Asking the Right Questions

All around the world, people are listening to the Bible recorded in audio form. Some are listening individually, meditating on God’s Word at home or as they go about their daily lives. Others are gathering together in groups, listening for a while and then talking about what they have been hearing. For some, it’s the first time they have heard parts of the Bible, and for others they find themselves listening time and time again. It means more access to the Scriptures than ever before, in more languages, reaching young and old, those who can read, those who cannot read, and those who prefer not to read.

It is not hard to convince those involved in Scripture access and Scripture engagement of the importance of 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. In today’s digital world, there are so many more possibilities than just a few years ago. And the methods we use for audio distribution continue to change. Only twelve years ago, I remember copying audio onto cassette tapes, but we don’t do that anymore!

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 comparison report is written to help you choose between the different types and models of audio players available today.

What changes are we seeing in the world of audio players?

The first edition of this report, in 2008, compared the Proclaimer, MegaVoice Ambassador and Saber. In 2014,
we compared the Proclaimer, MegaVoice Envoy, MegaVoice Storyteller, Audibible, Papyrus and Saber.
Now in 2019, we are seeing the following trends:

  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. Several of the players available today did
    not exist three years ago.
  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. For example, MegaVoice and Hope Tech Global are using the SaberCopy software,
    developed by Global Recordings Network. Faith Comes By Hearing is making use of MegaVoice players,
    The Torch and the Kulumi Mini in its listening group programmes, in addition to its own Proclaimers.
  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. This includes the Kulumi Mini,
    MegaVoice Envoy and The Torch.
  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.