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  1. A little prehistoric equipment question please. After not using my OLD Pioneer 520-H for quite some time I now find it seems incompatible with currently available DVD's on market. Retail Memorex "works" a few times, maybe, then stops. I have older Memorex disks for years which still play fine. I looked on web and ended up buying Verbatim 8x DVD-R DL but now learn they are un-recordable on this deck. Can anyone recommend DVD-R disks that will record and playback properly on this deck, hopefully lasting longer than 1 or 2 viewings, if that?
    I know this is really old equipment and technology but it still works great for my needs except for storage vehicles, any help would be most appreciated.
    Thanks.
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  2. Member
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    One of our Pioneer DVD recorder experts often recommends 8X media for older DVD recorders, TaiyoYuden/JVC 8X DVD-R. Verbatim DataLife Plus 8X DVD-R is also supposed to be first-rate DVD-R media.

    http://www.amazon.com/Taiyo-Yuden-JVC-Thermal-Lacquer/dp/B000F34IA0/
    http://www.amazon.com/Verbatim-DataLifePlus-Printable-Recordable-95186/dp/B000AV4MB2/

    [Edit]
    http://www.amazon.com/Verbatim-DataLifePlus-Printable-50-Disk-94971/dp/B0003QIXB4/
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 26th Jan 2016 at 16:54.
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  3. Thanks for quick come-back. I just bought 8.5GB Verbatim AZO 8x DVD+R DL Double layer recordable (as labeled) and recorder shows "disk un-recordable" message when inserted but won't load. Can I assume that I MUST get "Datalife" rather than AZO or is the problem with double layer aspect or am I, and/or this equipment, just too old? Machine works fine re: Hard Drive & DVD record, playback & transfer including playback of years-old recorded Memorexes. I have just purchased new remote, works perfectly. Transferred new hard drive items to new Memorexes, played once or twice, maybe, and will not play on Pioneer nor other much newer decks in house.
    Sorry for being repetitive in explaining but I want to make myself clear with my limited understanding. Things change faster than I can keep up and even after researching quite a bit on-line I really thought these disks would work. Thanks again for getting back.
    While I'm talking pre-history anyway, any chance any knows how I might get a replacement optical audio output port for this machine. Out of date parts source?, number?, proper name?
    Last edited by Fred Ritchie; 27th Jan 2016 at 11:36.
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    Originally Posted by Fred Ritchie View Post
    Thanks for quick come-back. I just bought 8.5GB Verbatim AZO 8x DVD+R DL Double layer recordable (as labeled) and recorder shows "disk un-recordable" message when inserted but won't load. Can I assume that I MUST get "Datalife" rather than AZO or is the problem with double layer aspect or am I, and/or this equipment, just too old? Machine works fine re: Hard Drive & DVD record, playback & transfer including playback of years-old recorded Memorexes. I have just purchased new remote, works perfectly. Transferred new hard drive items to new Memorexes, played once or twice, maybe, and will not play on Pioneer nor other much newer decks in house.
    Sorry for being repetitive in explaining but I want to make myself clear with my limited understanding. Things change faster than I can keep up and even after researching quite a bit on-line I really thought these disks would work. Thanks again for getting back.
    According to the manual, your DVD recorder can't use DVD-R DL, DVD+R DL, or even DVD+R for recording. That was the source of your problem.

    The manual only mentions DVD-RW up to 4X and DVD-R up to 8X, and lists Verbatim is a recommended brand. When your recorder was released all Verbatim DVD products used AZO dyes. Today, Verbatim's DataLife 8X products are the most similar to the Verbatim product that existed when your DVD recorder was released and excellent quality. The DataLife Plus Line uses AZO dyes. Regular Verbatim AZO DVD-R media is all 16X. I have not seen any regular Verbatim AZO DVD-R 8X media in 10 years. DVD-RW is only good for temporary storage, and is reputedly harder on the burner. For permanent storage use DVD-R.

    The production of Memorex DVD products is outsourced to whoever offers the lowest price, guaranteeing inconsistency and unreliable quality. Your recorder may not have a write strategy that works with them anymore.
    Last edited by usually_quiet; 27th Jan 2016 at 13:59. Reason: Left out DVD-R DL
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  5. You weren't quite specific about what you're looking for in a DVD. Do you want them to be erasable? Or do you want them to be permanent archival copies for your library? Either way, as usually_quiet told you, the 520 model pre-dates Pioneer having compatibility with "+" media: you can only use "-" media (DVD-R or DVD-RW) in the DVR-520 (it will not recognize any "+" blanks at all, but will play "+" discs finalized by a computer or other recorder).

    The Pioneer 520 is reasonably compatible with almost any DVD-RW (eraseable) media brand with a "speed" rating of 4x or less. Ideally you would choose Verbatim over other brands, but RW media being what it is, there ain't all that much difference. For permanent recordings, you want write-once media, for which the Pioneer 520 can be rather picky (esp if it hasn't been used in a long time). Again, it will only accept "minus" blanks (DVD-R), also note you cannot use any dual-layer (DVD-R DL) blanks because the 520 pre-dates widespread availability of DL blanks and has no recording strategy to recognize them. In any case, DL media has always been problematic for use in recorders: it is better left to PC burning.

    The choice of high-quality DVD-R blanks compatible with older recorders has been dwindling for years. The single most broadly-compatible blank for recorders is JVC-T/Y "Premium Silver" 8x DVD-R. Unfortunately, it is scheduled for extinction within the next few weeks. I strongly recommend you buy a 100-disc spindle of these ASAP before availability drops off a cliff (supposedly production will eventually resume under the new ownership of CMC Magnetics, but they have not promised to make the exact same discs). Close on the heels of JVC-T/Y are the Verbatim AZO DataLife Plus 8x DVD-R mentioned by usually_quiet: these are equally good although my assortment of Pioneer recorders does reject one occasionally.

