Speed Up Your Hearing


You surf the internet with your eyes, ears and fingers. Eyes and fingers often work together, but ears are mostly used just for music. Podcasting and audio books change that, by putting ears to work while we drive, fly, walk, exercise and study. Entertainment is mostly why we listen, but it can also help digest the awesome amount of information you can find.

You must overcome three bottlenecks to boost ear-put: sorting, listening speed and batch processing. Sorting is what you do when you look for certain books, magazines, journals and newspapers at your favourite places, then check the table of contents to zero in on what's most interesting. Spoken books and pod or netcasts equal those written sources and you search for them on the net the same way as written material, but you subscribe to netcasts using an aggregator of which there are many. Most are compared here: These automate the collecting process and some can remove older material to prevent file duplication. A small number of duplicates can still slip through, but a second screening with a duplicate remover takes care of that.

Listening tools are scarce, unlike visual tools that create web pages, apply various visual effects and promote interactivity. Listening is like a movie and the speed of both can be adjusted. You've been exposed to much more slow-mo and fast-mo on the visual side than Chip-and-Dale songs on the audio side. Still, many players, including the iPhone, other smart phones, iPad, iRiver and some Samsung devices, have settings or apps that speed up playback. Perhaps this is a concession to handicapped users. A drawback is that most of these portable players and smart phones don't adjust pitch to remove Chip or Dale. One interesting exception is the latest free digital playback device for the blind and handicapped provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). Of course you have to be qualified.

You should know that automatic pitch control does exist, just not on portable players. The Windows Media Player is the gold standard in this area. A right click on a running file in the Media Player brings up a menu with Enhancements that opens another menu with speed control that does automatically correct and does this easily up to twice the normal speed. Some new flash players do this, too.

You can speed up audio and visual files using Windows Media Player, but can't put it on portable players or smart phones. However, Audacity can process audio file so they play faster and are smaller sized to take up less space. The result is then put it on your portable player. How to do this, shown below, comes from kristarella.com.

“For this exercise I used the change speed, change pitch and amplify effects.

Audacity Window

“To start, I opened the mp3 file in Audacity. In the above image I’ve already selected the part of the file that I wanted by dragging the mouse across it, and removed the rest with the trim outside selection button.

Audacity Change Speed Window

“To change the speed you need to select the whole file (represented as wav peaks) and go to Effect > Change Speed…. That will give you a window (as shown in the image). I dragged the blue cursor up so that I was changing the speed by about 50%. I find that to be a reasonable increase while still being able to understand the words. You could play with the speed to see how fast your file needs to go."

“If you play back your file as is, you’ll find it fairly difficult to understand because of the chipmunk element, it also sounds pretty funny. Go to Effect > Change Pitch…. Drag the blue cursor like for the speed, but this time take it down about 30%. I find with a 50% increase in speed, a 30% decrease in pitch makes the speaker sounds fairly normal."

“It can also be handy to use Effect > Amplify to make the file a bit louder; some lecturers are softly spoken.”

You can process single files using Audacity, but not batches. Right now only commercial batch processors are available to do this. If you download seventy or eighty files each week, a commercial batch processor may be your only convenient solution.

Why even do this? Well, it means you can listen to a sixteen-hour book in eight. If you commute twenty hours a week, you can listen to forty hours of lectures. Recorded radio programs can be shrunk in size and more quickly reviewed. Many audio files discuss the mountain of new knowledge created each year. In the biomedical field alone over 100,000 papers are produced annually in the United States. Some of these netcasts provide summaries while others include in-depth discussions by experts. The more you can process the more productive and informed you'll be. The concept was important enough that Brigham Young University considered producing videocasts of lectures that could be played back at higher speeds (http://www.enounce.com/docs/BYUPaper020319.pdf). However, that was some years back and the single effort hasn't been followed-up.

Speed listening is not more popular for the same reason as speed reading, because of the effort. Yet speed listening is much easier to apply. You just need to focus or concentrate more on what's said. In fact, speeding up speech can make a subject more interesting. We can easily listen to speech at 250 words a minute, but public speech is often quite slow, about 150 words a minute. Listening speeds up to 500 words a minute are possible, but audio quality, accents and clarity of speech (enunciation) make a difference as does the quality of processing.

