WaveNet has become one of the most popular TTS tools on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only such program available. There are many alternatives that might provide just the thing you need.
What is Google WaveNet and how does it work?
Before diving into details about alternative programs, we should provide a bit more background on Google WaveNet. This artificial neural network is designed to elevate text-to-speech software to a whole new level. It is the creation of DeepMind, a London-based company.
The idea behind the technology is quite simple, though the technology itself is complex. The technology models waveforms, and by doing this, it can create natural-sounding speech such as for a voiceover or other applications for speech voices.
The app analyzes recordings of real people and real speech, then uses this information to create samples. This allows the program to make AI voices that will sound as good as real human speech. Or at least, that’s one of the use cases.
Even though text-to-speech has improved a lot in the past couple of years, it is not yet ideal. Artificial intelligence can evolve even further, which is one of many reasons you might be looking for an alternative. Whether you’re looking for speech services such as transcription, weighing synthetic voices versus standard voices or considering another WaveNet application entirely, it’s good to know what other offerings are available in the marketplace.
Some of the potential applications for WaveNet technology neural network
The most obvious use of WaveNet is for text to speech. If you are not familiar with the term, you’re not alone. Chances are good you’re probably not a developer who spends a lot of time discussing these kinds of topics on Github and other forums. In a nutshell, using text-to-speech APIs and technology allows your PC or smartphone to read text to you. It’s an excellent way to listen to audiobooks or transcripts of your favorite podcasts.
Instead of scrolling through pages and reading them on your own, the app can read the content for you. This allows you to do other things, listen to the text on your headphones and so on.
Virtual assistants illustrate the many possibilities of this technology. Today, many apps and devices offer virtual assistant services, and these tools save us time and help us quickly get the information we need for daily living. As developers perfect this technology, it will open up a whole new world of possibilities.
How exactly does a neural network function? These networks are inspired by biological neural networks or brains. The main difference is that neural nets are artificial. As with real brains, ANN (artificial neural network) uses a form of neurons. They are interconnected, and they can communicate with one another by sending signals. ANNs are used in system identification, speech recognition, medicine, machine learning and other applications.
Potential drawbacks to using WaveNet technology that businesses should be aware of before making a decision to invest in it
Since we are still discovering new ways to use neural nets and improve text-to-speech technologies, there are a couple of drawbacks to acknowledge. The API is far from perfect, and there are many different ways the technology could improve.
The first thing we should mention is speed. WaveNet can produce speech waveforms that are quite good, but a notable downside of the technology is that it can be too slow.
What’s more, errors can negatively affect the program’s speech synthesis. Text-to-speech software also won’t always sound as natural as we’d like. There are cases when the program will stress the wrong word or syllable, making it sound fake.
Alternatives to Google WaveNet
For all of these reasons, you might want to check out alternatives to Google TTS. This isn’t to say that the API is bad. It’s simply an acknowledgment that some users might want something more. Fortunately, there are plenty of different options you can check out.
Microsoft Azure Voices
The program Azure Voices is sophisticated and offers a high quality user experience with SSML capabilities. One of the main advantages of Azure is that it offers real-time speech to text, and it works with other smart apps.
Compared to Google’s WaveNet, it eliminates the problem of delay, and it will provide great results.
On the flip side, some people might dislike Azure because it takes a lot of time to set up. People experienced with this type of technology probably will have an easier time using the app, while others might struggle with its complexity.
As with Google’s app, Amazon Polly is cloud-based. People report enjoying the usability of Polly because it offers numerous accents and voices. You can easily find a voice that fits. Additional settings include the ability to adjust pitch, speed, volume and so on.
But Amazon Polly often struggles with file formats, and the app could be faster. This might not be a problem for some users, and it is a worthy alternative. Among the most popular programs using Polly is the language-learning app Duolingo.
Keep in mind that Amazon is still working on Polly, which might mean you’ll experience issues from time to time as new updates become available.
Of all of the options on the market, Speechify is the best option for text-to-speech functionality. It’s easy to use, it works on almost any device (iOS and Android), and the functionality of the OCR system is flawless. The app uses optical character recognition to turn physical books and docs into audio.
You can also use this program for any type of printed text, and it can read it to you out loud. Other platforms don’t offer this feature. Speechify also works as a browser extension (Chrome, Firefox and others), and you can use it on your smartphone, as well.
All of this shows that accessibility is one of the main advantages of this app. You won’t need to worry about having the proper support for certain types of audio files with Speechify because it can handle all of them.
Is Google TTS free?
Google TTS allows users to get a certain number of characters for free each month. After that limit, they must pay for additional characters. The pricing of Google cloud text-to-speech depends on the number of characters you plan on using.
Different features also impact pricing. For example, you might go for WaveNet voices or Neural2 voices, which is based on the same technology as Custom Voice.
Keep in mind that you will need to enable billing to use the service in case you go over the limit for the month.
What is WaveNet used for?
The neural network is used to generate speech, and many users claim that it sounds more lifelike compared to alternatives. The program focuses on creating human-like pronunciation with proper emphasis on different words and syllables. It is one of the most popular TTS tools.
What is the WaveNet model?
The model is based on PixelCNN, which is a deep convolutional neural network. The CNN takes raw audio signals and uses them as an input. From there, the program will synthesize speech or the output one sample at a time.
The PixelCNN uses autoregressive connections as a way to model an image pixel by pixel. This allows users to easily train it compared to PixelRNNs. The software uses several variants of Deep Learning.
What is the difference between WaveNet and Convolutional Neural Networks?
Google’s app is based on PixelCNN, which means that it’s just another form of convolutional neural network. You can think of it as a subcategory of CNN, or rather, as a use case of CNN.
There are many other types of convolutional neural networks that aren’t used for text-to-speech apps.
Yet if you are in the market for a text-to-speech service you can trust, choose Speechify. It will deliver every time because it’s easy to use, rich in features and hassle-free.