Blank Media

Blank DVD Media Quality Review

Not all media is good. Buying a good disc is not a simple matter of using a “name brand” disc, or paying for the most expensive disc on the shelf. With the continued production of cheaply-made Chinese and “bulk-quality” Taiwanese media, about half of all media is inferior quality. Bad discs are a complete waste of time and money.

This review/guide is meant to shed some light on who manufactures and brands good and not-so-good quality DVD media. Use this list as an assistant when selecting what media to buy and use. It shows what generally works as the best media. Individual results may vary, depending on the burner and how the media chooses to cooperate, though typically not by much.

While some cheap media may work for you, it’s a gamble that often loses. Try to use 1st class media, maybe 2nd class if the situation must budget tightly. Do yourself a big favor and just outright avoid 3rd class media, if at all possible.

What are the Best Blank DVDs?

Not everybody has the time or the need to learn about why/how media is good or bad. If you’re simply after the quick advice on what discs will almost always work the best in any DVD player or DVD burner, then get one of these:

  1. Mitsubishi Verbatim DVD-R, DVD+R or DVD+R DL, made in India, UAE, Singapore or Taiwan. (Do not buy the “Life Series” or “Value Series” discs.) Good Verbatim is getting harder to find in local stores.
  2. JVC Taiyo Yuden DVD-R or DVD+R, from an authorized dealer only. Our list to the left only includes authorized dealers.
  3. Sony DVD-R or DVD+R, made in Taiwan only. These are getting harder to find, as Daxon (the outsource for Sony manufacturing) went bankrupt in January 2010, but old-stock is still out there on shelves (as of January 2011). Newly manufactured Sony-branded media will be Ritek (Fuji dye), which is also made in Taiwan.

Verbatim DVD-R, Verbatim DVD+R and Verbatim DVD+R Double-Layer discs are our top suggestions for the ultimate in disc quality, as Mitsubishi-made media have been a consistent high-quality performer since 2001. JVC Taiyo Yuden media is an excellent second choice.

Gold discs ARE NOT the best discs! Gold discs have lousy reflectivity, and the dye quality found on these blanks simply does not burn well in our tests (or the tests of others). It’s a waste of money for mediocre media.

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Who Really Makes the Disc?

Realize that most media is produced by a relatively small number of factories, located in several different places. These factories are mostly present in Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, China and India. There are more, but those are the largest ones. The best media generally comes from Japan, Taiwan and Singapore. The worst typically comes from China and Malaysia.

Understand that the blank disc brand means almost nothing. Apple is a great brand, but they do not make their own discs, instead outsourcing to a company like Mitsubishi Chemicals. Common companies like Memorex, Maxell and Imation all outsource to media vendors.

It is the media ID that is important, as it reveals the disc manufacturer. Unfortunately, this is not written on packaging or anywhere else. Companies want consumers to be oblivious to this sort of behind-the-scenes information.

To learn the media ID code, a blank disc must be put into a computer DVD burner drive and the ID read by a special utility. Some burning software reads the code, such as ImgBurn or Toast. Or you can download freeware media ID tools in our forum, for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and Mac OS X and Linux.

The following information is arranged in three groups. Some companies may have listings in different classes because quality is better/worse in other disc formats. The “media ID” column is an example of media codes available from that manufacturer, it is not supposed to be a complete list of all available codes, and some codes have been abbreviated for space. Again, DVD manufacturer, not brand name. Brand means nothing.

Note for charts: Manufacturers in bold are still actively producing, while the others are not (or cannot be confirmed to still be an active media producer in 2011).

