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EMedia Review

Bob Starrett

Young Minds CD/DVD Studio
synopsis: Young Minds' CD/DVD Studio is an excellent solution for Windows NT-based network users who need CD or DVD production that does not interfere with workstation operation. For Linux-based network users, the CD and DVD Studio products are a one-step solution to adding non-invasive recording capability for both CD-R and DVD-R while keeping the options open for future expandability into a fully automated duplicating and printing system.

pricing: $2995-$3495

CD Studio+: $2995 (includes 12X CD writer, CD controller, MakeDisc software, cables, 1-year warranty)

DVD Studio+CD: $3495 (includes 12X CD writer, CD/DVD controller, MakeDisc+software, cables, 1-year warranty; DVD-Recorder not included)

Young Minds, Inc.
1906 Orange Tree Lane, #220
Redlands, CA 92374
800/964-4964, 909/335-1350
Fax 909/798-0488;
nfo@ymi.com
http://www.ymi.com

February, 2001 | As CD recording speeds seemingly go through the roof, host hardware has more or less kept up, at least to the extent that you can afford to replace your computer every year or so, if not slightly more frequently. At the latest 16X recording speeds, you need fast hardware to avoid buffer underruns. Burn-Proof and Justlink have rendered these concerns obsolete, you might say, but there is some question as to whether those technologies make for efficient disc recording.

One solution–one that has been available for some time, since the days when even 4X recording was pushing the limits of then-current host hardware–is to take the data transfer and recording load off the host processor and bus completely and move it to an external device. This is what Young Minds has been doing with its CD Studio for several years and now they have added and expanded their product line to include its bigger, DVD-R-based brother, the DVD Studio.

pity the linux user?

One interesting attribute of the CD/DVD Studio product is its democratic support of open source recording; historically a UNIX and NT product (and reviewed as such in April 1997), the latest version of CD/DVD Studio is Linux-simpatico. As such, it has the potential to fill a growing void in the recording scene. Although there is a plethora of software available for Windows users and a couple of products available for the Mac, the growing use and interest in Linux has suffered from a dearth of powerful, integrated recording solutions.

There are, of course, recording tools available for UNIX. One is Gear UNIX for HP/UX, DEC UNIX, Sun Solaris, SunOS, IBM AIX and SGI Irix; it has been available for several years. Another, CD Publisher from Creative Digital Research, has also been around for some time, and currently supports Sun SPARCstation, Sun Solaris 2.5, 2.6, and 2.7. For the Silicon Graphics workstations, it supports IRIX 6.2, 6.3, 6.5. HP is also supported.

For the Linux user, however, there has been a mishmash of software that must be used in concert to get the recording job done in a quick and useful manner. There are software-only choices like BurnIT, a Java front end to the cdrecord, mksiofs, and cdda2wav-0.95 programs, which are the core of most Linux recording.

Most Linux programs use graphical interfaces to control the core Linux recording programs cdrecord, cdda2wav, cdparanoia, and mkisofs. Look for cdrecord at http://www.fokus.gmd.de/research/cc/glone/employees/joerg.schilling/private/cdrecord.html. A good overview of all the available front ends can be found at http://sites.inka.de/~W1752/cdrecord/frontend.en.htm.

a drop-in solution

For the Linux user who just wants to drop in a solution, rather than gather and configure the necessary software and hardware, the CD Studio and DVD Studio are quick and easy–if not inexpensive–solutions. The hardware portion of the Studio consists of a standard, but well-built horizontal ATX computer case containing a motherboard with an Intel Celeron processor, two Tekram PCI SCSI cards, a Fujitsu hard drive, and a TEAC CD recorder. Also in the case is a switch card for configuration of the unit; this card also includes a port for a CD printer.

