Easy interface; powerful features
Both Toast 5.0 and Jam 5.0 install without a hitch, and you can easily access each in either OS 9.2 or X. Thanks to Toast's long history, the software supports an impressive list of CD-R and DVD burners. On our test machine, Toast instantly recognized our QueFire 16X FireWire CD-R from within both operating systems.
But Toast 5.0's greatest feature is its ultrasimple interface. After you select the type of disc you want to burn (Music, VideoCD, DVD, MP3, Mac/PC data disc, or a copy of the current disc), just drag and drop files or folders into the main Toast window and hit Record. Select which speed to burn your files, click OK, and Toast burns your disc. This process is seamless, and depending upon the speed of your CD-R drive, the resulting audio CD burns quickly and sounds great.
We be Jam
Want to customize your audio CDs before burning? That's where Jam 5.0 comes in. This audio-mastering program lets you precisely control your audio tracks, from how one track fades into another to the volume of each track. Jam's interface lets you simply drag and drop audio files into the main window, where you can arrange and adjust the tracks.
We also love Jam's cross-fade controls, which let you easily create custom mixes of your favorite music using a display that shows the audio waveforms, a graphic display of your audio. Unfortunately, while you can see a waveform, you can't edit it. Jam allows you to adjust the start and stop times of the waveform only by using a numeric dialog box. To do more, you'll need to use the included Bias Peak LE audio-editing software. You can use preset cross-fades or drag a custom cross-fade to seamlessly blend different music tracks. Best of all, Jam lets you preview cross-fades and volume changes without having to burn the disc--a stellar feature.
Unfortunately, while Jam can carefully organize your audio files by letting you adjust the placement, start times, cross-fades, and volume of each track, its editing tools remain weak. The included audio-editing program, Bias Peak LE, provides only basic functionality for trimming and adjusting sound files. For example, if you want to trim the silence at the beginning or end of an audio file, you must type a new start time in a dialog box. We'd rather simply select and delete sections of the track using a mouse.
Slight room for improvement
In fact, Roxio may want to take a few tips from its PC-programming brethren. RecordNow Max for the PC boasts several features we'd like to see in future versions of Toast. For instance, RecordNow Max allows you to use up to 64 CD-R recorders at one time, create batch lists, and adjust the bit rates of imported MP3 files. You can't do any of that with Toast or Jam. Still, thanks to Toast's smooth OS X interface, low cost, and powerful features, you won't find a better package for CD-R burning on the Mac.