software recommendation - Natural Sounding Text to Speech?

  • I Heart Ubuntu

    I am looking for some easy to install text to speech software for Ubuntu that sounds natural. I've installed Festival, Gespeaker, etc., but nothing sounds very natural. All very synthetic and hard to understand.

    Any recommendations out there?

  • Answers
  • shirkey

    SVOX pico2wave

    In addition to the other answers:

    A very minimalistic TTS, a better sounding than espeak or mbrola (to my mind).

    Some information:

    I don't understand why pico2wave is, compared to espeak or mbrola, rarely discussed. It's small, but sounds really good (natural). Without modification you'll hear a natural sounding female voice.

    AND ... compared to Mbrola, it recognise Units and speaks it the right way!
    For example:

    • 2°C → two degrees
    • 2m → two meters
    • 2kg → two kilograms

    After installation I use it in a script:

    pico2wave -l=de-DE -w=/tmp/test.wav "$1"
    aplay /tmp/test.wav
    rm /tmp/test.wav

    Then run it with the desired text:

    <scriptname>.sh "hello world"

    or read the contents of an entire file:

    <scriptname>.sh "$(cat <filename>)"

    That's all to have a lightweight, stable working TTS on Ubuntu.

  • I Heart Ubuntu

    I believe Ive found the best TTS software for free using a Google Chrome extension called "SpeakIt". This only works in the Chrome browser for me on Ubuntu. It doesnt work with Chromium for some reason. SpeakIt comes with two female voices which both sound very realistic compared to everything else out there. There are at least four more male & female voices listed s Chrome extensions if you search the Chrome Web Store using "TTS" as your query.

    For use on a website. you highlight the text you want to be read and either right click and "SpeakIt" or click the SpeakIt icon docked on the Chrome top bar.

    Firefox users also have two options. Within Firefox addons, do a search for TTS and you should find "Click Speak" and also "Text to Voice". The voices are not as good as the Chrome SpeakIt voices, but are definitely usable.

    The SpeakIt extension uses iSpeech technology and for a price of $20 a year, the site can convert text to MP3 audio files. You can input text, URLs, RSS feeds, as well as documents such as TXT, DOC, and PDF and output to MP3. You can make podcast, embed audio, etc. Here is a link...

    and a sample of their audio (dont know how long the link will last)...

  • Joe Steiger

    I have looked high and low for text to speech for Ubuntu that is high quality. There is none. My vocal cords are paralyzed so I needed TTS to add voice instructions to my Ubuntu videos. You can get commercial high quality Linux text to speech software here: It's just really expensive. I ended up buying Natural Reader for Windows (doesn't work in Ubuntu under Wine) for $40. Maybe later I will get the Linux one.

    I hope that helps.

  • Jim

    I have been conducting research on the best sounding and easily tuned text to speech voices. Below is a listing of what I thought were the top 5 products in order of sound quality. Most of the websites associated with these product have an interactive demo that will allow for you to make your own determination.

    1. NeoSpeech
    2. iVona
    3. Acapela
    4. AT&T Natural voices
    5. CereProc Voices
  • razor

    I find Nitech HTS voices on festival very natural and comforting over any other voices I have heard. See this link on how to set up Nitech and other sounds with festival. I have not found a good gui which I can use to configure those voices but setting them via festival.scm still works. That post is very old and you might want to find the actual installation directory using "locate festival" command

  • lumbric

    My favorite text-to-speech program is called Magic English, but like Natural Reader mentioned by Joe Steiger, it is a Windows program and I'm not sure if it will run under Wine.

    AT&T Labs Natural Voices is available online as a demo, but that's more of a work-around than a solution...

  • Pooya Sanooei

    Here is what I did to have pure natural speech for pdf and other text files(other solutions are not natural or they're just paid services). This is actually a work around using chromium or chrome but works fast and easy.

    1. Install SpeakIt! extension on your chrome or chromium.
    2. Install PDF Viewer if you're using chromium(chrome already has a pdf viewer for free) and check 'Allow in incognito' and 'Allow access to file URLs' options in extensions settings of chromium.
    3. Drag and drop your pdf to browser.
    4. Now highlight some text and right click and select SpeakIt! so you can listen to pure natural text-to-speech.

    There's also ways to open other files like .doc and .txt in chrome and do the same. There's other extensions for chrome that view pdf files, check if it fits you better. Besides you can upload all kind of texts in Google Drive and use SpeakIt! to read it for you. Another extension called 'Speak text' works the same way and has natural speech.

  • leoperbo

    Combine SVOX tools (pico) with LibreOffice:

    SVOX (pico) tools are easy to install and brings good quality voices in Ubuntu. Install it:

    sudo apt-get install libttspico0 libttspico-utils libttspico-data

    You can use LibreOffice in combination with SVOX (pico) tools by install the "Read Text" extension and you obtain a "GUI" for this excellent TTS software:

    Set up Read Text Extension's options with Tools - Add-ons - Read selection.... Use /usr/bin/python as the external program. Select a command line option that includes the token (PICO_READ_TEXT_PY), you may want to experiment some of them.

