Review: Que! Fire CD-RW Drive
Developer: QPS, Inc. (product page)
Requirements: Mac with FireWire, Mac OS 8.6.
The release of the Blue and White Power Mac G3 in January 1999 marked the first time that Apple shipped a professional desktop computer without a standard SCSI port. Instead, it had two USB ports (introduced five months earlier on the original iMac) and two brand new FireWire ports. Apple promised that FireWire would become the industry standard for high speed data transfer, and, in particular, streaming audio and video.
When I purchased my G3 (in April 1999) I knew that I would eventually buy a CD burner as well. I could have ordered the computer with a SCSI drive and SCSI port, but decided instead to wait out my options. Recently, I made my decision, and purchased a Que! Fire CD-RW drive.
QPS Inc. had been a pioneer in USB CD-RW drives with their original Que! drive. Though rated at 4x2x24, this drive, and all other USB drives, were unable to burn audio at faster than 2x. Since higher burn speeds result in higher quality audio, USB (at least Apple’s implementation) turned out to be inadequate for audio CD burning, which, as a musician, was my principal reason for buying a CD burner. FireWire, though, has a much higher bandwidth than USB and seemed a perfect solution for both CD duplication and external storage (I’ll discuss my choice of an external hard drive next month). I priced various models, and found a great deal through Outpost.com (one of our sponsors) on the Que! Fire 8x4x32 CD-RW drive.
Usually, I don’t think much about packaging, but QPS does a superior job with their merchandise. Upon opening the box, I found a stylish soft black case with “Que! Drive” emblazoned in gold. Inside the case, the drive, cables and included media were neatly packaged. I’m not sure that I’ll ever need a carrying case for my Que! drive, but it’s a nice touch.
This is where the advantage of FireWire (and its slower companion, USB) over SCSI becomes obvious. Installation is so simple. One cable (with power supply adaptor) plugs in your power strip and the other connects to the FireWire port. Power it up, and it’s time to install software.
This part is almost as easy. The Que! drive ships with a software CD featuring Adaptec Toast. As long as the correct Apple FireWire drivers are in the extension folder (at least version 2.2), installing Toast also configures the drive and installs the correct extensions. I did say “almost as easy” and here’s the catch. After rebooting, go to Extensions Manager, disable Toast USB Support, and reboot again. My drive had some problems at first, which I solved by disabling the unnecessary USB extension.
Ready to Burn
First, I tested the drive as an audio burner. Using the inexpensive generic CD-R included, I burned a data file at 8x with no problems. Then, using another cheap disc (which I would never recommend), I burned an audio file at 8x. The drive and the interface had no problems with the extra demands of audio either. Note that I only did this as a test. For real-world use, I recommend good quality blanks (blue is good, gold is a bit better) and a 4x burn. Though quality does increase with burn speed, some older CD players (and most car stereo systems) can’t read discs burned at faster than 4x.
Then, I tested the drive with rewritable media. Here’s where high quality discs seem to make a big difference. Using the included disc (Mr. Platinum 650MB), I was unable to burn successfully above 2x. I was able to run 4x in simulation mode, however, which suggest the problem was with the disc, and not the burner. Subsequently, I ran the same test with an Imation CD-RW, and was able to burn data successfully at 4x. I’m not sure whether it’s the interface or the burner itself that’s picky, but save yourself some time and trouble and buy good media (this is sound advice in general).
The Que! Fire drive is easy to set up, and easy to use, and when I had problems (the extension conflict I mentioned above) technical support was very helpful. One strange side note, though. My internal drive was unable to play DVDs for a few weeks. This problem appeared mysteriously after I installed the Que! drive, and disappeared just as mysteriously when I updated to Mac OS 9.1. I'm not sure if it was a conflict or just a coincidence.
Reader Comments (140)
Word of warning one: if you have to return your drive for repair, make absolutely sure you go through their inane RMA procedure properly. I apparently didn't and it took 4 months, 15 e-mails, and at least 3 hours on hold before I got mine replaced. QPS tech support, on the other hand, is fairly responsive. QPS upper-management is NOT.
