Toast with Jam 6
Last November we gave Toast 6 a five-star review – not surprising, given its features and suite of included utilities. But while Toast can burn Red Book-compliant audio CDs and the included CD Spin Doctor gives you access to some mastering tools, audio professionals need more. And that’s where Jam comes in.
Jam contains pretty much everything you need for audio mastering. The user interface is very similar to Toast – it’s essentially a drag-&-drop affair for any QuickTime-compatible audio tracks, irrespective of whether they come from iTunes, an audio CD or other mastering program. You can even use 192kHz/64-bit audio files from pro digital-audio sequencers.
Toast allows you to set the gap between audio tracks; Jam also lets you create custom crossfades from one track to the next. Select one of five different crossfade types and the fade in/out points in the special window and immediately monitor the result. It’s a doddle. Once happy, apply the crossfade and it’s finished. This is a real lazy DJ tool where you can set up the whole evening’s mix and then enjoy the party!
Jam offers a number of other features for creating pro audio CDs. Each track’s gain can be adjusted and auto-normalized for optimal sound quality, and high-end stuff like PQ subcodes and index points are also handled. Best of all, the original audio tracks remain untouched throughout – the whole procedure is non-destructive. Try it, muck it up, then do it again painlessly.
Jam is self-sufficient on the burning side, sporting a similar interface to Toast. Multiple-copy recording, Disk At Once and ToastAnywhere are all included here.
A mastering suite wouldn’t be complete without a stereo audio editor – so BIAS Peak Express 4 is included. This has a host of useful features and also accepts VST-compatible plug-ins with two for noise reduction and sound enhancement included. Register online and you get a free copy of BIAS Freq, a real-time four-band parametric equalizer plug-in. There’s also information on where to download a free MP3 encoder for the program.
For really lazy DJs, Jam has added a new feature to Toast: DVD Music Album. Create a full DVD’s worth of music in either uncompressed PCM format or, even better, in Dolby Digital, a compressed, high-bitrate audio format for over 30 hours of music on one DVD. Why not just create an MP3 CD instead? Because while all DVD players will recognize a Dolby Digital-encoded music DVD, very few CD players handle MP3 discs. The only downer is that the DVD Music Album facility isn’t accessible from within Jam – any custom albums have to be saved as a Jam disc image first.
Toast with Jam means you really can have your toast with jam on it. It contains everything you could need for audio mastering and special mixes, and integrates perfectly with iLife ’04. Highly recommended.