iXBT Labs - Computer Hardware in Detail






SONY DRU-510A DVD±RW/DVD±R Drive Review

December 31, 2003

Early this year SONY put an end to the war of DVD-R/RW and DVD+R/RW formats by launching the first drive that supported both formats. Such drives are now called DVD Dual. A bit later this market was filled up with a great deal of players, and a user can choose anything to his or her liking. The evolution of the recorders brings one more drive supporting a higher write speed - Sony DRU-510A. 



  • Write speeds. 
    • DVD-R: 1/2/4 X CLV
    • DVD-RW: 1/2 X CLV
    • DVD+R: 2.4/4 X CLV
    • DVD+RW: 2.4/4 X CLV 
    • CD-R: 24x, 20x, 16x, 12x (Z-CLV), 4x (CLV) 
    • CD-RW:10x, 16x (CLV)

  • Write methods: 
    • CD: Track At Once, Session At Once, Disc At Once, Packet Writing
    • DVD: Disc At Once, Random Recording, Restricted Overwriting, Incremental Recording, Multi-border Recording 

  • Read speeds (max). 
    • DVD-ROM: 12 X CAV
    • CD-ROM/R: 32 X CAV

  • Read formats supported. 
    • CD: CD-DA, CD-ROM, CD-ROM (XA), CD-Extra, Video CD, Photo CD, CD-Text, Multi-session

  • Access time (Random Average) 
    • DVD: 200 Msec 
    • CD: 160 Msec 

  • Interface: ATAPI (EIDE) 
  • Data buffer: 8 Mbytes 
  • Installation: horizontal and vertical. 
  • Dimensions (W x H x D): 145.6 x 41.6 x 196.4 mm 
  • Weight: 1 kg. 

The retail package contains the drive, IDE cable, screws, 2 CDs with software and e-version of the user guide, and several leaflets with useful information. 

The drive's design didn't change since the DRU-500A. The front panel integrates a one-color LED, an emergency eject hole and an Open/Eject button. The only button is deeply recessed, which won't let you press it accidentally but sometimes it can be a problem to find it by touch. 

Software suite: 

  • VERITAS software for recording all types of media in various formats on CD and DVD drives.
  • Arcsoft ShowBiz for capturing, editing and recording video on CD and DVD drives.
  • Sonic MyDVD 4.5.2 for creation of your own DVD drives. 
  • CyberLink PowerDVD 4.0 XP for playing DVD-Video, Video CD and multimedia files. 

The label on top provides information on the location and time of production.

Here's what the drive is based on.

And here you can see how it looks inside. 

The installation caused no problems. A user is offered a standard procedure, like that for an ordinary CD-ROM drive. The drive needs no special drivers. You can do just with the NeroBurning Rom; as for me, I used the latest version  - 

Now let's use other utilities to get more information on the drive; for example, Nero Infotool, which tells what formats and disc types are supported by the drive:

As you can see from the screenshot, it's still impossible to turn the drive into RPC-1 (according to www.rpc1.com). However, you can use the DVD Region free program which provides the regional protection. 

EAC (EAC Configuration Wizard) tells us about Audio CDs. 

Test results

DVD recording

As usual, we recorded several types of brand-name and non-brand discs. No problems occurred, the drive successfully detects and records most discs. 

Recording of the discs of both formats was flawless at all speeds available. 

Below is the burn time for various discs. 

DVD-R burning
Drive burning at 1x, min. burning at 2x, min. burning at 4x, min.
SONY DRU-510A 57:48 28:35 15:18
Plextor PX-708A 59:48 29:40 14:57

DVD-RW burning
Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 1x, min. burning at 2x, min.
SONY DRU-510A 00:56 56:24 27:56
Plextor PX-708A 00:28 59:12 29:48

DVD+R burning
Drive burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min.
SONY DRU-510A 23:12 13:54
Plextor PX-708A 24:05 14:34

DVD+RW burning
Drive fast cleaning, min. burning at 2.4x, min. burning at 4x, min.
SONY DRU-510A 00:23 24:05 14:35
Plextor PX-708A 00:24 24:05 14:52

All DVDs recorded passed the control reading test on two reference DVD-ROM drives Toshiba SD-M1712 and Pioneer DVD-117LJ. The tests on the home DVD player BBK 939 revealed no problems with reading. 

Below are also results of reading of the recorded discs for the Lite-On drive with the KProbe utility. The KProbe utility is a new test program developed for OS Widows which estimates a level of C1/C2 errors on a disc tested. The outcome may depend on whether the drive favors a given disc, but anyway, some general data can be obtained. 

