I didn’t realized this, but it seems to be a plant manufacture problem. I opened another of the 100-pack I have and it have the same problem.
The problem is that the data was burning fine, with no errors on my Lite-On iHAS524, but it failed to verify on some parts of the disk, as it was approaching the end. I was burning them at 24x, the maximum speed it supports on the writer.
I decided to use the Optiarc AD-7561A drive I have to see if it would burn fine with it, since slim drives usually burns at a lower speed.
When the CD is inserted in this drive, it is detected as a 10x media:
I burned the CD with this drive, where it was able to both burn and verify successfully. It also seems that the drive burned surface is a bit darker than with the LiteOn drive, so maybe that makes it handle the bad surface better.
I burned 2 CD’s with the Lite-On drive where both burned successfully but didn’t read fine. One was able to read completely, but lowering the read speed at the bad section. The other one failed with unrecoverable errors.
Let’s see their quality tests with the LiteOn drive first, followed with the Optiarc drive:
CD #1 – LiteOn
This is the CD that was able to read completely but lowers the speed. When playing it back, it pauses while reading the wrong area. It can be ripped, but will struggle in the bad area. The ripped file appears to be fine, but EAC reports timing problems. Listening to the track didn’t revealed any issues.
You can see the excesive amounts of C1 and C2 errors.
CD #2 – Optiarc
Here is another burn of the same data, burned with the Optiarc drive and tested on the LiteOn drive. You can see that it only reports a maximum of 10 C1 errors and no C2 errors. The quality score is 99%. Same media, but burned on a different drive, at 10x speed.
CD #3 – LiteOn
This CD failed to test properly. Once again, you can see the excessive amounts of C1 and C2 errors. The positions of the C1 and C2 errors seem to match the ones of the previous LiteOn burn.
CD #4 – Optiarc
Here is another burn of the same data of the previous burn. You can see this time it was successful, with only a maximum of 8 C1 errors and a total of 19. Again, the quality score is 99%, which is the same as the other Optiarc-burned media.
As seen from the above tests, it seems the Optiarc AD-7561A drive can successfully burn these discs if we intend to use all of its capacity. Maybe it is because of the slower burning speed, or because the optical laser can burn them better than the one on the LiteOn drive.
The LiteOn drive can only burn these CDs at 16x and 24x, while the Optiarc can only burn them at 10x. I’ll test burning a disc at 16x at a later time and see if it works. If not, I’ll continue using the Optiarc drive, which has proven to burn them correctly and without any issues.
Yesterday, I received some Pocket/Mini CD-R I purchased on eBay, which were being sold for cheap due to them not being branded or not having their specs listed.
The seller was selling 3 packs of 100 unbranded silver surface Mini CD-R, and since the price was lower compared to other branded media, I decided to buy all 3.
The discs were wrapped with no spindle.
The discs have a silver surface:
Here we can see a single CD-R:
They have the usual light green color on the data side.
The disc loaded fine on my LiteOn iHAS524 drive. I launched ImgBurn which says that the discs are made by Ritek. Their media ID is 97m15s17f:
They also have a capacity of 210MB or 24 minutes and a maximum write speed of 24x.
This is the first Mini CD I use with this LiteOn drive, which has the unique LabelTag feature to add labels to the data side. The software detected the disc and a label can be created:
I burned some of these CD-R with Nero Express, which allows the creation of the label on the same run. I also burned them at its maximum speed of 24x without any failure.
I ran a Disc Quality test using Nero DiscSpeed. Below you can see the results of those tests. I limited the test to the first session of it, as the second one is the label produced with the above software and contains unreadable data. This makes the test fail. By limiting it to the first session, we can get the actual data track quality.
The first test gave us a maximum of 14 C1 errors with a total of 58. The average was 0.11. There were no C2 errors reported. The Quality Score was 98%.
This test was perfect! No C1 or C2 errors were reported, making the Quality Score be 100%.
