Here's what you need to know about IBM Text to Speech, plus the best alternative TTS apps.
Text to speech IBM: How it works and the best alternatives
As text to speech software becomes more readily available, there are many options for users to consider. Many large tech companies like IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon have gotten in on the text to speech (TTS) wave with their own apps. This includes IBM Watson Text to Speech. If you’re considering trying out IBM Text to Speech, here is everything you need to know about this TTS software. We’ll also take a look at the best TTS alternatives to help you make the right decision for your needs and budget.
What is IBM Watson Text to Speech?
IBM Watson Text to Speech, also known as IBM Text to Speech or Watson TTS, turns written text into audio via an API cloud service. The text to speech voice is available in natural-sounding custom voices and multiple languages. IBM uses the most modern neural speech synthesizing techniques to create unique, customizable artificial voices. The text to speech services can be used with an existing app or through the Watson Assistant.
Possible use cases for this text to speech software include tools for those with vision impairment or other disabilities, reading texts and emails to commuters, video voice-overs, educational tools for reading and home-automation systems.
In addition to text to speech, there are a variety of other natural language processing applications available through IBM Watson, including speech recognition software.
IBM Watson Text to Speech pricing
The IBM Watson Text to Speech has three levels of pricing. A free Lite version is available, but the plan only covers up to 10,000 characters per month. The standard package costs $0.02 USD per thousand characters. There is a premium package available, but IBM must be contacted directly for pricing.
How IBM Text to Speech works
In order to use IBM Watson Text to Speech, you will start by creating an IBM Cloud account. From there, you will need to enable the TTS or any other available Watson speech services. You will be provided with a text box to input your desired text and a drop-down selection of voices. When you’re ready, simply push play to hear your newly created audio. While this service is available in multiple languages, the input text must be in the same language as the desired output. All languages are also available in both male and female voices.
IBM uses neural speech synthesis to create a variety of natural-sounding voices, or neural voices. Neural speech is a form of machine learning which involves uploading audio samples of a live human voice, allowing the deep neural network of the artificial intelligence to learn from it. The AI must then use the information to synthesize natural-sounding speech patterns into a WAV audio file. It can learn many things from these files, such as appropriate inflections and intonations which make listening to and processing information much easier for the listener.
Alternatives to IBM Watson Text to Speech
Whether IBM’s text to speech option is too expensive for your budget or simply doesn’t meet your needs, there are many alternative TTS providers.
Here are the best text to speech platforms on the market today:
Microsoft Azure Text to Speech
Microsoft Azure Text to Speech is a cloud-based service that’s part of the Azure Cognitive Services suite. It offers a range of natural sounding voices across multiple languages and allows for customization of voice, pitch, and speed. Integration is made easy with its text to speech API, making it a solid choice for developers seeking to add voice capabilities to their applications.
Amazon Polly is Amazon Web Services’ offering in the realm of text to speech conversion. It provides lifelike voice outputs and supports multiple languages and dialects. Polly is known for its real-time processing capabilities, making it ideal for applications that need instant speech generation.
NaturalReader is a text to speech software that’s designed with personal and business users in mind. It offers a user-friendly interface, making it easy for individuals to convert text documents, web pages, and e-books into spoken word. With a diverse set of voices and speed controls, it’s a popular choice for educational purposes and accessibility needs.
Murf AI is an AI-driven text to speech platform that stands out due to its studio-quality voices. It’s designed specifically for content creators, marketers, and businesses to generate voiceovers for videos and presentations. Its unique feature is its ability to mimic human-like emotions in the generated voice, bringing more depth to the content.
Speechify is an intuitive text to speech application aimed at improving productivity and accessibility for users. Originally designed to help those with dyslexia, it can read aloud any text from digital sources, such as e-books, articles, or emails. With its mobile and desktop applications, it offers seamless synchronization across devices, allowing users to listen on-the-go.
Speechify: The best alternative to IBM Watson Text to Speech
Speechify is an extremely user-friendly TTS application with natural-sounding audio that allows users to easily listen to documents, articles, PDFs, books, e-mails and even text messages. The optical character recognition (OCR) available with the premium version can even read out loud from photos of text.
Part of what sets Speechify above the rest are its many natural-sounding voices. There are over 100 voices to choose from in more than 30 different languages and accents. Speechify also has celebrity voices like Snoop Dogg and Gwyneth Paltrow. You can even choose between male and female voices, and you can speed up or slow down the reading speed without losing quality.
The Speechify app is available for both Android and iOS, making it very simple to input text from various parts of your phone. It even syncs directly to certain apps and phone features. Additionally, you can use Speechify in your web browser on desktop for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Whether you’re using Speechify as an accessibility tool or to improve your productivity, you’ll be amazed at how much it can do.