If you lack sources, a number of rss URL's are listed below. To start with try listening to episode 22 of This Week in Parasitism. The Naked Scientists based in Britain offers a nice weekly collection of news gathered from that area. The Australian Broadcasting Network offers podcasts about technology oriented towards that part of the world. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp and the BBC also offer podcasts which include new developments in all areas, but don't allow you to specialize in one area, such as medicine or computers. Futures in Biotech has produced some terrific interviews in that area. Netcasts from Mike Tech Show deals mostly with maintenance and troubleshooting computers and their systems. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute produces podcasts and videocasts about advancing technology. Econtalk deals with economics and will change your belief that it's dry and boring with outstanding interviews about developments and history. Two other sources with outstanding products are Sound Investing and RadioLab. And, they are all free!

Resource rss links:

ABA Law Practice Digital Edge http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheDigitalEdgeLawyersAndTechnology
Accidental Tech http://atp.fm/episodes?format=rss
ACS Chemical Biology http://community.acs.org/journals/acbcct/cs/Portals/0/PodCasts/podcast_source.xml
Africa in Progress http://download.omroep.nl/rnw/smac/podcast/xml/en_africa_in_progress.xml
Airline Pilot Guy http://airlinepilotguy.com/podcast/
All Things That Fly www.allthingsthatfly.com/
Amateur Logic http://amateurlogic.tv/transmitter/feeds/audio.xml
Annals of Internal Medicine Podcast http://media.acponline.org/feeds/annals.xml
APM: Marketplace Money http://feeds.americanpublicmedia.org/MarketplaceMoneyPodcast?format=xml
Are We Alone - where science isn't alien. http://podcast.seti.org/index.xml
Art of Podcasting http://feeds.feedburner.com/learntopodcast
Assistive Tech Blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/atblogcast
Backstory Radio http://backstoryradio.org/2012/
Berkman Center on Internet & Soc http://feeds.feedburner.com/audioberkman
Beyond the Book http://feeds.feedburner.com/Copyrightcast
Bibliotech http://dquarium.com/bibliotech
Biochemistry Revealed http://feeds.feedburner.com/BiochemistryRevealed
Blind Access Journal http://feeds.feedburner.com/blindaccessjournal
Blind Bargains Audio http://www.blindbargains.com/rss/audio.xml
BMJ Podcast http://feeds.bmj.com/bmj/podcasts
Book TV C-span  http://www.booktv.org/Podcasts.aspx
Books and Ideas Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/booksandideaspodcast
Brain Science Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/brainsciencepodcast
Bridges with Africa http://download.omroep.nl/rnw/smac/podcast/xml/en_bridges_with_africa.xml
Broadband Bits http://feeds.feedburner.com/BroadbandBits
Brookings Institute Podcasts http://www.brookings.edu/rss/Subscribe.aspx?chname=AudioEvents&podcast=1
C-span  http://www.c-span.org/Podcasts/

Cambridge JBS


CBS News: Larry Magrid's Tech Report

Chemistry World Podcast http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/podcast/cw_podcast.xml
Communicators C-span  http://www.c-span.org/xml/podcast/com_feed.xml
Conversations in Medicine http://www.clinicalpodcast.com/xml/basic/conversations_in_medicine.xml
CyberSpeak's Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/Cyberspeak
Crypto-Gram Security http://crypto-gram.libsyn.com/rss
Diffusion Science radio http://feeds.feedburner.com/diffusionradio

Diane Rehm Show

Digital Detectives  http://legaltalknetwork.com/RSS/TDD_feed.xml
Digital Planet http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/digitalp/rss.xml
Distillations http://feeds.feedburner.com/Distillations?format=xml
Documentaries http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/docarchive/rss.xml
EconTalk http://www.econlib.org/library/EconTalk.xml
EEVblog http://www.eevblog.com/category/podcastfeed/
EM Res Podcast http://emrespodcast.libsyn.com/rss
Engines Of Our Ingenuity Podcast http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510030
Escape Pod http://escapepod.org/feed/

ESRI Speakers Podcast

Fareed Zakaria http://rss.cnn.com/services/podcasting/fareedzakaria_audio/rss.xml
Flight Training Training http://feeds.feedburner.com/FlightTrainingLessons


Futures in Biotech http://leoville.tv/podcasts/fib.xml
Garage Bio http://garagebio.org/feed/
Genetic Enginerring and Biotech News Gen Podcast http://www.genengnews.com/media/files/rss/gencast.xml
Glasgow Medical ScienceSociety  http://www.gsms.org.uk/
Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions http://feeds.feedburner.com/GlobalChallenges
Global Perspective http://download.omroep.nl/rnw/smac/podcast/xml/en_global_perspective.xml

