PD Sonique 1.808

Decoder Source: Sonique http://sonique.lycos.com/
Version: v1.808a © 1998-2000 Lycos, Inc.
Price: free
Settings: WAV writer plugin V1.3, audio Enlightenment V4.70
Similar products: none
Verdict: Good
VBR: Most
Full file: Very Rarely
Major Flaws: none
Minor Flaws: Clips end off most files, clips lots off some VBR files, very slight problems above 20kHz
Output level: correct
1-bit relative accuracy: Excellent
1-bit absolute accuracy: Excellent

Sonique has been improved significantly since the previous test. The wav writer is now working correctly, and the 100Hz bug is a thing of the past.

Version 1.808a still clips the end off most files, and looses a few seconds off the end of certain VBR files (see the VBR test for more details). A new feature is that Sonique 1.808a bandlimits the signal at 21.5kHz. 256kbps 44.1kHz mp3s can contain information up to 22.05kHz, though very few people can hear this high. Even fewer people will detect the difference between the normal 22.05kHz cut off, and Sonqiue's 21.5kHz cut off, but it's still a strange thing to do.

Sonique is clearly moving in the right direction, but still cannot be recommended as a perfect mp3 decoder or player.


Sonique main screen
Sonique v1.808a initial screen

Sonique plug-ins
Sonique plug-ins: Audio Enlightenment v4.70

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PD Sonique 1.51

Decoder Source: Sonique http://sonique.lycos.com/
Version: v1.51.0 © 1998-2000 Lycos, Inc.
Price: free
Settings: WAV writer plugin V1.0, audio Enlightenment V4.0 - Best Quality
Similar products: Previous versions of Sonique used a different mp3 audio decoder plugin
Verdict: Terrible
VBR: All
Full file: kind of...
Major Flaws: skips samples during first second of file, resulting in audible click;
audible low frequency glitches in many files
Minor Flaws: slight problems above 15kHz
Output level: correct
1-bit relative accuracy: Excellent
1-bit absolute accuracy: Very Good

Sonique is an audio player in competition with Winamp. It has recently been acquired by Lycos, and the new version boasts a new mp3 decoder (Audio Enlightenment V4.0). To decode mp3 files to .wavs, you change the audio output device to a WAV writer plug-in. As an mp3 decoder, it's unusable because there is a jump in the decoded file just after the start, as shown in the following image.

Sonique skipping near the start of a file

If the music has started at this point (which it will if you set your ripper to skip all the zero samples at the start of a CD) then you will hear a loud click. This doesn't happen when playing mp3 files, so the fault must be in the disk writer routine. Faults in the decoding engine itself include audible mistakes below 15kHz, and a few mistakes above too. The low frequency audio mistakes were observed for real music signals. The following image shows what happened to a tone sweep.

Sonique ruining low frequency part of a tone sweep

The top trace shows the left channel, whilst the bottom shows the right. THE TWO SHOULD BE THE SAME!!! The right channel is decoded correctly (only occasional 1-bit difference from l3dec), but the left channel is destroyed - the smooth tone turns into a farting noise! The frequency is increasing from the left to the right of this picture (i.e. sweeping upwards in frequency with time) from 20Hz to 100Hz. Until the mp3 decoding is fixed, Sonique is a player to avoid. If you're using it to decode mp3s, stop!

EXTRA NOTE: Sonique HQ decode mode (used here) also inverts the signal. The bad results here have nothing to do with this, because we just flipped it back. But why do they do it in the first place? It's often used as a defence for Sonique's terrible performance in bit-comparison tests, but the real reason for that is Sonique's buggy decoder.


what sonique looks like
Sonique v1.51

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