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Summary form only given. Note onsets mark the beginning of attack transients, short areas of a note containing rapid changes of the signal spectral content. Detecting onsets is not trivial, especially when analysing complex mixtures. Applications for note onset detection systems include time stretching, audio coding and synthesis. An alternative to standard energy-based onset detection is proposed by using phase information. It is suggested that by observing the frame-by-frame distribution of differential angles, the precise moment when onsets occur can be detected with accuracy. Statistical measures are used to build the detection function. The system is tested and tuned on a database of complex recordings.