Hardware installation is simple; you plug your SCSI cable into the rear of the unit and likewise attach the external Pioneer DVR-S201DVD recorder to another SCSI port on the rear. To the host computer, the DVD Studio looks like a tape device, usually an Exabyte 8200. Once connected, software installation is simple in Windows, a little harder in Linux, depending on your level of expertise. The command-line program is easy enough to use for those who have command of such things. The Windows GUI is straightforward and uncomplicated. The Linux Java GUI is likewise uncomplicated and is helpful for those who are not familiar with creating shell scripts.

command lines for the hard-liners…simple GUI for everyone else

In Linux, the MakeDisc recording software can be run from the command line or a Java GUI. The GUI has three windows: the Main window, the Options window, and the Volume Information window. Each window has online help easily available. The Main window allows you set the location of the MakeDisc program, the temporary work directory, the data to premaster, and whether to send the image to the local host or to the remote host. The Volume Information window lets you specify the information stored in the primary volume descriptor, something that few of us remember to do anymore. The Options window allows you to specify the premastering options which include Rock Ridge support, ISO 9660 compliance, automatic file and directory name conversion, Original Name Recovery (ONR), and symbolic link support. Error reporting and warnings can be customized to the user's preference and saved in the configuration file.

Command-line mode is also available in both the Windows NT and Linux versions so you can set up automated recording using a shell script in Linux or a batch file under Windows NT. The program will produce images or discs in ISO 9660, ISO 9660 with Translation Tables, ISO 9660/ Rock Ridge, ISO 9660/ Joliet, and Native UNIX (UFS). On the DVD side, the DVD Studio records images or discs in the standard DVD-ROM format.

bigger and bigger

Scalability is another feature that YMI has incorporated into the CD/DVD Studio. The main unit is also referred to as the CD Studio Intelligent Controller or the DVD Studio Intelligent Controller. You can add different hardware modules, including printing and automated disc loading.

The base configuration of the CD Studio is called the Studio Plus. This configuration includes the Studio Intelligent Controller, the MakeDisc premastering software, and a 12X CD recorder. The controller connects to a host computer and essentially offloads recording tasks. You can record from any machine accessible on the network without risking buffer underrun since all data is downloaded to the hard disk in the controller before recording commences. This leaves the workstation free to perform other tasks without slowdown or interference. The DVD Studio includes a Pioneer DVR-S201 DVD-Recorder and the Makedisc+ premastering software which will premaster DVD discs.

For those who want expansion in the future, the main unit can be augmented with additional equipment to become a fully automated CD-R or DVD-R recording station. The next step up is the PowerCD Studio, which is made for use with the PASsport, PAS/2, and PAS/4 autoloaders. At the top of the YMI line is the MaximumPower Studio 4, which includes a 120-disc robotic autoloader that offers thermal labeling and four CD recorders. On the DVD side, the upgrade path leads to the PAS/2 autoloader with 2 DVD-R recorders.

Besides Linux and Windows NT, Young Minds covers the field in software, supporting 27 different platforms and many flavors of UNIX including Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, IRIX, SCO, HP, Digital UNIX, DG, and Unisys. UNIX users should contact Young Minds for a full compatibility list.

Overall, the CD/DVD Studio is an excellent solution for Windows NT-based network users who need CD or DVD production that does not interfere with workstation operation. For Linux-based network users, the CD and DVD Studio products are a one-step solution to adding non-invasive recording capability for both CD-R and DVD-R while keeping the options open for future expandability into a fully automated duplicating and printing system.


Other Companies Mentioned in This Article

Pioneer New Media Technologies., Inc.
2265 E. 220th Street, Long Beach, CA 90810; 800/527-3766, 310/952-2111; Fax 310/952-2990; http:// www.pioneerusa.com

TEAC America, Inc.
7733 Telegraph Road, Montebello, CA 90640; 323/726-0303; Fax 323/ 727-7672; http://www.teac.com

Bob Starrett (bobs@cdpage.com) is a contributing editor for EMedia Magazine and co-columnist for The CD Writer, and an independent consultant based in Denver, Colorado. He is the co-author, with EMedia Magazine contributer Joshua McDaniel, of The Little CD Audio Recording Book, published by PeachPit Press.

Comments? Email us at letters@onlineinc.com.


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