Playback Equipment Illinois State Library

In order to play talking books, the National Library Service (NLS) provides free audio book players to active patrons. Upon registration, a playback machine will be assigned to you from the Illinois Sub-machine Lending Agency. For more information, you may call them at 800−455−2665. It may take up to 7−10 days to receive your player.

If you subscribe to magazines or read older titles, a cassette player will be issued to you. A cassette player is not necessary if you read current popular titles.

Cassette Player

The C-1 cassette player plays recordings at commercial speed and half commercial speed. NLS distributes its talking books on standard audio cassettes designed to play at half commercial speed and using four tracks. The C-1 side- and speed-selector switches enable readers to play cassettes created with the standard, commercial configuration as well as the NLS talking-book configuration. The C-1 player is shipped with a fully charged, rechargeable nickel-cadmium battery that will operate the player for about six hours after being fully charged. Talking book cassette machines do NOT record.

Digital Talking Book Machine

Digital books are distributed on flash memory cartridges about the size of a cassette tape that slots into the front of the player. Digital books from NLS are also available for download from Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). A digital talking book machine (DTBM) is required to play the flash memory cartridges, as well as audio downloads from BARD.

The digital talking book machine (DTBM) is smaller and lighter than the cassette player, weighing approximately two pounds. Each machine is powered by a rechargeable battery that will play for 35 hours on one charge. The machine can also tell you how much playing time remains.

NLS is producing two machines to take full advantage of digital technology: the standard player and the advanced player. The standard machine has eight controls for the basic operations for listening to a book, and is best suited for those who read mainly fiction. The advanced player has some additional features and controls, designed to be useful when reading nonfiction materials. Both players support digital audio files including MAR-WB+, MP3 and WAV.

Additional Information About Playback Equipment