MP3 Audio Bibles

Eric Martin MP3 Bible

Last Update: April 2010

Note: The listing of an online store below is NOT an endorsement by me. I simply found these sites using Internet searches and list them for your convenience. Please research any shops before making any purchases.

Background:

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. Listening to the Bible is wonderful, and can be done while driving and walking, making valuable use of time that is sometimes wasted otherwise.

Audio versions of the Holy Bible have been available for quite some time on cassette tape and more recently on CD-ROM. These Bibles are relatively expensive, with the entire Bible costing anywhere from around $75 to over $100. This cost is justified partially by the sheer number of CD's used and for the case that usually comes with it to carry all these CDs.

Today, however, audio Bibles are available in other formats as well. Hardware MP3-style players can be purchased with the Bible audio pre-loaded on them. I have a comparison chart of several models here: Electronic Audio Bibles.

You can also purchase an Audio Bible in MP3 format on CD, which allows you to copy the files to your own MP3 player.

With the MP3 format, the entire Bible can now be put on 2 or 3 CD's, or a single DVD, using a decent MP3 bit-rate that still provides good listening quality. This brings the costs down greatly over the Audio-CD format.

While the MP3 format CDs won't play in many older home or auto CD players, many newer players now support MP3-format CDs. In addition, as mentioned above, the MP3 can be copied (using a computer) to MP3 players such as the Apple iPod, and of course can be listened to on any computer or laptop (whether Windows, MacIntosh, or Linux based). Also, most DVD players support the playing of MP3-format CDs (though the video will be blank, of course).

Factors for a Good Audio Bible:

There are a number of MP3 Bibles out there, but deciding which one to get has been quite a chore, as the choices are not always clear. Some web-sites give great information, such as providing an audio download of a sample Scripture and stating the bit-rate of the recording. Others don't say much more than "Finally, the Bible on MP3!".

1. Bit-Rate: Since MP3 is a "lossy" format, it can be important to know what bit-rate the MP3 files have been saved at. MP3 files saved at a low bit-rate can sound distorted and can be irritating to listen to. Sadly, most web-sites don't provide this information. If you can at least hear a sample of the recording, this can be very helpful. If the entire Bible fits on one CD-ROM disk, then it is probably recorded at a low bit rate since a CD only provides about 700 Megabytes of storage. A decent recording of the entire Bible will typically take anywhere from about 1-2 Gigabytes in the MP3 format.

2. Style of Reading: Three styles of reading include Spoken word only, Music background, or Dramatized.

The spoken word audio bibles are simply the Bible read word-for-word with no music or other distractions. Music background versions add a subtle "music" background to the reading in an attempt to give the reading some feeling, and ambiance. Dramatized versions use a variety of speakers, music, and sometimes even sound effects to provide a more dramatic reading. 

Personally, I don't care for most of the "music background" versions that I've heard. I usually find the music distracting, almost to the point of irritating, and overall it just makes it harder to pay attention to the word. In general, I prefer the plain "vocal only" versions as they deliver the pure Word of God with no disctractions. The dramatized versions are interesting and can sometimes keep your attention better, but I also shy away from these. When the Scriptures are dramatically read, the reader is adding what he or she thinks the tone of the verse should be. That is, the reader may use an angry tone in a passage, where another reader might see that verse as simply being stern and not angry. Since the Bible doesn't give us these clues (other than contextually), I'd prefer not to have them.

3. Speed of Reading: One area I hadn't thought about too much before hearing several different audio Bibles was the speed of the reading. Stephen Johnston, for example, has narrated several audio bibles, and has at least one version in which he speaks very quickly. I actually felt stressed after listening to portions of this version as the speed was so fast! Again, hearing a sample of the recording can be very helpful before you purchase.

4. Bible Version: An obvious factor is the version of the Bible that is read. I prefer the Authorized Version / King James Version of the Bible. 

5. Media Format: Be sure you have the proper reader depending on the Media you purchase. Some Audio Bibles come on DVD, since the audio files take up so much space. Since most computers have DVD readers in them, this isn't usually a problem, but don't expect to play the DVD in your MP3 compatible CD plyer! Just make sure the media format matches the device you intend to use to play the audio.

Some Available MP3 Audio Bibles

The number of Audio Bibles available has increased greatly since this article was first written in 2006, so the following should only be considered a sample. Try to explore the factors above in making any purchase decisions.

It was difficult to "sort" audio Bibles as in most cases the websites didn't provide information on who actually produced the CD. Thus, rather than sorting these by manufacturer, I've had to base the products on the Speaker.

This has made it more difficult to provide strong recommendations, because it appears that the same reader has worked on multiple different projects. Thus, to recommend Stephen Johnston's reading, for example, would depend on which version of his reading you are talking about. As I mentioned above, there is at least one product with Stephen Johnston reading that is way too fast for my tastes, but he has other readings that are much better. Again, I recommend that you try to hear an example of a product if possible, as most of them are not returnable once opened since the sellers need to protect against people just copying the MP3 files off and returning the CDs for a refund.

