Professional Tool with Consumer Price Tag
For the price of the top consumer CD burning applications, CD Architect gives you so much more - it comes with its own DirectX mastering plug-ins, plus it allows you to use your own. You can control volume envelopes, trim audio clips, perform cross-fades, and MUCH more. The power and flexibility of this application are quite impressive, especially for the price. My favorite aspect of this application is that it combines the two steps of mastering and burning the CD into a single application and interface without sacrificing power or flexibility. Installation was a breeze and the test CD's I cranked out played correctly on other machines.
All this power and flexibility comes with a learning curve. The customizable interface is not overly cluttered, but it was difficult for me to get basic functions to work as expected. I had problems figuring out how to label the CD, label tracks, and trim tracks - in fact, I still can't do it exactly right. The included manual is thin but complete, and nicely indexed, but I would not call it a "Quick Start Guide". In fact, I paged through 30 pages on how CD's are made, the history of CD technology, and other arcane tidbits before reaching "Getting Started" on page 31. A short "CD Architect for Dummies" with a walk-through of basic functions with default settings would have made the difference between 4.5 and 5 stars for me.
Get this application if you want quality and power for a consumer price, but leave yourself time to learn the application, rather than ordering it in when you are working under a tight deadline (like I was).