~ 1st Class Blank DVD Media / “Archival Grade” Discs ~
Almost flawless burns with 95-100% reliable results. These discs are suited for pretty much anything. They will usually serve as excellent archival quality media, as well as video masters.
ManufacturerSample Media IDsOriginFormatsNotes
Pioneer PVC001001, PVC001002, PVCW00JapanDVD-R, DVD-RWPVC stopped making media in 2003 (4x era)
Mitsubishi Chemicals, Mitsubishi-Kagaku Media, VerbatimMCC00RG20,MCC01RG20, MCC02RG20, MCC03RG20, MCC002, MCC003, MCC004, MCC00RW, MCC01RW, MCCA01, MKMA02, MKM001, MKM003Singapore, Taiwan, India, United Arab Emirates (UAE), ChinaDVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R DLProduction outsourced to MBI, CMC, Prodisc and FTI. Not an issue.
JVC Taiyo YudenTYG01, TYG02, TYG03, YUDEN000T02, YUDEN000T03JapanDVD-R, DVD+R
Hitachi MaxellMXLRG01, MXLRG02, MXLRG03, MXLRG04, MAXELL001, MAXELL002, MAXELL003JapanDVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD-RAMMaxell stopped making media after 8x era
Sony (Daxon)SONY04D1, SONY08D1, SONY16D1, SONYD21, SONYD11, SONYS11, SONYD16Taiwan, JapanDVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RWDaxon stopped making media in early 2010
TDK TDKG02, TTG01, TTG02, TTH01, TTH02, TDK501, TDK502, TDK001, TDK002, TDK003Taiwan, Japan, LuxemburgDVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RTDK stopped making media in 2006 (16x era)
~ 2nd Class Blank DVD Media / “Duplication Grade” non-Archival Discs ~
Mixed quality media, average 75-90% of discs tend to be good. These discs are not suggested for archival data or video masters. These are best suited for data that can be replaced easily, such as secondary backups or data/video distribution. In bulk, can often be purchased at low prices.
ManufacturerSample Media IDsOriginFormatsNotes
Ritek (Fuji dye)RITEKF1, RITEKF16TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+RExcellent, but not quite archival, uses long-life Fuji Oxonol dye
Falcon Tech (FTI)FTIRG16, FTI016-000, TTH02 (TDK), TDK003, RICOHJPND01, KIC01RG080 (Kitano)United Arab Emirates (UAE)DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+R DLSome burning quality issues due to non-FTI IDs on
FTI discs.
Ricoh (Ritek dye), Ricoh (Ricoh dye)RICOHJPND00, RICOHJPNR00, RICOHJPNR01, RICOHJPNR02, RICOHJPNR03, RICOHJPNW01, RICOHJPNW11, RICOHJPNW21Taiwan, JapanDVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+R DLOutsourced media ID after 4x era, mostly to Ritek
Daxon/TaiwanDAXON008S, DAXON016S, DAXONAZ1, DAXONAZ2, DAXONAZ3, DAXOND42TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RWPVC stopped making media in 2003, similar to Sony media
Ritek (Ritek dye)RITEKG01, RITEKG03, RITEKG04, RITEKG05, RITEKW01, RITEKW04, RITEK000, RITEKR01, RITEKR02, RITEKR03, RITEKR04, RITEKD01TaiwanDVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+R DLreflectivity and degradation concerns, DL quality tanks at layer break
Prodisc, Ritek, CMC, othersFUJIFILM02, FUJIFILM03TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+Routsourced media ID, discontinued after 8x generation
Philips (CMC Magnetics, MBI)PHILIPSCD2, PHILIPS010, PHILIPS041, PHILIPSC08, PHILIPSC16, PHILIPSRWTaiwanDVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+R DLOutsourced media ID, appears to be discontinued
Taiwan, ChinaDVD+R, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD+R DLwide quality variance
Moser BaerMBI, MBIPG101R03, MBIPG101R04, MBIPG101W03, MBIPG101W04, MBI01RG20, MBI03RG40IndiaDVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RWPoor firmware support mid-gen. Some early-gen discs similar to MCC