Gobbet o' Pus

Groks Science Show  https://xythos.lsu.edu/users/cclee/groks/groks.rss
Guardian Books Podcast, UK http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/series/books/rss
Health Check http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/healthc/rss.xml
HHMI's Holiday Lectures on Science http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/HHMI_Lectures.xml
Hinkley Forum http://www.kuer.org/topic/hinckley-forums
Hospital Medicine Podcast http://www.hearsayculture.com/?feed=rss2
How on Earth Science Show http://howonearthradio.org/feed/podcast
Ideas from CBC Radio (Highlights) http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/ideas.xml
In Beta http://feeds.feedburner.com/5by5-inbeta
Infrastructure Show http://theinfrastructureshow.com/podcast-feed
Innovation Hub http://streams.wgbh.org/online/hub/hub_podcast.xml
In Touch: News for the Blind http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/intouch
Inside NYPD http://www.nyc.gov/html/nypd/audio/podcast_nycgov.xml
Institute for Emerging Technologies  http://feeds.feedburner.com/ChangesurferRadio
IT Conversations http://feeds.conversationsnetwork.org/channel/itc
Johns Hopkins PodMed - Weekly Health News http://feeds.feedburner.com/jhmpodcast
KGNU - How On Earth http://howonearthradio.org/feed/podcast
Lab Out Loud http://feeds.feedburner.com/laboutloud
Lapham's Quarterly http://www.laphamsquarterly.org/feeds/rss/
Legal Talk Network http://www.legaltalknetwork.com/RSS/LTN_feed.xml
Leo Laporte - The Tech Guy http://leoville.tv/podcasts/kfi.xml
Listen to The Lancet http://podcast.thelancet.com/lancet.xml
Listen to The Lancet Neurology http://podcast.thelancet.com/laneur.xml

Meatball's Meatballs - Juicy and spicy audio meatballs

Medical School HQ http://www.medicalschoolhq.net/feed/podcast
Medically Speaking Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/MedicallySpeakingPodcast
MedPod101 | Learn Medicine http://feeds.feedburner.com/medicinepod101
Medscape Allergy & Immunology http://www.medscape.com/cx/podcast/5681.xml
Meet The Scientist http://feeds.feedburner.com/meetthescientist?format=xml
Mercatus Center http://feeds.feedburner.com/MercatusCenterPodcast
Microbe Talk http://www.sgm.ac.uk/news/podcast.cfm
MicrobeWorld's Meet the Scientist Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/microbeworld
Migration Policy Institute http://migrationpolicy.podbean.com/feed/
Mike Tech Show http://mikenation.net/feed/podcast/
Misener on Tech http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/misenerontech.xml

MIT Press Podcast

Modern Self Protection http://feeds.feedburner.com/ModernSelfProtectionPodcast
Moyers and Company http://feeds.feedburner.com/moyers
NeuroPod http://feeds.nature.com/nature/podcast/neuropod
NewEngland Journal of Medicine NEJM http://www.nejm.org/multimedia/audio-summary
NIH Podcasts and Videocasts http://videocast.nih.gov/Podcasts.asp
NPR: Planet Money Podcast http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510289

NPR Topics: Technology Podcast

Nursing Show http://www.nursingshow.com/feed/podcast/
On Point Tom Ashbrook http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510053
On the Media http://feeds.wnyc.org/onthemedia?format=xml
Persiflagers Infectious Disease Puscast  http://www.pusware.com/mp3persiflagers.rss
Podnutz - Computer Repair Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/podnutz
Police Magzine http://feeds2.feedburner.com/POLICE-Podcasts?format=xml
PRI: Selected Shorts Podcast http://selectedshortspri.pri.libsynpro.com/rss
PRI's The World: Technology from BBC/PRI/WGBH http://www.theworld.org/rss/tech.xml


Quirks & Quarks Complete Show from CBC Radio http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/quirksaio.xml
Radio West http://radiowest.kuer.org/podcasts
Regenerative Medicine Today - Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/RegenerativeMedicineToday
Sea change radio  http://feeds.feedburner.com/SeaChangeMedia
Science and the City http://www.nyas.org/Podcasts/Atom.axd
Science Elements http://feeds.feedburner.com/acs/scienceelements
Science in Action http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/scia/rss.xml
Science Magazine Podcast http://www.sciencemag.org/rss/podcast.xml
Sciencepodcasters.org http://feeds2.feedburner.com/sciencepodcasters
Science Studio http://ktep.drupal.publicbroadcasting.net/podcasts/23/rss.xml

Science Weekly

Security Now! http://leoville.tv/podcasts/sn.xml
Skepticality http://skepticality.libsyn.com/rss
Slate Afterword http://skepticality.libsyn.com/rss
Small Arms Survey http://feeds.feedburner.com/smallarmssurvey/xtzA
Smart EM http://feeds.feedburner.com/SmartEm
Sound Investing http://www.fundadvice.com/soundinvesting.rss?option=com_podcast&feed=RSS2.0&no_html=1
South Asia Wired http://download.omroep.nl/rnw/smac/podcast/xml/en_south_asia_wired.xml
Spark Plus from CBC Radio http://feeds.feedburner.com/cbcradiosparkblog

Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner

Supreme Court Cases http://www.oyez.org/cases/2011/rss
Surgery 101 http://surgery101.libsyn.com/rss
Tech Weekly http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/series/techweekly/podcast.xml
Tech Chick Tips http://techchicktips.net/

Tech Podcast Clark Boyd

Tech Vets http://tech-vets.com/feed/podcast
Tell Me More http://www.npr.org/templates/rss/podlayer.php?id=46
Tech Weekly http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/series/techweekly
The Amp Hour http://theamphour.com/

TED Talks

The Checkup http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheCheckup_WBUR_Slate

The Crash Cast

The Digital Doctor http://thedigitaldoc.co.uk/podcasts
The Economist:Special Reports http://feeds.feedburner.com/feedroom/XCzn
The Engineering Commons http://feeds.feedburner.com/TheEngineeringCommonsPodcast
The Kindle Chronicles http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/
The Life Scientific http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/tls
The Lost In PreMed Podcast http://lostinpremed.libsyn.com/rss

The Moth

The Naked Scientists http://www.thenakedscientists.com/naked_scientists_podcast.xml
The Science Show http://www.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/feeds/science.xml
The SF Signal Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/sfsignalpodcast

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe


The Voice from IABC Ottawa

The Washington Institute http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/podcast/
This Week in Microbiology http://feeds.feedburner.com/twim
This Week in Parasitism http://feeds.feedburner.com/parasitism
This Week in Tech - MP3 Edition http://leoville.tv/podcasts/twit.xml
This Week in Virology - MP3 Edition http://feeds2.feedburner.com/twivmp3
TWIT.TV http://twit.tv/node/feed
Ultrasound Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/EmergencyUltrasoundPodcastPodcast
Uncommon Knowledge http://feeds.podtrac.com/raBAhhrHEQY$
Urban Shooter http://kennblanchard.com/landing/gun-podcast
White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/whitecoat.xml
World of Ideas  http://worldofideas.wbur.org/?feed=podcast
WNYC's Radio Lab http://feeds.wnyc.org/radiolab

This article was contributed by virginiajim. Registered members can contact the author with any comments or suggestions they might have by clicking here.


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by virginiajim on 20. January 2014 - 0:16  (113734)

Added 22 new podcast sources and deleted 7.

by MidnightCowboy on 20. January 2014 - 3:55  (113738)

Thanks for the update. :) MC- Site Manager.

by virginiajim on 28. July 2012 - 20:26  (96790)

Added some 20 new feeds for podcasts: All Things that Fly, Bandwith CBC Radio, Cambridge JBS, CMS News:Larry Magride TechDept, Chemistry World Podcast, Diane Rehm Show, Diffusion Science Radio, FORA.tv Technology Today, Forensic4cast, FourCast Podcast, Goblet o' Pus, Meatballs Meatballs, MIT Press, NPR Topics: Technology Podcast, Quackcast, Science Weekly, Stanford Entrepreneurship Corner, Tech Podcast with Clark Boyd, TED Talks, The Crash Cast, The Moth, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, The Voice from IABC, Ottawa; Twooting. Deleted duplicate "KGNU How on Earth"

by MidnightCowboy on 29. July 2012 - 1:41  (96807)

Thanks for the update! :)

by virginiajim on 18. January 2012 - 22:40  (87371)

Added Tech Weekly with rss of www.guardian.co.uk/technology/series/techweekly/podcast.xml to list of references

by virginiajim on 17. January 2012 - 22:41  (87328)

Added feed for Berkman Center for Internet and Society podcasts in reference list.

by virginiajim on 17. January 2012 - 21:11  (87327)

Added Bibliotech link to list of references.

by virginiajim on 27. December 2011 - 22:20  (86094)

Added some new feeds for podcasts, changed titles in body of article to Bold type, and changed the name for references to "rss references".

by MidnightCowboy on 28. December 2011 - 4:31  (86108)

Thanks for the update Jim :)

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