What is a text-to-speech software? Why do you need it? What are the best text-to-speech software programs of 2021?
I will be answering all these questions in this article, and finish by answering some frequently asked questions.
If you are interested, dig in!
What is a text-to-speech software program?
Text-to-speech software program is an application designed for synthesis of speech. It can read written or digital text aloud. Such applications are used by professionals and students to adults and children.
These programs are especially helpful for people with visual impairment, as well as people with dyslexia (learning impairment).
Apart from that, people who want to learn new language also use these programs extensively as they help in overcoming language barriers.
A Quick Fact
According to Technavio, between 2018 and 2022, the global market for text-to-speech software will grow by USD 1.76 billion.
This fact alone represents how important these software applications are.
Best Text-to-Speech Software of 2021
Okay, now that you know what a text-to-speech software program means, and how fast it is growing, let’s look at the best options you have.
If you are short on time, here is a quick list of the programs you are going to find on this list:
- Natural Reader
- Linguatec Voice Reader
- Capti Voice
- Voice Dream
- From Text to Speech
- NextUp Technologies
- Azure Text to Speech
- Google Cloud Text-to-Speech
- Amazon Polly
- Panopreter Basic
Okay, let’s begin our deep learning (somewhat deep)!
Notevibes is one of finest text-to-speech software programs you can find today. The company offers a free edition that you can use for personal needs.
However, if you want to use it for commercial purposes, you need to purchase a commercial license.
Commercial usage refers to activities like:
- YouTube usage
- TV usage
- IVR usage
- Voiceovers, etc.
The paid version is much more feature-rich. Depending on the plan you purchase, there will be a limitation on the number of characters you can translate.
What’s great about Notevibes is that it allows its users to control and customize the pronunciation.
The program has 177 natural sounding voices, and it can translate any text into 18 languages.
Once you have translated and synthesized the voice, you can download the audio clip in MP3 or WAV format.
My encounters with the program revealed something weird. The male voices sound far more natural than the female voices. However, you can adjust the settings to make the female voices sound better.
Core features of Notevibes:
- Allows adding pause using a single click.
- Allows changing pitch and speed.
- Allows users to put emphasis and control the volume.
- There are 177 natural sounding voices to select from.
- Can convert text to speech in 18 different languages.
- Allows saving the audio in WAV or MP3 format.
Pricing of Notevibes:
- There is a free version available (web version), but it allows limited usage.
- Personal Pack: The price starts at $7 a month (with yearly billing cycle). If you go for monthly payment schedule, it will cost $9 a month.
- Commercial Pack: The price starts at $70 a month (yearly billing). If you want a monthly payment schedule, the price will be $80 a month.
The Personal Pack allows users to use the program for personal use like personal e-learning or private listening. If you want to use the application for any commercial purpose, you need to opt for their Commercial Pack.
#2. Natural Reader
Natural Reader is available in two variants – a web version, and the installable software version.
The web version is always free. If you opt for their installable software, you get a completely free option along with other paid plans.
Using Natural Reader is simple. You just need to upload a document directly into the library, select the reader voice, and bingo! You can now listen to whatever is written in the document.
Natural Reader will allow you to manage multiple files in different formats. The supported formats include PDF, ePub, TXT, and Docx.
Apart from that, this speech synthesis application also has a built-in OCR scanner that can scan images and scanned documents and read them aloud.
Core features of Natural Reader:
- There are different interface styles to choose from.
- Comes with a built-in OCR scanner.
- Capable of reading multiple file formats.
- Uses dyslexic-friendly fonts.
- There is a built-in browser as well.
Pricing of Natural Reader:
- The web version is free.
- The installable software has a free plan that allows only free voices.
- Personal Plan has a price of $99.50 (one-time) that allows 2 natural voices. It also allows saving the speech in MP3 format.
- Professional Plan has a price of $129.50 (one-time), and it offers 4 natural voices. It also allows saving the speech in MP3 format
- The Ultimate Plan has a price of $199.50 (one-time), and it offers 6 natural voices. The OCR will support 5000 images every year.
#3. Linguatec Voice Reader
Liguatec Voice Reader is capable of converting text into high-quality speech. The application is available in different editions, of which the Home Edition is quite famous.
It can covert text from Word document, ePub, PDF, email, and various other file formats into an audio stream that you can later listen on your mobile device or PC.
The program offers 67 different voices to work with, and it supports 45 languages.
This software helps in improving productivity by allowing you to read out manuscripts, presentations, or lectures to help you identify missed words, incorrect word ordering, etc.
The interface is sleek, allowing even the rookies to use it with relative ease. Users get to control volume, pitch, and speed.
Core features of Voice Reader:
- Text to audio conversion is very fast.
- Allows dynamically changing between female and male voices.
- Allows room for pronunciation correction using user dictionaries.
- Allow voice customization by controlling speed, volume, and pitch.
Price of Linguatec Voice Reader:
There are four different versions available. The pricing for each version is given in the table below:
Voice Reader Web
Starts from 299 Euros a year
Voice Reader Home
49 Euros each user
Voice Reader Studio
499 Euros each user
Voice Reader Server
4.950 Euros per language
Yes, Linguatec Voice Reader is expensive compared to its competitors.
