Toast With Jam
The first thing you’ll notice about Jam 5 – besides the fact that it runs in OS X – is its attractive interface, which sports a larger, more refined playback area that’s easy to view and control. Jam can import AIFF, WAV, MP3, Jam Image, and other QuickTime-compatible files, as well as Sound Designer II files and regions – making it suitable for all types of music-production. Although all conventional audio CDs must conform to the Red Book audio standard (44.1KHz, 16-bit, stereo files) when they are burned, the new version of Jam can import 32-bit audio, now common in pro- and home-recording. To get the best-possible sound from your audio, Jam now engages in dithering, which reduces audio to 16-bit files more smoothly than would truncating the extra bits. Sample-rates higher than 44.1KHz are downsampled via QuickTime. Adding tracks to Jam is as simple as dragging-&-dropping them into the track window, through which you have control over almost every aspect of your audio tracks, such as gain, fades, and track lengths. Best of all, every adjustment you make is non-destructive – none permanently changes the actual audio files. If you want to make more-complicated, precise edits – such as adding effects with VST plug-ins or marking individual tracks within a larger recording – you can do so using the included Peak LE VST 3.0, from BIAS, before bringing the files into Jam. One improved area is cross-fading. Previous versions had several presets for overlapping tracks and fading them into one another (also included in this release), but the new cross-fade tool gives you the ability to make custom cross-fades. The new waveform display provides a visual representation of where fades start and stop, for example. One of the benefits of using Toast with Jam instead of just Toast alone is volume adjustment. In Jam, the gain can be adjusted for each track individually, either one channel (left or right) at a time, or as a whole. You can also normalize an entire CD or individual track to raise the volume to a safe level without fear of clipping, which causes ugly distortions and can occur with digital-audio material with the gain set too high. Setting up
After setting up your disc in Jam, it’s time to burn – and here Jam 5 makes a major break from the previous version. Unlike earlier versions of Jam, this one doesn’t have its own burn engine; it must use Toast to burn CDs. To preserve the more advanced features in a Jam project when importing into Toast (cross-fades, index points, and trims, for example), Jam creates a temporary disc image. Although this is a clever way to make the two programs work together, it also makes the burning process more time-consuming than it was in previous versions. On a 450MHz Power Mac G4, Jam took more than 90 seconds to create an average-length CD’s image. That image is deleted after you burn a disc, but if you don’t want to have to create an image for each copy of a CD you want to burn, the project can be saved as a disc image. Because Jam itself doesn’t allow you to choose which drive to use for burning (there’s no indication from Jam that any drive is recognized), we had a problem burning CDs on our test machine, which had both an internal DVD-R (SuperDrive mechanism) and a faster, external FireWire CD-RW. To specify a drive to use, users must first open Toast and choose from the list of drives under Recorder Info – it will then save your drive preference when burning via Jam as well.
Although forcing Jam to rely on Toast makes audio-mastering somewhat less convenient, this solid version of Jam brings the program’s powerful features to OS X. And the bundle is a great deal, given that you get both programs for the price Roxio used to charge for Jam alone. Jam is an easy-to-use program fit for novices, hobbyists, and professionals; it offers audio-mastering features that other programs can’t touch. With the full version of Toast Titanium, you can burn in every CD, DVD, or VCD format you’re likely to need.