Toast Titanium with Jam

Toast Titanium with Jam
OS X Compatible

Company: Roxio
Price: $199.95

For Toast 5 Titanium owners, Jam upgrade is $99 for boxed version, $69 as downloadable, which does not include Peak LE. Check Roxio’s web store for current promotions and rebates.

Let’s get a couple of things straight from the outset.

Roxio’s Toast (either Titanium or Lite edition) is some of the very best software created ever for the Macintosh, period. It works almost effortlessly to burn music and data CDs. This application is indispensable both to Nemo and Weeks, for our professional and personal work and pleasure. We give Toast a rousing FIVE MAC MICE out of five, and applaud Roxio for its ongoing support of the Mac OS and community.

Most of you will go your entire lives without feeling the need to create professional quality audio CDs. Users who embrace this task with enthusiasm will, after going through a modest learning curve, consider Roxio’s Toast with Jam the essential means to that end. Hobbyists and dabblers can spend a reasonable amount of time learning Jam’s basic operation and produce impressive results without breaking a sweat.

At January 2002’s San Francisco Macworld Expo, experts and developers from Roxio gave Nemo and Weeks an intense introduction to what Toast with Jam can do in OS X. Final releases of their software came months later, and now, on the heels 2003 Macworld, we at last prepared our long lost review. Thanks for your patience, readers and Roxio.

Weeks and Nemo worked through Roxio’s Reviewer’s Guide to assist us in learning and evaluating their software suite. Neither of us was familiar enough with Jam to operate it without some handholding. Everything in our Reviewer’s Guide is explained in expanded form in the manuals that come in the boxed product, so you’re not missing anything by not having it available. Trust us here.

Weeks installed Toast with Jam onto his Titanium PowerBook 800 DVI running Mac OS X Jaguar v10.2.2. He then downloaded updates to bring Toast Titanium to v5.2 and Jam to v5.0.1.

Toast with Jam ship in a carton that contains printed manuals (hooray!), registration materials, and one RCA->mini-audio Y-cable. It’s suitable for sending a signal from a tape deck to the audio input on your computer, or your Griffin iMic, as appropriate.

Separate User’s Guides, one each for Toast and Jam, are thorough and complete. Roxio’s web site contains additional information not current when their booklets were printed.

Launching Jam, we observed its opening blank window containing playback controls modeled after a tape deck, which is technology both of us (geezers?) understand thoroughly. Weeks dragged some AIFF and MP3 song files from his iTunes folder into the main Jam Track List panel. Loads of info is displayed for each item, including: Xfade (cross-fade), CP (copy prohibit, which relates to DAT recorders, so don’t get nervous), PE (pre-emphasis, high frequency boosting which is rarely needed), plus a whole lot more.

Jam’s Help menu utilizes a standard Apple Help engine. This particular Help application is well stocked with useful information, so remember to look through it.

We played around adjusting the Gain controls from 0.0 to whatever, using either/both mouse/keyboard controls. The two audio channels can be regulated either one at a time or both together, on the fly. Make sure you study page 45 in Jam’s manual to get best use out of Normalize Selection feature in order to achieve consistent overall volume output from different source material.

A red zone’s Digital Meter Indicator identifies potential volume overload or distortion. Although these types of meters are commonly found with professional audio hardware, Weeks would prefer a flashing red button, rather than a static one. Is this possible, Roxio? (Roxio response: This is something we’ll look into for the next version. Thank you for the suggestion.)

Index Points are helpful bookmarks within a given track under construction. Jam is a waveform sound-editing program that easily recognizes these spot markings. This concept is easier to see in practice than it is to explain; it took us about five minutes to figure it out. Again, the User’s Guide offers extensive description on Index Points, and you can play around with them at first without ruining your tracks.

Sound Data Trim is used to improve beginnings and endings of audio segments. Jam’s Crossfade feature is powerful and flexible, and you’ll need to experiment for a while, because crossfading is a bit tricky at first. Jam offers predefined crossfades for most typical mixes and transitions and a flexible graphical editor for custom crossfades. The Equal Power option combines fades so they sound Ã’rightÓ in the final output.

Once we had worked through Jam’s basic techniques, it was time to learn how to burn. Look through the many preference settings, even though you may not need to tweak them.

A nice feature is selecting Disc -> Preview Tracks (or Preview Disc), which plays end/beginning transitions for every adjacent pair of tunes.

You can SAVE each active Jam project either as a Jam project file or a Text file. The latter contains plenty of valuable info, including track lengths and gap times. Saving as a Disc Image makes your completed work ready to burn or modify at a later time.

Clicking on RECORD, we inserted a blank CD and Toast opened all by itself. Weeks needed to delete a few tracks to allow our lengthy custom mix to fit on a standard CD-R disc.

Roxio’s Jam 5 is not self-teaching. Its menu titles don’t always reflect its features. You MUST STUDY the manual!

With a substantial learning curve and documentation that can be confusing to newcomers, this powerful disc mastering application does a great job once you understand its obvious and hidden features.

MacMice Rating: 4 out of 5

John Nemerovski and David Weeks

Nemo’s “Q/D/S/V Standard” for all product reviews:

Q = QUALITY, including ease of installation, performance, stability, and general happy relationship with everything on my system;

D = DOCUMENTATION, both printed and electronic, plus appropriate website material;

S = SUPPORT, in the form of email, phone, and web updates;

V = VALUE, which includes both original cost and subsequent expenses.

John Nemerovski

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