#4. Capti Voice
Designed primarily for education and productivity, Capti Voice allows users to listen to e-books, web pages, and documents with ease. Anyone from an adult to a child can use this application.
Capti Voice is great if you want to study reading assignments while on the move, or if you want to learn a different language.
These features of Capti Voice make it an essential tool for people with vision impairments, dyslexia, and other disabilities that prevent them from reading.
The application is compatible with a wide range of digital formats like HTML, Daisy, ePub, Word, PDF, etc.
Core features of Capti Voice:
- Word-by-word speech tracking.
- Cross-device syncing.
- Offline use.
- Advanced text navigation.
- Works with cloud storage platforms like OneDrive, Dropbox, Google Drive etc.
- Screen-reader accessibility.
Price of Capti Voice:
- Capti Voice has a 1-week free trial available.
- If you are going for a monthly payment schedule, the price starts from $1.99 a month.
- For half-yearly payment schedule, the price starts at $9.99 per six months.
- For yearly payment schedule, the price starts at $19.99 a year.
#5. Voice Dream
Voice Dream is designed specifically for mobile phones. While both Android and iOS users can use it, the application is better-suited for iOS users, because some of the best features of Voice Dream are available only for iOS.
You can choose from 200 different voices and 30 different languages. There is a free version available, which is quite feature-rich, but as you can expect, the premium versions have more features.
Apart from text-to-speech, Voice Dream allows text highlighting, dictionary lookups, full-screen reading mode, pinning and creating notes.
Core features of Voice Dream:
- Offers one free premium voice from Acapela.
- iOS 12 gets 61 free voices.
- In-app purchase available for 100+ premium voices.
- Works offline – no internet connection required.
- Reads multiple formats including PDF, ePub, Daisy audio and Daisy text, plain text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, web page, etc.
- Supports cloud storage platforms like Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox.
- Can load files from local device, Bookshare, Pocket, Evernote, Instapaper, Gutenberg, any website, and more.
- Works great for people with moto function issues, autism, dyslexia, low vision, and blindness.
- Different reading modes available.
- Allows controlling pitch, speed, pause duration, and voice.
- Allows changing font, font size, and font color.
- Allows setting bookmarks, and even allows adding notes and highlighting texts.
- Integrated OCR for documents, books, PDFs, etc.
- Offers library management.
Price of Voice Dream:
Voice Dream costs $14.99 for iOS users. If you are an Android user, you need to use another app called Legere Reader available for purchase at $9.99.
Wideo is not a standalone text-to-speech software. It is essentially a video editing program that offers a free text-to-speech tool for its users. This allows users to create professional videos with amazing voiceovers.
The application is capable of converting text into high-quality voice that users can download as an MP3 file for using along with the video they create.
Core features of Wideo:
- Great video editing features.
- Read text aloud.
- Text to speech features are free.
- Allows downloading the speech in MP3 format.
Price of Wideo:
To use the Wideo text-to-speech feature, you need to use the Wideo video editing platform. There is a free version available, but it is very limited. The paid plans include:
- Basic: Costs $19 a month (annual billing).
- Pro: Costs $39 a month (annual billing).
- Pro +: Costs $79 a month (annual billing).
#7. From Text to Speech
In case you are not looking for anything fancy, but a simple application that will allow you to quickly convert text into speech with a single click, the web application called From Text to Speech is a great choice.
It is completely free. You don’t pay anything; you don’t install anything – just paste your text in the pastebin and hit the audio file creation button.
A few quick settings are available. For instance, you select the speech speed, language (British or American English), and the voice (male or female). That’s all!
Of course, some other languages are also available including French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Russian.
Core features of From Text to Speech:
- Simple pastebin where you can paste your text.
- Works on any browser.
- Completely free application.
- Supports multiple languages.
- Allows controlling speech speed.
- Supports both male and female voices.
- Allows downloading MP3 files.
Price of From Text to Speech:
It is free to use!
#8. NextUp Technologies
TextAloud by NextUp Technologies is a great text-to-speech software that you can get for a very low price. It has some unique features that make it stand out from the herd.
For instance, you can easily integrate the tool with MS Word. Furthermore, the speech it generates sounds quite natural. It can further enhance the speech by adding pauses between sentences and words, after punctuations like commas, etc.
It can even read quotes and text in parentheses quite differently, adding to the natural vibe of the speech it creates.
Core features of TextAloud by NextUp Technologies:
- Pronunciation editor.
- English dictionary lookup.
- Enhances proofreading.
- Voice generation.
- Automatically sets speed, volume, and pitch.
- Easy word highlighting.
- Set speaking rules like pause duration between sentences, punctuation, etc.
- Support for Ogg/Vorbis file.
- Supports RTL text.
Price of TextAloud by NextUp Technologies:
- The application will cost $34.95 for new users. Existing users should upgrade from TextAloud 3 to TextAloud 4 at $24.95.
- A free limited trial is available for trying out the software application before purchase.
