the volume is too loud. They also still have some hissing noise that’s also noticeable in their previous versions.

Bluetooth transmitters

The only Bluetooth transmitter I purchased last year was the Avantree DG80.

The Avantree DG80 supports aptX Low Latency, as seen on the FiiO BTR5 on the right. It is a small dongle that transmits audio from a PC or other devices supporting USB Audio Class 1 products. I’ve been an Avantree customer for some time due to their excellent transmitter and receiver devices, and their excellent support.

Headphones

Last year, the only headphone acquired was the KZ ZAX.

KZ ZAX

The KZ ZAX uses 8 drivers per side, consisting of 1 dynamic driver and 7 Balanced Armatures. The sound profile is V-shaped. It sounds somewhat similar to the KZ ZS10 Pro, yet more refined and doesn’t have a metallic sound that the ZS10 Pro suffered from. The sound is clean too and I sometimes listen to this over the Hidizs MS4, which are the ones I use the most. They retrieve a lot of detail in the music despite their V-shaped signature. On the downside, they do not isolate sound as well.

Headphone tips

Late in 2019, I ordered the NiceHCK Spiral tips, which I received early in 2020. Later in the year I ordered some tips from AZLA.

NiceHCK Spiral Tips

NiceHCK Spiral Tips

The NiceHCK Spiral tips have a spiral form in them. I ordered them after comparing them to other tips and making the nozzle close to the ears. The sound isolation is very good and improves bass in most cases.

AZLA SednaEarFitLight

AZLA SednaEarFitLight

I brought these tips accidentally, because it resembled the bass tips of the Hidizs MS4. Turns out the nozzle stays far from the ear, but they did improve the sound stage.

AZLA SednaEarFit Xelastec

Made from a different material than silicone, these have a sticky feeling. I wrote a more detailed review of these that you can find here.


And that was my 2020 in music gear. In my next post, I’ll talk about my acquisitions for 2021 that I will be reviewing as I receive them.

I haven’t received most of the products above, so keep looking forward to my reviews over the year too along with my new 2021 gear!

Optical Quantum Blue CD-R Overview

Optical Quantum Blue CD-R Overview

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I received a spindle of “Blue CD-R” from Optical Quantum. This brand is a subsidiary of Vinpower Digital and the discs are manufactured by Optodisc Taiwan:

Optical Quantum Printable Blue CD-R 1

I brought this spindle because the “Blue CD-R” caught my attention. Usually, CD-Rs are produced in a very light green color, but these discs should be different. These discs are marketed as having a “Blue AZO Burning Die”, which should be superior than standard CD-Rs.

Optical Quantum Printable Blue CD-R 2

The discs are rated at 52x and can hold up to 700MB of data or 80 minutes of audio, which is standard of CD-R discs. This batch also appears to look like a dark green color, but not too much blue. The discs are printable too.

Checking these discs in Nero DiscSpeed gives us a Media ID Code (MID) of 97m24s01f, and is identified as “Taiyo Yuden”. I’m not sure if this is legit, as it is my understanding that CMC Magnetics has the rights to use Taiyo Yuden codes, but since these are manufactured by Optodisc, I have my doubts.

It has to be noted that these brands tend to source their discs from different suppliers, usually from Ritek, which does use Ritek codes in their discs. Some other brands source their discs from CMC Magnetics, again, using CMC-MAG-xxx codes. In this case, I wonder if Optodisc is legitimately making “Taiyo Yuden-quality” discs. There are some articles that seem to refer to Optodisc making Taiyo Yuden-quality discs, so that may be the reason they are using their media code.

I checked these discs on 4 slim drives that I at the moment. Since I’m on vacation, I don’t have my usual Lite-On drive to check these, but this will give you an idea of what to expect when using them on Slim drives. I also haven’t burned them, so this will just be purely disc information below:

Toshiba-Samsung SN-208AB

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - Toshiba-Samsung SN-208AB

So far, the most reliable slim drive I have at the moment is this one, which reports burning these discs at 10x, 16x, 20x, and 24.

Panasonic UJ260

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - Panasonic UJ260

This is a Blu-Ray drive which has been my best Blu-Ray burner in years. This drive also supports CDs and DVDs, but usually burns at low speeds. This is why Nero DiscSpeed is reporting just 2 speeds: 8x and 24x.

