Speeding up and slowing down audiobooks

by Michael Alderete on 2/10/2009 · 10 comments

Once your iPod or iPhone recognizes a track as an audiobook (see FAQ #1 for details), you have the ability to speed up or slow down the playback of the track. Audiobook Speed For people looking to power through a book (say, while driving to your book club), speeding up playback can be useful. For language learning, slowing down the playback can help to hear nuances of pronunciation and emphasis.

But the options provided by the iPod is not that great, just “Slower”, “Normal”, and “Faster”. Not a lot of control, and the speed change isn’t huge, in either direction. (And I find that it adds a nearly imperceptible but irritating clipping to speech). If you want to make an even bigger speed change, you need to turn to third-party tools that can process the tracks, and then sync the processed versions to your iPod or iPhone.

This is probably worth it only in extreme cases (how I would have loved it for The Grapes of Wrath in high school), but it’s up to you. On the Mac there are a couple options that I know of:

I don’t know the options for Windows as well, except for the cross-platform applications:

Please note these are not endorsements or recommendations, just pointers. If you have any suggestions, for either list, please send them to me!

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirk February 10, 2009 at 1:28 pm

The speed change is 25% in either direction. I find it makes a big difference for books that are read very slowly, but that’s the only time I use it.

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Scott April 26, 2009 at 10:39 am

The amazing slow-downer indeed does speed audio up, in addition to slowing it down. There is actually a lot it can do. :)

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Jen June 17, 2009 at 7:09 am

This seems very interesting. Instead of a book, do you know of a way to slow an audio file down on the MAC computer; perhaps through an application already on the computer? I need to transcribe a lecture and a program that could slow down the audio would help greatly. Please let me know as soon as you can about this. Thank you.

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Alderete June 17, 2009 at 8:31 am

@Jen: the applications mentioned above will work on any audio file, not just audiobooks.

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Ken Burns Effect July 10, 2009 at 4:40 pm

The Amazing Slow Downer is also on speed!

Change the speed of the music - from 20% (one fifth speed) to 200% (double speed) without changing the pitch.

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David D September 18, 2009 at 1:18 pm

Windows Media Player does a very good job of speeding up audio. Up to 2x is quite good in my opinion.

The GOM player also does a good job and handles video podcasts as well. Up to 3x speedup works well for certain shows.

The Samsung YP-P3 reportedly does a very good job of speeding up audio; not sure if all formats are supported or not.

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Merrily October 22, 2009 at 3:35 pm

What I’d like to know, is how one gets back to the correct place when one’s Ipod keeps “skipping” a book several chapters ahead. I was glad to find your website as I’ve got an irritating problem with listening to audiobooks on my Ipod Classic and I haven’t been able to find a way to keep it from happening, or an easy way to get back to my place when it does happen. Anyway, I’ll be listening to a book on my Ipod, finish for the moment, and turn it off. When I return and turn it on, the Ipod has skipped to a chapter several chapters ahead. At first I thought that I was forgetting and leaving the Ipod running (I usually listen in the car and it IS possible to turn off the audio but not the Ipod), but I’m careful to check now, and that isn’t happening. Then, I thought that the dock in my car was somehow turning the track wheel, and that doesn’t seem to be it, either. At any rate, every time this happens I end up sitting there and fiddling around with the track wheel trying to get back to my correct place, which usually takes a lot more time than it should and in at least one case, resulted in my going back to Chapter One and having to fast forward until I reached the correct chapter! My other question is, is there a way to listen to an audio book for a time, stop, go off and listen to some music, and then come back to the correct place in the book? If so, I haven’t yet found it, as a consequence of which I can’t listen to the music on my Ipod if I’m listening to a book. Irritating! Hope you can help, many thanks, Merrily

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Greg November 29, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Merrily,

I had the same problem last week with an audiobook split into seperate tracks on my ipod. But I found a way to avoid the issue by using some free software to join all of the audio files into one single file. I have a mac, so I used “Audiobook Maker” (http://audiobookmaker.sourceforge.net/). But if you use windows, this software should work as well: “MP3 to Audiobook Converter” (http://www.freeipodsoftware.com/download.php)

Good luck, Greg

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Linda August 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm

I downloaded a book to my computer then to my I Pod. That is the only way can get a book to my I Pod. But for some reason reader is faster than I like and I looked but I could not find any way to slow it down. I did not find audiobook speed. I do not know where to look for it. For some reason even the music is faster than I like and I do not recall it being that fast.

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Danny September 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

You should also try Swift for iPhone and iPad. It will let you speed up audio AND video, even directly from websites like YouTube.

http://tapparatus.com/swift

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jatEBbVPK7w

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