Tatsuhiko Miyagawa's Blog

Another Case against Smart Speed / Silent Removal

March 13, 2015

Following up yesterdays’ piece about Pocket Casts’ Remove Silence feature.

I did some experiments and recorded the output of original, Pocket Casts Remove Silence (1x) and Overcast’s Smart Speed (1x). The difference is dramatic.

Here’s the text in Japanese:

スターバックスの、パワーマットアライアンスやってるところの CEO のインタビューなんですけども

and in phonetic:

Starbucks no, Power Matto Aliance yatteru tokoro no CEO no interview nandesu kedomo

There’s a few double consonants (This YouTube video is helpful to understand what it is) used in there. Listen to what these features apply to the audio and notice the double consonants highlighted above.

It might be difficult for non-Japanese speakers to figure out, but the effect is still dramatic.

Both Overcast’s Smart Speed and Pocket Casts’ Remove Silence strips the legitimate pause inside the words, although Pocket Casts is arguably more aggressive and completely changes the words, while Overcast still maintains the relative pause.

I know that there’s a debate about whether to preserve the dramatic pause in NPR podcasts or to listen to podcasts in whatever speed.

As a heavy listener of podcasts, I’m with Marco and apply whatever speed variation and smart speed to most podcasts to save time. When appplied correctly, it reduces the pause between the sentences, while still maintaining the natural pitch and pace of the speaker. But as a podcaster myself, I would also like to make it known that these effects could literally change what is being discussed, when it is applied incorrectly against languages where consonant elongations are siginificant.