SONY DRU-510A, DVD-R 4x (Digitex)

SONY DRU-510A, DVD-R 2x (Digitex)



SONY DRU-510A, DVD-RW 2x (Digitex)


SONY DRU-510A, DVD+R 4x (Ricoh)

SONY DRU-510A, DVD+R 2.4x (Digitex)

SONY DRU-510A, DVD+R 2.4x (Ricoh)

SONY DRU-510A, DVD+RW 2.4x (Digitex)

SONY DRU-510A, DVD+RW 2.4x (Ricoh)

DVD media reading


Test DVD reading

The read speed of all media types is controlled in the auto mode which is not always convenient. SONY allows a user to adjust the read speed with a special utility available on the support site

The speed can be only roughly adjusted but it's enough. Further all types of data will be tested in the OverDrive mode.

SONY DRU-510A 1-layer DVD (stamped DVD-Data)

  SONY DRU-510A Plextor PX-708A
Average speed  8.88x CAV 9.06x CAV
Random Seek 139 ms 98 ms
Full Seek 219 ms 168 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 2 % 4 %
SpinUp Time 3.15 sec 2.91 sec
SpinDown Time 3.24 sec 4.31 sec
Disc Recognition Time 9.14 sec 10.26 sec

SONY DRU-510A 2-layer DVD (stamped DVD-Video)

  SONY DRU-510A Plextor PX-708A
Average speed  5.99x CAV 6.25x CAV
Random Seek 165 ms 146 ms
Full Seek 225 ms 198 ms
CPU usage (Max Speed) 2 % 2 %
SpinUp Time 3.46 sec 1.71 sec
SpinDown Time 3.29 sec 3.05 sec
Disc Recognition Time 9.14 sec 14.12 sec
Layer Change Time 215 ms 75 ms

Reading of recordable DVD





The read speed of the DVD+RW is the lowest in spite of the OverDrive mode. 





The drive successfully reads all types of recordable discs, including multiborder DVDs. 

DVD Video copying with Smart Ripper

CD-RW drive Average speed
SONY DRU-510A 5.6 X
Plextor PX-708A 3.4 X

CD-R and CD-RW recording

CD burning time 

Traditionally, we used two types of media, with cyanine and phthalocyanine coating. The number of the trade marks were lift up to 4, 2 of each type, to provide more information of how the drive treats discs of different trade marks. Below is the ATIP for the discs tested. 

Mirex 48x
Disc Type = CDR (B-)
Lead In = 97:27:18
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Plasmon Data Systems Ltd.

Philips 32x
Disc Type = CDR (A-) 
Lead In = 97:15:17
Lead Out = 79:59:73
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 73f/LBA:359848)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Lead In = 97:34:23
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

The burning results will be partially represented in the graphical form.

Recording on the SONY DRU-510A (Mirex 48x, phthalocyanine)

The screenshot above looks the same for all trade marks of the discs. The burn speed was the same for all trade marks and types of media. We also tested ability of the drive to record cyanine discs at the minimal speed, the mode usually used by audiophiles to get the highest quality sound. 

CD-R  SONY DRU-510A Plextor PX-708A
Philips 32x 4:26 3:23
Verbatim 48x 4:26 3:28
Mirex 48x 4:24 3:30
Verbatim 4x 21:18 21:09

To extend the picture, I added the results of the Verbatim CD-RW 10x. 

Verbatim 10x
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Verbatim 24X
Nominal = 656.40MB (74m 43s 00f/LBA:336075)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Recording on the SONY DRU-510A (Verbatim 10x CD-RW)

  Recording on the SONY DRU-510A (Verbatim 24x CD-RW)

Time of CD-RW full formatting in UDF with InCD 4.0.17

CD-RW recording in UDF format, 530 Mb test packet in 3000 files. 

Verbatim 10x CD-RW  

CD-RW drive Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
SONY DRU-510A 10:14 9:48
Plextor PX-708A 9:20 10:08

Verbatim 24x CD-RW  

CD-RW drive Burn time (min.) Formatting time (min.)
SONY DRU-510A 9:45 6:45
Plextor PX-708A 8:45 5:54

Operation with 80mm CDs (tested with a CD-RW disc), formatting and recording in UDF

Formatting and recording of the 80mm CD-RW disc in UDF, 4x write speed.   

CD-RW drive Formatting time (min.) Burn time (min.)
SONY DRU-510A 9:15 5:48
Plextor PX-708A 8:45 5:47

The drive reads and burns the 80mm discs quite well. 

