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Text-to-Speech Programs Software + AT&T Natural Voices

Bad case of Rad Eye ..from reading too much Rad material. She needs a TTS program. Quiet Christmas here in Radland .. with the Bug gone for the holidays. I miss the little guy. Come to think of it, I've never yet seen him on Christmas. There's something I can look forward to. Maybe next year.

Spent my Christmas learning about new technology » TTS, or Text-to-Speech.

Specifically » TextAloud, a program which touts itself as the World's Most Popular Text to Speech Tool (not to be confused with Speech Recognition software, a completely different animal).

I learned that sound-fonts are the things that really make a TTS program sing. The best sound-fonts are reportedly made by AT&T, called AT&T Natural Voices, altho many others compete in this emerging market.

Unfortunately the demo version of TextAloud does not come with any premium sound fonts. And the sound-fonts cost more than the program.

The AT&T Natural Voices sound-fonts weigh in at ~600 MB each .. whereas the TextAloud program is barely 3 MB. Premium sound-fonts use 16-kHz frequency. (By comparison, CD audio is 44-kHz.) Older sound-fonts use 8-kHz (low-quality).

••••• today's entry continues below •••••

With a TTS program, you can record an entire eBook (or *any* text, for that matter) to output an MP3 file (one of TextAloud's supported file formats) and listen to it (on your favorite MP3 player) during your commute.

In fact, I noticed a copy of the LAME MP3 codec sitting in the \TextAloud program folder, so you know they're using the best available.

You can open any PDF file in TextAloud, and let it read to you. I do this when my eyes start to get tired.

I outputted 3 (MP3) files for you to compare, by copy-n-pasting text from the site's splash page into the program's text window. The first uses the default cheapo sound-font, which comes standard with the TextAloud demo. This voice goes by the name of Sam.

The last two use the highly-touted AT&T Natural Voices, which are supposed to be "the best". These files are posted here (Crystal) & here (Mike). Each file is ~20 KB (very small).

You can test your own demos here, with more voices. I especially like the British voices (Audrey & Charles). They sound more elegant than US voices.

By the way, your standard Adobe Acrobat PDF reader (I use v8.0, the freebie) can read text to you, by selecting Read Out Loud from the View menu. Not as good tho, as importing the PDF into TextAloud and using the AT&T premium sound-fonts .. but not bad, especially if your eyes start getting sore from reading too much Rad material (a bad case of Rad-eye).

For more along these lines, here's a Google search preconfigured for the query > text-to-speech program software att natural voices

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Comments (1)

ian:

The current best text to speech software is Text Speaker. It has customizable pronunciation, reads anything on your screen, and it even has talking reminders. It is great for learning languages as it highlights the words as they are being read. The bundled voices are well priced and sound very human. Voices are available in English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, and more. Easily converts blogs, email, e-books, and more to MP3 or for listening instantly.

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