This disc had a maximum of 9 for the C1 Errors with a total of 13. The average was 0.07. No C2 errors were reported. The Quality Score was 99%.
This final disc I burned had a maximum of 13 C1 errors with a total of 27. No C2 errors were reported. The Quality Score was 98%.
These blank CD-R media seems to be good to write small amounts of data. This could be an MP3 album, some photos, or software you’d like to archive. The burns seem to be of good quality and the 24x burning speed is adequate. This sure was a great find on eBay!
Unboxing Photos of the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5G
Yesterday, I got the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra, with its 108MP and 8K recording being the main features that led me to purchase it. I intend to use its camera to take lots of photos and take early advantage of its 8K recording mode. The photos on this post were taken with my previous phone: the Samsung Galaxy S9+.
Let’s begin the unboxing with the box, which is similar to previous Samsung Galaxy phones:
As soon as we open it, we see the Samsung S20 Ultra 5G phone:
We then see the charger, as well as its other extras:
Taking everything off the box, here’s the content, which also includes a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-C headset tuned by AKG:
With the phone flipped:
Here we have a closer look to the cameras:
The phone charger has a USB-C port:
Here’s a closer look to the USB-C cable:
And here’s a closer look to the USB-C headset tuned by AKG. They look similar to the headset that came with the Samsung Galaxy S9+, but with a USB-C connector instead of the 3.5mm jack:
On the other part of the box, the documentation is included:
After the SIM card is inserted, it’s time to turn it on:
It prompted us to restart the phone as soon as it turned on:
We can then migrate the data from our previous phone to the Samsung S20 Ultra 5G:
After this process is finished and we have also finished configuring the phone, we can start to use our new phone:
I’ll be posting images taken with the S20 Ultra so you can see the quality of them. Note that this site is configured to scale large pictures and that they are optimized for web display, but you should still be able to get an idea of how the pictures looks on this brand-new phone.
This is a slim external CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive that can read and write CDs but can only read DVDs.
Let’s begin with the teardown.
First, we must remove 2 screws that are found on the back to open the drive enclosure:
We can then open the enclosure:
We can see the DVD drive along with the board and USB Cable. We can also see that it seems that the USB cable is not actually soldered to the board.
Removing the DVD drive from the enclosure, we can see that the cable is in fact a Mini USB cable. This means the cable is not an actual USB 3.0 cable:
The fact that the cable is not soldered to the board is good news for us since we could replace it if the original cable goes bad or we want to use another cable.
On the back of the drive, we can take a closer look at the USB board:
Taking it off reveals a nice surprise:
The board is a USB to PATA/IDE adapter. This is interesting and somewhat makes sense, since the drive is just a CD-RW/DVD Combo Drive, and back in the days, we could see tons of CD writers for laptops. It uses the Initio INIC-1511 IC.
Here, we can see the PATA/IDE conector of the drive:
I decided to take off the sticker that it has on the top, revealing something more:
The included TEAC DW-224E-C drive was manufactured in November 2005. This could mean they are recycling old DVD drives or using refurbished drives. If this is true, this is good news for the environment, since they are repurposing drives that are in working conditions.
Here, I have the original drive connected to my computer without the enclosure:
Because the drive is basically an internal drive on an IDE to USB enclosure, we should be able to use it with other drives. I tested it with an old Optiarc AD-7561A drive. This drive is a CD/DVD writer with Lightscribe technology, which I haven’t used it for years:
When I connected the drive to the board, and to the computer, it recognized it without any issues:
And here we can see its capabilities as reported by ImgBurn:
The Optiarc drive still works after a lot of years of not using it. This also means that we should be able to use other PATA/IDE drives with this particular USB board and exchange the original drive if it ever goes bad.
That’s basically it for this teardown. If you’re interested in getting this CD-RW/DVD drive, you can get it on Amazon here.
This is a slim External CD-RW/DVD-ROM Combo drive, which is quite interesting, given that most units today are DVD writers. This one just reads and writes CD-R/RW, and reads DVD’s, but can’t write them.