LG BP60NB10

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - LG BP60NB10

This is an LG “4K UHD official” drive. This one gives me headaches sometimes since it seems to lose focus while reading some times, a behavior I don’t see on any other drive. Maybe it’s faulty, but I also found that this drive depends heavily on the quality of the USB port and cable since it’s USB-Powered. This drive supports burning these discs at 10x, 16x and 24x.

LG GT80N

Optical Quantum Printable CD-R - LG (HP-branded) GT80N

This drive is part of an HP laptop, which is why it is branded as HP rather than LG, but it is actually made by LG. On this drive, the disc is supported at a speed of 10x, 16x, and 24x.

Final Thoughts

These discs are marketed as Blue, but they seem to look dark green. This is still different from the majority of discs that look very light green. It seems to burn at a maximum speed of 24x on all of these slim drives, probably because of the use of the Taiyo Yuden media code, although nowadays, most media and drives burn most discs at 24x for Slim drives and 48x for desktop drives.

I haven’t burned these discs yet. That will come when I have access to my Lite-On drive featuring LabelTag, as I also want to see how a label would look on these discs too. I expect these to burn flawlessly at 48x in that particular drive which I have trusted since 2010.

You can get these discs on Amazon below:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano: AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano: AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 1

This is a USB 2.0 Wireless Adapter about the size of a mouse USB receiver, very small. It follows the Wireless AC protocol and should theoretically give us speeds of up to 600Mbit/s. If that’s true or not, we’ll see later in this post.

This wireless receiver is currently being sold at about $13 dollars on Amazon, or at $12 if you buy them as a “Renewed” item, which is Amazon’s terms for refurbished items.

The above ones were purchased renewed, as this is more friendly to the planet and should work just like a new one. In fact, you can see one of them is packaged differently than the other. This doesn’t matter, but you know they are repackaged items because of how they are.

Unboxing

The front of the box shows the overall product details, like saying it should be faster on the 2.4Ghz band and that it also supports the 5Ghz band, given it’s a dual band adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 2

On the back, we have a better description of the adapter:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 3

The receiver is packaged inside this big box:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 4

The reason for it to be big is that they have packaged a regular CD with the device driver. It has to be known that Windows 10 detects the adapter natively and uses its own driver, as we will see later too.

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 5

We also have the user manual and an Amazon Certified Refurbished card.

The adapter is really small:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 6

Taken out of the box:

TP-Link Archer T2U Nano AC600 USB2.0 Wireless Adapter 7

Now it’s time to plug it into my laptop. Almost unnoticeable:

Testing

The TP-Link Archer T2U Nano is natively recognized by Windows 10, and uses Microsoft’s native driver:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 4

However, it only seems to be using a fraction of my wireless router, only showing it is running at a rate of 86.7Mbit/s:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 1

In fact, running a speed test doesn’t give the maximum speed of 250Mbit/s of download I’m supposed to be getting:

In comparison, when using the laptop’s integrated Wifi card, it indeed reaches the full 250Mbit/s speed:

I then decided to use TP-Link’s driver to see if that would improve things, but infortunately that wasn’t the case:

And even switched to the other adapter to make sure it wasn’t defective. Unfortunately, I also got a slower than expected speed:

TP-Link T2U Nano speedtest 9

Conclusion

The TP-Link Archer T2U is a small wireless adapter. Maybe it’s because of that the fact that we don’t see the full speed being utilized, but one thing is for sure; it serves its initial purpose of bringing Wi-Fi to a laptop. While it may be slow, we can also see that the adapter works simply by inserting it. No extra drivers are needed on Windows 10, and we can start navigating the web fast.

For just $12 or $13 dollars, we can’t expect it to do miracles with the speed, but it will keep you connected with no dropouts.

The internet plan used for the purpose of this review is 250Mbit/s of download and 25mbit/s of upload speed.

If you’re interested, you can purchase this item on Amazon below:

The Western Digital 14TB Easystore Hard Disk Drive

The Western Digital 14TB Easystore Hard Disk Drive

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the 14TB Western Digital Easystore Hard Disk Drive. This is an external hard drive sold at Best Buy in the United State, and sometimes they sell them at a special price.

The drive comes with a USB 3.0 conection. It has plenty of space to store our precious data as well as allowing us to store backup copies of it. These hard drives are filled with helium which makes them not get too hot when we are using them.

