Speech synthesizers are systems used to convert written texts into human speech. As one of the earliest speech synthesizers on the market, eSpeak has been widely used worldwide. The current eSpeakNG version is a significant upgrade from the earliest iterations of the software. Still, this version is riddled with flaws and drawbacks.
Let’s explore the best eSpeak alternatives that successfully resolve this software’s issues.
What is eSpeak?
eSpeak is an open source speech synthesizer hosted on GitHub. It employs the formant synthesis method, meaning eSpeak doesn’t use human speech samples at runtime. As a result, eSpeak provides many different languages in a relatively compact size.
However, the quality of languages provided varies significantly. Some languages need more work, which is where the feedback from native speakers comes into play. The native speakers in question mostly use the software as a screen reader.
This feature is made possible by the speech synthesis method that produces reliably intelligible text. Thus, visually impaired users can rely on eSpeak to quickly navigate a computer without acoustic glitches. In addition, all speech outputs can be produced as a WAV audio file.
The pros and cons of eSpeak
Due to its compact size, eSpeak is available in several distribution forms:
- A command line program for Windows and Linux, serving as a text to speech software
- A shared library version for other programs on Windows and Linux
- A screen reader for Windows, Android, and macOS
In addition to the size, the number of languages supported is another crucial advantage of eSpeak. Currently, the software provides text to speech synthesis for over 270 languages, with the possibility of adding more.
These languages can be read in different voices with modifying characteristics. You can choose to:
- Change the pitch range
- Add echo
- Add whisper
- Use a croaky voice
Unfortunately, there are some downsides to the language offer and the voices used by the software.
Namely, many languages are only initial drafts and require extensive work before they are fully functional. The quality improves as the languages receive more feedback from text to speech users. For now, widely used languages like English and Spanish have a significant advantage over other language options.
When it comes to the reading voice, it sounds clear and can be used at high speeds. But since this software isn’t based on human speech recordings, the voice doesn’t sound natural or smooth. In fact, most voices sound slightly robotic.
The eSpeak alternatives
Due to its limitations as a text to speech software, many users resort to eSpeak only for basic listening needs, such as blogs and news sites. For more complex TTS tasks, it’s better to seek an alternative.
Speechify is a powerful text to speech app compatible with all major devices, including Mac, iPhone, and Android. The software can also be used online or as a Chrome extension on Windows.
The most significant advantage of Speechify over eSpeak is the natural-sounding voices. Listening to a robotic voice for a prolonged period can prove jarring. For this reason, Speechify uses only high-quality artificial intelligence voices. These voices sound more fluid and human-like, allowing users to focus without distractions and retain more information.
In addition, each language supported by the app is equally developed. Regardless of the language, users can expect natural voices for narrating online articles and any other necessary text file in multiple formats.
Users can also convert their photos and screenshots into listening documents.
NaturalReader is another versatile eSpeak alternative, available both online and offline. It supports most document formats, printed materials, scanned documents, and screenshots from different devices.
This text to speech service offers natural-sounding voices in 16 languages. It also allows users to improve the pronunciation of any word in their chosen language.
TextAloud is a text to voice software for Windows. This essential tool can convert text from documents and web pages into natural-sounding speech. Users can listen to the audio files on their PCs or export audio files to listen on portable devices without an internet connection.
This text to speech service boasts natural-sounding voices in more than 29 languages. However, users must buy these premium voices separately from the software. Although some bundles are available, a greater variety requires a separate purchase for each voice.
Read Aloud is an open source TTS reader available solely as a Google Chrome Extension. This handy web-based tool allows users to read any web page with a single click. It works on various websites, including news sites and online university course materials.
Besides the variety of content, Read Aloud offers multiple voices that can be adjusted. The primary voice is provided by Google Chrome natively. Other voices come from TTS service providers like Microsoft and Amazon Polly. Keep in mind that some of these voices require additional in-app purchases.
Try Speechify for free today
Choosing the right TTS software can make or break your reading experience. Although eSpeak is free and relatively easy to use, it has multiple drawbacks that make it unsuitable for long-term use.
Based on its features, Speechify stands out as the best eSpeak alternative. You can try out Speechify for free and see how quickly it improves your reading experience.
What is the most realistic text to speech engine?
Speechify is the most realistic text to speech engine since it employs the most lifelike human-sounding voices for various applications.
What is the best free text to speech app?
Based on features, quality of voices, and availability, Speechify offers one of the best text to speech apps. You can download the app for free and try out the many features that drastically improve your listening and reading experience.
Is eSpeak available on Linux?
eSpeak is available on Linux as a command line program for reading texts from files or standard input streams.
Can you get natural text to speech voices?
Artificial intelligence and state-of-the-art deep learning apps can generate incredibly natural-sounding voices that can read documents aloud in almost any format.