23 Replies
Steve Flowers

I use Ivona for temporary voices during review periods. It's relatively inexpensive for personal use. For commercial use it's quite a bit more expensive ($700 last I checked). I'll be moving to the built in Mac voices for my temp work - triggering voice to file from terminal. These are slightly lower quality than Ivona or Loquendo. Loquendo is quite good.

Good voices are not cheap. Most of the best ones offer a "pay as you go" program. If you're looking for a good quality voice on the cheap for commercial purposes, I haven't found one yet. I haven't found an application of narration where I'd rather use a synthetic voice than a real one other than for scratch and review.

James Henderson

I'll throw in iSpeech's text to speech . In my opinion they have the most human sounding voices available, even a tad better than Ivona (although their Polish stuff is amazing). iSpeech offers quite a bit for free/very low fee. Might be just what you are looking for. They also offer some limited speech recognition should you ever need that. Their text to speech is top notch though. I used the service to turn my college reading into mp3s to listen to while cooking and similar when I couldn't read.

Michael Case

Hello Joy,

I have found that no matter what TTS software or voice I use, there are far too many oddities in pronunciation to efficiently and cost effectively use one for narration. Besides, finding a professional narrator is easy, and depending on who you choose, it can be inexpensive as well.

Check out The Narrator Files. They price narration by the page, and they have exemplary voice talent.



Steve Flowers

I am. I've switched over entirely from other TTS programs to Mac voices. Pretty neat trick I use to batch each file using terminal. It takes a little bit to set up my transcript input files, I haven't automated that part yet. 

Basically, when the script is approved, I generate a .txt file for each bit of audio (on the plus side, I have found a way to use this as a transcript feeder). Then I setup a batch file for terminal to automatically generate the outputs. The batch template lines look something like this:

say -v lee -f /Users/sflowers/Desktop/Dropbox/projectname/production/scratch_audio_scenarios/s1_c1.txt -o /Users/sflowers/Desktop/Dropbox/projectname/production/scratch_audio_scenarios/s1_c1.aiff

Copying and pasting this line into terminal will grab the text file and output an audio file in the voice I've selected. Copying and pasting multiple lines will do it multiple times. It only fails if there's a funny character or the text file is missing. Easy to pick up by the file size of the output .aiff. All in all pretty fast. And really easy to update. Just update the .txt file and copy / paste the batch line into terminal.

Ron Starc

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 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.