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Adaptec Introduces Long-Awaited Jam Update

by Jeff Partyka

Subscribers to Adaptec Inc.'s CD-R email discussion list know that doubt about the future of the company's Jam software was cast earlier this year. The last update for the audio-centric Macintosh product, version 2.5, had been posted in November 1998. Since then, many newer recorders have remained unsupported, and patches to fix the bugs some users have noticed in Jam 2.5 have failed to appear. Ominous posts from Adaptec staff appeared on the discussion list, hinting that the software might be retired with certain features to be integrated into the more mainstream (and much more frequently updated) Toast product.

Well, rumors of Jam's death, as it turns out, have been greatly exaggerated. At MacWorld in July, Adaptec formally announced Jam 2.6, a free upgrade available for download on the company's Web site.

According to Victor Nemechek, Adaptec's Toast/Jam product manager, the company--or at least his predecessor--did consider putting the software to sleep. "The previous product manager was thinking about taking some of the features out of Jam and putting them in Toast, which we could have done," Nemechek said. "But that's turned out not to be the case."

The new Jam retains all the features--crossfading, sound-level adjustment, indexing and more--that audio geeks have come to know and love. And the company has spiffed up the software with updated recorder support; full SCSI, FireWire and USB support (with the USB driver completely reworked for faster performance); and the ability to import MP3 files directly into the Jam menu. With bug fixes and cosmetic tweaks as well, Jam 2.6 adds up to "a real solid release," Nemechek said.

Also included is an update of Berkley Integrated Audio Software (BIAS)'s Peak LE editing tool, which has always been included with Jam and offers cutting and pasting, looping, normalization, and various other audio-editing capabilities. The update brings the previously available version 1.6 up to 2.1, the new features of which include a basic playlist for direct CD recording; MP3, Shockwave and RealAudio 5.0 encoding capabilities; and importing of multiple CD audio tracks.

According to Nemechek, Adaptec is likely to keep Jam in development as a distinct product, despite the rumors that circulated earlier this year. "Jam attracts a different kind of user who's more technically oriented and who needs the kind of audio features that Jam has, which might have confused some Toast users if the products were integrated," Nemechek said. "I think we should keep them as two separate products, and I think we'll do that going forward."

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