GigastorageGSC001, GSC002, GSC003, GSC502TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+RNo longer actively producing media?
Sony (Daxon), Sony (Lead Data)SONY16D1, SONYD16, SONYD21Malaysia Daxon, Taiwan LeadDataDVD-R, DVD+RDaxon stopped making media in 2010, inferior to Taiwan-Daxon discs, LeadData is unbranded
OptodiscOPTODISCK001, OPTODISCR004, OPTODISCR008, OPTODISCR016, OPTODISCW002, OPTODISCW004TaiwanDVD-R, DVD-RWNo longer actively producing media?
Infodisc MediaINFODISCA01, INFODISCA10, INFODISCR20, INFODISCR01TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+R, DVD+RWNo longer actively producing media?
LeadDataLEADDATA01, LEADDATA, LD01, LD, LDS03, LDA02TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+RNo longer actively producing media?
~ 3rd Class Media / Cheap, Unreliable, or Complete Junk Discs ~
Quality can be very questionable, sometimes less than 50% of a spindle is usable. Some of these discs serve no other purpose aside from filling our landfills. These are discs best suited for small burns (under 2GB of data). Be prepared for failed burns. Also be prepared for various DVD-ROMs and players to not see the disc or freeze up because the player cannot read it very well (not the same as a bad burn). Many of these are known for sham marketing ("archival grade" and whatnot) and can actually cost more than better-classed media. A lot of these discs are not even made anymore, so this information is largely historical. The worldwide recession killed off most makers of the absolute worst DVD media made. A few appear to possibly be put on “stand by” of some kind (Princo, Optodisc), as the companies still operate, but no new media can be detected in North America, Europe or from our contacts in Australia and east Asia. Some still-in-business low-quality manufacturers may have simply switched to using fake IDs.
ManufacturerSample Media IDsOriginFormatsNotes
MAM-America, MAM-EuropeMAM4XG02, MAM8XG01, fake IDs (TDK, MBI,
USA, EuropeDVD-RRemnants of Mitsui Media, uses gold reflectives and hard-to-read/burn dyes
Must TechMUST001, MUST003TaiwanDVD-RNo longer actively producing media?
Samsung/BeAllBEALLG00001, BEALLG40001, BEALL000P40, BEALL000PG0TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+RNo longer made.
Ul Tran TechnologyONIDTECHTaiwanDVD-RNo longer made.
PrincoPRINCO, TDKG01/fakeTaiwanDVD-R, DVD-RWNo longer made.
Optodisc MediaOPTODISCP01, OPTODISCP02, OPTODISCP04, OPTODISCR04, OPTODISCR08TaiwanDVD+R, DVD-RWNo longer actively producing media?
Daxon/MalaysiaDAXONAZ1, DAXONAZ2MalaysiaDVD+RDaxon stopped making media in 2010, inferior to Taiwan Daxon
3A MediaSHT001, POMS3A, 3AM0, POMSC001002, PLASMON1C01, PLASMON1AAustriaDVD-RPoor firmware support, company went bankrupt.
Nanya TechNANYACLX, NANYAA01TaiwanDVD-R, DVD+RNo longer made.
Plasmon TechPLASMON1C01EuropeDVD-RCompany went bankrupt in 2009.
Advanced Media LtdAML, AML001, AML002TaiwanDVD-RNo longer made.
Jilin QingdaLONGTEN001, LONGTEN002ChinaDVD-RCompany went bankrupt.
Yi Jhan TechYIJHAN001TaiwanDVD-RCompany went bankrupt.
AnwellAN31, AN32, AN33, AN35, ANWELLChinaDVD-RNot really a manufacturer, see notes below chart.
InfosmartINFOSMART01, ISO001, ISO002, fakesChina, Hong KongDVD-R, DVD+RInfamous for fake media, appears to have disappeared.
Sheng Wengfake MCC, fake TYTaiwanDVD-ROnly uses fake IDs.
SKCSKCCOLTDKoreaDVD-RNo longer made.
Vanguard Media, Interaxia AGVANGUARD, VDSPMSAB01, VDSPSABTaiwanDVD-RNo longer made.
Ume Disc TechUME001Hong KongDVD-R
WealthFair InvestmentsWFKA11ChinaDVD-RNo longer made.

