/comfort. I feel your pain.
Like you, I had great experiences with my Pioneer back in the day. After doing more research, I found that many of the recommended DVD Makers for their "quiet drives" are no longer making them!
Pioneer, Plextor are now doing Blu-Ray Burners now (much more expensive), so I didn't look at those options (but they do play DVDs).
Ultimately, I found it was sadly LG (horrible, horrible noise pollution, super loud, ruined my Quiet PC build), or ASUS (they have 2 models which are nearly identical, from what many were saying (even ASUS themselves when I called them direct)).
So I went with the ASUS DRW-24B1ST 24x SATA DVD Writer.
After a month of usage, here are my updated thoughts:
* The ASUS makes a slightly clackety sound when ejecting (but *much quieter* than the current LG DVD Drives (which sound grating and about 2 times louder, easily)).
* For DVD Movie and DVD File Playback, the ASUS is *really quiet*!
It's like night and day compared to the latest LG Drives.
* For Game Installs (where it's reading your DVD at high speeds and installing games), it's the standard "PC DVD Drive Loud" (spinning at high speeds). But even here, I felt it was a touch quieter than the LG, but definitely loud.
Since you're not likely to be constantly Installing Games / Programs via DVD all day, it was annoying, but livable (install over, you no longer need to worry).
Since I use the DVD Drive mainly for checking backed up Files, or watching Movies, that part is pretty quiet and I'm happy with it (and there's nothing else I found on the market (at least via major retailers)).