    Now you only have to select some text in LO Writer, Calc, Impress or Draw and clic on the icon added as a tool bar (a happy face with a ballon).

  • Related Question

    installation - How can I install and use text-to-speech software?
  • dv3500ea

    I want to convert text to an audio file containing synthesised speech that reads out that text. What free (libre+gratis) software is available for this and how do I install and use it?

    I don't need to use it as an accessibility tool - I just want to be able to listen back to my revision notes while doing other things, like playing games.

  • Related Answers
  • Oli

    espeak is a nice little tool.

    I just like playing around with it in a command line. You might find it conflicts with Pulseaudio so I'm using a long-winded version that negates having to set it up properly.

    sudo apt-get install espeak
    espeak --stdout "this is a test" | paplay

    espeak --help will show you the options to calibrate reading speed, pitch, voice, etc.

    When you're doing your notes, save them as a text file and then:

    echo "these are my notes" > text.txt
    espeak --stdout -f text.txt > text.wav
    paplay text.wav # you should hear "these are my notes"

    You can then play around with ffmeg et al to compress this down from PCM to something more manageable like MP3 or OGG. But that's a different story.

  • luri

    And yet another espeak gui: gespeaker. It uses both espeak and mbrola engines. Also, it has more options than espeak-gui.

  • frabjous

    Even though you've already accepted an answer, I wanted to mention festival, which I like quite a lot too. This post on the Ubuntu forums has a lot of information on getting very nice voices set up for it.

  • Peter.O

    The following is not a FLOSS solution, but you may find it worthwhile. (it is a wine solution),

    I'm personally very keen on TTS, I use it quite often... eg. listening to a rambling discourse which I would never bother to stick with otherise (because I need to get another cup of coffee... :)

    A few things I've discovered along the way.. or should I say, things I haven't discovered along the way... To put it bluntly: Every piece of FOSS TTS voice software I've tried is under par and therefore unsuitable for any semi-protracted listening...

    I currently use ATnT's NaturalVoices. It is only available for Windows (maybe the Mac), but it does run under wine in Ubuntu .. (it has minor glytch, where I sometimes need to click on the panel when I move away from the reader... It is a minor issue when compared to the advantage gained by quality of speech from NatualVoices.

    Some other things I've found to be virtually essential for a half-sensible listening experience, are;...

    1. These TTS progamas are not intelligent (well maybe as intelligent as a young baboon) .. so they need every bit of help they can get. and there is one (and only one Reader program I've found which helps greatly in this.. The app is called ReadPlease (2003 Pro)... It allowd you to specially modify words and groups of word to be pronounced as you want them... It is by no means perfect, but for me, it made the difference between the entire process being usable and not usable...

    2. The speech in Natural Voices is "okay", but it is a bit boring. There are other good products too, but they are all for Windows, unfortunately)..
      It infeclts surprisingl well sometimes .. but OMG, initially it is a pain! .. so #2 is *patience... and lots of updating of your "special words" list ... By patience, I mean you(I) actually became accustomed to my particular baboon's speech patterns :)... and by the way, I currently have about 3000 words that now sound "Human" enough that I no longer cringe when I hear them.

      3.. "Follow the Bouncing Ball" ... Again because the voice is never as good as a real speaker, things sometimes need to be clarified .. . The Reader program I use has one feature for which I even put up with its clunky looking interface.... Is has a "select the currently being read" word option.. Many readers have this, but ReadPlease keeps the current line bang on center of the screen .. This is invaluable to be able to see ahead and behind to quickly re-read what you just missed (so auto-centering the curent line is good)...

    Well that's my experience.. I'm going to make a coffee now, and while I'm doing it, I'll be listening to this, to see how it "reads".... TTS is surprisingl good for picking up typos (I make lots of typos)...

    If something as good as ATnT NaturalVoices turns up on the Ubuntu repository, I'll jump at it.

    Here is a link to some samples of Natural Voices: I use "MIke"

  • leoperbo

    Mbrola doesn't work since 11.10.

    SVOX (pico) tools are easy to install, easy to use and brings good quality voices in Ubuntu. Install it:

    sudo apt-get install libttspico0 libttspico-utils libttspico-data

    Even more easy, you can use LibreOffice in combination with SVOX (pico) tools by install the "Read Text" extension and you obtain a "GUI" for this excellent TTS software:

    Set up Read Text Extension's options with Tools - Add-ons - Read selection.... Use /usr/bin/python as the external program. Select a command line option that includes the token (PICO_READ_TEXT_PY).

  • user85321

    SVOX pico2wave

    that s what I use. And it sounds natural, it s easy to understand, it recognise Units (m, °C,kg, ...)

    Here is my first post to pico2wave

    Natural Sounding Text to Speech?

    All you have todo is:

    Go to Ubuntu Software Center and search for "pico". You ll find 4 or 5 entries with "Small Footprint Ling...". Install them.

    A possible use of pico2wave is described in my first posting (follow the link above).