The brand is unknown, too, but it was on sale a few days ago and decided to get one, just to have just in case one of my other drives goes bad. While CD/DVD usage has degraded over time, I do have music CD and I listen to them sometimes, so having a drive is handy to listen to them.
Let’s start with the box:
It is pretty colorful, and has a description of what it contains, as well as its features.
Opening the box we find the drive inside a bag:
We then find that the drive is wrapped in bubble wrap, and that there are some cards inside:
We can see that the faceplate of it is generic, with no CD or the actual DVD logo.
Taking off the bubble wrap, we see the DVD drive:
On the back, there is the USB cable:
The USB cable contains a USB-A 3.0 plug as well as a USB-C plug. Both can be used depending on the device you wish to use this DVD drive.
The documentation included is a manual, a thank you card, and another card telling to send an email to get a free 32GB USB drive.
Once the drive is plugged in the PC, I’m able to open the tray:
The drive is detected as a TEAC DW-224E-C drive:
The following is a screenshot of the capabilities of the drive as shown in ImgBurn:
As we can see, it reads most major CD and DVD formats and can write CD-R and CD-RW. Interestingly, it reports that it can’t read double-layer DVD+/-R. I’ll need to test this to confirm if this is in fact true.
I tested the drive with my Music CD collection and it reads and plays them fine. This is really great, and will be my main usage for it.
You can get this External CD-RW/DVD Combo drive on Amazon here.
Unboxing Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Double Pack
Yesterday, I received the brand-new Hidizs Mermaid MS1 and MS4 In-Ear Monitors Absolute Kits.
The Hidizs Mermaid MS1 is an IEM with 1 Dynamic Driver, while the Hidizs Mermaid MS4 is an IEM with 1 Dynamic Driver and 3 Knowles Balanced Armatures.
My initial impressions are excellent. These IEMs do a lot to reproduce the music. I found that the MS1, with just the Dynamic Driver, produces a warm sound with great mids and smooth bass and treble. The MS4, on the other hand, improves the bass and treble while having great mids. Since the MS4 uses 3 balanced armatures for the mids and treble, they do a great job, and since the Dynamic Driver is focused on the bass, it also does a great job. The MS1, on the other hand, produces a warmer sound since the Dynamic Driver needs to reproduce the entire frequency spectrum.
The Hidizs Absolute Kits come with a choice of a 2.5mm or 4.4mm balanced cable, USB-C 2-pin cable and an aptX Bluetooth Cable using a CSR8645 chipset. They are also compatible with other 2-pin 0.78mm IEMs and you can also use other aftermarket cables due to their 2-pin connectors.
The IEMs can be driven easily since the MS1 only has an impedance of just 15Ω while the MS4 has an impedance of just 12Ω. However, you can use your favorite DAC like the Hidizs DH1000/Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus and use the balanced output to enjoy an even better sound. You can also use them with the 3.5mm cable with the Hidizs AP80.
Now, here’s my unboxing video I recorded yesterday where I unbox both kits, their cables and accessories:
I personally like the MS4 due to their more punchier bass and their extended treble. The MS1 have more forward vocals, so if you’re looking for that, the MS1 is for you, but if you want the treble and a bit more bass, go for the MS4.
Here’s the review video I also recorded with my thoughts on the IEMs and the cables:
Overall, Hidizs did a great job with these new In-Ear Monitors.
You can purchase these 2 Hidizs IEMs at Amazon using the following links:
Today, I’ll be reviewing the TRN BT20 Bluetooth adapter for 2-pin In-Ear Monitors (IEM):
The TRN BT20 is a Bluetooth 5.0 adapter that is available in 3 different versions:
The version I purchased is the 2-pin 0.78mm for my KZ ZS7 IEM’s.
The adapter syncs together to bring you stereo sound. It uses a Realtek Bluetooth 5.0 SoC that while it is not specified which specific chipset it’s being used, I suspect it may be using the Realtek RTL8763B.
