The Sequences in MP3 Format

by r_claypool1 min read8th Jul 201118 comments


Rationality A-Z (discussion & meta)
Personal Blog

I can drive and listen, but I can't drive and read!  The same is true for most kinds of exercise.

If you are in my situation - wanting to read the sequences without having enough time - feel free to download these audio files for your smart phone or MP3 player.

My vision is to build a podcast feed or downloadable MP3 repository of all the major sequences.  The files I have now are not organized enough to scale out to hundreds of posts, and some of the artifacts of text-to-speech could be reduced with the right pre-processing.  Before I spend more time on this, I want the right tools and process in place. 

Any ideas on how to to proceed?  Would you like to help?  How should I publish these files?


18 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 7:34 PM
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Upvoted for usefulness although I wish you'd resisted the temptation to pick a cute title and gone with, "The sequences in MP3 format."

I never would have come to this thread without your suggested title.

Good point. changed.

Now I'm curious to know the original title. :D

AT&T Mike meets

I have created a full collection of all the sequences in audio format. I looked in to releasing it as a podcast but discovered that it would not be legal (without paying the appropriate fees).

It may actually be worthwhile for the SIAI to buy a T2S licence and add a podcast form to LW.

LessWrong might be exempt from these fees, but the exemption is unclear. Specifically, I don't know how to interpret "other consideration of any kind". I am not a lawyer.

From the license holder's website:

5) Do I need a license to distribute mp3 or mp3surround encoded content?

Yes. A license is needed for commercial (i.e., revenue-generating) use of mp3/mp3PRO in broadcast systems (terrestrial, satellite, cable and/or other distribution channels), streaming applications (via Internet, intranets and/or other networks), other content distribution systems (pay-audio or audio-on-demand applications and the like) or for use of mp3/mp3PRO on physical media (compact discs, digital versatile discs, semiconductor chips, hard drives, memory cards and the like).

However, no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with associated annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00.

I think wedrifid is probably talking about the licensing of the text-to-speech engine he used, rather than mp3, since if mp3 licensing is the problem the files can be easily converted to another format.

Oh. I understand now. I've tried a few text-to-speech engines and AT&T Natural Voices sound the best to my ears. I will find the terms of use and pricing for that.

Please do. If they are sufficiently cheap I will see about getting someone here to allow me to implement an automatic audio version of either just the early Eliezer posts (including sequences) or as a feature of all posts. This would be massively valuable for many of us.

In fact, if price is prohibitive I wonder if it would be worth implementing a free (less natural sounding) text-to-speech converter.

Other questions to resolve:

  • Where should the files be hosted? (Does LW have the bandwidth)
  • Is LW exempt from MP3 licensing? (I hope so)
  • Where should the download links be placed? (A wiki page is fine, but it will be less discoverable.)
  • Which posts should be completed first?

Where should the files be hosted? (Does LW have the bandwidth) Probably, it isn't a huge amount. If not I have half a dozen servers floating around the place. They cost pittance.

Is LW exempt from MP3 licensing? (I hope so)

Probably but I know less than you.

Where should the download links be placed? (A wiki page is fine, but it will be less discoverable.)

A wiki page sounds good for now. If people find it especially useful we can work from there. (I may create an RSS feed or podcast at some stage if I feel inspired.)

Which posts should be completed first?

Whatever you happen to care about.

I have price quotes for Acapela, Cepstral, Wizzard (AT&T Voices), Neospeech, and Nuance RealSpeak. The range is from $1,000 to $15,000 USD.

Open source options are eSpeak (robotic), Festival (robotic), FreeTTS (robotic), Pico and others.

Pico is part of Android and it sounds more natural than other open source options I tried. Pico is licensed under Apache 2.0. Here's a demo.

The commercial voices are definately better; Loquendo is a good example.

So now I can start converting via Pico or try to get funding for a more natural voice. Thoughts?

So now I can start converting via Pico or try to get funding for a more natural voice. Thoughts?

Start with pico I guess. Then we can possibly upgrade in the future.

Converting is easy, but what's the next best format?

WAV is going to need a lot of bandwidth and storage. Ogg Vorbis works fine on Android, but not for the iPhone.

MP3 will give the best user experience for the most users.

[-][anonymous]5y 0

When I klick on the link I get the following message

"ERROR: Invalid URL
The URL you entered does not exist at
If you think you got this message in error, try emptying your browser's cache and then reloading the page."

Is the audio files still available some where?

This seems like a pretty good idea. You should make a wiki article with links to different sequences.

Great idea, but don't forget about copyrights.