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July 1999

The Yamaha CRW4416SXZ CDR/W Drive

By: Mark Dodel (madodel@ptd.net)

This is an external SCSI version of Yamaha's latest CDR/W drive. This model is sold by many retailers and in my case was purchased from Indelible Blue http://www.indelible-blue.com. Of course it also comes bundled with several win32 CD recorder applications, which I have no plans to try out since I only run OS/2. Before purchasing this drive I asked people what they were using to burn CDs under OS/2. Most were running either a Ricoh model or a Yamaha. Since Indelible Blue has a strong back ground with OS/2 products, and the price was within the same range as many places were charging for the drive, I decided that the comfort factor of buying from IB was well worth the few extra dollars.

The Yamaha CRW4416SXZ drive.

This drive is a 16X read, 4X write, 4X re-write speed CD re-writable recorder. Besides the relatively fast speed (for a CDR/W drive) some of the features that attracted me to this unit are it's 2MB buffer and the fact that it doesn't require a caddy. CDR-CDR/W media are just placed in a tray-drawer. The large buffer helps in preventing buffer over-runs which ruin the CDR disk. As with any CDR/W drive this drive can read any CDROM and also write CDR disks.


Setup appeared relatively easy at first, and I have had some experience with SCSI devices in the past. No SCSI cable came with the external model, but I had ordered one from Indelible Blue at the time I ordered the drive and they sent me the correct 50Pin SCSI-2 cable. Initially I connected the the cable to the SCSI-2 pass-through connector on my HP 5P scanner, which was connected to the 68 Pin external port of an Adaptec AHA2940-UW SCSI controller using a 68Pin to 50Pin terminated adapter. This didn't work at first, and the Adaptec SCSI bios couldn't see the external devices on boot. I checked to make certain I didn't have any duplicate SCSI ID's, and then switched the CDR/W and scanner so that the Scanner was on the end of the SCSI chain. The bios now saw both the Scanner and the Yamaha drive, but for some reason it assigned the CDR/W drive as 7 Logical Units (LUNs). I also moved the devices from the external 68Pin connector to the 50Pin internal connector using a special cable that had an external 50 Pin connector on it. This final setup seemed to work the best.

I eventually gave up on this configuration since the physical layout of having the CDR/W drive first required stretching one of the cables very tightly. So next I decided to move the Yamaha 4416SX to a different computer so it wouldn't have to share the external port with the scanner. I had an old Symbios Logic 416 ISA SCSI controller which only supports external devices. This card originally came with my HP scanner, and I could never get it to work under Warp 4 due to resource conflicts in several different computers I tried it in. No problems at all running this card with Aurora (and now Warp Server e-business). The Yamaha was readily found by the 416 driver display on boot after I changed the SCSI ID to 5. For some reason SCSI ID's 0,1,2,3,4 did resulted in the device not being found. So if you experience a problem, try changing SCSI ID's if possible.

Using it:

Since I don't run windows, I couldn't use any of the software that came with the drive (Adaptec's EZ-CD Creator, Adaptec's Direct CD and Adobe PhotoDeluxe and Page Mill 3.0). Instead I installed RSJ CD Writer for OS/2. I also installed CDRecord/2 and the CD-Tools (Both can be obtained from http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Sector/5785/cdrecord/cdrecordmain.htm). CDRecord/2 and CD-Tools require EMX to be installed as they are freeware ports from the *NIX world. Hopefully we will have a review of CDRecord/2 in a future issue, and other then using the CDRTools GUI Interface for checking out my drive (eject/load/reset/Show TOC*1) I have no experience with CDRecord/2 to make CD's. The CD-Tools will display a fair amount of useful information about your CD Recorder everytime you perform a function. I found this very useful for verifying my firmware level.

RSJ installed without any problem, but as noted earlier I couldn't get it to attach the CDWFS via the GUI frontend - CDWriter Control. It worked fine using the command line version though. And that is what I used up until the latest version (2.80) of RSJ became available which fixed the problem for me. I have seen no reports of anyone else having this problem, but then it may have been related to installing RSJ on the Aurora beta/WSe-b systems.

Since I was having this minor problem I looked into updating the firmware for the 4416SX. You can find firmware updates for all Yamaha drives at http://www.yamahayst.com/techsup/download2.htm#Download As suspected they flash upgrading the bios is only supported under DOS, MAC and win95. I tried their instructions for updating via a DOS boot from floppy, but I could never get the drive recognized under DOS so I am still at the same revision as when I received the drive 1.0e. The latest version is 1.0g. Yamaha lists firmware revision history, and the changes under 1.0f and 1.0g don't look all that important to fuss with it at the moment.

Though it is not as fast as an hard drive, I was actually impressed at the speed of copying files using RSJ's CDWFS to mount the CDR/W as a writeable drive. In a very unscientific test, I copied the 92Meg StarOffice 5.1 install file to my Yamaha drive using a batch command file first calling time, then just a standard COPY so51_os2_01.EXE W: followed by another execution of time. Copying 92,418,943 bytes took roughly 65 Seconds. That's about 1.4 Million bytes/second. for comparison copying the same file across my 100MBS LAN connection took 23 Seconds or about 4Million bytes/second.


As of this writing (early July 1999) the price of this drive has fallen by about $100 since I bought it in February of 1999. Still at about $380, this is an expensive CDR/W drive. Of course the much less expensive internal version of the same drive (IDE and SCSI) and similar drives have fallen in price over time as well. Indelible Blue - http://www.indelible-blue.com has the full retail version of the 4416S internal SCSI version for about $287.59. You can pick up a bare (no software or media) OEM internal version of this drive for about $190 from several places on www.pricewatch.com.

If you look for an external version on pricewatch, be aware that some of those listed (at remarkably lower cost compared to the 4416SX) are actually OEM internal units mounted in a non-Yamaha case. Perhaps not a big deal, but you should be aware of what you are buying. I have heard that these drives can get very hot when in use. The case of the 4416SX has a built in fan and has never been warm to the touch. For those who need to remain ahead of the hardware curve, now Plextor's new CDR/W has taken over as the king of the speedway, with 8X/2X/20X drive, but at a higher cost.

I am pleased with the Yamaha 4416SX drive and it's functioning with RSJ under OS/2. Since I ended up moving the drive to a different machinethen originally planned, that actually has an internal bay available, I could have saved myself more then $100 by going with the internal version. In my experience so far, this isn't the sort of device one usually moves from pc to pc anyway since you have to load software to use it. It would be nice if Yamaha actually provided some support for OS/2 users, but there is none. I would guess this is typical of all these manufacturers at this point. If anyone knows of a CDR-CDR/W manufacturer that actually supports OS/2 please let me know.

Yamaha 16x Read/4x Write/4x Re-Write External SCSI CD Read/Writable - $387.50US Indelible Blue - http://www.indelible-blue.com/ibapps/hardware.nsf/G1/576390ABDC2C8D45852566EA007C27FF

Note 1: TOC = Table of Contents

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