Word of warning two: be advised that QPS suggests using the following CD-R media only: Ricoh, Mitsui, Taiyo Yuden, Kodak, TDK, and Pioneer. Maxell and Fuji are also pretty consistent. I had to give away a 50-pack of Imation 700MB/80Min CD-Rs because the drive wouldn't recognize them. It didn't like Sony very much either.
Word of caution: if you have a Maxtor external FireWire drive, disable all the Maxtor extensions when using your QueFire or you'll be pulling your hair out in no time. The Apple FireWire extentsions (2.7) will handle the Maxtor drive just fine.
In your article "Que! Fire CD-RW Drive" you state:
"Since higher burn speeds result in higher quality audio, USB (at least Apple's implementation) turned out to be inadequate for audio CD burning, which, as a musician, was my principal reason for buying a CD burner."
This is plain false. You could burn a CD at 1 bit per hour and it would be the same data, and hence the same quality audio. USB just makes it take longer, which I agree is reason enough to use Firewire, but you should not mislead people in thinking they will get poorer audio quality because they use USB to transmit the data to the drive.
Bill McHargue Physicist
Second (this is in response to Mr. McHargue), I am not trying to mislead anyone. I have read in several sources (including the specs for Digidesign's Master List Pro) that faster burn speeds are better. Maybe it has something to do with error correction schemes. I will check into this and post a more detailed follow-up.
Finally, I'm sorry to hear about the problems that others have had both with the drive and with QPS's tech support. I suppose I got lucky on both counts.
In response to Arkady, the included disc was rated at 4X.
Also, QPS sells replacement PS. At $29.99, the price is a little steep, but it gets the job done.
I recently upgraded my iMac to OS 9.2.2 and also have Mac OS X on the computer. Now, Toast cannot find the drive. Keeps saying to check cables, etc.
If I have a CD in the drive to play, it does recognize it. Any solutions? Thanks.
Here's a question: Is there any reason why I can't just replace the dead Plextor drive inside with another ATAPI burner? Or is the bridge in the QPS enclosure proprietary?
There is a disturbingly high number of G4 desktop and PowerBooks out there with burnt firewire ports - primarily thanks to using bus power.
Surely an Iomega USB drive - great, works perfectly but paint dries faster - is not the only answer?
Seriously, did you perhaps knock loose something inside your computer when you swapped out the hard drive? Are you sure your cable connecting the CD-RW drive is secure?
So here's what everyone has to do: Buy nothing from QPS. Tell your friends to buy nothing from QPS. Tell your local computer stores to save their customers a lot of grief by pulling QPS items off the shelf. And if anyone is a lawyer out there, start a class action lawsuit. I'll sign on as a plaintiff.
So here's what everyone has to do: Buy nothing from QPS. Tell your friends to buy nothing from QPS. Tell your local computer stores to save their customers a lot of grief by pulling QPS items off the shelf. And, if anyone is a lawyer out there, start a class action lawsuit. I'll sign on as a plaintiff.
WHAT A RIP OFF!
Until next time.
I hope this works for everyone.
My problem is this: Toast recognizes my CD burner, but the drive does not read a CD-R when I put it in. It says "No CD in Recorder" or something to that effect. Can someone please help me?
Also, some setups might benefit from using the Joliet Volume Access software. I use the UDF/ISO/Joliet Enabler control strip module. Switching modes from Apple to Tempel sometimes helps with CD mounting.
Greetings from Switzerland.
I have similar problems - iMac DV, OS 9.1 and OS X, Toast 4.1.2, and Toast 5.0--and the computer will not recognize my Que! Firewire 4x4x24. I've tried extensions on and off, firmware updates, etc.
Oh, and the Q in QPS stands for Quality?!?
It works fine when I reboot in OS 9.1. Then, I tried it on a friend's G4 running OS X 10.2.6 (same version as my Blue and White) and it worked fine. Does this mean it has to do with the firewire card in my B&W? I can't find anything about it at the Apple site.
So, I tried I new firewire card but, this time, it wasn't even recognized. Then, I found this story.
"For example, say you purchased a Que! Fire 12x10x32x CD-RW drive. You may have either a Plextor or a Teac mechanism inside of it. If you have a Teac mechanism (CD-W512EB), you can't burn with iTunes. If you have a Plextor mechanism (PX-W1210A), you can burn with iTunes unless the drive's firmware is before 1.0.7 and it won't work at all. These aren't different models, just drives that were assembled by Que! at different times. Confused yet? Well, you're not alone..."
