While Mac users get free multimedia apps with the Apple iLife suite, Roxio Toast with Jam has always been the choice of anyone who wants more power and control. This latest version, with a revamped edition of Jam, the suite's audio application for mixing professional-quality CDs, adds several worthwhile features. Now you can create DVD music discs that provide up to 36 hours of continuous play. The suite also offers Dolby Digital sound, which produces excellent audio and has better compression, allowing users to get up to 120 minutes of video on a DVD. Though it's pricey, we think Toast with Jam's target audience of prosumer enthusiasts will understand the value of this fine multimedia suite. Installing Roxio Toast with Jam involves little more than dragging items off the CD-ROM and into your Applications folder, but the process could be simpler. Most of the apps can be dragged over, but Peak Express, an audio-editing tool, has its own installer. The suite is getting large enough that not having a single unified installer is a nuisance. To use the apps, you must plug in three long serial numbers (one each for Toast, Jam, and Peak Express). We think one serial number should cover everything.
It might be wishful thinking, but we'd like to see Toast, Jam, and all their included helper apps wrapped up into one interface as well. The Toast interface is simple enough for a child to use, but Jam and the others launch separately and have their own looks. The suite would be easier for new users and more convenient for everyone if the apps were better tied together.The big news with this version of Toast with Jam is its improved audio capabilities, including the ability to create DVD music discs that can store up to 36 hours of tunes. That's a lot of music to wade through, but Toast automatically sorts it into albums and makes a friendly onscreen menu. We give the feature points for automatically importing album art from iTunes for the onscreen menu.
Both Toast and Jam now offer Dolby Digital sound, which is a major improvement not only in sound quality but also in compression. Because Dolby Digital offers superior compression, you can fit more onto your discs. With the previous release, Toast 6.0 Titanium, you could fit only 90 minutes of video onto a DVD, but now you can get up to 120 minutes on one disc. That matches what you can do with.
With this release, Jam gains a variety of smaller improvements that give you more control when creating a custom music CD. For starters, you can now add custom fade-ins and fade-outs to the first and last song, respectively, in your compilation. You do it by dragging a graphical representation of the fade-in or fade-out in Jam's controls. Jam can also now use higher-quality audio files--up to 192KHz, 64-bit tracks--and can finally burn discs independently of Toast.