Introducing A New HCSB Audio Bible [Review]

[Update 9.2.11: The audio version of the HCSB New Testament is now available on youversion.com for free.]

There is a new voice only recording of the Holman Christian Standard Bible New Testament read by Dale McConachie. Dale kindly gave me a free download for review and I have to say, I really like it. Ever since YouVersion added access to audio Bibles, I’ve found myself listening to the Bible a lot. Since they have yet to include an HCSB audio Bible, I was excited about this new audio Bible since it is my translation of choice.

To begin, let me say that there is already an official audio recording of the HCSB read by actor David Payne that can be bought on Amazon for $63. The product description says, “Audio edition of the complete HCSB translation on 64 compact discs, dramatically and dynamically read by actor David Payne.” This virtually ensures that I will never use this audio version. I can’t imagine paying $63 and uploading 66 books of the Bible to my computer from 64 cds. I’m also turned off by “dramatically and dynamically read”. I’m further turned off that there is background music.

So, again, I’m excited to announce the voice only audio version that Dale is working on. Before I go into some of the reasons why I like Dale’s version, I should say that I primarily use the NLT audio Bible and have enjoyed it to some extent but this new HCSB version is fast becoming my favorite.

Three things I like about this HCSB NT audio version

I like that it is voice only. I don’t want to listen to someone else’s music when I’m listening to the Bible. Besides, sometimes audio Bibles only have music on certain chapters. That confuses me. I try and figure out if it’s random or if this is a special chapter that they are trying to highlight with their music.

I like Dale’s voice. It’s not overpowering like a James Earl Jones. He’s not changing his voice for different characters (like the NLT audio Bible does). He doesn’t have a dramatic voice (like the NIV audio Bible). It’s just his voice which is strong and soothing.

I like the version. I would settle for the NLT audio Bible even though it’s not my favorite translation.

To summarize, Dale’s voice only recording allows you to hear the Word of God without distraction. I don’t want music. I don’t want someone faking a voice so that Satan sounds like he’s a sinister rapscallion who needs a throat lozenge. I don’t want someone whose voice gets in the way of just listening. Dale does a great job of simply reading the Bible in a strong but nondescript way.

One minor subjective complaint

I hate to even bring it up. I mean, this guy sat in a recording studio for hours (maybe days) on end reading into a microphone. However, I would just warn you that the reading isn’t as fluid as I’d like. It’s not monotone and it’s not boring by any stretch of the imagination, but Dale’s vocal cadence sort of plods along through the text. A split second would make all the difference here and I know I’m nit-picking. It would just be nice if there was a bit more of a pause after a sentence or before a quote. That’s all. It’s really, really minor, but I thought I’d try and give a fair critique of this particular version.

With that said, I hope you will check out this new audio version of the HCSB NT. As soon as they get it on YouVersion it will definitely be my choice when I want to listen to the Word of God while I’m in the car or at Starbucks. You can download Ephesians for free or go ahead and purchase the entire New Testament for $9.95.

[Update] I’ve now learned that this is an official audio recording and Dale has a license agreement with Broadman and Holman. It is also the only audio version based on the 2009 update of the HCSB text.

Do you listen to audio Bibles? What version do you like the best? If you’ve got this version of the HCSB NT, what do you think about it?

Nathan is the pastor of City Life Church in Ridgewood, NY. He and his family are committed to making and multiplying disciples in the most diverse county in the US. Read more about Nathan here. Visit the City Life Church website here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • I hope someday the entire HCSB will be available in audio on mystudybible.com or biblegateway.com. Currently I listen either to the ESV or NASB while reading my copy of the HCSB.

    • Tim, I believe the plan is to make the whole Bible available ASAP. I’m not sure how soon it might make it to online sites like biblegateway or YouVersion. Hopefully soon. So what is your opinion of the ESV and NASB audio?

  • Tim

    I listen to Dale McConachie read the NASB on Biblegateway.com and, like you, I feel he could “step it up” a bit. He also pronounces some proper nouns differently than I’m used to hearing them (he uses a “soft” ch on Chaldeans instead of a “hard” K). I listen to the ESV on the esvbible.org website. They give you a choice of David Cochran Heath or Max McLean. McLean is just a little too dramatic for me, and Heath changes his voice for different characters. Heath is easier for me to listen to.

    • Thanks for the feedback Tim. For me, both McLean’s over dramatization and Heath’s voice changes are deal breakers. Same thing with the NLT’s use of fake sounding voices for different characters. It’s too distracting. I hadn’t noticed Dale’s soft “ch” in Chaldeans but I’m kind of used to people being all over the map in pronouncing Biblical place names so it really doesn’t break the flow for me as I’m listening to the reading.

      Glad to hear your opinion on the matter!

  • Hi Nathan,

    I wanted to share with you that both Bible Gateway and Youversion are now streaming the New Testament of the HCSB without cost. I know Youversion has it streaming in their app. I am unaware if they have made audio Bibles available yet directly via their web site, but I know that is their plan as well. These are both wonderful outreaches with many wonderful people. And when I finish recording the HCSB Old Testament (Lord Willing) in mid 2012, it will stream without cost as these sites as well. Thanks so much for your ministry Nathan!

  • Chase

    I know what you mean about Bible readers who seem to be rushing right through and reading the Word as fast as possible.  I am very encouraged that there are so many new voices out there since last time I check.  I’m still on the look-out for a reader who reads with understanding, proper inflection, and makes what he is reading to be more like he is telling a story spontaneously and NOT reading!  Let us know if you find one like that.  Thanks!

    • Anonymous

      Chase, if you are looking for someone who is telling the story spontaneously and not reading then I would actually encourage you to check out the NIV version. I forget off the top of my head what his name is, but the guy who reads the NIV is very dramatic. As I mentioned in my post above, that’s not my own preference and taste but I know others really enjoy hearing a more dramatic reading. So, if that’s you, I think the NIV does the best job of that. Hope that helps!

  • DebS

    My favorite version? NAS. My husband (an ordained pastor) and I have an age-old traditional teasing with each other regarding the NAS vs. NIV (he is a King James fan – but not a “King-James-Only” fan-atic, who has studied Greek extensively and Hebrew substantively). Dozens of times he gets an elbow to the rib as we hear a preacher say from the pulpit, “Now, a better, more literal translation of this word” (in NIV) “would be found in the NASB, …” Dale McConachie is by far my favorite narrator. He sounds like he’s well-acquainted with the Bible, and he just has a subtle inflection in his voice, sometimes a faint catch, on passages that are particularly incredible (passages which I agree are awesome). It’s far from dramatic, though. Plain and simple, from someone who seems to know and love the Word of God.

    • Anonymous

      Love it! Thanks for your thoughts!

  • Dennis Moore

    You can listen to the HCSB Audio New Testament on your iPhone using YouVersion. 

  • Joel

    I ran across your review and I have to agree about ALL the details you share, 100%. Dale is amazing. I can hardly listen to many of the readers out there, but Dale is by far the best by for listening to Bible text. And I also don’t want another person’s interpretation of a passage – be by voice inflection (acting) or music/SFX. BTW – I’m a professional audio producer and I’m VERY picky, so for me to say I like Dale… that’s a miracle. 🙂