Text to speech or narration software recommendations

Dec 18, 2019

Does anyone have any recommendations for great text to speech or narration software that works well with Storyline? 

It has to be natural sounding and it doesn't have to be free software. All of the demos I come across online sound the same and they don't have a lot of variations.  I really need something that will work well on  e-courses and doesn't sound so robotic.

8 Replies
Russ Sawchuk

Hi Cynthia,

A few months ago I discovered some reasonable sounding speakers at this website. If you ignore all the excess hype, and don't mind the silly purchase process, I found the service and voices quite good. I usually use professional narrators for many of our e-learning courses. However, this is a time-consuming and lengthy process. With this service, I have been adding a lot more narration to my StoryLine projects.


Thor Melicher

Although Storyline doesn’t support Neural voices inside of Storyline yet (which are higher quality voices by Amazon Polly which is used by Storyline), I have created an application that can help streamline the process: 

  1. You’ll need an Amazon Polly account (https://aws.amazon.com/polly/)
  2. Save your scripts to be encoded as separate files (MS Word or Text)
  3. Download HeroVoice TTS from the Microsoft Windows Store (fully functioning 15-day free trial)
  4. Encode your files with HeroVoice TTS
  5. Load each audio file into Storyline

HeroVoice TTS supports many of the requests that I’ve seen on the Storyline forums:

  • Adjust the overall speed of your files with one setting
  • Adjust the overall pause duration for commas
  • Add your own SSML to get more finer nuanced, naturally sounding results
  • Neural voices
  • Batch process your files 
Thor Melicher

HeroVoice actually doesn't do the encoding but instead provides an alternative interface to the Amazon Polly Console.  Here are some additional things it does:

  • You can encode files longer than 3000 characters.  The Amazon Polly Console requires using a 's3 Bucket' for longer files or you have to manually break up your scripts to be under the 3000 character limit.
  • You can mix and match HeroVoice settings with SSML tags to speed up your workflow.
  • With batching you can encode faster than Amazon Polly Console which is add text, click save, delete text, add text, and so on.  Pretty easy to do unless you have multiple files (say 10 or more).
  • By using the global features of HeroVoice you can ensure consistency -  for example, you can set your pause for commas to be .3 seconds once and every file encoded will have those settings - in the Amazon Polly console you would have to provide the 'break' tag each time yourself when you saw a comma.

I hope that helps answer your question - I created HeroVoice TTS when I saw that many repetitive tasks could be automated to make the process just a bit less tedious.

Dave Goodman

Some minor tips - we use the text to speech within Storyline and then export that MP3 and take it into Audacity. If you play with the pitch, speed, etc., the tonal value improves. Before we export the MP3, we insert line breaks and added spaces (keyboard) to slow the pace of the voice. In any given sentence, we will insert 5-10 spaces at the commas or semi-colons as our markers. Then insert the line break at the period. It is not as good as sound studio but it becomes more acceptable and you can easily make revisions tomorrow or next year without any hassles.

Thor Melicher

Excellent suggestions!  There's a lot of trial and error involved but you do what you have to do, right?  I wrote HeroVoice TTS to help reduce that as I wanted more flexibility than what is currently offered in Storyline. 

Trade-offs (as with anything) as there is a small fee involved in using Amazon Web Services but when you look at the pricing it's doable.  They have a phenomenal starting program where it would take a considerable amount of work in your first year to actually be charged anything.


Once you get your encoding back from Amazon you can continue doing what you're doing in Audacity to improve the results.  As with anything, there's always room for improvement. :)


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