Speed up those boring meeting replays with mplayer

December 29, 2010

It’s been a while since I looked at the man page for mplayer. Ubuntu has finally included something I’ve wanted for a long time.

Every now and then I have to listen to pre-recorded meetings. Since I usually think faster than the speakers can talk (“umm, uhh… could you go to the next slide please?”) I like to speed things up.

I used to have to use sox to change the playback speed without changing the pitch, but now it appears it’s built into mplayer, which makes it much easier.

Here’s how to do it:

mplayer -af scaletempo -speed 1.3 boringmeeting.mp3

This plays back at 1.3 times the usual speed, which is good for most speakers. Really slow ones will benefit from -speed 1.5.

When I was young, I had an LP with the song “Twilight Zone” by Golden Earring on it. I used to listen to that at 45 rpm instead of 33 rpm because it made it sound more urgent. That would be -speed 1.363 if you’re playing at home.

Converting audio files under Linux

December 29, 2010

Linux has mplayer, an excellent audio player. It’s also handy when you want to convert a sound file from one format to another. The secret is to use .wav as an intermediate conversion, since most audio converters know how to handle that.

Here is the magic incantation for mplayer:

mplayer -quiet -vo null -vc dummy -ao pcm:waveheader:file="output.wav" input.rm

This takes the input file and creates output.wav from it. Once you have that, it’s a simple matter of

oggenc output.wav

to get output.ogg (don’t forget to install vorbis-tools) or

lame output.wav

if MP3s are your bag.

Linux Review has a good article on converting using this technique