Unboxing

The box comes with a simple presentation, usual of hard disk drives boxes:

When we open it, we see the hard drive:

On the side, we see the cables and the manual:

Disk Benchmark

I connected the drive on Windows which recognized it as a 12.7TB drive. I then went ahead and ran a benchmark using the CystalDiskMark utility. It reported over 200MB+ read/write speed:

Here’s a video of the benchmark, altough I used another drive and it reported over 170MB+. The difference was that this other 14TB drive already had data in it:

Conclusion

With 12.7TB reported on windows, this drive allows us to store huge amounts of data and store backups. It is very fast and comes with typical Western Digital quality. I expect this drive to hold still for a lot of years, as my previous Western Digital drives are still operating excellent.

You can buy this hard disk drive on Best Buy here.

The Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

The Avantree DG80 USB Bluetooth Audio Transmitter

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the Avantree DG80 Bluetooth USB Audio Transmitter:

Avantree DG80 - 1

This is a Bluetooth adapter that works as a PC audio card. It transmits audio via Bluetooth using the SBC, FastStream, aptX, or aptX Low Latency codec, depending on which codecc your headphone or adapter supports. Having the aptX codec provides us with a better audio experience.

The aptX Low Latency codec allows us to watch movies and videos without any audio delay. Most Bluetooth receivers today support this codec and having a transmitter with it makes us take advantage of this.

Avantree DG80 - 2

Unboxing

The DG80 packaging is small and simple.

Avantree DG80 - 3

We can see the adapter along with its manual and documentation behind.

We can see the transmitter is really small.

Finally, we have the included documentation.

Avantree DG80 - 9

Package content:

Avantree DG80 - 10

Using the transmitter

Using this transmitter is as simple as plugging it into a USB port and going into pairing mode.

Avantree DG80 - 11

We can see Windows detects it as Avantree DG80.

Avantree DG80 Settings 2

The transmitter has a bit depth and sample rate of 16bit/48khz, which is common with these adapters.

Avantree DG80 Settings 3

I paired it with my Fiio BTR5 and we can see it is using the aptX Low Latency codec.

Avantree DG80 - 12

Here’s a video of the pairing process of the adapter:

Audio Quality

Becuase this transmitter uses a Qualcomm chipset, the sound quality is realy great, thanks to its support of the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs.

Signal strength

Avantree claims the adapter will work up to 30 meters or 100 feet. This may be true unless there are some obstacles in the way. In my tests with the Whooshi adapter, known to have signal issues, I was able to listen to music while I was in the same room. However, going away I could hear the audio getting cut. If you’re looking for the best signal range, the Avantree DG60 is a better choice.

Conclusion

If you still do not have a USB Bluetooth audio transmitter, the Avantree DG80 is a good start. It’s small, portable, and cheap. It also supports the aptX and aptX Low Latency codecs to provide excellent audio quality.

The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure

The OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure

Hi everyone,

Today, I’ll show you the OWC Mercury Pro 5.25″ External Optical Drive Enclosure:

OWC Mercury Pro 1

This is an enclosure designed for Internal 5.25″ CD, DVD, and Blu-Ray drives. It uses a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection to transfer files faster than when using USB 2.0. This mainly applies to Blu-Ray discs since they can have a very high transfer rate when compared to CD or DVD, hence having a USB 3.1 Gen 1 connection allows us to benefit by having faster transfer speeds.

Unboxing

The enclosure comes in a simple box where when opened, we see a box that contains the power and USB cable as well as the screws needed to mount the drive:

We then see the enclosure below:

OWC Mercury Pro 6

It comes protected inside a plastic bag:

Once we take it out of the bag, we can see the shiny metal enclosure:

Inside, we can see the board and SATA cables:

OWC Mercury Pro 12

Installation

I took out my LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray drive from my desktop so I can use in the enclosure on all of my computers:

Installation was very easy. The drive was inserted and the screws were installed on the sides and bottom. The result is very nice looking portable desktop drive:

OWC Mercury Pro 19

Windows 10 detects it as Mercury Pro Optical and lets us know that it is connected via USB 3.0:

OWC Mercury Pro 20

So far, the enclosure has been working very great.

Now, I need another enclosure for my LiteOn iHAS524 drive, which is still my preferred drive to read and write CD and DVD.