Because of it using a Realtek chipset, it doesn’t support the aptX audio codec, but it does support AAC along with SBC. This means that when paired with an iPhone or Android device, it should use AAC instead of SBC, and for backward compatibility, the SBC codec will be chosen if a device lacks the AAC codec.
The packaging is very simple, as can be seen in the following images:
Here, you can see the sides:
And here you can see the back:
To open it, you have to slide the box outside:
Opening the box, both pieces of the TRN BT20 are revealed:
As you can see, they are very well protected and can be easily taken out:
Continuing unboxing the box, we need to take out the cable and manuals which are after taking out the following:
There’s a Micro USB Y-Cable that allows us to charge both Bluetooth pieces at the same time:
Finally, we have the manual, warranty card, and the card that says it passed quality checks:
Using the TRN BT20 with the KZ ZS7
I was using my KZ ZS7 IEMs with a Revonext 3.5mm 3-button cable before using this TRN BT20 Bluetooth adapter.
I removed the IEM from the cable so that I can plug them in the adapters:
Plugging them was straightforward and they are tightly attached:
This is a part where these don’t work well with my ears and the KZ ZS7.
This adapter is supposed to be hanged behind the ears:
Unfortunately, My KZ ZS7 doesn’t get sealed in my ear and the TRN BT20 pushes them out, so I’m using them without hanging them behind my ears:
They are not heavy and now my KZ ZS7 seals fine in my ears. I think if TRN releases a version of the BT20 with a larger ear hook, then they may fit better. Otherwise, I don’t have a problem using them this way.
Pairing the TRN BT20 with my phone was extremely easy. You just turn it on and it will enter in pairing mode automatically. From there, you can choose it in your phone and it will pair:
I haven’t yet discharged the TRN BT20 battery entirely, as I don’t listen to music at loud volumes. My Android phone reports 50% of battery left after about 3 hours of continuous usage. The volume is set around 1/4 of the slider and that produces a comfortable audio level to my liking. Past it, and it’s too loud. As mentioned above, the TRN BT20 supports the AAC audio codec which my phone is using. Because of this, charging normally takes around 45 minutes (Remember I have not discharged this completely). I’m not using the supplied cable to charge them. Rather, I’m using the UGREEN Micro USB Y cable:
There’s one side that will always charge faster because one side acts as a receiver while the other is receiving and transmitting the audio to the other BT20 side. I have paired the left adapter to my phone so that one takes a couple of more minutes to finish charging.
I’m actually surprised by the quality of these. I think, personally, that the TRN BT20 has an advantage given that it uses a Realtek SoC on both sides. This means each side is decoding its own audio channel. This is similar to how balanced DACs work, in that each DAC decodes a specific channel. This has the advantage of improving the sound stage and channel separation. That’s exactly what I’m experiencing with the TRN BT20. The tonality is just awesome.
Because each side is decoding their own corresponding audio channel, I feel this improves the sound separation much like how balanced DACs work, except that there are no cables around.
It’s true that the TRN BT20 doesn’t support aptX nor LDAC, but given its ability to decode AAC, the audio quality is of very good quality. Even using the SBC codec, I find the quality to be amazing.
There’s a bit of a hiss when used with sensitive IEM’s, but it’s way less than other Bluetooth adapters, especially those that are not using dedicated audio DAC’s in their implementations. The sound quality is not degraded because of this, but I’m sure some may not like the hissing.
Overall, I’m pleased with the sound quality, and I’m using this Bluetooth adapter rather than my USB DACs with their cables.
I’ve been using the TRN BT20 with my Samsung Galaxy S9+, where it uses the AAC audio codec. The sound quality is excellent.
I also tested this with my HiBy R3 and Hidizs AP80 which I use as a DAC and Bluetooth transmitter to transmit my PC audio to the BT20. In this case, the SBC codec is used, as Hiby OS does not support transmitting AAC audio yet, although HiBy replied to a comment saying they may add this in a future firmware.
