Man has been trying to use machines to mimic the human voice for eons. In the late 1770s, the German scientist, Christian Gottlieb Kratzenstein built a model of a human vocal tract that could sound out five long vowel sounds. With the explosion of technology, electronic audio has come a long way from those early days. Today, the best text to speech software comes equipped to handle the full gamut of the English language and that too with a natural-sounding voice. Little surprise then that the use of text to speech software is on the rise now. We talk about why that is and look at the 10 best text to speech software available now.
Who it helps
TTS software is categorized as an assistive technology tool and was initially developed to help people with disabilities. It has some celebrated users, most notably, Stephen Hawking. Recently, Lee Ridley (a.k.a. The Voice Guy), a mute stand-up comedian, won Britain’s Got Talent competition in 2018 using nothing but his wit and an iOS text to speech app.
With the rapid improvements that this technology has seen, text to speech software now has a cross-industry appeal. Students use it to catch up with their course curriculum and foreign-language workers use it to translate difficult text. They are also used by public announcement systems, and by businesses to increase their online traction.
How it can help a business
While initially only beneficial to those with impairments, it has now blossomed into a tool that benefits the business world too. Here are a few reasons businesses are increasingly using it:
Increased online traffic
According to a study, over 20% of web users have an impairment that makes browsing difficult. That puts the number of disabled internet users at close to 55 million. With the advent of TTS software, there is no need to exclude this huge number of users. Websites now use an audio simulator to attract more online traffic.
Increased user retention
Let’s face it, the millennial generation are multi-taskers. In such a day and age, providing audio content is a great way to allow users to access your content while they are completing other tasks. This makes it more likely that they will come back to your website the next time they want to multitask.
A better bottom line
Apart from TTS software, companies interested in providing audio content usually do so by employing voice artists and investing in expensive audio equipment. TTS software is a cheaper option and can save the company precious time as well.
8 Best text to speech software in 2020
There are a plethora of options when it comes to TTS today. Choosing one that is right for your business simply comes down to your needs and your budget. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the 10 best text to speech software to help you do just that.
|Service||Pricing||Audience Usage||Language Choices||Voices||Tech support||Ease of usage|
|NaturalTTS||Free/Paid||Commercial /Personal||15+ Languages||61+ Natural Sounding Voices||SSML Supported, .doc, .pdf, .txt. Download in mp3 and .wav||Easy|
|NaturalReader||Free/Paid||Commercial /Personal||16||61+ Voices||Chrome Extension, .doc, .pdf, .txt. Download in mp3||Easy|
|TTSReader||Free/Paid||Commercial /Personal||Multiple||Multiple||Chrome Extension, Android mobile texxt reading solution||Easy|
|From text to speech||Free||Commercial /Personal||8||5 Multiple Voices||Download in mp3||Easy|
|Text2speech||Free||Commercial /Personal||3||5 Multiple Voices||Doc Download in mp3||Easy|
|iSpeech||Free||Commercial /Personal||27||5 Multiple Voices||Doc Download in multiple formats||Easy|
|Oddcast||Free||Commercial /Personal||30+||185 Multiple speech and pitch rates||Doc Download in mp3||Medium|
|Oddcast TTSdemo||Free||Commercial /Personal||30+||185 Multiple speech and pitch rates||Doc Download in mp3||Medium|
|Readspeaker||Paid- Self serve/Custom||Commercial /Personal||20+||70+ speech rates||SSML Supported, Batch processing, Download in mp3 and .wav||Medium|
|Readspeaker Voice Demo||Free||Commercial /Personal||20+||70+ speech rates||SSML Supported, Batch processing, Download in mp3 and .wav||Medium|
As its name suggests, the NaturalTTS uses natural-sounding voices, which are their strongest selling points. It has 15+ premium languages ranging from US English to Italian and French. Their free version alone gives you 61+ high-quality voices. Both male and female voice options are also available. The free version can convert 40,000 text characters to audio in one go.
Users can control everything from pronunciation to speech rate using an in-built SSML feature. They have customizable plans for personal or commercial use.
💡 Salient features:
- Over 60+ high-quality natural voices
- Natural voices engine that produces realistic human voices
- Reads scanned documents as well as .pdf, .txt, and, .doc formats
- It can save converted files in .mp3 and .wav formats
- Easily accessible file history
- Unlimited free voice usage
- Ability to buy additional characters
💲 Pricing Plans:
Naturaltts has a free version to use, the customer would just need to register and he’ll receive 40,000 monthly characters for free. The personal plan starts at $9.99 /month while the commercial plan is priced at $79.99/month. The commercial plan allows the conversion of 1,000,000+ characters with all the premium voices available for use.
Additionally, the plan also enables Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology with which you can even read scanned documents.
NaturalReader is a text to sound software that beginners will enjoy because of its easy-to-use and simple user interface. Users can simply drag-and-drop files, making it particularly easy for converting books, larger text volumes, and multiple files. The software has a floating toolbar mode which allows users to highlight a text and then use the controls to customize the text to speech output for that portion specifically.
