Wednesday, February 16, 2022

SearchResearch Challenge (2/16/22): How can I search over audio?

 Podcasts?  Well, of course!  

While I have my usual line-up of podcasts that I like (you can see some of them above), every so often I'll want to search around through audio to find something that's particularly on my topic of interest.  

Suppose I'm curious about something that we've discussed in earlier SRS posts--say, "how tides work"--is there some way to find a podcast or two on that topic?  That is, without manually scrubbing through lots of podcast descriptions, hoping to find one that mentions ocean tides in the podcast description.  

The other time I need to search through audio is when I have a recording of some event, and I'd like to be able to search the TEXT of that recording. 

These audio search questions leads to this week's Challenges: 

1. Is there some way I can search through all of the podcasts on the internet for ones that mention a particular topic?  Let's try finding a few podcasts that discuss the way oceanic tides work.  Can you find a podcast or two? 

2.  If I have a recording of a conversation, what's the best way to be able to search the contents of that recording for mentions of a particular key word or phrase?  How would you recommend I do this?  (Bonus points if you can figure out how to do this for more than just English.)

3.  How can I find a particular non-spoken sound--say, the bells of Notre Dame or the sound of a glass harmonica?  

As always, let us know HOW you found these.  We'd all like to be better searchers... of audio!  So tell us what you did! 

A big tip of the hat to my friend in online searching skills, Henk van Ess, for the audio search idea in the first place.  

Search on! 


  1. Replies
    1. I don't have a clue about how to. So reading you, Remmij, has given a lot to read. Thanks!

      A wiki list -another place- is broken. Maybe you can share it again, please?

      About Q3, the question asks sounds in all the web? Or in podcasts or in some specific way?

  2. Last time I checked (admittedly a while ago), the only extant full-text search engine for podcasts was Audioburst. That was the case the last time I made an update to but perhaps there are others now.

  3. I love this thread - as it brings in another Online Search guru worth following and learning from: Henk van Ess (and so links indirectly to Bellingcat who are some of (if not the best) online searchers globally). And I just saw a post from Michael Fagan who has had a great online search tool t for maybe 20 years at

    1) I sort of knew this one - and regularly look for spoken words - using to find stuff in podcasts. ListenNotes is good enough to even allow you to pick up words in foreign languages - and there are a number of Podcasts that appear when you search for Oceanic Tides that look relevant. E.g. or

    But I wanted to see if there were other podcast search tools - if you search for "podcast search engine" ListenNotes seems to come top and is top rated but there are few others e.g. which came up with came up with a few others too e.g.
    In contrast another one - came up with nothing.

    Over time there have been a few podcast search engines and sadly they don't last long so I hope ListenNotes will succeed in monetising itself enough to keep going. (In the past there was - that disappeared over 10 years ago but was written up in 2008 at This was followed by ( that died around 4 years ago, with its crown taken by ListenNotes).

    2) If you have a recording and want to search the contents there are few ways to do this. Henk van Ess recently tweeted suggestions at using However there are other tools also that lets you search audio recordings. can take an audio (or you can play the audio if you don't have the file e.g. if it it's a YouTube video) and turn it into a text file that you can download as a Microsoft word file. You can search the transcription easily for phrases, words or whatever. BUT it's only in English and does sometimes garble things if the speaker is not clear. There are other tools that do the same thing (although I've not tried them) e.g. that does the same thing for other languages e.g. French, German, Italian and Spanish. I just did a search for other transcription tools (search "transcription software") and came up that claims to transcribe over 100 languages with around 85% accuracy. I just tested it on a YouTube video in Hebrew and I was very impressed as it came out pretty accurate so I suspect it will do that for the other languages it covers. Theres also Google's own LiveTranscribe app on the Google play store and offers a transcription service (although again, I've not used it so can't say how good or not it is).

    3) The final part was also easy - I put in the search term "Notre dame bell sound" and up came I tested this one for glass harmonica and got this:

  4. I did a search for sound search engine the first result was to an article on audio search engines from LifeWire. One SE mentioned was Listen Notes for podcasts. Tried doing a search on oceanic tides and it came up with several podcasts. Will work on other searches soon.

  5. Came up with same result for 3) as Arthur above but also found the sound effects library which had both sounds. There were actually several sound effect websites. Didn't try them all. Will try to get to 2) later.

  6. 1: How oceanic tides work: Neil deGrasse Tyson explains tides and syzygy. He's a great explainer.

    2: Microsoft Word (as of today, online version only) has added a feature called Transcribe. It can record or transcribe to text a spoken conversation, meeting or dictation. One can then use Word's Find function to find the desired word or phrase. Automated speech / audio recognition with summary keywords, highlights, and full audio transcripts. 600 mins free every month. Transcribe

    Otter will automatically generate a searchable transcription, that separates the speakers for you to tag.

    3: We met in a bell tower like this one I found on Youtube by simple search for Change ringing. The narrator met his true love the same way.

    simple search for sound of glass harmonica found lots on Youtube.

    1. I too found the Tyson video on tides and loved it, though I wasn’t sure videos met the challenge. For me, for this particular topic, visuals are helpful since tides are in motion.

      Words of wisdom from Neil deGrasse Tyson: “Wherever in the universe you find gravity, you find tides.”