I normally set the volume between 7 to 13. Going up, it is too loud.
The only problem I found is that when using some Qualcomm transmitters with Windows, the volume will be extremely loud.
At around $33-34 on Amazon, you can’t go wrong with the TRN BT20. They do not have aptX, but their ability to decode AAC means the audio quality is not compromised.
The use of Realtek on both sides means each side decodes their own channel audio, which can improve the sound separation and sound stage.
There’s a bit of hissing which could be distracting for some, but it’s not very noticeable compared to other adapters.
The battery life is great and will last some hours. Charging should take at maximum 2 hours, but it charges in way less than that, having a 70mAh battery on each side, and charging at about 50mAh, it should take about an hour and a few minutes.
Unfortunately, it’s the fitting that didn’t work for me, but this part is one that depends on the IEM’s being used and your ears.
I’d rate this 4 out of 5, that last star being because of it not playing nice with my ears.
You can get the TRN BT20 on Amazon. Select the version that is compatible with your IEMs:
Yesterday, I finally received the Jack by Podo Labs, after 2 years of waiting for this Kickstarter project:
The project was funded on February 25, 2017, and yesterday was April 8, 2019, the day I received it.
The Jack is a bluetooth receiver that turns standard 3.5mm headphones into bluetooth. The receiver supports Qualcomm’s aptX and uses a CSR8670 chip. It also uses a Maxim MAX97220 amplifier, and it’s stated to handle 2 Vrm up to 600Ohms, according to the project FAQ. The battery size is 300mAh, stated to last up to 12 hours per charge.
The Jack is also one of the few bluetooth adapters that supports headphone inline controls, so you’ll be able to control the volume and play/pause the music using the headphone cable inline remote and also use the Jack’s buttons, whichever method you prefer to use.
Going back to the pictures, the box was a bit crushed when I took it out of the package:
Kickstarter Edition! It includes the Jack (Obviously) and a USB charging cable, which where both protected by this bubble wrap:
Taking them out of the bubble wrap, here’s the Jack and the cable:
I turned it on and connected my headphones, then I paired it with my phone, which was very simple to do:
As soon as I started playing back music, the LED turned from blue to green:
I’m using my KZ ZS7 IEM’s with the Jack:
Unfortunately, the gold clip isn’t in good conditions, but this is purely cosmetic, and of course, does not affect the sound quality:
The Jack also came with a simple rubber case:
And that’s it with the pictures. Now, let’s talk about the sound quality.
The Jack can provide a loud volume, so the amplifier is doing its job. The sound quality is good, thanks to the aptX audio codec. Unfortunately, there’s a noticeable noise that can be heard and can be annoying on quiet tracks. This is pretty common with bluetooth adapters that doesn’t use a dedicated DAC, and is noticeable on sensitive headphones and IEM’s, like the KZ ZS7 that I’m using. Other than that, the sound quality is very good but that noise is annoying. Here’s a place where Podo Labs can improve if they every decide to do another iteration of the Jack.
Music playback showed a flaw, where sometimes the blue LED will not change to green and there will be no audio at all. Sometimes, pausing a music track and resuming it will activate the Jack again and the led will change to Green. Unfortunately, this didn’t worked when I played back music files using my Hidizs AP80 portable audio player, which also supports aptX adapters and headphones.
The best way I’ve found to prevent above’s problem is to use an aptX bluetooth transmitter like the Tunai Wand or the GENKI, where it is continually transmitting the source audio. This way, the Jack is always active and receiving audio and will not have this problem.
In conclusion, I think what stands out the Jack is its ability to handle headphone’s inline control and its battery life. Most other adapters have some 3 to 5 or 6 hours, but I haven’t seen any other reaching 12 hours like the Jack.
The Jack does not have a dedicated audio DAC so the audio quality is comparable to other standard adapters that use a CSR chip, which is acceptable and will satisfy most of the croud, unless you’re using sensitive IEM’s like the KZ ZS7.
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