Grading Notes

Grading criteria. The review list presented here is a delicate balance between the adjacent concepts of usability and potential burn quality. The ability of the disc to burn in a wide range of burners and DVD recorders determines a coaster count. However, because of disc/drive incompatibility issues that exist (refer to the Advanced DVD Burning Concepts Guide), potential quality on a perfect disc/drive combination is also considered. Finally, longevity and playability/reflectivity is taken into consideration. This results in the overall grade. This guide is admittedly harsh when it comes to the usability factor, but it need be remembered that this was written to assist the masses, so a disc with generally poorer disc/drive compatibility will rate lower. If you want specific suggestions for your make/model of drive, ask for advice in our forum.

What do the % numbers mean? This list is constructed from many tests on many burners from a handful of experienced people that use a lot of media, and has been ongoing since 2001. These numbers reflect the number of discs in a spindle that will give good results. For example, out of a 100 spindle of media, 1st class discs may kick out a few bad discs (0% to 5% of the media may have playback imperfections or be outright bad burns). The 2nd class media may have anywhere from a dozen to a half-spindle of duds. And the 3rd class stuff can be pure trash, with most discs ending up in the local landfill. These are mean averages too, simple statistics math, meaning best tests and worst tests are discarded, and the middle range of tests is the basis for these numbers. You may sometimes find the rare instance where a CMC spindle will be perfect and a Taiyo Yuden spindle will be completely flawed, but those times are the exception rather than the rule (and are not part of a mean average).

Can media ever change class? Sure. But it rarely happens. It is not a quick move either, these things take much time and many tests. Sony, Ritek, CMC, Daxon and LeadData have changed grades in the past. Media cannot change quality overnight or even in a few weeks/months.

Testing procedures: Burns are subject to playability/reflectivity tests (usage tests), as well as software verification. Test equipment is under controlled hardware/software environments, and performed by knowledgeable individuals, to eliminate user variables. Burns are at least 4GB or more to test the entire length of the media.

Anwell Notes: Anwell Technologies does not make media. Anwell is a production equipment supplier that sells blank DVD media creation technology to media manufacturers. By default, an ANWELL “test code” or “test ID” is on the stamper. Anwell is often blamed for making shoddy media, but in reality, it’s the work of a lazy media manufacturer who bought Anwell production supplies. As with all other low-quality media of dubious origins, the likely offender is some small Chinese or Taiwanese company (often InfoSmart, in years past).

Fake DVD Media ID Guide

Although it does not happen very often, discs with fake IDs (or outright counterfeits) are an annoyance to media buyers worldwide. Most fake media comes from China (and former Hong Kong), as a general rule. Fake media tends to float around Europe and Asia more than it does the USA. Fake media is normally sold in street markets, on eBay and online. Major brand name media sold in stores is probably never going to be fake.

Faking more or less tapered off in 2008-2009 (at least for USA, Canada and Europe), so we’ve not seen as much in recent years as it had been in the past. Be wary of fakes, but know that they’re just not as common anymore. Fake media mostly sold well because they could undercut legitimate brands, but still turn a profit. With the worldwide recession chopping heavily into profits these past few years, fakes have been squeezed out, as the profit margins are too slim to be worthwhile, with many of the fakers disappearing. The falling dollar has kept many of them out of North America, too.

Many (most?) companies that advertise on appear to be Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers that are selling their own cheaply-made low quality media, using faked Mitsubishi and Taiyo Yuden media IDs. In many cases, the companies appear to not even have their own media IDs, as their only goal is likely to make a quick profit, undercutting the real manufacturers, and having no interest in creating a quality product in good faith. Buyer beware!