Changing the LiteOn iHAS524 Optical Pickup Unit, again

Changing the LiteOn iHAS524 Optical Pickup Unit, again

Hi everyone,

Remember my previous post where I was talking about the LiteOn iHAS524 C and mentioned the different optical pickup units this model use across its different revisions? Turns out that the SF-DS1XD OPU used in the iHAS524 B was having trouble burning DVD+R DL, so I began my search for a used iHASx24 drive from the A revision.

On Friday, I got a used LiteOn iHAS124 A delivered. This model use the SF-DS19L OPU that all LiteOn iHASx24 use (x being a number from 1 to 6).

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 1

The LiteOn iHASx24 series are all the same, except that the iHAS224, iHAS424 and iHAS624 has the hardware for LightScribe burning, while the iHAS124, iHAS324 and iHAS524 doesn’t. Other than that, the hardware is identical but they have different firmwares. The capabilities between models are the following:

  • LiteOn iHAS124: Base model.
  • LiteOn iHAS224: LightScribe.
  • LiteOn iHAS324: SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS424: LightScribe and SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS524: LabelTag and SmartErase.
  • LiteOn iHAS624: LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase.

Basically they have a different firmware enabling LightScribe, LabelTag and SmartErase depending on the model you have. Even if you have a different model, the firmware can be crossflashed by using some tools and firmware. I will not be covering that here, but it’s good to know if you’d like to add some features to your drives. The only feature that depends on hardware is LightScribe.

My LiteOn iHAS524 has been with me since 2010, and it’s probably the best CD and DVD burner available given its ability to overspeed 16x media to 20x. It also has HyperTuning, Online HyperTuning and SmartBurn, which are essential features to burn media with great quality. This is why I still count on this drive as sometimes I like to store data on optical media.

The drive had its optical pickup unit changed to the SF-DS1XD some years ago because one CD broke inside the unit, damaging the original SF-DS19L. I also didn’t use DVD+R DL media, so everything was fine, until last week. It turns out that the OPU had problems burning the discs. Specifically, it had problems focusing on the second DVD layer, failing at 50%. This is why I brought the used LiteOn iHAS124 A drive.

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 3
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 4

Because this unit is an A revision unit, the hardware between the iHAS124 and iHAS514 is the same. I did changed the iHAS524 disc mechanism to the one from the iHAS524 C revision, with the exception of the OPU:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 5
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 6

On both photos, the iHAS524 is on the left while the iHAS124 is on the right.

Here we can see the disc mechanism from the iHAS124 unmounted:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 7
LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 8

And the Optical Pickup Unit taken out of it:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 9

I’ll be using this OPU in the original iHAS524 mount, so I placed it there:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 10

And finally, here’s the disc mechanism attached to the iHAS524:

LiteOn iHAS124 - 524 11

The OPU started working immediately. It is now loading discs faster and wasn’t making weird noises. I was also able to burn some DVD+R DL media without issues. I’ll be talking about that on another post, but for now, this is it.

Verbatim 4x BDXL 100GB Blank Media

Verbatim 4x BDXL 100GB Blank Media

Hi everyone,

Yesterday, I received my very first BDXL media. These are way more expensive than BD-R and about twice the cost of BD-R DL media.

For my first BDXL recordable media, I decided to get the Verbatim 10-pack spindle. These seem to be one of the lowest-priced media when compared to 3-packs or 5-packs variants of other manufacturers.

These BDXL discs are rated at 4x, but my LG WH14NS40 crossflashed to the WH16NS60 firmware detects them as having a write speed of up to 8x.

The Media ID is VERBAT-IMk-000.

On my Panasonic UJ260, these have a maximum write speed of just 2x.

I added files to burn using ImgBurn, and made sure to use the most space possible. I then started the burning process on my WH14NS14 at the maximum supported speed of 8x.

Añadí archivos a ImgBurn y me aseguré de llenar el disco lo más posible. Luego, comencé a quemarlos con mi LG WH14NS14 a la velocidad máxima de 8x.

