New Neural Text to Speech Voices from Amazon Polly

Storyline 360 uses standard voices from Amazon Polly for it's text to speech functionality. I imagine they use their API for this. This has been great for prototyping sides and getting the timing right. Occasionally it can be good for scenarios if you can't afford to hire other voices. Recently, Amazon has developed a new version of their voices called Neural Voices that use better algorithms for synthesizing voices. I would love to see Articulate let us access these new voices directly from Storyline. You can use them by accessing Amazon Polly if you have an Amazon account and downloading the audio and importing it manually into your timeline. I have created a quick demo to let you hear the difference. 

https://360.articulate.com/review/content/a6e4ce5a-f982-42aa-8cd1-76e32b2204cd/review

 

You can read more about it here: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/amazon-polly-introduces-neural-text-to-speech-and-newscaster-style/

 

9 Replies
Anthony Goss

I am currently using the Google Wavenet voices as they are far superior to the Amazon Polly voices.  They sound more natural.  I use a Google Chrome add-in to play the speech of the text on the screen and record the audio to use inside Storyline.  It is definitely more work than the built-in text to speech, but the voices are far superior.  

Russ Sawchuk

We spends thousands of dollars each year on professional narrators for our major elearning projects. Our clients like the results so using professionals is well worth our investment. However, for smaller learning activities, using professional narrators is not practical nor cost-effective.

So I was excited to discover neural voices. Although still not perfect, these voices are now good enough for use in some projects. One of our current projects is targeted at learners for whom English is not their first language. Research we did indicates that these learners prefer to learn by "listening" rather than by "reading. So as a result, I am using neural voices to narrate some of the lessons. 

Here is a sample micro-learning  lesson that we built using SL3 and neural voices.

Since I use StoryLine 3 (and not 360), the text-to-speech feature is not currently available to us. Fortunately, I was able to find a very affordable cloud-based service that allows me to easily create narration using a variety of neural and other voices. Once the conversion is done, I simply download them for insertion into StoryLine and other programs.

For other StoryLine 3 users who may be interested in trying out this service, you can find out more information here. (I am not a big fan of all of the hype and sales approach at this website / vendor. However, I have subscribed to the service and the bottom line is that is works!)

I hope that this information may be useful with your elearning projects. Thanks.

Russ

UPDATE: I just discovered that I can further improve the quality of the neural voice output by running the audio file through a program called Auphonic Leveler. I have used this software for years with my narrations. It does a great job in "leveling" the audio volume and cleaning up the noise. It does involve an extra step, but I believe it is well worth the effort.