Speed Up Your Hearing


We surf the net with our eyes, ears and fingers. Eyes offer the largest conduit and while podcasting and audio books just use ears, the ears are best suited for hands-free operation. In addition -- a big plus --  we think better when active because more blood gets to our heads. Also, listening at faster speeds causes a listener to focus more intently on what's being said. Listening at normal speed is then like watching football played at a walking pace.

Podcast playback is a process that can be adjusted for speed and pitch correction to prevent the chipmonk effect. Many devices, including the iPhone, other smart phones, iPad, iRiver and some Samsung prodcuts, have settings or apps that speed up playback. The latest free device for the blind and handicapped provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) also does this. Of course you have to be qualified to get one.

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 convert an audio file to play faster, with pitch correction, and to be smaller so more podcasts fit on a portable player. You can't transform a file using Windows Media Player, but  Audacity can.  How you do this, shown below, comes from kristarella.com. and Seymour Cat

“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.


If you select "Effect > Change Tempo" instead of "Effect > Change Speed" you can speed the audio up without changing the pitch of the voices, saving yourself a second round of audio processing to fix the chipmunk element. In the example above setting the marker to get 105.883 produced a file that played twice as fast (half the time) with no chipmunking. Speakers and sound quality vary a great deal but are consistent from each source, so you'll have to test different settings of Change Tempo. A one-hour podcast takes a minute to load, thirty seconds to Change Tempo 100% (double playback speed) and a minute to export as a MP3, so each hour takes 2.5 mins to process.

“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). That was some years back. Recently the same approach was used by the Linux Foundation in a free introductory course, LFS101x.

Speed listening may not appeal to some any more than speed reading does, yet speed listening is much easier to apply. You just need to focus 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, over 200 URL's for podcast feeds are listed below. To start with try listening to episode 22 of This Week in Parasitism, a topic with increasing importance as the climate warms. The Naked Scientists based in Britain offers a nice weekly collection of news with a British slant. The Australian Broadcasting Network offers podcasts about intriguing technology being developed there. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp and the BBC also offer podcasts which include new developments in many important areas. Futures in Biotech is discontinued, but still offers terrific interviews of use to students and educators. Netcasts from Mike Tech Show deals mostly with maintenance and troubleshooting computers and their systems. The Med School Hq produces podcasts about and for those interested in medical careers. 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! Here's a link to an Opml file that contains them all and can be imported into aggregators such as Juice. Or here's a free list of descriptions and links for almost 5000 podcasts, and here's a link where they can all be downloaded as a 30GB file.

Resource rss links:

5X5 Specials http://feeds.5by5.tv/specials
99 Percent Invisible http://feeds.99percentinvisible.org/99percentinvisible
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
Agroinnovations http://agroinnovations.com/podcast/feed/
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 Medicine http://www.theartofmedicinepodcast.com/
Art of Podcasting http://feeds.feedburner.com/learntopodcast
Ask a Librarian http://askabiologist.asu.edu/audio/feed
Assistive Tech Blog http://feeds.feedburner.com/atblogcast
Australian National Press Club http://www.abc.net.au/news/feed/3742042/podcast.xml
Aviations Careers Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/AviationCareersPodcast
Backstory Radio http://backstoryradio.org/2012/
Belabored http://www.dissentmagazine.org/feed/belabored
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

Catalyst http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/vodcast_mp4.xml

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
Disability Matters http://www.voiceamerica.com/rss/show/1315
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/
Emmunity.com http://feeds.feedburner.com/Audiommunity
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


Freekonomics Radio http://feeds.feedburner.com/freakonomicsradio
Fraud Talk http://www.voiceamerica.com/rss/show/2349
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
Gigaom feed://gigaom.com/tag/structure-show/feed/
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

Goggles Optional http://gogglesoptional.com/category/episode/feed/
Go Green Radio http://www.voiceamerica.com/rss/show/1303
Green Tech Media  Solar http://feed:http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/GTM_Solar
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
Hearsay Culture http://www.hearsayculture.com/?feed=rss2
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
IEEE podcasts http://feeds.feedburner.com/IeeeSpectrumPodcasts
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
Inquiring Minds http://feeds.feedburner.com/inquiring-minds
Inside Media http://insidemedia.libsyn.com/rss/
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
Institute for Self Reliance http://feed:http://feeds.feedburner.com/EnergySelfReliantStates
Intelligence Squared U.S. http://www.npr.org/rss/rss.php?id=6263392
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 Discovery news http://www.medicaldiscoverynews.com/shows/audio/mdnews.xml
Medical ePearls http://oakstone.hipcast.com/rss/medical_epearl.xml
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
Microbe World's Videos http://feeds.feedburner.com/asm
Migration Policy Institute http://migrationpolicy.podbean.com/feed/
Mike Tech Show http://mikenation.net/feed/podcast/
Mining Industry http://feeds.feedburner.com/MiningIQPodcasts
Misener on Tech http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/includes/misenerontech.xml
MIT Libraries http://feeds.rapidfeeds.com/6772/

