Experiments with audiobook speed

I love audiobooks.  I’ve found that, especially with big, fat history books, I’m more likely to finish it if someone reads it than if I have to read it myself.

The drawback is that audiobooks are usually .. read .. very .. very .. slow .. ly.  So I’ve been experimenting with how to speed them up, more than the +25% my iPod can do.  I’ve found a solution.  It’s not easy, but it works.

Step 1 – Remove the DRM. I buy audiobooks from Audible, and you can’t just open those in an audio editor.  You have to convert them to an unprotected format such as mp3.  I use Daniusoft Digital Music Converter to do that.  There’s no magic: It just plays the audio silently, for itself, and records it.  This means that converting a 20 hour book takes 20 hours.  It’s kind of crappy, but it more or less works.

Step 2 – Change the tempo.  I use Audacity, an open source audio editor, which allows you to change the tempo – how fast it plays – without changing the pitch.  How much you can increase the tempo depends on the narrator.  I’ve managed +60% to +90%, ie. almost twice normal speed.  Some sounds disappear at higher speeds, but you may still be able to understand the words.  There’s no right answer: Just experiment.

Step 3 – If you’re using iTunes, select “Remember playback position” on the options tab for the file, or it won’t remember where you are.

And that’s it.

If you want to hear what this sounds like, here’s a sample from Revolution 1989, at normal speed, +50%, +75% and +100%:

5 Responses to Experiments with audiobook speed

  1. Ørjan says:

    I find the effect of the +100% version disturbing. Somehow the brain picks up the meaning but thinks it doesn’t – leaving a feeling like hitching a boost from a car on you hoverboard and realizing that it is now moving too fast to let go.

  2. Armen Nercesian says:

    its easier than that. if u have the audio book in mp3 files, you just need to download a mp3 merging software that merges them all into one file. then download vlc media player and there is a little speed multiplier at the bottom, which allows u to play at whatevr u want. i believe it even works with DRM files too

  3. Well, that doesn’t work on an mp3 player.

    Also, Audacity allows you to operate on multiple files, so you don’t need to merge the files before changing the tempo.

  4. Pingback: William Manchester – The Glory and the Dream « Bjørn Stærk's Max 256 Blog

  5. i love to listen on audiobooks while travelling on a bus, i could learn a lot from it while travelling ,”.

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