It seems the drive use a Z-CLV (Zoned Constant Linear Velocity) strategy to burn these discs. The write pattern was as follows:

  • Layer 0: 4x -> 6x -> 8x
  • Layer 1: 8x -> 6x -> 4x
  • Layer 2: 4x -> 6x -> 8x

We can see the pattern below:

Some times, when the writing was at 4x, the drive would go down to 3.3x for about 1 second or 2:

The same happened when the drive was recording at 6x, going down to 5x for a second or 2:

The drive successfully burned this media, having an average speed of 5.7x:

Burning VERBAT-IMk-000 Average speed 5.7

Verification was slower than the writing itself, as it limited the read speed to 6x:

The verification was successful and no errors were reported:

The average read speed was 4.3x, slower than the 5.7x average when writing to it. It also seems that while ImgBurn set a read speed of up to 6x, the drive went all the way to 9x, according to the Maximum Verify Rate.

Here, we can see the written disc with its Z-CLV zones:

Conclusion

These discs seem to be compatible with the LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray writer. They also burn at a faster 8x speed which is more than its rated speed of 4x. The drive was able to successfully burn them and read them. These discs, while expensive, allow us to write up to 100GB (about 93GB of actual storage) on a single medium. It would have taken us 4 25GB BD-R or 2 50GB BD-R DL media to write an equivalent amount of data.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any BDXL scanner I can use to test the quality, but the media can be read back on the LG drive as well as on my Panasonic UJ260. The latter seems to read the disc in Z-CLV too, but it was able to read the data back successfully too. It is just slower than the LG drive.

If we compare the price of having 10x 100GB Blu-Ray discs to owning a 1TB Hard Disk Drive, we can see that the BDXL media is a couple dollars more:

The BDXL media on eBay (It was at $53.15 at the time of puchase):

On Amazon. They seem to have lowered the price to $49.99 at the time I took this screenshot:

The price of 1TB Hard Disk Drives on Amazon:

Ultimately, it all would depend on your needs. Personally, I like to write data that will not be used frequently on optical media, while having frequently-changing data on the discs. I’ve also had a bad experience of having Hard Drives fail, and while I’ve had optical media fail too (Some bad Blu-Ray batches that deteriorated in a couple of years), the data loss is not as much as losing a whole hard drive. Remember to back-up your data!

The LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer

The LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer

Hi everyone,

On Saturday, I received the LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray Writer Drive. This is my 3rd Blu-Ray writer and it will replace my LiteOn iHBS112 which was causing several bad burns. The other drive is the Panasonic UJ-260, which is a slim drive that burns discs successfully.

This drive is one of the cheapest Blu-Ray XL writers available on Amazon. It is also able to read and burn CDs and DVDs.

Here, we will see the drive unboxed and teared down.

Unboxing

The drive came in this simple box:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Box

There’s no branding. Just a box with the part number printed on a label.

Opening the box we see the drive:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Box Opened

Just the drive. No cables or software are included.

The drive is protected in bubble wrap:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in bubble wrap

Also also comes inside a plastic bag:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in Plastic Bag
LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in Plastic Bag (Front)

Taking it off we see the drive itself:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Front

Now, let’s take a look at the top, where we will find some useful information:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Top

The drive is the WH14NS40, with SVC code NS50. It was manufactured on January 2020 and comes with firmware 1.04:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Model, Firmware, and Manufacture Date

Finally, this is the drive with the tray opened:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Tray Opened

Teardown

We will begin the teardown by removing the 4 screws on the bottom:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Bottom

We can then remove the bottom cover:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Bottom Opened

Let’s take a closer look at the drive chipset:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Chipset
LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Chipset

It is using a MediaTek MT1959HWDN chip.

Let’s now see the Eject Button, LED and Tray Motor board:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Tray Motor Board

A look at the bottom tray mechanism:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Internals

The internal tray loading mechanism and Optical Pickup Unit:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Tray Internals

A closer look to the Optical Pickup Unit:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive Optical Pickup Unit

And finally, here’s how the drive looks in my Desktop PC:

LG 14X Blu-Ray Writer WH14NS40 Drive in the Desktop computer

Drive Summary

This Blu-Ray writer can be crossflashed to the WH16NS60 16x variant. In fact, that was the first thing I did.

The drive is identified as HL-DS-ST BD-RW WH16NS60.

Here is the drive capabilities according to ImgBurn:

So far, I was able to successfully burn a BD-R with media code RITEK-BR2-00 and a BD-R DL with media code RITEK-DR3-000. Both discs were burned with ImgBurn and verified successfully.

Look forward as I test Blu-Ray media with this drive!