Along with PDF and word files, it also reads RTF and e-book formats. It also has an online reader that can read web content. It has 57 premium voices with conversion possible to over 10 languages including Chinese and Japanese. The pronunciation editor allows users to change the pronunciation to suit that of the target audience. The software is also smart enough to ignore headers and footers.
Another unique feature is that it highlights text as it is being read. For users with disabilities such as dyslexia, this provides a visual cue to help them keep track of the words.
💡 Salient features
- 57 premium voices
- Wide range of languages
- A highlighter function and dyslexic font to aid users with learning disabilities
- A smart audio editor that allows you to even add pauses
- OCR technology that reads images and scanned documents
- Over 10 customizable voice speeds
💲 Pricing Plans:
Natural Reader has four plans; free, personal, professional, and ultimate. All plans are one-time payments. The personal plan is priced at $99.50, the professional plan at $129.50, and the ultimate plan costs $199.50.
The ultimate plan has 6 premium voices with up to 5000 images being read by the OCR per year.
The TTSReader is an editor’s delight. It cuts editing time in half as it allows in-line editing. It has multiple speech rates and converts texts, PDFs, emails, and e-books to speech. Its latest version allows users to embed a pause into the speech. While this is a feature available in other TTS software, the TTSReader allows users to also set how long they want the pause to be.
Another unique feature is that it automatically transcribes audio and video files. It converts text to over 20 languages in a variety of accents. Its bookmark function allows users to pick up where they left off even if it is on another device. The software syncs the user’s reading history on the cloud. The highlighter function that dyslexics find useful is also available. TTSReader also enables a user to export synthesized speech with one click.
💡 Salient features
- Allows in-line editing
- Embed pauses of varying length into speech
- Over 20 languages including Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, and Hindi
- Automatically transcribes audio files with captions
- Bookmarks user’s reading history across multiple devices
- One-click export of synthesized speech
- The highlighted text enables easy reading for users with reading disabilities
💲 Pricing Plans:
It has a free and premium plan. The premium plan is priced under $10 and can be used across multiple devices.
However, to read online content, you will need to install their chrome extension.
4. From Text To Speech
From text to speech is a free online web browser. It has a basic interface that allows users to make an audio file with the click of a button. It has four different audio speeds; slow, medium, fast, and very fast. It can convert 50,000 characters in one go. The software has seven different languages to choose from including Russian and 20 different accent versions that change according to the language chosen.
💡 Salient Features
- Basic and easy-to-use interface
- Authentic and natural voices
- Seven languages with 20 different iterations
- Create and download an audio file with one click
- Allows users to convert 50,000 characters
💲 Pricing Plans:
It is a completely free text to speech software, making it a great choice for companies that are on a tight budget or for those looking to test out the waters in this area a bit. However you get what you pay for (or in this case, what you do not pay for). Other than controlling the vocal speed, there are no advanced features. The software does not have a mobile version and can only be used online.
This is another great free online text to speech converter. It has a basic, clean design. Simplicity is the name of the game here. All a user needs to do is enter the text and select the required voice. Its simplicity lends itself to being user-friendly.
The audio volume is customizable from low to high and it has a range of languages to choose from including Greek and English with a Scottish accent. The user can also set the quality of the audio download from low or high quality according to their data restrictions. It has five talking speeds too.
💡 Salient features:
- Simple and easy-to-use interface
- Converts text to speech in one click
- Users can control the volume and speed of speech
- Good range of languages, including local languages that change according to the user’s IP address
- Realistic-sounding voices
- Allows users to convert up to 4000 characters
💲 Pricing Plans:
Text2Speech is a completely free software that does not even require a user to sign in. This comes with its set of disadvantages. It has few customizable features and its very low and very high volume settings sound artificial.
This software also has a WordPress and Chrome browser plugin that can give the real-time text to audio conversion if needed. It has a user-friendly interface with IVR prompts that help users navigate the software easily. iSpeech also offers translation services. It is compatible with PDF, plain text, and eBook formats. Users can download the audio in multiple formats such as .mp3, .mp4, .wav, .ogg, and .vox.
💡 Salient features
- Natural-sounding voices in 27 different languages
- Three reading speeds
- IVR prompts that help users learn its features
- Compatible with PDF, plain text, and eBook uploads
- Multiple audio formats supported
- WordPress and Chrome plugins
- Free SDKs for BlackBerry, Android, and iPhone developers
- Additional features such as caller ID and speech translation
💲 Pricing Plans
They have two payment plans. The first is a pay per use plan for web users where you can choose from options that range from $0.0001/word to $0.025/word. The second plan is for mobile users who can pay on a per installment basis. Here, the price ranges from $0.175/install to $0.25/install.
7. Oddcast and Oddcast TTsDemo
In terms of unique features, Oddcast TTS software stands a cut above the rest. It gives you good text to speech conversion, and then a whole lot more. The software has over 30 languages to choose from with 185 different male and female voices. It can convert the text in English into audio in any of the 30 languages. Along with this, reverse translation from other languages to English is also possible. Oddcast has 9 special effects that users can add to the speech such as the echo effect, whisper effect, and the reverb effect to name a few. It can convert 600 text characters to speech at one go. It also has specialized APIs for developers to use.
