Prepare your Audiobooks for a Roadtrip

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 25, 2008
Updated • Dec 4, 2012
Music, Tutorials

I never liked taking my original CDs, or any CDs at all for that matter, with me on a roadtrip or on holidays. CDs are fragile and tend to break pretty quickly, especially if kids are around. If they don't break them they usually scratch the CDs into oblivion. I began to create backups of my CDs and take them with me on those trips which solved one problem. I still did not like carrying around dozens of CDs and decided to convert them into digital media and put them on my mp3 player instead.

The problem that I was facing now was that my mp3 player has a limited storage capacity of four Gigabytes. With audiobooks growing in size all the time it is not that unusual to encounter some that would use up to 500 Megabytes and more of space on that mp3 player.

I therefor came to the conclusion that the best way to prepare my audiobooks was to reduce their quality. While it naturally reduces the quality of the recording it does not reduce it that much in my opinion that you would stop enjoying the audiobook. The benefit of course is a reduced file size.

A normal audio CD encoded with 128 Kbps uses about 50-70 Megabytes of space on the hard drive with a playtime between 50 and 70 minutes. An audiobook encoded with 32 Kbps has a size of a little bit more than 20 Megabytes with a playtime of nearly 90 minutes. If you encode it with 64 Kbps instead it uses the same 20 Megabytes for a playtime that is halved.

I won't be telling you which quality level you should choose because frankly taste is different. If you prefer a better quality encode them that way, if you can live with 32 Kbps do that and save lots of space.

The software that I'm using for this type of conversions is called MP3 Reduce II but you can use almost any audio software out there. MP3 Reduce II has the advantage that you simply select the source file, the encoding quality and the destination file. The only problem that I have with it is that you can only select one file at a time.

Another way would be to merge all mp3 files and save them as one big file at the end. Audacity can do that for instance, just copy paste all files next to each other and save the selection as a new mp3 file.

If you prefer the command line you can use the command copy /b audio1.mp3 + audio2.mp3 result.mp3. It won't be perfect but it could be enough for the next roadtrip.

I was able to reduce the size of an audiobook with a playing time of 670 minutes from 600 Megabyte to 150 Megabyte this way.


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  1. jason said on March 2, 2008 at 6:16 am

    well, in my opinion,

    320 kbps – best quality
    192 / 128 kbps – CD quality.
    64 kbps – the least but also good quality.

    anything lower than 64, the music will be awful.

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