Speed Up Your Listening to Enjoy More Podcasts and Spoken Audio

Speed up your audio listening

If you’re like me and many other tech geeks, you’re overloaded with content to consume, tricks to try out, and gadgets to play with. Throw all of that into a busy life, and you might lament not having time to pursue your interests. I’ve felt that way recently. Lately, the time I’ve had to listen to podcasts and other audio content has decreased. In the past, I had a long list of podcasts I enjoyed. I wrote about them a few months ago, but since that time, I don’t even listen to half of the podcasts on that list. I just don’t have the time. I enjoy those podcasts, so I want to get back to listening to them. Coupled with a desire to listen to more books on Audible, I thought about how to consume more of the content that I enjoy. I think I’ve come up with one way to do it.

My solution? I now listen to my podcasts at 1.5 times the normal speed. Before you laugh at my solution, let me get this out of the way: it works. The first couple of podcasts I listened to at that speed seemed fast, but my brain has adjusted, and sometimes I have to double check to make sure that the audio is still playing at the increased rate. Certain speakers sound better at increased speed than others. Leo Laporte, for example, is a pro, and he comes across perfectly. I’ve only ever had a bit of trouble with one or two speakers, and they’ve both been guests who spoke at a fairly rapid but clipped pace already. My brain has adjusted to the point that recently I listened to a podcast at normal speed (an old file downloaded for another app that didn’t support variable playback speeds), and I found myself saying “hurry up!” to the hosts.

As I’ve previously covered, I use Doggcatcher on my Android phone for podcast listening. Doggcatcher supports a third party plugin, Presto, to facilitate variable rate playback. All I need to do is tap an icon in the bottom right of the playing screen to increase the playback rate. Presto currently goes for $4.99 in the Android Market.

I’ll probably keep audio books at normal speed. I view audio books almost like a performance, and wouldn’t want to distort the reading. But for podcasts, this works great.

Would speeding up your audio work for you?


Evan Kline

Hello, I'm Evan. I write about tech from my perspective – that of the average 40-something tech geek. You can also find me on Twitter and at my real-life job as a lawyer.    MORE ABOUT ME.


  1. Good thinking. My smartphone is old and doesn’t run any new apps, so is there a way to edit mp3 files to make them play faster?

    • Hmm, good question, Dan. I don’t know of any native phone apps, but on the PC you might want to take a look at Audacity to see if that will do it.

      • Thanks. I’ve sped up an audiobook by about 40% in Audacity. It’s still very easy to listen to, and I save about 20 mins for every 60 mins of audio. That’s great for the normal commute to and from work.

        BTW, I listen to nonfic audiobooks, so they’re much closer to podcasts (albeit of much higher quality) than performance-type fiction audiobooks.

      • Glad to hear it worked, Dan. I haven’t been brave enough to speed up an audiobook yet. I’m listening to Getting Things Done again, so maybe I’ll experiment. I see that the Audible app has a speed option that goes up to 3X.

  2. I couldn’t agree with you more, I have the same problem when I’m trying to listen to audio podcasts. I find that presenters are ridiculously slow a lot of the time, to the point where when I return to normal speed I can’t believe they really speak that slowly. Using my iPhone I often have as many as 75 podcasts to get through so double speed is essential.

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