The software allows users to create animated 2D characters that can lip-sync any text. The available characters range from people to animals and even vehicles. Additionally, these characters can also be customized to change their skin color, hairstyle, clothing, and much more.
Aside from its cast of animated 2D characters, Oddcast can also create 3D avatars. Their 3D PhotoFace feature takes uploaded 2D headshot photographs and turns them into 3D avatars. This feature allows users to manipulate the avatars and create caricatures of themselves. Users can also age avatars or make them younger.
These avatars can also lip-sync any text. Another fun feature is the 3D video star. This technology allows users to insert themselves into any movie scene by just uploading their pictures.
While not as packed with features as its premium version, Oddcast’s demo version is still good enough to make our top 10 list. It provides accurate speech to text conversion. This free version has 29 languages to choose from including Turkish, Romanian, Korean, and Norwegian. Each language has a host of different characters that can voice any text.
The English language option itself has 23 different voices with accents ranging from an Indian accent to a South African one. The country-specific accents are accurate without any condescending tone. Users can customize the pace, pitch, and tone of the audio. Along with this, they can add many special effects such as a bullhorn effect or an echo effect.
The Oddcast TTSdemo has one male and female 2D avatar each. These avatars can lip-sync any text given to them. The avatars are pleasant and responsive. Their eyes follow the cursor around accurately making them look like they are eagerly waiting for the user’s next text to speech assignment. Users can make the avatar whisper or shout as they please.
💡 Salient features:
- Text to speech conversion in 30 languages including Arabic, Portuguese, and Thai
- 185 different voices to choose from
- Reverse translation services from other languages to English
- Several special effects that can customize the voice output
- Animated 2D characters that can lip sync any text
- 2D PhotoFace technology that creates avatars from photographs that can lip sync any text
- 3D VideoStar technology that morphs a user’s uploaded picture into any video file
- Text to speech conversion in 29 different languages
- A total of 185 voices to choose from
- Male and female 2D avatars that lip-sync the text to speech conversion
- 9 different special effects to customize the voice output
- Accurate country-specific accents
- Converts 600 characters in one go
💲 Pricing Plans:
Oddcast’s annual licensing fee starts at $5. The developer API kit starts at $15.
8. Readspeaker and Readspeaker Voice Demo
The Readspeaker text to speech software is one that people with reading disabilities will find particularly useful. For one thing, it has a simple user interface with IVR prompts that guide users through its features. For another, it uses enlarged and clutter-free fonts that elderly and dyslexic users find particularly useful. The software also has a page mask option that allows users to block out text not being read, making it easier for them to focus.
It offers word prediction, spell check, and auto-completion options that writers will find useful. Its unique highlighter function highlights text in different colors that can be collected later to form a summary. This summary can then be corrected, downloaded, or printed. With the dictionary feature, users can not only look up a word in the dictionary but also perform a web search on the selected word. Text translation in several languages is also available.
The ReadSpeaker TTS software is a pioneer in converting web content to speech. The ReadSpeaker browser extension allows users to read web content with just one click. The browser extension is available on Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and Opera browsers. Aside from web content, it also reads PDF and Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, and eBooks. The software also has OCR technology that can read images and scanned documents. Being a cloud-based software, it can be accessed over multiple devices at the same time.
It can be used for a host of applications from simple text to speech conversion to reading complex numerical calculations. It also has a reverse speech to text technology which allows users to dictate notes. This is a boon for doctors and other professionals who need to constantly type out reports. ReadSpeaker can be used for public announcement systems and telephone prompts as well due to its versatility.
The Readspeaker Voice Demo is Readspeaker’s free version. Even without Readspeaker’s premium features, it is still an excellent text to voice software, making it to this top-10 list. It offers audio conversion services in over 20 languages from Cantonese to Slovak.
The languages are voiced by over 70 different iterations. It has a limit of only 250 words per use, but given its authentic, life-like, and award-winning voices, that is a small price to pay. It is completely online, which means that users do not have to go through the hassle of downloading software either. The user interface is simple and responsive.
💡 Salient features:
- Easy to integrate and use on any device
- Natural sounding text to mp3 conversion in over 50 languages
- Dyslexic font and enlarged fonts available
- Page mask feature for an increased focus
- Word prediction, auto-completion, and spell check options
- Dictionary feature that can perform web searches
- Highlighter function that summarizes a text
- Text translation to several languages
- Speech to text technology available
- Bookmarks available across multiple devices
- A wide range of languages to choose from
- Over 70 different voices
- A maximum limit of 250 words per use
- Award-winning and authentic voices
💲 Pricing Plans:
The ReadSpeaker TTS software has two payment plans. The basic plan starts at $49/year and the complete plan costs $89/year. They also offer a free 14-day trial that includes all their premium features.
Text to speech software is an important tool that benefits people from all walks of life, from students to business owners. With all the great options out there, it makes sense to use this great resource to boost your online presence. Now that you have our top 10 list of the best free and paid text to speech software out there, we hope it makes picking out the one that suits your business a little easier.