Sonic Foundry SoftEncode

Sonic Foundry SoftEncode SoftEncode is an AC3 encoder and decoder created and marketed by Sonic Foundry based on the official Dolby libraries, with a pleasing and featureful interface.

AC3 is a compression format created by Dolby Laboratories originally to provide digital sound in cinemas, with the encoded track stored optically in 35mm film prints.

The format had its big breakthrough when it was selected as a mandatory format (next to LPCM) in the DVD standard. It single-handedly brought surround sound to the masses - LPCM could only be stored in DVDs in stereo mode and DTS, another multichannel audio format, was not mandatory, so only high end DVD players supported it.

The compression performance is similar to MP2: AC3 achieves transparency around 192kbps for stereo streams and 448kbps for 5.1 streams. Streams are always constant bitrate - there is no VBR option.

The version hosted here is a demonstration. It allows full access to the interface, but disables AC3 encoding. SoftEncode was very expensive - USD 995,00 for the multichannel version and 495,00 for the stereo one - because the format was never meant to be encoded by end users, but by DVD authoring facilities.

The SoftEncode web page can still be seen at the Internet Archive, here.

Date: 1998-01-22
Version: 1.0
Interface: Graphical
Platform: Win32
Download: softendemv10x86.exe - 675kB

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