2. Sonique 1.808
An auto-sloping twenty band EQ is something you don't see everyday that makes up for its servere lack of EQ presets, while the bundled visualizations are few (only four), but their cloud'n'fade visual effects are gorgeuos
. A built-in gap remover is something that should have been thought out by Nullsoft, so shame on you. The lack of CDDB is forgivable, as it is sure to have been thought about in Team Sonique's HQ before. Seeing the rest of Sonique's design, the lack of ID3v2 tagger seems to be to save space rather than the lack of technical knowhow.
The built-in music search engine replaces the lack of a minibrowser, while the lack of skins variety is made up by being completely freeform, which makes Sonique visuals a joy to look at. The playlist editor, however, need a lot of improving. Overall a bit mediocre, but just about does the job. Oh, and did I forget to mention that it's a brilliant module player (Winamp slows down when it plays mods, but Sonique, ironically, speeds up)?
One word; wow. I just can't believe what I'm seeing. Freeform skins draws your eyes to it, then satify you with smooth, hi-tech interface animations. A smooth but deadly mixture animated buttons, animated interface objects, and that slide up and down effect for the EQ just adds up to form the perfect eyecandy solution. Click on something and the old load swings out of sight, while new set of fully-animated objects that represents the interface slings into view. It is smooth, hi-tech and englossing click after click.
Inferior only to Winamp 2.71. It hurls wave after wave of sharp, clear, high quality audio at you - so much sometimes it hurts a bit being caught in the torment of such sonic tempest of seismic proportion. One, rather insignificant, flaw, though; while Winamp tries to smooth an error on a track down by slightly smudging over it, Sonique coughs out an error without caring if it is an error or not at all. Overall, though, Sonique ranks among one of the best.
Ease to Use=
There has always been much debate on Sonique's ease to use; some say Sonique is a pain to use, while Sonique fans would argue that it's actually easier than people think. I'm here to investigate those claims. First impression, then. Yes, very hard to use with the mouse alone as using it involves switching from one screen to another back and forth, very frustrating. Had it not been the following below, I would have give it two stars.
However, it seemed obvious that Team Sonique knows that their player is hard to use with the mouse alone, and has included what is arguably one of the easiest to learn and remember set of keyboard shortcuts ever. It took me just twenty minutes to learn, remember and get used to the keyboard shortcuts before I could just about do everything in my typical Sonique session with minimum use of the mouse. One of the reasons for this is that there are more than one way to the same function, for example; to get to the playlist editor you can press either "p" or ctrl+p.
For example, my typical Sonique session is this; ctrl+e to visual mode, ah I forgot to enable the EQ so I pressed "q" (unlike Winamp's "o"). I wanna load a playlist so I pressed ctrl+d to clear current playlist and pressed "a" to open a playlist - WITHOUT having to go to the playlist editor! Playlist loaded, wanna change skin, so I pressed ctrl+s to get to the settings menu and do some simple pointy-clickety before pressing Backspace to quickly get back to the visual mode. I press "x" to play, and press "s" to enable shuffle. I wanna do some work, so I press ctrl+a (unlike Winamp's ctrl+t) to get to stay on top. Most excellently, the "zxcvb" buttons work as well as the orginal "<-x->" buttons. It's brilliantly thought out, shortcut after shortcut, and completely makes up for the frustrating mouse-based interface.
The settings menu, then, is so well trimmed down to the point which the settings for the MPEG decoder are two checkboxes, while the settings for the module decoder are eight selector boxes. It is therefore extremely well trimmed and require very little tweaking to get it going. Tweak lovers will not like this, though.
People will disagree with me on this, but I'm sorry, I must give it at least four stars; the combination of such well thought out keyboard commands and well trimmed settings menu just overwhelmed me.
Memory usage (rounded up to the nearest Megabyte):
WMP 7 = uncertain, but the last test revealed it to have used something like 14 MB
Sonique 1.808 = 13 MB
Sonique 1.64 = 8 MB
Stability rating: 0
People complain about Sonique's unstability, saying it crashes without reason and stuffs. That's may be that you have inadequate memory; Sonique's memory usage is just sheer insanity. For other cases, I don't know, because it's strange that I don't see that problem, maybe a few minor bugs, but it has crashed on me only twice in its entire usage, and both was not Sonique's fault - but the Squaresoft Crossfader which hogs on to the sound card long after I've closed Winamp. Perhaps it's also because I NEVER load more than 150 songs on to a playlist - no matter if it's on Winamp or Sonique; an unbreakable habit (why do you need more than 150 songs per playlist is beyond me!). Whatever people say, it is a must for me to give Sonique a four on stability - would have been a five had it not been such an insane memory hog.
The race for stardom was a tense one, but Sonique races JUST
ahead with its combination of looks, quality and a whole host of visual treats. Overall, in my opinion, Sonique remains the king of the MP3 player kingdom, spending his time playing chess with his advisers from day to day from his huge, golden throne. Although the downloads may not say so - I don't know, maybe I've missed out the most important part of human psychology. This may not appeal to tweak-lovers, but as far as I'm concerned, Sonique ranks among the best. But watch out, King Sonique, Prince Winamp is catching up...