Peter gent’s Blog

Just who has the best text – speach software out there?

Posted in blog by petegent on December 18, 2008

 

 

So I was stuck behind my rss reader (Newswire on Mac OSx) today, with an unexpected 33+ rss posts being unread, which is a lot for me. But I’m not sure if that is for anyone out there.

I then thought “Aha!” why not just try to use the speech feature built into newswire, which uses OS x’s built in text to speech feature.

First up I tried to convert Stephen fries latest blog post (somewhat of a sacrilege, really?) but, there was just no way that the synthesized voice was ever going to match up to his excellent oration.

Setting my targets a little lower I decided to try and read out a news story from one of my feeds that covers world humanitarian stories from the UN – http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=81779. It faired rather better and was underst-andable but there were plenty of examples of corrupted tones between syllables.

So I then asked myself the obvious question – are there actually any decent text to voice synthesizers available on the web today? I set google and del.icio.us to the task and here’s what I found.

At&T – Reckoned to be the best ‘Apparently’

Cons: really wasn’t that great (as you can hear in this sample). that’s not to say it was understandable, just not better than apples own text to speech syntersizer. Not as good as the acapela synth.

Overall: 2/5

Wizzard

Cons: really bad conversion. It sounds pretty much like stephen hawking after one of his book launches – sample

Overall – 1/5

 

Acapela-group (Most impressive quality) (http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html)

Pro’s: Relatively solid/ good quality for synthesizing the sample block of text. I settled for the english voice (I am that biased)

Cons: No direct linkage to make a quick comparison and it’s only available to buy.

Overall: 4/5

Expressivo.com (http://say.expressivo.com/jennifer/everybody%20wang%20chung%20tonight)

Sample:

http://say.expressivo.com/eric/IRINGA,_2_December_2008_(PlusNews)_-_For_two_months_of_the_year,_James_Lusago_can_count_on_a_steady_income_from_working_in_the_rice_fields_of_Pawaga,_in_the_southwestern_Tanzanian_region_of_Iringa._

Pro’s – Free linkage.

Cons: Relatively poor synthesized version of the sample text.

Overall: 2/5

Iringa:

Pros: None – I didn’t even bother to try it!

Cons: Required to buy it unless you register and no demo given.

Overall: 0/5

TalkrMost surprising!

Pro’s: It allows you to subscribe to rss feeds, converting them into a linkable/downloadable .mp3 files. This is definitely quite an interesting bit of online tech and v cool in that respect.

Cons: you have to register, there’s no synergy between your local rss reader and theirs. This seems like a no-brainer considering everyone’s personal taste of RSS reader and if wordpress etc can offer an export function then why isn’t this the same for most rss readers?. The quality itself is ok, but not great.

Sample: http://www.talkr.com/audio/i/r/i/n/867245.mp3

Overall: 3/5

Spoken

http://www.spokentext.net/register.php?lang=en

Overall: 0/5 – lengthly registration process meant It was just too much for me to get stuck into.

References:

http://www.acapela-group.com/text-to-speech-interactive-demo.html

http://wizzardsoftware.com/products/tools.php#2

http://www.dancewithshadows.com/tech/text-to-speech.asp – original article.

 

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2 Responses

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  1. Peety said, on December 23, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Wishing you a Happy Holiday , Peter! Hoping that you have a prosperous and rocking 2009!

  2. Peter Gent said, on December 30, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Aw! thanks peetey! 🙂


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