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
Newseum http://newseum.libsyn.com/rss
NIH Podcasts and Videocasts http://videocast.nih.gov/Podcasts.asp
NPR: Planet Money Podcast http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510289
NPR: Snap Judgement http://www.npr.org/rss/podcast.php?id=510294

NPR Topics: Technology Podcast

Nursing Show http://www.nursingshow.com/feed/podcast/
Omega Tau http://omegataupodcast.net/englishOnly.php
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
Plane Safety Podcast http://planesafetypodcast.libsyn.com/rss
Podcasting Passion http://www.podcastingpassion.com/journal/rss.xml
Podnutz - Computer Repair Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/podnutz
Police Magzine http://feeds2.feedburner.com/POLICE-Podcasts?format=xml
Pragmatic http://techdistortion.com/podcasts/pragmatic/feed-ep-only
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 Ecoshock Show http://feeds.feedburner.com/EcoShockNews
Radio West http://radiowest.kuer.org/podcasts
Regenerative Medicine Today - Podcast http://feeds.feedburner.com/RegenerativeMedicineToday
Sawbones http://sawbones.libsyn.com/rss
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 for the People http://feeds.feedburner.com/SkepticallySpeaking
Science in Action http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/scia/rss.xml
Science Magazine Podcast http://www.sciencemag.org/rss/podcast.xml
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
Smart People http://www.smartpeoplepodcast.com/?feed=podcast
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

Startup Podcast http://www.dissentmagazine.org/feed/belabored
State of the Re: union http://stateofthereunion.com/feed.xml
Stuck Mic AvCast http://stuckmicavcast.com/feed/
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 Podcasters Studio http://thepodcastersstudio.com/category/podcasts/thepodcastersstudio/feed/
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 Energy http://feed:http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/GTM_Solar
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 Agriculture Podcast http://www.urbanag.ws/
Urban Shooter http://kennblanchard.com/landing/gun-podcast
VoiceAmerica, Ebner http://www.voiceamerica.com/rss/show/1954
Wealth Anatomy http://www.dissentmagazine.org/feed/belabored
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 RickeeBoy on 31. December 2014 - 6:24  (120341)

Hi All, (and especially lovers of Audiobooks) (and lets say these are 40hrs+)

Thanks for the Podcast info - I shall take a look soon.

Now there is another process also available which I run on Audiobooks - (and this can also be taken for Podcasts) Read on ..

Different Narrators talk in different ways - some are just down right painful to listen to (taking a long time and ruining a good book (or topic) - Some Narrators are brilliant bringing feeling, energy, life and are better than actually reading it yourself plus they can read quickly but these are usually expensive as they have had training.)

The cheap narrators are useless ..... but can be improved.

Speaking a passage is actually made up of both the spoken words and the gaps. Some narrators leave huge gaps.

ALSO - WE ALL LISTEN DIFFERENTLY - Some happily zoom through very fast spoken words but need gaps and some others like more normal words but happily shrink the gaps.

AUDACITY Provides the facility to ensure you get the fastest, most exciting, best MP3 to keep you interested and tailored just for you.

To reduce gaps to not waste time then Audacity handles this and its called :_
- TRUNCATE SILENCE (available under EFFECT) this reduces gaps (Db silence / time / to what you feel works for you.
- Also TEMPO is available to shorten the overall time for the passage without raising the Narrators Pitch.
- So it's best to create a few different Chains for different Narrators and save these - After a few books you get to know just the right Speedup to apply.
( I have about 4 different Chains for varying Truncate Silences + another 6 different chains for varying Tempo and another 5 chains which have a mixture of both - All will shorten the Audiobook but at some point it will become TOO SHORT and no longer enjoyable. The objective is to get it just right.

SEE here under Audacity Forum Search for - AUDIOBOOK MP3 SPEEDUP


at Audacity Forum (Thanks Steve)and you too can get
1. More enjoyable Audio
2. Much faster Audio.
3. Get through books or learning quicker.
Any probs get in touch .:) ........ (Oh I've tested the MP3 Speedup available on MP3 Players but they are Total Rubbish )

by Patrick.PB on 30. December 2014 - 1:44  (120311)

Thanks for the tip on using Audacity.

There is another way that is even easier because it is automatic. I've been using the Android app BeyondPod for a few years and love several features. One of them is the ability to set the playback speed to the faster desired level for any podcast subscription.


Another is the feature that allows the playback of new episodes to be prioritized.

by sicknero on 4. May 2014 - 19:10  (116035)

I already knew how to pitch-shift audio but wow, that's a great list of podcast sources. Thanks :-)

by Seymour Cat on 4. May 2014 - 11:03  (116030)

[quote]"To change the speed you need to select the whole file (represented as wav peaks) and go to Effect > Change Speed…... 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.[/quote]

That's not needed. If you select "Effect > Change Tempo" instead of "Effect > Change Speed" you can speed the audio up without changing the pitch of the voices, saving yourself a second round of audio processing to fix the chipmunk element.

by virginiajim on 4. May 2014 - 14:20  (116033)

Thanks. I'll change that area to show your use of "Effect>Change Pitch..."


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.

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