Media IDManufacturerDatesNotes
TYG02, TYG03Sheng Wang, other small Chinese and Taiwanese factories2009-2010Readily available in Asia in 2010, not really found in North America or Europe.
TYG02Infosmart, Optodisc, MAM-America, MAM-Europe2005-2010The fakes are rumored to be for "improved 8x media detection" but low quality media is low quality, regardless of the media ID. These were found worldwide from 2005-2007, but largely disappeared in North America. Asian fakes are still readily found in 2010.
MCC03RG20, MCC02RG20, MCC003, MCC004Sheng Wang, other small Chinese and Taiwanese factories2008-2010Readily available in Asia in 2010, not really found in North America or Europe.
MCC02RG20, MCC003Infosmart2005-2007Mostly seen in Europe until 2007, not so much in USA.
TTG02, TTH01, TTH02MAM-America, MAM-Europe2005These are apparently "legal" fakes made by Mitsui, with permission by TDK to use the code. However the media is quite poor, not true TDK media.
MXLRG01Infosmart2002-2003One of the first anonymous" fake discs.
Pioneer brand DVD-RLeadData, Ritek2003Pioneer's PVC quit manufacturing blanks in 2003 (PVC media codes). LeadData and Ritek tried to sell their PioData and Pio branded blanks by loosely using the "Pioneer" brand name in marketing documentation, but that was misleading.
TDKG02Princo2001-2002They wanted to "improve 2x writing" on the 1x write strategy media, as well as insure drives would see the media (not all firmware at the time had PRINCO as a valid media code). Princo admitted to this faking, never tried to hide it, though some resellers tried to pawn off the media as legitimate TDK.
SONYUnknown2003"SONY" is not a valid media ID used by Sony discs. Suspected to be LeadData media.
RITEKG03, RITEKG04Ritek2004This was supposedly faked in 2004. However, it is the opinion of this author that it was just a lame cover story by Ritek for providing subpar quality media, as even the "authentic" media performed poorly at the time.

Blank DVD Branding Data

Although this will change on an annual basis, the following brands are known to use the following media makers for their outsourced discs. Some companies prefer dollars over quality, so be careful. Also be especially careful of "house brands" or no-names. If you end up with an unfavorable media ID, do not burn a test, just take it back for a refund and take your business elsewhere. Some stores have horrible return policies too, so beware.

BrandManufacturers: (16x era)Manufacturers: Historical (1x-8x)
AmericalRitek, Princo, LeadData
AppleMitsubishi, Maxell
AritaRitek, Ricoh
BenQDaxon, Fujifilm
Bulkpaqfake MCC, Infosmart, CMC, Princo
CompUSAN/APrinco, UME Disc, AML, Optodisc, Daxon
Datawritefake MCC, Ritek, CMC, Princo, Prodisc, Anwell
EmtecFTIRicoh, fake Taiyo Yuden, Interaxia AG, MJC
EsbuyRitek, LeadData, fakes
FujiRitekProdisc, Fujifilm, Mitsubishi(-RW), Daxon, Taiyo Yuden, Ricoh, Ritek
Fuji (DVD+R DL)Ritek, Ricoh, CMC
GQ, Great QualityLeadDataSony, Princo, Ritek, LeadData, Ume Disc, Infodisc
HPCMCCMC, Ricoh, Mitsubishi, Fujifilm
Hyundaifake Maxell, Infosmart
ImationRitek, CMCOptodisc, CMC, Mitsubishi, Ritek, Ritek, Fujifilm, Ricoh, Moser Baer
JVCTaiyo YudenWealthfair Investments
KHypermediaN/ACMC, dake MCC, TDK
LinkyoTaiyo Yuden
MatrixLongten, Yi Jhan Tech, Must
MaxellRitek, CMCMaxell, Ritek, CMC, Prodisc, Ricoh, Taiyo Yuden
MemorexCMC, MBICMC, Ritek, Moser Baer, Mitsubishi, Prodisc, Ricoh, Infodisc, Moser Baer
MirrorAnwell, Onidtech, Princo
MMoreMoser Baer
NexxtechUME Disc, Adv Media Ltd, Mitsubishi, CMC
NipponicInteraxia AG
Office DepotRitekRitek
Optical QuantumPhilips, MBI
PanasonicTaiyo Yuden
PhilipsCMCCMC, Philips, Mitsubishi
PlayoUme Disc, Advanced Media Ltd
PrincoPrinco, fake TDK
ProdiscProdisc, Mitsubishi
Ridata, RitekRitekRitek, Ricoh
RivisionMCC, Ritek, Ricoh, Optodisc, CMC, TDK, Prodisc
SamsungOptodisc, BeAll
Sonik DataRitek
SonySonyTaiyo Yuden, Sony, Ricoh, Mitsubishi
TDKRitek, MBI, CMCTDK, CMC, Moser Baer, Philips, Taiyo Yuden, Ritek, Ricoh, Maxell
TeonCMC, Mitsubishi
TescoUME Disc, Advanced Media Ltd
VerbatimMitsubishiMitsubishi, Taiyo Yuden (Europe), CMC, Ricoh, Ritek
Verbatim Value Series Verbatim Life SeriesCMCRitek, CMC
WinDatafakes, Ume Disc
Xlayerfake MCC

