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Toast with Jam 6.0.2, the gourmet version of Roxio’s Toast 6 Titanium (; December 2003), has a feast of new features for burning music, photos, and movies to CD or DVD. In addition to Toast 6 (which includes the Toast burning software and companion programs for turning photos into movies, cleaning up old analog recordings, backing up files, and designing disc labels), you get Jam 6, a separate program that provides far more control over creating audio CDs than Toast alone. Musicians and recording studios often use Jam to create “Red Book-compliant” replication masters for commercial audio CDs.
One of Jam’s most popular features has been the ability to create DJ-like cross-fades between music tracks: one track fades out while the next track fades in. In Jam 6, the Crossfade editor is more versatile and elegant than ever—you can create different kinds of cross-fades between each track in a CD, and you can preview your cross-fades with a simple click (see screenshot).
Roxio yanked the burn engine from Jam 5, so users have been relying on Toast to burn completed CD projects. In Jam 6, CD burning is back; there’s no need to export to Toast.
The Toast with Jam 6 package also brings enhancements to Toast 6. When creating DVD-Video discs with Toast, you can compress your audio tracks into two-channel Dolby AC-3 format—the same audio format used for commercial DVDs. Because AC-3 audio uses far less disc space than uncompressed audio, you can squeeze more than two hours’ worth of video onto a DVD, depending on your content. Toast can also handle AC-3 files, even 5.1 channel (Dolby Digital) created outside of the program.
Toast with Jam 6 can also burn music DVDs, shoehorning up to 36 hours of music onto a single disc. You can create menus that enable listeners to skip from one song to the next, with each song accompanied by an on-screen graphic containing the song and artist name, playing time, album artwork from your iTunes library, or even a photo from your iPhoto library.
Roxio calls these discs DVD Music Albums, but they’re actually standard DVD-Video discs that display static screens while a song is playing. Whatever you call them, they’re a fabulous way to create a long music mix for a friend’s party without having to take your iPod along.
On the downside, it’s difficult to cre-ate a DVD Music Album containing cross-fades between songs—you have to create the cross-fades in Jam 6, export a disc image, bring that disc image into Toast, and laboriously enter all the track and artist information. What’s more, the menus and information screens for DVD Music Albums are on the homely side. Roxio would do well to mimic some of the beautiful jewel-case templates in the latest versions of iTunes.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
In Toast with Jam 6.0.2, Roxio has provided features that will please audio professionals and amateurs alike. The enhanced Crossfade editor makes a good thing even better, and DVD Music Albums and Dolby compression are welcome additions for digital-media enthusiasts of all kinds. While $200 may seem like a lot of bread to many audio hobbyists, Toast with Jam 6’s street price is much lower, thanks in part to a $30 rebate that runs through the end of 2005.Jam 6 gives you an interface for creating and previewing cross-fades between songs.