Recordings for CDs and other digital players are broken up into tracks. When playing, these devices allow you to jump from track to track very quickly and easily. Moreover, digital players can store more than one recording. One device may contain dozens or even hundreds of hours of audio, unlike CDs and cassettes which are limited to 80-90 minutes.
In the case of the Saber digital player, all this material can be grouped into albums, books or programs, so there is some structure to it. But with such a vast amount of audio at your fingertips, how do you find what you want?
Many digital audio players have some kind of display. In its simplest form, it may simply indicate the program and track number. More sophisticated systems - particularly computer based devices with access to the internet - can display the names of albums and tracks as well.
The Saber player does not have a display. One reason is the added cost, another is the unreliability of LCD displays in very humid conditions. The Saber is, after all, particularly designed for use in remote locations and harsh conditions.
But the main reason the Saber has no display is simply the difficulty of knowing just what to show on that tiny screen. Should it be numbers? Should it be names? And in what language? The Saber will be used by people who cannot read, and by people of many different languages, so this is not an easy question to answer.
A better approach is to include audio titles at the beginning of each program, and possibly even each track. These audio titles would announce the name and/or number of the book, chapter or message.
Audio titles should be in the vernacular of the people who will be using the machine. Optionally they could also be in a second language such as a local trade language.
The audio title should be the very first thing heard at the beginning of each track, even before any introductory music. It can even be in a very short track by itself (however care must be taken, as tracks less than 2 seconds long can cause problems on some kinds of players). Either approach allows the user to jump to each track and immediately hear the audio title. This allows specific programs and tracks to be located quickly.
Examples on the Saber
The Saber file system is structured in two levels: files within folders. Each folder represents an album, book or program. Each file in a folder is one track. The Saber has buttons to go forward and backward between tracks, and forwards and backwards between folders.
Here are some examples of the kind of audio titles that can be used on the Saber player.
Recording the Bible: Use a folder for each book, and a track for each chapter or passage. The audio title for each folder would be the name of the book, eg "Genesis". The audio title for each track could be in the form "Chapter 1" or "Genesis 1" or "Genesis chapter 1".
Recording Audio Visuals: For programs such as GRN's "Good News" or "Look, Listen & Live" series use a folder for each book, and a track for each picture. The audio title for each folder would be the full name and number of the book, eg "Look, Listen and Live Book 1 - Beginning with God". The audio title for each track would be the full name and number of the picture, eg "Picture 1 - Adam and the Animals". Tracks for introductions and conclusions usually would not require additional audio titles.
Recording a Teaching Series: Use a folder for each topic or sermon, and a track for each individual message or point. Each folder should have an appropriate audio title. Individual tracks may need audio titles if they are separate messages.
Whatever is the nature of material on the Saber, care should be taken if the audio titles rely on a number system, as some users may not be able to count.
If you already have the recording
Recording audio titles can be done easily while the rest of the program is being recorded. But what if you're using a pre-existing recording that does not have suitable audio titles?
If you are working with the people group, then it may be possible to record these audio titles separately in the same language.
If it's not possible to record specific audio titles, then another option is to add generic audio titles to each folder and/or track. These generic titles could be in the form "Book 1", "Book 2", or "Item 1", "Item 2", or even just numbers by themselves. Even if these audio titles are not in the vernacular language, they may still be recognizable to people using the player.
GRN plans to release several sets of generic audio titles over time, in various forms and in a number of major languages. The new version 2.0 of GRN's SaberCopy utility has the option of adding these type of generic audio titles automatically during the copying process.
Indicating the end of a folder
With many kinds of material, it may also be helpful to give an audio signal for the end of a folder. Otherwise the listener may have to wait until the next program begins to play before knowing when to stop.
There are two ways to indicate the end of a folder: the first is with a clear musical finale, and the second is with a period of silence. It is probably best to use both: a sound or music followed by several seconds of silence.
Version 2.0 of SaberCopy now also has the option to add these kinds of short audio files to the end of every folder. GRN will provide a few different files to choose from. Alternatively you can create and use your own to suit a particular cultural context.
GRN will continue to monitor how the Saber player is being used around the world, to determine whether a future model of the Saber should include some kind of visual display. But whatever player is being used, the addition of audio titles is still recommended to make the messages as accessible as possible to non literate users.