    The Pioneer DVR-520 will usually (but not always) accept the high-quality Verbatim AZO 16x retail DVD-R, which is often on sale at attractive prices from Amazon (approx $23 per 100 as opposed to approx $35 for the TY or Verbatim 8x discs). If shopping for these in a store, be sure to look for the small purple "AZO" trademark somewhere on the wrapper. Verbatim is slowly phasing out its higher-quality exclusive AZO media in favor of cheaper third-party crap blanks, so they have been shrinking and hiding the AZO marking on recent shipments of their better-grade discs.

    In stores, both AZO and non-AZO packages now have identical orange and purple graphic design, where previously Verbatim used plainer white packaging to differentiate the "Life Series" non-AZO discs made for them by third parties. That marketing strategy seems to have been abandoned in favor of making all Verbatim packages look alike (disguising the exact nature of the discs inside). If the package does not have a small "AZO" mark on it someplace, the discs are not actual Verbatim but sourced from second-rate suppliers like CMC or Ritek (aka Memorex).

    Long story short, if you can't be bothered deciphering packages and risking failed burns in your old Pioneer DVR-520, just spend the $34 to order a sure-fire pack of 100 JVC-/Y 8x DVD-R blanks from a web dealer like supermediastore.com or rima.com. And be realistic about your 520: it was mfr'd in 2004, so is now well past its expected lifespan. Most 520s have seen their original disc burner die by now, those still functional are on borrowed time. Worldwide, the Pioneer 520 was arguably the most popular, well-respected DVD/HDD recorder ever sold, but its era has passed. Enjoy it while it lasts, but be prepared for it to expire suddenly.
    Last edited by orsetto; 27th Jan 2016 at 13:40.
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  6. Just ordered stack of 8x DVD-R, I don't want to re-write disks, should be here in a few days. Thanks for input, really helped.
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  7. Originally Posted by Fred Ritchie View Post
    While I'm talking pre-history anyway, any chance any knows how I might get a replacement optical audio output port for this machine. Out of date parts source?, number?, proper name?
    Forgot to answer this second question. According to the DVR-520 service manual, the Toslink Optical Audio Out connector is listed as Part Mark #JA651, Descr# OPT.LINK OUT 8 MB/S, Part No. JFJ1001. Sorry, can't advise an official source for the part now that Pioneer itself is pretending "they never made any DVD recorders, don't call us again, click, phone line goes dead..."

    I would guess its a fairly standard generic optical port: shouldn't be too difficult to open the cover, eyeball the size/shape/pin layout, and match it from a parts vendor website like Mouser. Or you could look for a second-hand DVR-220 or DVR-225, which is the same recorder without the HDD, and harvest that unit's port. The DVR-220 and 225 can be found for little to no money on Craigs List or eBay: look for one described as "won't power on" or "won't load any dvds". Common failures in the power supply or dvd drive are extremely unlikely to have damaged the optical port.

    Double check your optical connections with other hardware. Chances are good there's nothing at all wrong with your 520 Toslink connector, but the attached receiver/amp/DAC just doesn't like the optical cable you're using with it. Consider swapping out the cable before replacing the port. Also re-check your audio settings on both 520 and attached amp. Page 98 of the DVR-520 User Manual cites a number of digital audio output settings that combine in various ways to match the audio system you are connecting to. Since your 520 had been sitting in storage a long time, when you fired it up again recently it may have defaulted to initial factory audio settings that are incorrect for your amp. Go to Home Menu > Initial Setup > Audio Out and make sure the assortment of digital audio output settings match the requirements of your audio system.
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  8. Thanks again, very helpful. Jack is actually loose in back of deck preventing plugging cable in. I'll open it up and see if it's just a physical problem and see if I can find a replacement. Strange non-response from Pioneer considering I still see a 520H-S advertised for sale @$800.00 +/-. I was very surprised when they put the first one out but I've been glad I bought it. Analog audio out works fine and best video is component for this DVR so I can always just run that way, just thought I would see about using digital out to see improvement.
    Thanks again, really appreciate your patience and info.
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  9. Originally Posted by Fred Ritchie View Post
    I still see a 520H-S advertised for sale @$800.00 +/-.
    Yes, esp on eBay you'll find prices on these machines range from peanuts to plain NUTS, depending on seller and mood of the buying public any given week. Several "vintage" models from Pioneer, Panasonic, Toshiba and Sony have fanatical "cult followings" of users who would rather die than adapt to the current TV recording landscape (which no longer includes non-subscription recorders with a universally-compatible removable media option like DVD). A very few of these users are well-heeled enough (and demented enough) to shell out obscene amounts of money for working examples of their fave discontinued DVD/HDD recorders- enough that it promotes ridiculous asking prices. Much as I love my various Pioneers, I'm sane enough to know their moment has passed: I would never pay more than $150 for a used one, much less $800+. Yeesh: $800 buys a multi-tuner TiVO with lifetime guide service option, full HDTV recording quality, and ability to offload HDTV recordings to a PC for archiving. For just over $300 you can snag a new Magnavox MDR-857 that records to its HDD in full high-def, and can dub standard-def copies to its DVD drive. No, it isn't as functionally elegant or well-built as a DVR-520, but it does the job cheaply.

    Some people be cray-cray.
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