Then I looked at Teac's site and found out that I could update (with a little help from a friend with a PC--no updaters for the Mac, of course), but only when I update from from at least firmware 2.0E, and I have 2.0B. No solution was to be found.
Tonight, I'm getting a new firewire card for the second time, but I'm not too optimistic. Maybe I should buy another burner to avoid further disappointments.
I'll keep you informed.
My QPS QUE!FIRE 12x10x32x quit being recognized by OS 9.x as well, after about a year and about 30 Fuji CD-Rs. I've been living without it for more than 6 months now. I thought that maybe Toast needed to be reloaded, but I lost the original disk and cannot get a replacement (or response) from anyone, even though the drive came with the Toast "controls." Who ever heard of losing the freakin' BUTTONS from a product? It's like having the steering wheel, brakes, and gas pedal from your car just disappear one day. Anyway, I've spent more than 20 hours trying to get this thing working again. I see from this forum that my problem is likely not Toast-related. Please suggest a new burner if you know of a good one.
If you're running a blue and white G3 with a Que Fire burner and are having problems burning from Toast, you need to buy a separate PCI card that can snap into the G3. Then, plug the firewire cable into the new slot in the back of the G3. For some reason, Que Fires don't like to plug directly into the stock firewire port. You can buy these PCI cards for about $20. I took the risk and now everything works great.
I own the same drive. Turn the drive off. Unplug it. Shut down the computer. Plug it back in. Turn it on. Start the computer.
In short, there's probably nothing wrong with the drive, nothing wrong with the extensions, and nothing wrong with the computer. It's freakish but, sometimes, the drive just doesn't "show up" when you hot plug it, even though you're supposed to be able to. Cycling the power and unplugging the drive and plugging back in seems to work for me. Sometimes it takes more than one cycle. Sometimes Disk Copy can see the drive and iTunes can't. It's just a wonky connection.
"Cypress, which is the company that writes the drivers and made the chipset used in the back panel for these drives will not be making any more drivers for this chipset, so unforunately the drive will not be supported on OS 10.3 and later.
There are no drivers available for download."
My sense is QPS is garbage. A real company would secure the tech data and driver source code to assure continued support. Chnaces are that 10.4 will knock out even more of their products. Anybody have luck pulling the drive out and using a different interface?
Bottom line, avoid anything from QPS and Cypress.
I feel a lot of sympathy with all the above people and hope they solve the same problems we all seem to have ..or get rid of the paper weights QPS calls a piece of hardware...
I got the Que Fire at Fry's about 6 months ago and it came with a burner program called "Dragon Burn". I've never heard of it, and no one else seems to have gotten this software with their drive. I have iTunes and toast, as well. iTunes won't recognize the drive without a firmware update, and Toast doesn't recognize it at all, even though I've tried turning the extensions on and off. Any suggestions?
Can anyone help me? I have removed my combo drive because the chasis malfunctioned but the CD drive still worked. So, after installing it as an internal drive, it works! however, It only reads CD's and my DVD-Rs. Help I am working on music video projects and need assistance.
My email is email@example.com and if you know a programmer that knows about a driver of patch, let me know. Also, Mac DVD player 3.1 doesn't seem to launch. What is that all about?
I bought a new casing for $18 on ebay, and it works just fine now.
My problem is, I was wsanting to put a 3.5" HD in it temporarily and it won't mount or show up in Disk Utility. I've even tried a different HD.
Anyone with experiences swapping out the original drive, please write in...
Now that I've upgraded to OS X (including iTunes) and have installed Toast Titanium 6, my computer says "No CD burner found." I can't find a Disc Burner Extension or a Firewire Authoring Support Extension to disable. And I tried closing and unplugging the external burner, shutting down the computer, then starting everything up again. No change.
Talk about junk!
now think a class action suit would be a good thing after reading negative reviews all morning about the Que company and their stinkin CD burners.
Either that or we should hang all of the Que company by their utmost sensitive parts.
Somewhere I've read that this Que-drive can read DVD-RAM media, is that correct?
Please respond ASAP!
Anyone else with a similar problem?
If anyone has a clue, please help!
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