I got hooked on audiobooks recently. It’s great to work on the computer and listen to a fascinating book all at the same time. But it’s even better to listen to an audiobook while driving my car.
The Problem with Long Audiobook Files
And herein lies a problem. Most of my audiobooks are large MP3 files. Each file is usually more than 7 hours long. I put several audiobooks, music albums, childrens’ songs collections, etc. on a USB thumbdrive and play them as needed.
The problem is that my car’s audio player cannot create and save bookmarks. The only way to make the audio player remember where I left off listening to an audiobook is to turn off the car while listening to that audiobook. It then picks up where it left off once I start up the car again.
However, when I want to listen to something else like a music album and then pick up the audiobook where I left off — that’s a no go. And let me tell you, fast forwarding 4 hours into a 7.5 hour long audiobook while driving is neither the fastest, nor the safest thing in the world.
The solution is to split up the audiobook into smaller chunks and then I can just select the following audio chunk the next time.
The first program I tried to use for splitting up an audiobook was Audacity. It comes both in an installer version and a portable version.
To open your input audiobook, go to
The loading (importing) of the audiobook MP3 file takes a while. In my case, it took about 3.5 minutes to load a 7.5 hour audiobook.
The only way to split up an audio file in Audacity is to manually select the start and end positions for the output audio file.
Then go to
Also, don’t forget about the output MP3’s settings. To set them, click on the
You don’t need to worry about the settings later on, though. Audacity will remember your initial selections and save all audio chunks exactly the way you wanted them to be.
Saving one chunk takes about 12 seconds. So, when splitting up a 7.5 hour long audiobook, the whole process would take about 20 minutes.
If you have a lot of audiobooks, this will be way too much time to spend on just one of them.
WavePad by NCH Software is an often cited tool for splitting up audio files.
It is completely free for non-commercial usage.
The loading time of the input file is, again, not very fast. It takes about the same 3.5 minutes to load a 7.5 hour audiobook as with Audacity — so, just be patient.
To open the input audio file, go to
WavePad can split up an audio file using several methods:
Splitting up a 7.5 hour audio file into 5 minute intervals means that I am creating 90 small audio files.
While WavePad splits up the original audio file very fast, it is limited to opening up just 30 files in one go. This means that the last (thirtieth) file will be much longer than 5 minutes.
However, there are two further problems:
- You have to manually save each of those 30 open files. Which is extremely tedious.
- Saving the first 29 files will take only seconds each — well, actually about a minute each. But saving the large 30th file will take very long because it will still contain more than 5 hours worth of audio recording.
So, the whole process will become irritating after a few rounds of this non-sense. And if you have 500 audiobooks and they are 7+ hours long each, this whole process will take you days to complete. That’s just insane!
As far as I am concerned, the whole reason for using computers and software is to automate and simplify things…
In practical terms, the only way to split up audiobooks with WavePad is to split them up into a maximum of 30 equal pieces.
In my case that means that each chunk will be about 15 minutes long. Still not bad.
To save the files, go to
And then again prompted for selecting the audio settings of each and every file being saved…
After you are done saving all the files, go to
The splitting works great and is helpful to a certain degree.
However, to make this tool truly user-friendly, my advice to NCH Software is this:
- Get rid of the hard-coded limitation of 30 open files and let the user set how many files can be open at one time.
- Let the user save all open files with the same settings at once. Saving each open file manually is idiotic.
- Let the user select to save and close a split up chunk file automatically, as soon as it is created.
Cool MP3 Splitter
Cool MP3 Splitter is way simpler and a much faster software tool then the previous two programs.
On the homepage of their website, it says that that the software is free to download. But when you actually launch the installed program it says that it’s only a trial version.
Well, the way I see it is that the trial version contains everything I will ever need to split audio files.
It processes the input audio file, splits it up into 5 minute chunks, and autosaves them all in just 15 seconds — that’s all there is to it.
To open the input audio file, click on the
Then click on the
…and on the
To split the audiobook into 5 minute chunks, click on the
As I said the whole process will take about 15 seconds and you don’t have to worry about manually saving or closing the output files at all.
While I like Audacity a lot, it is not well-suited for splitting up audio files. It can be done manually, but it is way too time-consuming and not worth the effort at all.
WavePad seems like a good solution at first, but as you dig into splitting audio files, you find out that it is just slightly more practical than Audacity.
So, I will definitely be using Cool MP3 Splitter for splitting up audiobooks or any kind of a larger audio file into shorter pieces. It’s free, fast, and super easy to use — just the way I like my software.
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