“Hear, hear!” Listening to your Kindle

Before I had a Kindle, I didn’t listen to my books very much.  Well, there is an umistakable “thud” when somebody drops a dictionary, the “wwwhhhffffttt” of someone flipping through the pages looking for that bookmark, and that faintest “crick” you might hear opening a hardback for the first time.  Oh, and I’ve certainly listened to some of the advice  in my books, but that’s not the same thing.  🙂

The Kindle gives you another whole set of options.  The Kindle 1  has two sound options for you, and the Kindle 2 and the Kindle DX offer a third.  The third one is text-to-speech, which deserves its own post.  🙂

To simplify things, I’m going to address the Kindle 2 and Kindle DX first.


Some people want it absolutely quiet when they are reading.  Woe to the significant other who asks a question in the middle of a dramatic passage.  Others like a little mood music:  maybe a little Holst with your John Carter of Mars,  Morricone with your Max Brand, or Elvis with your Tolstoy (hey, different strokes). 😉

The Kindle has built-in speakers and a built-in mp3 player.  You have to make sure its an mp3, and you put the file in your Kindle’s music folder.  That’s pretty much it.

The most common error I see is that the file isn’t actually an mp3. 

The songs are going to play in the order in which you put them on the Kindle, so you may want to think about that when you are loading them. 

You start them playing with ALT+spacebar, and can stop them the same way.  If you want to skip to the next song, it’s ALT+F.

Note: the music will keep playing even if you let the Kindle go to sleep.

The music will play in the order you loaded it.  Even if you turn the Kindle off (at least in my tests) it will still remember which song it was playing.  It will continue until it plays the last song.  It doesn’t start again automatically, you’ll have to start it. 

I’ve used this during breaks for classes, and even at picnics, in addition to when I’m reading.

That’s pretty much it!  I’ll talk later on about what to do if it isn’t loud enough (no, don’t turn it up to 11 😉 ), and where to get music.  Remember, the Kindle 1 is different, and I’ll discuss those differences later, too. 

Audiobooks, podcasts, old radio shows, and sound clips (Oh, my!)

What’s different about these from the background music the Kindle lets you play?   You’re going to want to pick which one you want to play (usually), and you need more control.  

With all of these files, you put them into your Kindle’s Audible folder, not the music folder.   You could put a bunch of radio shows or blogs into your music folder, and they’d play in the order in which you loaded them.  Putting them in the Audible folder, though, lets you pick the one you want from the Homescreen (like The Kindle Chronicles TKC 58 🙂 ) when you want.

You’ll also have controls where you can jump ahead and back and more.

These files can be mp3s, just like the music.  You could even put music in here, if you wanted to play a particular dramatic theme at just the right point in that business meeting.   I’ve also used it for sound clips: little snippets from a movie or TV show, so I could select the one I wanted at the right time.   They can also be audiobooks.  I’ll tell you where to get these files for free later on.

The other difference is that these can also be audiobooks you buy from http://www.audible.com , which is owned by Amazon.  Those files aren’t mp3s, they have an extension of .aa or .aax. 

When you put something in your Audible folder, it shows up like a book in your homescreen (although it will say audio next to it).   Open it up, and you’ll see the controls.  They are like the controls on a tape recorder…um, you’ve seen a tape recorder, right?  Um…VCR?  Tivo remote!).

Pump up the jam!

Kindles have physical volume controls.  On the Kindle 1, they are on the bottom edge, and as you face the screen, louder is to your right.  The Kindle 2 and Kindle DX have it on the upper right edge, and up is louder.  🙂 

What do you do if it still isn’t loud enough?   Your Kindle has a headphone jack, and it’s a standard mini jack, like you’d have on an mp3 player.  Ear buds or other headphones are fine.   You can also plug in mini-speakers (I’ve done that), or in the car, you might use an FM transmitter (I use this one: Coby 745  or a mini to mini cable to plug into your Aux jack, or even a cassette adapter (if your car still has a tape player).   I find that in a small room, the K2 is loud enough if people are listening.  🙂  In the car, I run it through the speakers.

Where do you get the files?


You can “rip” it from a CD: just remember that the output has to be an mp3.   You can buy do MP3 downloads from Amazon, among other places, but you’ll pay for those.   There are a lot of other services, like Rhapsody and Napster.

Note: You can not listen to “streaming” music on your Kindle, from sites like Pandora.  You have to be able to transfer the file from your computer using your USB cable.  You also can not put the files on your Kindle wirelessly.



You pay for these. 


These are freebies!  You’ll probably want to pick the ones that are “Human-read”, even though those aren’t by professionals. 



Weekly freebie about the Kindle

Old Radio Shows


Some of these may not be politically correct: they date back a long time.

Sound Clips


I like this one quite a bit, but be warned it is NSFW (Not Safe for Work).  It will also automatically play a clip when you go to the site.   Right click a clip, and choose Save Target As…

Kindle 1

As I mentioned, the Kindle 1 is a bit different. 

  • You start and stop it playing with ALT+P.
  • The songs in the music folder play in random order, like an iPod Shuffle. 
  • It will also play songs that are on your SD card.

Well, that’s enough to get you started.  🙂  I may add more later, and you have suggestions or questions, please leave a comment.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

5 Responses to ““Hear, hear!” Listening to your Kindle”

  1. martin lawless Says:

    i transferred music to my kindle, but i cant play it.

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Martin, thanks for writing!

      There are usually two key factors:

      1. The music must be in MP3 format
      2. The must be in the music folder on your Kindle (unless you want to play them one at a time)

      If both of those are true, try Alt+spacebar to start the music. The volume control is on your right edge as you are facing the screen on everything except a Kindle 1. Up is up. 🙂

      Let me know if that works for you, or if you need any more help.

  2. Samuel R. C. Says:

    Sorry for intruding in an post fourteen months old, but it makes me wonder:

    Can you load a book, full of graphics, and still hear a sound archive? I’m thinking in a musical method. Imagine that you see the partiture and hear the sample at the same time. Is that possible on the Kindle?

    Maybe on a book that has two archives, you load the graphic part in “books” and load the audio in “audibles”.

    It could be an interesting possibility. But the reader (the student) will want to hear the audio sample several times, for sure. Without changing the page he/she is viewing.

    Anyway, it’s an idea. Grat blog. Keep on it!

    • bufocalvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Samuel…and thanks for the kind words!

      There are now Kindle store books that have embedded audio…but they don’t work on the Kindle, they work on iDevices (the iPad, iPhone, and so on). They are also relatively huge. 🙂 With a Kindle, you can listen to music while you read…but you can’t control which song is playing when if you do it that way. When you use the method where you can choose a particular soundfile to play, you can’t sight-read at the same time. Embedded audio may be the way it is done eventually.

  3. banana plugs vs bare wire Says:

    banana plugs vs bare wire…

    “Hear, hear!” Listening to your Kindle « I Love My Kindle…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: