Increased compatibility: DVD bitsetting

Posted 26 July 2004 21:15 CEST by Jan Willem Aldershoff

Compatibility is an important issue when it comes to DVD recording. Because there are three rivalling formats (DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM) not every DVD player is compatible with each disc. Even discs within each format do not always work on every player. In this article we will explain how to make some discs more compatible, why you need it and how it works.


In the past not every CD worked with every player and even nowadays people report that some bad discs do not work with every player (E.g. car audio players are known to be more picky). The DVD format didn't change the compatibility, it even made it worse. At the moment there are three different DVD recordable formats and all of them are different and require the DVD player to do different things. However the compatibility is still improved and the chance of a non working DVD recordable / DVD player combination is relatively small (think about 10-20%).

We will focus on DVD-R and DVD+RW as DVD-RAM is hardly used and uses a technique that is totally different from DVD-R and DVD+R. The DVD-R format is the oldest DVD recordable format and its original compatibility was good and is probably the best out of the box. Although the DVD-R format is marketed as the oldest and most compatible DVD recordable format, this isn't necessarily the case.

Difference between DVD-R and DVD+R

Physically there is a difference between a DVD-R disc and a DVD+R disc that is made during the production process. During the production of a DVD-R disc the lead-in is pre-embossed (pre-written). This overwrites parts of the DVD that contains information about the disc. E.g. the CSS key (part of the copy protection) is in this part on commercial movie discs (This is why you can't make a 1:1 copy of a DVD). But in this space there is also room reserved for the so called 'booktype' field.

Changing the booktype field

This booktype field identifies the disc as either a DVD-ROM, DVD+R(W) or a DVD-R(W) disc and is for a big part responsible for the compatibility. Because this setting is overwritten during the DVD-R production process it can't be modified afterwards, the laser of your DVD recorder simply can't write to that part of the disc. During the production of DVD+R discs the space is untouched. Still CSS keys can't be written to DVD+R discs because every DVD recorder and DVD player has a limit in its firmware to write or read to this space. However, there is no limit for writing the booktype field. Therefor a DVD+R(W) recorder will be able to modify this field by sending a command to the DVD recorder and fool the DVD player.

When the booktype field (bitsetting) is changed to DVD-ROM then DVD players are fooled and will think the user has put in a DVD-ROM disc instead of a DVD+R disc and will read it accordingly. This results in an increased chance that the player is able to read the disc and that's why the ability to change the booktype field (bitsetting) is essential to a lot of users. Certainly owners of a DVD player that requires this field to be set to DVD-ROM, in order to work properly, will prefer a DVD recorder that supports setting the booktype field.

DVD-R bitsetting

Although you will understand that it's not possible to change the booktype field for DVD-R discs there still excists a DVD-R bitsetting. Some claim that this increases the compatibility but this has not been independently confirmed by anyone and as it's technically impossible to change the booktype field it will still be possible for the hardware to find out that a disc is a DVD-R. The booktype setting for DVD-R discs seems to be based on a workaround that has not been proven to be working.

According to Michael Spath who studies both the +R and -R format and is known as an expert on technical DVD recording issues; "the 
trick is based on the fact that some drives read the booktype from the last border-in and not from the lead-in. Therefore if you create a second session on the disc you will create after the first session a new border-in, where you should normally copy the informations from the lead-in (including
the book type). With this trick, you instead write a DVD-ROM booktype in this second session, which violates the - standard. Also drives which read  the booktype from the lead-in will not be fooled by this method (eg. some Pioneer drives". An intresting discussion about this can be found here.


The booktype field can be modified by several applications. Best known is Nero which allows you to modify field the booktype field for several brands of DVD recorders. Companies such as Lite-On, BTC, NU-Tech, Ricoh and BenQ have released tools to modify the booktype field. Firmware hacks (E.g. NEC) also are able to set the default booktype to DVD-ROM. Other companies such as LG have announced it will add support and Philips automatically changes the booktype using the firmware of the drive. Plextor has till now said it will not support it because it's not according to the DVD+R specifications. On our forum you will find many discussions on the several applications.

More technical information about the difference between DVD-R and DVD+R can be found here. Check here if there are reports that your favorite brand DVD recordables does not work with your DVD player.

