Scott Hanselman

Listening FASTER and more effectively

November 05, 2005 Comment on this post [9] Posted in ASP.NET | PDC | Speaking
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One of the coolest things about Cingular's Voicemail system is it's ability to speed up playback of audio by pressing "6." Each press makes the audio playback faster...2x, 3x, 4x. It's great. I HATE voicemail, make no mistake, but at least it's bearable in double speed.

I noticed that when listening to audiobooks (m4b) files like those from Audible on my iPod Nano, I can also up the speed. It looks like about 1.5x normal speed. Not too bad, but it really makes a different. Now I'm addicted to it. The new iPod's implementation is nice because it speeds up the audio without changing the pitch of the voice. I speculate they are cutting out slices of sound, rather than true speed up.

I read pretty fast, but I've stopped watching most presentations and many podcasts because I just can't stand the pacing. However, while watching the PDC videos ( I noticed (as did Steve Maine) that you can right-click on the video and select Play Speed->Fast and watch the presentations in 2x speed! (I'd prefer 3x or 4x). As a bonus, the demos (since they are WMVs) are also faster.

Now I feel like I can really get through the PDC sessions at my speed. I feel as if a whole wealth of information has been opened to me. Audiobooks will flow by at the same speed regular books do.

Now if only ABC would play "Grey's Anatomy" in 2x speed...

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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November 05, 2005 12:48
>> Now if only ABC would play "Grey's Anatomy" in 2x speed...

Is it really the story that is slow or the incredible amount of publicity abc manages to sneak in...
November 05, 2005 14:05
>> I speculate they are cutting out slices of sound, rather than true speed up.
Possibly, but the tech for simply modulating the pitch has been around a while in DJ circles. I've played with Traktor DJ Studio and you can can automatically beatmatch and then normalize pitch. I don't know for a fact, but I think they calculate the change in pitch that would be caused by the change in speed and simply compensate.
November 05, 2005 19:35
You should look into software that converts text into mp3s. Combind that with a subscription to O`Reilly's Safari and you have something powerful.

I gave a small blog about that some time ago.
November 05, 2005 21:05
I usually watch Channel 9 videos at double speed. Only takes half of my time, and hearing Robert Scoble's laugh at double speed is great.
November 05, 2005 22:55
"Now if only ABC would play "Grey's Anatomy" in 2x speed"


turn on closed captions and then hit the fast forward button on Tivo.

Works very well for CNN too..
November 07, 2005 6:32
Actually, playing it "fast" is really only 1.4x, if it does it like Windows Media Player does it, which is my guess.

If you download the presentations for offline viewing, you can get the 2x or 4x that you want: in WMP, while the video is playing, you can go to the "Now Playing" tab, and cycle through the settings where it shows the graphic equalizer. One of the settings is "Play speed settings". The normal range is from .5 to 2, but outside of that, there is also 4x (and presumably, half way in between is 3x).

That's how i can get through 5 or 6 hours of podcasts in a couple of hours.
November 08, 2005 1:01
The iPod most likely uses some form of Time Stretching (
November 08, 2005 21:46
Does the iPod allow for the speeding up of non-Audible material (regular MP3s)?
December 26, 2005 23:18
The full DVD set for the sessions can also be downloaded at once with a site copier software. See

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.