If you can add to this branding list, feel free to post some information in our forum. As time allows, we track down media for our own testing purposes, or request it from the manufacturer. For unusual brands and media IDs, ask in the forum. In most cases, unknown media IDs or unknown brands are of dubious quality. Some unknown brands are overstock from other media manufacturers. This is often the mark of very cheap media. Buyer beware.

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usaUSA – Best Blank DVD Deals

These are the best blank DVDs available!

Branded Blank DVDs
$25 | Verbatim DVD-R 16x 100pk
$25 | Verbatim DVD+R 16x 100pk

Inkjet-Printable Blank DVDs
$34 | Taiyo Yuden Value DVD-R 8x 100

Double Layer Blank DVDs:
$25 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 30-pack

Re-Writeable / Re-Recordable DVDs:
$19 | Verbatim DVD+RW 4x 30-pack
$21 | Verbatim DVD-RW 2x 30-pack

Need less discs? Smaller packs are available.
The + denotes added shipping.

britishUK – Best Blank DVD Deals

Shipping included in prices.

Branded Blank DVDs:
£18 | Verbatim DVD+R 16x 100-pack
£21 | Verbatim DVD-R 16x 100-pack
£25 | Sony DVD-R 16x 100-pack

Double Layer Blank DVDs:
£12 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 8x 10-pack

Inkjet-Printable Blank DVDs:
£27 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 8x 25-pack

Re-Writeable / Re-Recordable DVDs:
£12 | Sony DVD-RW 4x 10-pack
£13 | Verbatim DVD+RW 4x 10-pack

£15 | Verbatim DVD-RW 4x 10-pack

Need less discs? Smaller packs are available.

usaCanada – Blank DVD Deals, eh

Shipping included in prices.

Branded Blank DVDs / DVD+R DL:
C$37 | Verbatim DVD+R 16x 100-pack

Double Layer Blank DVDs:
C$42 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 2.4x 20-pack

Need less discs? Smaller packs are available.

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Markenprodukte Rohlinge:
€25 | Verbatim DVD+R 16x 100er spindel
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€14 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 8x 10er spindel
€31 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 8x 25er spindel
€63 | Verbatim DVD+R DL 8x 50er spindel

Bedruckbar (Printable) Rohlinge:
€18 | Sony DVD-R 16x 50er spindel
€18 | Verbatim DVD-R 16x 50er spindel

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€17 | Verbatim DVD-RW 4x 25er spindel
€17 | Verbatim DVD+RW 4x 25er spindel

Mehr optionen für discs.

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Silber Marque DVDs Vierges:
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Silber Marque Réinscriptible DVDs:
€28 | Verbatim DVD+RW 4x 25-spindle

Autres options pour les disques.

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