Saturday, December 17, 2011

Speeding Up Audio Podcasts with Winamp and PaceMaker

Here's a time-saving tip for those of you Winamp users who follow more podcasts than you have time to digest. There's a plugin called PaceMaker that allows you to speed up and slow down MP3s without changing pitch. This is useful if you want to listen to podcasts without feeling like you're listening to Alvin and Chipmunks. I first learned of the PaceMaker plugin in college when I was learning to play the guitar. It was helpful to be able to slow down songs so I could get some practice improving finger coordination as I strummed new chords along with the song.

Here's what you need to use it:
  1. If you don't have it, grab a copy of Winamp from the Winamp download page. I usually skip the MP3 bundle that comes with the download.
  2. Install Winamp.
  3. Once Winamp is installed, you'll need to visit the PaceMaker Winamp plugin page and grab a copy of the installer.
  4. Install PaceMaker.
  5. To enable the PaceMaker plugin, go to "Tools" select the "Preferences" menu item.
  6. Scroll down on the left and click on "DSP/Effect" then select the "PaceMaker tempo controller" option in the right pane.
  7. Adjust the tempo to speed up the audio podcast. Then just play your MP3.
I find that for most podcasts +40% is a comfortable pace. This is true if the podcast is on a familiar subject or if it's easy to follow. Some podcasts can be played at even higher tempos but at higher tempos I spend more effort listening carefully to words than paying attention to the discussion.

There's some simple yet useful math in here, but that'll be another post.

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