Audio Books on the Road

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Well, not exactly music, but the kids and I love to listen to books on tape or CD these days. They are really in an inconvenient format since a typical book takes 5 CDs because the encoding used on regular CDs is tuned for music. Even with MP3 or OGG encoding, a book takes 700MBs or so even at 44Kpbs.
The fact is that voice encoders (vocoders) can be much more efficient. So that a typical wireless carriers uses 8Kpbs speech encoding (5x the efficiency), but these kind of encoders are not mainstream or available.
So what’s the answer? “Speex”:http://speex.org is an open source speech-oriented encoder. With this, I’ve gotten my books on tape from 700MB on a CD to 40MB on an MP3 to 20MB for Ogg Vorbis to about 10MB with Ogg Speex with no noticible reduction in quality. That means that you can put 50 books onto a single CD.
The main problem is that only a PC has codecs that are replaceable codecs, so you’ll need to have a real PC to use these tools:
* “Speex.org”:http://speex.org. They have Windows binaries available. This is just the encoder library and a command line file, so not very useful for the average user.
* “Rarewares”:http://www.rarewares.org/others.html. Rarewares has a tool called Speexdrop which lets you drag and drop a WAV file onto it and then an SPX file is created
* “Illumniable”:http://www.illiminable.com/ogg/. These folks have DirectShow fileters for all the open Ogg formats (Vorbis for music, Speex for speech, Theora for video). This means that any player that uses DirectShow can playback, so that include basically everyone from Windows Media Player to Winamp to my favorite Musicmatch.
Give it a try if you love books on tape. Now if only I could find a digital music player with a plugable architecture for adding different codecs. The search continues…
RareWares

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