Listening to the translated Scriptures: a review of today’s digital audio players
Author: Richard Margetts

Fourth Edition - Revised for 2019

It is not hard to convince those involved in Scripture access and Scripture engagement of the value of listening to audio Scriptures. We want to assist communities in making strategic choices about how best to make them available and how best to encourage people to engage with them. One of the ways people listen to the Bible today is using a digital audio player. But since there are so many different audio players to choose from, how do we make a good choice?

This in-depth review (66 pages) compares a range of today's digital audio players including the Proclaimer (from Faith Comes By Hearing), the Envoy 2 (from MegaVoice), the Audibible K1 (from Kivah Distributors), the Papyrus and The Torch (from Renew World Outreach), the Kulumi Mini and Lost Sheep from Hope Tech Global.

The review is presented in several sections, illustrated with photos and giving a summary of the key features, prices, pros and cons of each player. Also mentioned are feature phones, smartphones and locally available MP3 players.

The first edition of this report was published in 2008 and compared the Proclaimer, MegaVoice Ambassador and Saber. Over the past 11 years we have seen:

  1. Continued innovation: Christian organisations continue to innovate in their development of solar-powered audio players. Almost every year we hear of new products being released.
  2. Collaboration: Organisations are working together more in design, manufacturing and distribution. They are increasingly using each other’s devices or software rather than always seeing the need to do something on their own.
  3. More capacity: As memory has become cheaper, audio players are seeing an increasing amount of built-in memory. This means that they have the capacity to contain more content and better-quality audio. There is less need to compress audio files to make them as small as possible.
  4. Durability and better battery life: Today’s audio players are more durable than their predecessors. This means better build quality and improved battery technology. In the past, one of the biggest complaints about audio players was the problem of dead batteries after a few months of use. The batteries being used today have a much longer shelf life and will last for longer.
  5. Multilingual players: There is a trend to see multiple languages on a single player, e.g. translations of the Bible in a selection of languages – very useful for multilingual contexts.
  6. Easier content loading with MP3 files: In the past, some players required less than common audio file formats, meaning that you had to run file conversion and compression programs before uploading new content. Now most players take standard MP3 files and uploading content is much easier.
  7. Players with flashlights/torches: Several organisations have integrated a light into their player.
  8. Players for children: The MegaVoice Wildlife Storytellers and the new Lost Sheep have been designed especially for children.
  9. Most people have a phone: The incredible growth in mobile phone ownership and use means that a large proportion of the world’s population now have their own personal audio player (feature phone or smartphone) that they carry with them everywhere.
  10. Digital file sharing: In most countries of the world, people are interacting with digital media and are familiar with memory cards and MP3 audio files. Not only do they consume this media themselves, but they share it with their friends who share it with their friends, and so on.
  11. Local availability of digital audio players: A portable FM radio that you can buy in the local shops often has a memory card or a USB slot that you can use to play digital audio files.

Download the full report as a PDF document.

Resources to download:
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