Senior Administrator
Posted on: 26 Jul 04 19:40
It should be mentioned that burning a DVD+R-DL without changing the booktype significantly decreases the compatibility with existing DVD players and DVD-ROM drives. Unfortunately it seems that many manufacturers don't care much about compatibility. If I have to choose between buying a drive that "matches DVD+R specification" and a drive that's able to produce discs that I can playback on all my drives, guess which product I'm going to buy.
1 Agree

New on Forum
Posted on: 30 Jul 04 14:05
0 Agree

New on Forum
Posted on: 02 Aug 04 03:21
Is there a up date on the 2510A?
0 Agree

Hans Driessen
New on Forum
Posted on: 04 Aug 04 08:40
I would like to comment on the statement on DVD+R format concerning booktype bitsetting. In the official DVD+R format standard document it is stated that the DVD+R booktype is embedded into the ADIP (Adress in pre-groove) information. From that this booktype is copied into the lead-in. However, this may be changed in order to increase compatibility. The exact wording this is 'Temporarily drives can set bits b7 to b0 to other values in order to increase the compatibility." As new DVD players will recognize the A1 bitsetting, we expect that this booktype issue will disappear gradually over time. Until that time alternative booktypes settings may be used to reach maximum compatibility.
0 Agree

CD Freaks Junior Member
Posted on: 13 Oct 04 02:16
Plextor has support for changing booktype with newest firmware for all PX708z 712 and 716
0 Agree

CDFreaks Resident
Posted on: 15 Oct 04 11:17
Pay attention to the way it can be done with 708A - Plextor introduced it in the last version of Plextools Professional + firmware 1.08 For the other models you can do it with other programs, like the last version of Nero+
0 Agree

New on Forum
Posted on: 10 Nov 04 18:13
I have found the hard way that Lite On burners with their book setting software does a better job at compatibility with dvd players. I have a Sony DVP S7000 and so far only Lite On burners with their bitsetting software has work for it. Bottom line: if you have difficulty with your player with the -ROM booktype try a disc using a Lite On burner, I think you will like the results. Now if Lite On will only improve the quality of their burners.
0 Agree

CD Freaks Junior Member
Posted on: 10 Nov 04 19:00
I want to know if you are burning data on the dvd-r or +r which booktype you need to select dvd-rom, dvd-r or dvd+r
0 Agree

Waiting on Activation
Posted on: 15 Nov 04 00:07
I have DVDXCOPY and NERO 6 Ultra Edition: DVD Writer: Pioneer DVR-A07XLA (cannot Bit Set or change disc to DVDROM) Sony DRU-110A (Ricoh MP5120A)(when flashed to Ricoh MP5120A it states it can Bit Set but errors out when applying Bit Set however disc does indicate in DVDInfo as being change to DVDROM--- I think firmware problem) DVD Player: Sony DVP-S7000 MEDIA Used: Sony and Memorex blank DVD I have burned with DVD+R and DVD+RW and cannot get a Disc to play in my Sony DVP-S7000. The Software I have used is: DVDXCOPY and NERO 6 Ultra Edition I have also change the Disc to DVDROM but same results. Can you please help with full detail? Thanks
0 Agree

No longer with us
Posted on: 20 Feb 08 18:06
Does changing the booktype to -R cause the +R disks to be written using the old method, or is the newer method for +R still used and therefore more reliable? thanks
0 Agree

kema keur
New on Forum
Posted on: 05 May 08 11:56
I have an old DVD player and bitsetting to DVDROM works for me. But I wonder if I lose something by doing this since my all burned DVD+R DL's will be like that. If it is, I will consider buying a new DVD player... any comments?
0 Agree

MyCE Senior Member
Posted on: 05 May 08 18:08
You don't lose anything... your +R/+DL disks are more compatible when their booktype is set to ROM especially when used in older players.
0 Agree

kema keur
New on Forum
Posted on: 06 May 08 14:47
So there is no difference for a new DVD player between +DL with a +DL booktype and +DL with a DVDROM booktype?
0 Agree

No longer with us
Posted on: 07 Feb 09 14:34
0 Agree

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