Remember the complicated method, where I typed in the passage, then used text-to-speech (after first putting in codes for pauses)? The un-natural sounding dictation and random reminders that I was too cheap to buy the licensed version?
It’s history. Honoured history, but still history.
The new method involves reading at a reasonably constant speed (or a variable speed, if that’s what you like), then using Audacity, an open source (free) sound file editor, to change the tempo.
Alternatively, you can change the speed of any sound file. Start with an audiobook, and change it to your preferred speed.
The new method is also faster, even if you’re a fast typist. Cepstral would sometimes hang, especially if I wanted to replay something. Exporting to a sound file happened in real time, which was a pain if I wanted to prepare a large batch.
Audacity lets me scroll around in the file however I want. It’s fast enough that I can make individual sound files one at a time without going nuts. It will export to many different formats. I can also cut and paste, to make one file with several passages at one speed, or one passage at several speeds. It takes me five minutes (maybe ten) to open the book and prepare a passage at five speeds.
Details, starting with text you want to record.
- Calculate how long it should take at different speeds, in seconds.
- Read it to the computer at a fairly constant speed, near the middle of your range. You don’t have to be exact. 60wpm is good if you want 40 to 100 in the final recording. Audacity records fine.
- Open the file in Audacity, if you recorded with a different program.
- Select (drag over) the sounds. (Ctrl-A selects all.)
- In the menus: Effects / Change Tempo. Put the target time in “length”. Ok.
- Either Save the file, or follow the next set of instructions to get many different speeds.
- Select and copy the track.
- Click on the sheet below the first track.
- Paste to create a new, identical track.
- Keep pasting new tracks until you have one for each target speed.
- Select the contents of each track and Change Tempo to the target time.
- Click on the info to the left of each track and Rename the track. This will be the file name of that track. I like the book, paragraph and speed.
- You can add a brief audio description to the start of each track.
- In the menus: File / Export Multiple. Each track to a separate file. (It’s easier to use them this way, but you could make one big file with all the tracks.)
- Copy files to iPod, read the boards one last time, turn off the computer, and work on shorthand.
If you want to try the beats per minute feature, start by forcing it to the right length for 60wpm. Then tell it you’re starting at 60bpm and you want whatever. I found it easier to go by target length.
You can record in other programs. Audacity will read most of the common formats. The recording program that come with Vista only makes WMA files. Audacity will not read them as first installed (MS doesn’t want them to). It’s easy to add the extension to Audacity, but if you already have Audacity, why bother with the Windows method?
If you start with a different sound file, you’re on your own for deciding how much to change the speed. 50wpm to 60wpm is a 17% increase, but 100wpm to 110wpm is only 10%.