I have been searching for a text-to-speech program that meets certain requirements. I often spend time performing activities that don’t require much thought. During these times, I like to listen to audiobooks, podcasts, or music. The work I do though requires me to frequently read certain literature, but I find it difficult sometimes to read this literature as much as I should. Therefore, I thought that it was only logical to listen to this literature when I am unable to read. To do so, I needed to find a way to convert text to audio files.
Below are a few aspects of text-to-speech programs that I found important:
A) The program/software should be able to convert text to downloadable audio files (preferably mp3) in order to transfer between devices.
B) The program needs to be able to convert thousands of words at one time. The typical article that I will read has anywhere upwards of 5,000 words.
C) The voice used needs to sound as realistic as possible. The more natural the voice sounds, the more I am able to focus on the content.
D) Preferably, no software downloads or registrations are required.
Here are some of the programs and methods that I have tried and how they measure up:
2,000 character limit
Okay sounding voice
This website can convert large amounts of text to speech.
The voice sounds noticeably robotic though.
Only limited to 4,000 characters
Very robotic voice
This software can read decent amounts of text at a time.
The voice isn’t the most natural sounding, but it is tolerable.
Unfortunately, it requires registration to download audio files. I have not registered though it is free and may potentially be worth it.
Converts large amounts of text, but has the most robotic sounding voice I have heard yet.
I’ve also found two methods to create audio files from Google translate.
a. The first sounds simple. First, you copy and paste the text that you want google translate to read. Second, you press the play button on the text box. Third, you find the temporary mp3 file on your computer created by your browser. Fourth, you copy that file and paste it somewhere else on your computer. Fifth, you rename it and voila! It’s yours. This seemed so simple and promising, but I have yet to find this temporary mp3 file created.
On the plus side, google translate has one of the better sounding voices on a free program that I have heard so far. Also, the software can read a large amount of text.
Unfortunately, I have not found any temporary mp3 files on my computer. It hasn’t worked for me, but maybe it will for you.
b. The second method requires you to copy and paste a special Google translate URL into the address bar. Then replace a special code with the code of the language that you want the audio in and replace a part of the URL with the text that is to be read.
Unfortunately, this method does not allow you to copy a large amount of text at one time.
I happened to stumble across these methods after exploring several text-to-speech sites. Two of these methods use computer programs to record audio coming from your computer. The third method uses an aux cord connected from the headphone jack of the computer to the microphone jack on your computer to record any audio played. I remember years ago, before music was so readily available online, I tried to devise a way to record music from the radio using my computer. Attempting to upgrade from recording on blank cassettes, I turned my radio volume up really loud, placed the computer nearby, and pressed record on the audio recorder program. Needless to say, the quality was not so good. I wish I had known these methods back then. Also, I can convert old cassette mixtapes to digital files using the last method!
There are probably plenty of more good text-to-speech options that don’t have mp3 conversion capabilities, but one I recommend for the alternative methods is listed below:
Note: UK English voice sounds more natural than the US English voice
Consequently, google translate can be used for the same purpose.
These methods open up several possibilities. Therefore, I advise anyone to respect copyright laws and other legal matters.