1. Stephen Johnston [from Hendrickson Publishers site (www.hendrickson.com)]: "Stephen Johnston, with his clear, expressive baritone voice, is one of the foremost narrators of the Bible. He has been involved in many facets of the radio and television industries and has won numerous awards, including an Emmy and a Film Critics Award." See also Stephen's own site at: http://www.thestephencompany.com/

Hendrickson Publishers KJV Bible on MP3 (ISBN: 1565639502) lists for $29.95. It comes on 3 CDs, which indicates to me they probably use a decent MP3 bit-rate rate, although they don't give the details. The narrator is Stephen Johnston, who has a good voice. "Soothing Music" is played in the background. Sadly, as one reviewer posted on the www.Amazon.com site, the narration is spoken at such a rapid pace that it is tiring to listen to! I actually felt stressed after listening to this hurried recording, which is certainly not the result I want from hearing Scriptures. There are almost 72 hours on the 3 disks: Disc 1 - Genesis–Kings; Disc 2 - 2 Kings–Jeremiah; and Disc 3 - Lamentations–Revelation.

Hendrickson Publishers KJV Bible on MP3 (ISBN-13 9781598561357) lists for $19.95. Voice only with narration by Stephen Johnston. I don't know the speed of the speech.

Hendrickson Publishers NKJV Bible on MP3 (ISBN-13: 9781598562781) lists for $29.95. Includes both DVD and CD; the DVD recording is at 128kbps (4GB) and the CD recording is at 64kbps (1.9GB). This allows you to fit the entire Bible on a single 2GB player, or if you have more capacity on your iPod, you can use the larger higher quality files.

AMG ESV Complete Bible on Audio MP3 CDs. (ISBN 9780899577111) lists for $16.99. On 3 CDs. 128kbps recordings. See http://www.amgpublishers.com

2. Alexander Scourby: [From Hendrickson Publishers]: "Alexander Scourby’s dramatic and moving narration of the Bible has touched and inspired the hearts of millions. Best known for his magnificent voice, Scourby was a noted Broadway Shakespearean actor, a radio and movie actor, and narrator of classic TV documentaries. One of his greatest achievements, however, was narrating the Bible—a recording project that took over one year to complete." See also an Alexander Scourby website at: http://www.scourby.com

Hendrickson Publishers Scourby King James Version Audio Bible (ISBN-13 9781598563597) lists for $24.95. On CD, but no other details are provided.  I used to have Mr. Scourby's version on cassette tape some years ago, and his voice is great, but I don't remember any details. Hendrickson doesn't provide any listening samples.

AMG KJV Alexander Scourby Bible on Audio CDs (ISBN 9780899575957). Six CDs, 128kbs, 2.9GB, over 70 hours.

Casscom Media: Holy Bible Platinum Edition with Alexander Scourby (ISBN-13 978-1-930034-29-7) lists for $49.99. Comes on 6 CDs.

3. Willard Waggoner: former missionary to India.I liked Mr. Waggoner's voice, but my wife found it not expressive enough. A downloadable sample is available so you can listen for yourself.

eBible Productions (http://www.ebibleproductions.com) offers a variety of audio Bibles featuring Williard Waggoner as narrator. There are versions featuring Bible readings, Devotionals, and Memorization, among others. The Bible package features over 75 hours of audio, which is recorded at 128kbps. .

5. George Vafiadis. I have never heard George Vafiadis' voice, so I can't remark on the quality. Mr. Vafiadis is a Shakespearean actor, and I've read a good review of this disk set.

The Bible in MP3 with George Vafiadis (ISBN 1584723629) lists for $34.95. Seven MP3-CD-ROMs that are tracked by books and chapters. 84 hours.

6. Anders Otterland

Alpha And Omega Audio Bible with Anders Otterland. Provides downloadable samples. Deep voice, moderate pace, with background "music". See http://audiobiblenews.com

7. Andrew Zorsky: Note: According to AudioBibleNews (see above), Andrew Zorsky is really a pseudonym for Anders Otterland.

AMG Publishers MP3 Audio Bible King James Version (ISBN-13 9780899574233) lists for $16.99. Five CD set features Andrew Zorsky's dramatic narration with soothing background music.

8. Max McLean

The Listener's Bible website says of Mr. McLean, "As the narrator of the Listener's Bible (available in KJV, NIV and ESV translations) McLean is committed to recapturing the early oral tradition of telling the Bible story with clarity and power. He brings a unique blend of dramatic expression and theological understanding that make listening to the Bible a joyous, rewarding experience. His recordings of the Bible have been nominated for Best Inspirational Audio by the Audio Publisher's Association on two separate occasions."

The Listener's Bible http://www.listenersbible.com. Available in ESV, NIV, and KJV. Entire Bible is 2.8GB.

