Audio Books – The 9 Great Advantages

Audio books are emerging as a hot favorite in both the USA and the UK. According to a US Marketdata Enterprises market report, more than $2 billion in audio books were sold during the course of 2005 in the USA alone. The projected annual increase in spend on audio books in the USA is conservatively estimated to be between the 4.5% to 5% marks.

In the UK, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) estimates that they will be doubling the size of the UK market for audio books from £75m to £150m within the next three years.

That is a lot of audio books, by anybody’s definition. One of the many reasons for this upsurge in the sale of audio books lies in the advantages to be had.

1. Visual impairment Given a choice between the sizable and cumbersome Braille books available and audio books on CD, the vast majority of visually impaired people would opt for the latter. When it comes to new releases, purchasing an audio book online or downloading audio books from the internet, is markedly simpler and quicker than waiting for these titles to appear in Braille.

2. Studies Not all high school and college students are avid readers. This can be problematic considering the copious amounts of reading required from students. Fortunately, many of the prescribed text books for high school and college students are available as audio books. This allows students to make notes while they listen. This is much quicker than the to-and-fro process needed when reading the printed word. Note taking while listening to audio books supports the learning process, as both the visual and aural senses are engaged.

3. Kinetic, ADHD and ADD learners Kinetic, ADHD and ADD learners need to move about while studying. Audio books present the ideal solution to learners who fall within these three categories. The learners can move about to their hearts’ content while the content is being presented. No more striding up and down, book in hand, battling to follow the lines in the moving book.

Parents of ADHD and ADD learners could consider downloading audio books to their children’s MP3 players or iPods. The learners can then listen to the audio books through their earphones. This will eliminate those sounds that would normally attract the learner’s attention and disrupt his or her concentration.

4. VDU strain VDU strain is a major contributor to premature sight deterioration. Most people spend a lot of time looking at their computer screens while at work and, when they get home, they perpetuate the strain by sitting in front of their television screens. The truth is that listening to audio books is much more relaxing than watching TV. You can lie back, close your weary eyes and allow your audio books to tell the tale.

5. The time factor In between household chores, family commitments and the pressure of work, most people simply do not have the time to indulge in reading. This makes audio books a very attractive option. You can very easily listen to a favorite title while commuting to and from work. It makes the journey seem quicker. Time spent attending to household chores could also become ‘reading’ time – courtesy of one of the many audio books available today.

6. Self development Another interesting statistic: Just over 20% of all audio books sold in the USA, fall in the self development category. The implication is that many people are turning audio books into life coaches. Comparing the costs of a ‘live’ life coach to audio books, makes this trend very logical indeed. You can buy the audio books on CD, or purchase the audio book online. The choice is yours!

7. On the practical side Consider the space you need for 150 printed books. Then consider the space you need for 150 audio books. There is no comparison, now is there? If you have been downloading audio books as opposed to purchasing audio books on CD, it is merely a matter of hard disk space. You also never need to dust it …

8. On the convenience side What can be more convenient than finding the book you want and immediately having access to it without leaving the house? This is only possible in the world of audio books.

9. On the family side If you are a parent, audio books offer you the opportunity to reduce the time your young ones spend, eyes fixed, in front of the TV screen! Audio books will not only offer them entertainment, but improve their literacy too. From a parenting perspective, listening to these stories with your children is quality time spent with the children – time that every child deserves.

Our list of advantages is not exhaustive. On the contrary, there is much more to be said in support of audio books. But, perhaps it would be better to allow you to enjoy discovering these by yourself.

Recording With Audio, Digital Audio, and MIDI in the Home Studio

By the time we’re done, you will learn:

  • The practical and technical differences between audio, digital audio, and MIDI.
  • Why you need to understand the distinctions.
  • How sound gets into and out of your computer.

Audio Audio = sound waves. In audio production audio must be harnessed, manipulated, and edited through tangible electronic equipment. So audio must be turned into an electrical signal before can do anything with it in terms of music production and engineering.

In this case, audio refers to analog signals that are vibrations emitted from a voice, instrument, or any acoustic source. It is transformed into an electrical signal, which, prior to digital conversion and storage onto your computers hard drive is known as an analog signal.

Digital Audio When an analog audio signal is converted through an analog to digital converter it is sampled in large amounts and becomes a stream of binary code. Basically, this means it is a digital representation of the original sound. Think about it like a photograph… When you take a picture you are recording a digital representation of the thing you see. This analogy works perfectly to understand digital audio.

MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a computer-generated data protocol that triggers tones and tells them when to start and stop, how loud to play these tones, (velocity) and other informational commands. It is important to understand that MIDI is not audio, and cannot be processed or edited the same way.

MIDI has been used since it was introduced in 1983. The last couple of decades have made it a standard computer format that is universally compatible. MIDI has become very efficient for composing digital music since it uses much less hard-disc space or processing power than audio file formats.

In Practice

Whether you use an internally installed soundcard and a mixer, or an audio interface, or some combination, you are recording acoustic audio through a microphone, or an instrument direct.

That sound is being transformed into binary numbers called digital audio once it passes through your converters. (either standalone, or through your audio interface)

The digital audio that is stored onto your hard disk goes through processing within your daw, which can be written directly to the original sound sample, (destructively edited) or simulated in real-time monitoring without actually changing the original file but will be mixed down and become a part of the new file you create when you bounce the mix to disc.

The sound goes from that file, to the soundcard where it is turned back into analog audio and played through your studio monitors-arriving back at your ears as audio.

This means that your recording technique, signal chain through digital audio conversion, your ear and mixing technique, editing skills, plus the accuracy in your monitoring system, all play an integral role in your ability to produce a professional audio recording.

Now with MIDI… MIDI is just instructional data that commands digital audio to do something. Play, don’t play, how long, how hard, which notes, etc.

Summary

  • Audio is not MIDI. MIDI is not audio. Repeat that to yourself a few times to let it sink in.
  • Audio = sound. MIDI = data. Digital Audio = Digital representation of analog audio signal.
  • MIDI tells digital audio samples what to do.
  • Audio and MIDI are different in their inherent nature, form, and the way they can be handled and processed during production in a home recording studio.

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