How to become an audiobooks speed listener

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Wondering how to become an audiobooks speed listener? This article has got you covered with great tips and suggestions.

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Audiobooks are a fantastic tool for practicing speed listening and reading. Whether you’re about to listen to your first audiobook or have already completed dozens of them, there’s always room for progress. In this article, you’ll learn how to train yourself to be a faster listener and get all the benefits of the speed listening process.


Hacking your brain for speed listening

If you’re like most people, you may find that your comprehension slows down as you increase your reading speed. You may often flip pages without the slightest clue of what you read.

A good way to supplement your reading skills is to try audio programs. Both podcasts and audiobooks can be of great help.

Most of us get our daily information input by listening to audio material. We find it more convenient to listen to an Audible audiobook on our way to work or when we do house chores than sit down with the physical version of the book.

More and more, audio narration becomes a substitute for written word reading. And when you want to go faster, you can boost your reading speed. When you jump from normal speed to higher rates, you lower the time needed to go through the whole book.

It’s interesting to learn how fast you can go to keep your comprehension levels high. The Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research conducted a study where they found that an average sighted person can understand up to six syllables per second of any given speech. Blind people, however, can understand up to 25 syllables per second.

Blind people are capable of repurposing their brains to make them more capable of auditory processing.

So, is there something you can do to hack your brain to read faster?

Yes, by combining your reading speed with speed listening skills.

Here’s an exercise you can try for this:

  1. Start by listening to an audiobook at a comfortable speed.
  2. Listen to the audiobook at that same speed for 10 minutes.
  3. Move to the next level of playback speed.
  4. Listen to that next level for 10 minutes.
  5. Change the speed levels every 10 minutes. The goal is to get to a rate where you start feeling a bit overwhelmed or stressed. You’ll know you’re there when you begin to focus too much on the words rather than comprehend what you’re hearing.
  6. Return to the previous level of speed once you become uncomfortable. Consider that speed level as your current maximum speed capacity.
  7. Listen at this speed as long and as often as you can. The idea is to be able to listen to the content without the reader sounding like a chipmunk.
  8. Repeat Steps 1-7 every two days. Your maximum speed should be gradually improving.

Note that it’s normal to feel stressed when listening to a high playback speed. It’s a sign that your brain is trying to adapt. You’ll get used to the high speed with time, and it will take you a shorter amount of time to move from one level to another the more you practice.

How to approach audiobooks

The method above isn’t the only way to become a better audiobook listener. Here are more great tips you can try to become a faster listener.

Listen to a longer period

Just as reading a book for 10 minutes every day won’t make for a great reading experience, audiobook listening for a short amount of time won’t do much for you either. Stay focused on listening to your favorite narrators for longer than 15 minutes at a time. You can set specific hours every day you’ll dedicate to active listening.

Once you can complete listening for 15 minutes at regular speed )or however you like), try stretching that time to 25 minutes. And if you’re tired of slow audiobook narrators, you can always increase the speed in your audiobook apps.

Stay focused

Many people prefer audiobooks over physical books because they facilitate multitasking. But if you notice that your comprehension suffers while you multitask, you increase your chances of walking away dissatisfied with your audiobook experience.

It’s completely fine to listen to a book in silence, much like you’d do with a physical book. If you can’t focus on a book while doing something else, simply don’t listen to it while you’re focused on other work.

Practice listening to everything at a higher speed

Try watching YouTube videos at two times the normal speed, or play your favorite Netflix show at 1.5 times the speed. You can also play Spotify podcasts and other content at a faster rate.

Tailor your listening experience with Speechify

Another way to boost your listening experience is to try assistive technology tools like Speechify.

Speechify is a text to speech (TTS) engine that can read printed or digital text aloud at different speeds. This software works as a computer and smartphone app (available for Apple iOSAndroid, and as a browser extension).

 You can play any text in the voice of your favorite voice actor, rewind the sections you missed, take notes, speed-read and much more.

The free version can read for you up to 220 words per minute, while the premium experience offers up to 900 words per minute. Both offer plenty of voices, but the natural-sounding ones are only available with the premium version.

If you’d like to try it out, you can do so for free starting today.


What is a good speed to listen to audiobooks?

Any speed that doesn’t feel like it’s stressing you out is good. Ideally, you want to settle for the rate that feels comfortable and doesn’t impact your comprehension.

Is it good to listen to audiobooks at 3x speed?

Listening to audiobooks at 3x speed is a great tip for speed listening. So long as you can follow without problems and have a good narrator, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t listen to an audiobook at this speed.

What are some good audiobooks to listen to?

The Harry Potter novels can be a great first book series for audio listeners. If you’ve already read the physical book, you can practice increasing the listening speed because the content and context will be familiar. Any new book you find on Kindle or in any other source can also be a good audiobook, thanks to Speechify.

How do I speed up audiobooks on my iPhone?

The easiest way is to navigate to the “Accessibility” section in “Settings.” Go to “Spoken content” and adjust the speed in the “Speaking rate” section.

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