Reading of the recorded discs on the Lite-On drive with KProbe

Reading of the Philips CD-R recorded on SONY DRU-510A 

Reading of the Verbatim CD-R recorded on SONY DRU-510A 

Reading of the Mirex CD-R recorded on SONY DRU-510A

Reading of the SKC CD-R recorded on SONY DRU-510A 

Reading of the Verbatim 10x CD-RW recorded on SONY DRU-510A 

Reading of the Verbatim 24x CD-RW recorded on SONY DRU-510A 

The level of errors on the Verbatim 24X (ULTRA SPEED CD-RW 24X) is quite high, like that on the other ULTRA SPEED CD-RWs. Later we will publish the test results obtained with the professional equipment CDCATS SA3. 


The discs used have the following ATIP. 

Verbatim 48x
Disc Type = CDR (A+) 
Lead In = 97:34:23
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = Mitsubishi Chemicals Corporation

Intenso 99 min
Disc Type = CDR (A-)
Lead In = 96:43:37
Lead Out = 79:59:74
Nominal = 702.83MB (79m 59s 74f/LBA:359849)
Manufacturer = RiTEK Corporation

CD-RW drive 80 min CD-R 99 min CD-R
SONY DRU-510A 80:45.30 --:--.--
Plextor PX-708A 81:45.54 91:04.38

The drive couldn't pass the test of the discs over 90 minutes. Moreover, it couldn't detect similar discs recorded on the other drives.

Here is what the CD Speed displays at the attempt to read such disc. 

CD reading parameters

CDWinBench 99

  SONY DRU-510A Plextor PX-708A
Winmark 2370 2270
Inside transfer 2370 Kb/s 2930 Kb/s
Outside transfer 4660 Kb/s 5770 Kb/s
CPU Utilization  1.86 % 2.01 %
Access Time 120 ms 85.8 ms


Test CD reading


  SONY DRU-510A Plextor PX-708A
Average speed  23.83 CAV 32.07 CAV
Random Seek 124 ms 97 ms
Full Seek 237 ms 173 ms
CPU Usage 8X  6 %  5 % 
SpinUp Time 1.34 3.02
SpinDown Time 2.25 4.11
Disc Recognition Time 10.19 sec 0.01 sec
Accurate stream Yes Yes

CD-ROM Drive Analyzer

CD-R reading


CD-RW reading


Low-quality CD reading


CD audio track extraction (CDDAE 99, EAC)

Average extraction speed 21.4x  18.6x 
Total errors  0.00% 0.00%


Advanced DAE Quality(Nero CD-Speed)


The detailed information on the tested parameters is given in the help file to the Nero CD Speed test program. If you don't want to download the utility, then here you can find the HTMl help file. 

DAE Quality (EAC)

This test was made by the developer of the EAC, and it's called DAE Quality (here's its description). In short, it measures quality of audio data extraction and quality of C2 error processing with a special test disc. In this case it's impossible to measure C2 processing quality, just look at the general data on quality of audiotrack extraction. 


    SONY DRU-510A
  • Errors total Num : 2180442
  • Errors (Loudness) Num : 90183 - Avg : -71.8 dB(A) - Max : -4.8 dB(A)
  • Error Muting Num : 15237 - Avg : 3.6 Samples - Max : 3326 Samples
  • Skips Num : 0 - Avg : 0.0 Samples - Max : 0 Samples
  • Total Test Result : 73.4 points (of 100.0 maximum)
  • C2 Accuracy : 88.9 %

Direct copying of information from 780MB (90 min) CD-R to HDD

The drive successfully copied the contents of the 780MB drive without any errors. 


Copy time

  • SONY DRU-510A - 11 min. 52 sec.
  • Plextor PX-708A - 5 min. 50 sec.

Drive's physical characteristics 


CD-RW drive Tray CD-Seek CD total DVD-Seek DVD total
SONY DRU-510A 7/10 7/10 7/10 8/10 8/10

There's no much noise if the drive works with properly balanced CDs or not at the maximum speed. The system that automatically sets the maximum speed checks for badly readable discs and video discs. The drive's speed can be adjusted with a special utility. 

Thermal conditions

CD-RW drive T inside PC case, C T of the upper surface, C T of the lower surface, C
SONY DRU-510A 36 48 49

The drive doesn't get hot even if used a lot. But be careful when placing other devices close to it as they can burn.

Vibration in case of unbalanced CDs

The drive vibrated when it worked with such disc but it managed to finish its reading without errors and at high speed. 


SONY offers a pretty good drive that delivers a high speed and good recording quality on almost all modern optical media types without much noise. However, the drive has quite a lot of errors when burning ULTRA SPEED CD-RWs, but I hope this problem will be solved with a new firmware version. 

Roman Shelepov (srl@ixbt.com)

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