9. Thomas Neslson Word of Promise Audio Bible (http://www.thewordofpromise.com)

The Word of Promise Audio Bible features an entire cast of characters. From the website: "Dramatized by an all-star cast of actors, including Jim Caviezel as Jesus, Richard Dreyfus as Moses, Gary Sinise as David, Jason Alexander as Joseph, Marisa Tomei, Louis Gossett Jr., and over 600 actors contributing to this timeless work. This audio Bible is produced with state of the art audio technology, including sound effects and an original musical score." Available in multiple formats, including audio CDs, MP3 CDs, and downloadable.

10. Eric Martin: I really like Eric Martin's narration. He has a good voice, reads at a nice, slower pace, and there is no music or dramatization.

Casscom Media: Holy Bible King James Version with Eric Martin (ISBN 9781930034112) lists for $29.99. Comes on 2 CDs (620MB, 652MB). Sample rates on this version are low: 32kbs and a sampling frequency of only 11kHz. However, the sound even at this rate is decent.

Casscom Media: New King James Version with Eric Martin (ISBN-13 978-1-936081-07-3) lists for $39.99. Comes on 3 CDs, with a DVD of "The Indestructable Book" movie about William Tyndale.

I also found Eric Martin's version available as a free download at Ez-Tracks.com. However, the website is far from user friendly and is essentailly just a large advertising site. You have to download each chapter one at a time, and you have to wade through a couple of advertising screens for every single download. So, downloading the whole Bible could take quite a long time! The main advantage I've found is that the files are encoded at 128kbs. Also, don't be mis-led by the site's advertisement for "free" MP3 song downloads. Most of them are NOT the original artists (the site does state this, however), and the few I tried sound pretty horrible as compared with the originals. A few exceptions are the classical pieces and some of the jazz pieces. 



Free Downloadable Bible Audio:

http://www.audiotreasure.com Audio Treasure sells audio Bibles, but also provides some for free download.
KJV Voice Only: NT Only by an unknown speaker. Clear and moderate pace. NT is free download, entire Bible available on CD for $14.95 (can also be found at http://www.biblebible.com/bible-audio/)
KJV Soft Music Background (From Firefighters for Christ, see below): Stephen Johnston fast paced reading with music. Entire Bible available for download. Available on Audio DVD with video text $29.95
Also offers World English Bible, Spanish Reina Valera, Hindi New Testament, and more!

http://www.davidpfield.com David P. Field's own rendition of the World English Bible for free download. Read quickly and designed to "read along" with the text as you view it. David has a mild British accent. Also has an Audio Greek New Testament project underway.

http://www.faithcomesbyhearing.com Faith Comes by Hearing. Offers a computer desktop Audio New Testament Bible download in many different languages.

http://firefighters.org Fire Fighters for Christ. This is the fast-paced Stephen Johnston edition with music.FF4C also offers other great resources and is worth checking out.

http://www.greeklatinaudio.com J. Simon's audio project provides the Bible in Greek, Latin, and now Hebrew MP3 files.

http://mannabible.org Jesus the Rock Ministries MP3 Bible project presents an audio Bible in KJV text, along with "rock" style music background. Currently only three Bible Chapters available.128kbps; length will be quite long when project is completed because of the music.

http://www.mp3bible.ca Thru The Bible KJV Bible - John A. McDonald provides the hosting for the Audio Scriptures International rendition of the KJV Audio Bible (in partnership with AudioTreasure). Complete KJV Bible read at a moderate pace. Also links to J. Vernon McGee's Thru the Bible audio, which is also available free (for personal use).




Audio Bible Links: websites that publish or offer multiple Audio Bible Versions (again, please note I am not endorsing any of these sites). There are many others not listed here, of course!

http://www.allbibles.com All Bibles offers a variety of Bibles in hardcopy, electronic, and audio versions

http://www.amgpublishers.com AMG Publishers

http://audiobiblenews.com Audio Bible News / Kings Road Studio information site for the "Alpha and Omega Audio Bible"

http://www.audiotreasure.com Audio Treasure offers DVDs and CDs with the Bible in MP3 and Audio.

http://www.biblebible.com Audio Bible offers a wide variety of Audio Bibles. Same company can be found at http://www.audiobibles.com, though the website layout isn't as nice.

http://www.thebiblesource.com The Bible Source offers all types of Bibles, including some that are downloadable upon purchase

http://www.casscommedia.com Casscom Media publishers

http://www.christianbook.com Christian Book Distributors offers Bibles in all formats, as well as books, videos, etc.

http://www.ebibleproductions.com EBible Production publishers

http://www.listenersbible.com Fellowship for the Performing Arts site for the Max McLean Listener's Bible

http://www.hendrickson.com Hendrickson Publishers

http://www.puritanworks.com Puritan Works sells quite a variety of MP3 audio bibles

http://www.connectiononline.org Skip Heitzig's The Connection Ministry offers an MP3 CD of the NKJV Audio Bible and a few of his teachings for any donation amount

http://www.thewordofpromise.com Thomas Nelson Publishing site for The Word of Promise Audio Bible



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