Pioneer a04, Pioneer A04 / 104 Review ! Buy, sale.
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Write Support

  • DVD-R (4.7GB General Discs Only)
  • DVD-RW
  • CD-R
  • CD-RW

Read Support

  • DVD-ROM single layer/dual layer
  • DVD-R (all types)
  • DVD-RW
  • CD-ROM Mode 1
  • CD-ROM XA Mode 2 (form 1, form 2)
  • Photo CD (single & multiple session)
  • CD-DA (Audio CD)
  • CD-Extra
  • CD-R
  • CD-RW (Support AM2)

Write Speed

  • DVD-R 2X-CLV (2.76 MB/s), 1X-CLV (1.38 MB/s)
  • DVD-RW 1X-CLV (1.38MB/s)
  • CD-R 8X-CLV (1.41 MB/s), 4X-CLV (0.70 MB/s)
  • CD-RW 4X-CLV (0.70MB/s)

Read Speed

  • DVD-ROM (Single) Max. 6X-CAV (8.01 MB/s)
  • DVD-ROM (Dual) 2X-CLV (2.76MB/s)
  • DVD-R, DVD-RW 2X-CLV (2.76 MB/s)
  • CD-ROM Max. 24X-CAV (4.23MB/s) CD-R
  • CD-RW Max. 16X-CAV (2.82MB/s)
  • CD-Audio Max. 10X-CAV (1.76MB/s)
  • Video-CD 4X-CLV (0.70MB/s)

Access Time* DVD 200 Msec (Random Average) CD 180 Msec

*When DVD-ROM Single Layer Disc and CD-ROM Mode1 Disc are used

Interface ATAPI (ATA/ATAPI-5 & SFFC INF8090 Ver.5)

Data Buffer 2Mbytes (Read) 2Mbytes (Write)

Mounting Orientation Horizontal & Vertical

Power Consumption Maximum 23.8W

Dimensions (W x H x D): 148 x 42.3 x 197.7 mm 5-13/16" x 1-11/16" x 7-13/16"

Net Weight 1.1 kg 2 lbs. 7 oz


Our Test Machine's Specs:

Pentium 4 1.5GHz (not over clocked)


DELL (Custom) Motherboard

1 x Maxtor 20GB Hard Disk





This DVD writer is based on the "- (minus) " recording standard and is an update to the Pioneer A03 recorder which we reviewed last year. If you wish to know a little more about the "minus" recording format then check out our review of the A03.

This drive writes to DVD-RW disks at x1 speed and DVD-Rs at x2 speed - the x2 DVD-R writing is a non DVD forum standard that Pioneer added to their own line of recorders.

Pioneer only slightly updated the A04 by adding a few extra features, these extra features are:

Differences between A03 and A04

  • Horizontal and vertical mounting is now possible
  • CD writing is now burn proof capable (as well as DVD)
  • Support added for high speed CD-RW disks (only 4x speed max. though)
  • DVD-ROM read speed increased from 4 X to 6 X for single-layer DVD-ROM disks only
  • Shorter by 1cm. WxHxD: 5-13/16 x 1-11/16 x 7-13/16 (A03 is 5-13/16 x 1-11/16 x 8-2/16)
  • UDMA33 support (A03 is 16MB/sec max.)
  • Increased access time to just under 15 seconds (A03 is 18 seconds)
  • Audio S/N ratio line out is over 75db now (A03 is 70db)
  • Standby power consumption reduced to 3.1W (A03 consumes 6.8W)
  • Digital audio connector was removed (analogue audio only now)
  • Better cooling fan
  • Increased weight 1.2 kg - 2 lbs. 10 oz (A03 is 1.1 kg - 2 lbs. 7 oz)
  • CD-R/RW reading speed increased increased to x24 (A03 is only x16 speed)
  • DAE speed increased from 10 x to 24 x speed
  • 2 Mb (write and read ) buffer now (A03 was 2MB for writing only with 512KB Read)

Unfortunately the drive doesn't have any real writing speed increases over the A03, but it is expected that the DVD forum will give the go ahead for a faster "-" (minus) writing standard which will bring 2 speed DVD-RW and 4 X speed DVD-R writers in October 2002. The drive is very cheap here in the UK and can be bought for £199.00 with 2 x speed media only costing £1 each! This is a huge price drop considering when we reviewed the A03 it cost over £500.00.

In this review we will compare it to the recently released (and reviewed) Philips DVDRW228k and the Pioneer A03 (for which this drive is a replacement). First we will take a look to see what's inside the package...

What the package includes

The package contains:

1 x Pioneer DVR-104 DVD Writer
1 x Manual

We did not receive the retail package as it was an OEM donation package, but depending on which country you purchase the drive from you can expect a different software package. The contents of the retail A04 package are:

  • Pioneer A04/104 Drive
  • Instant CD/DVD 6.4 from VOB
  • Sonic Solutions MyDVD 3
  • Multilingual Manual
  • Mounting Kit
  • 1 x DVD-R

Note: The Pioneer DVR-104 and A04 are the same drive and they only differ in the extras that they come with. The A04 will come with the software package above and the 104 (OEM) will usually come with just a manual.

The front of drive has a headphone socket, a volume control, an emergency eject hole and only one multipurpose LED that lights up green during reading and orange during a write operation. The "High Speed Logo" is also emblazon on the tray - this means disks that can be written up to 10 speed are now recognised, but the drive only supports writing to them at x4 (this is an improvement over the Pioneer A03 as it wouldn't even read HS disks).

Something not shown in the picture are the mounting spring adjustable tabs on the tray which are designed to prevent disks falling out of the tray. The tray on the front is also spring loaded (this is to reduce vibration).

At back of the drive you will find the usual connectors: jumpers for making the drive a Master/Slave, the SPDIF output connector and a fan for cooling. The fan is now a sleeve bearing mechanism fan and the digital audio output connector has been removed. It is recommended not to use an 80-pin IDE cable for reasons only known to Pioneer.

Page 1 - Last Updated: 10 August 2002



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