#9. Azure Text to Speech
If you happen to be a developer and looking for ways to include text-to-speech feature in your application, the Azure Text to Speech is your best option.
This application comes with extremely advanced audio controls that you can use for controlling the speech and make it sound natural.
Core features of Azure Text to Speech:
- Offers customizable voices.
- Create lifelike speeches.
- Highly advanced audio controls.
- 45 languages and 110 voices supported.
- Flexible deployment.
Price of Azure Text to Speech:
Offered by Microsoft, Azure Text to Speech is free to use. However, if you are using it for professional/commercial purposes, you need to go for their Standard version that comes with Pay Per Use model.
#10. Google Cloud Text-to-Speech
Just like Azure Text to Speech by Microsoft, even Google has its very on Text-to-Speech product. Of course, it is not meant for general users. Just like Azure, Google’s product is also geared towards developers.
It allows users to integrate the Text-to-Speech tool with other Google apps, creating an intelligent and a comprehensive app.
What more? Developers can combine Text-to-Speech with Google Translate to create something even more advanced.
Core features of Google Cloud Text-to-Speech:
- Voice tuning.
- Text and SSML support available.
- Beta version of custom voice support.
- WaveNet voices.
- 100+ natural-sounding voices available.
Price of Google Cloud Text-to-Speech:
There is a free 90-day limited trial available. After that, users need to pay. There are two options available. One is Standard that costs $4 for every one million characters. The other one is WaveNet that costs $6 for every one million characters.
It is interesting to note that the for Standard voices there is a free quota every month that covers 0 to 4 million characters. For the WaveNet voices, the free quota is for 0 to 1 million characters.
#11. Amazon Polly
How can you not expect Amazon to be on the list? Yes, even Amazon offers a text-to-speech application driven by AI. Known as Amazon Polly, it can generate lifelike sounds.
Of course, just like Microsoft and Google, Amazon Polly is supported by deep machine learning and advanced AI that will allow you to create speech-enabled applications with realistic voiceovers.
Polly supports PCM, Vorbis, and MP3 file formats. To make it work, you need to send text through an API, that sends an audio stream back to your application. It supports various international languages and dialects.
Core features of Amazon Polly:
- Real-time streaming.
- Natural-sounding voice.
- Allows controlling and customizing the speech output.
- Allows storing and redistributing speech.
Price of Amazon Polly:
- For 12 months, you get 5 million characters for free per month.
- Post free tier, the price they charge is $4 per 1 million characters.
If you are not a developer, and you are looking for a free and simple solution, Balabolka is one of the best in business.
You need to download the application and install it on your computer. It supports various file formats including HTML, PDF, and DOC.
When it comes to output, Balabolka will allow you to get the output in SAPI 4 that gives you 8 different voices. You can also settle for SAPI 5 with two voices or Microsoft Speech Platform.
You can save the audio files in MP3 or WAV format. The application will also allow you to customize the pronunciation the way you want it. There is a bookmarking facility as well that will allow you to jump to specific locations.
Core features of Balabolka:
- Support for multiple file formats.
- Supports MP3 and WAV audio files. You can download the audio streams.
- Different output options available.
- Allows customizing pronunciation.
- Offers a bookmarking facility.
Price of Balabolka:
Balabolka is free.
#13. Panopreter Basic
Yet another free text-to-speech software application is the Panopreter Basic. Well, as the name suggests, it only does basic stuff – it will convert your text into speech.
The speech it generates is saved in both MP3 and WAV formats. You can use a Word document, rich text file, or plain text as input. You can even add web pages as an input.
The most you can do is select different languages, or set custom colors for the interface, and choose the destination where the audio files are saved.
If you want something more, you need to upgrade to the pro version available that will allow adding toolbar for Microsoft Word, and even IE. The pro version also has additional voices that you can use.
Core features of Panopreter Basic:
- Accepts inputs in multiple file formats.
- Allows saving audio stream in MP3 or WAV format.
- Great for quick tasks.
Price of Panopreter Basic:
It is free!
That concludes my list of the best text-to-speech software of 2021. Now, it is time for some basic FAQ.
Text-to-Speech Software FAQ
It is a computer program designed for reading text aloud. The voice it generates is computer generated. However, certain applications allow controlling the speed, pitch, etc. of the voice to make it sound more natural.
No, it will vary. There are several applications that use actual human voice. Some premium solutions use voices of famous narrators like Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough.
There are applications that will allow you to synthesize speech in a child’s voice.
Some of these applications are web-based, which means that they work on your web browser. You need to add your text. That can be done in various formats like pasting the text in the provided field or uploading a supported document.
Again, there are other applications that you need to install on your computer or your mobile device. The input method mostly remains the same.
Certain applications will have built-in OCR scanner that can read texts from images and scanned documents.
Whatever input method you use, the application you are using will extract the text from the document, and then convert it into a speech using the voice and audio settings of your choice.
The speech generated by these text-to-speech software are nothing but audio files. Almost all the text-to-speech software programs allow downloading the speech.
Most of them will allow downloading the audio file in MP3 format, but there are applications that support various formats like MP3, WAV, Ogg/Vorbis, etc.