13 Best Text-to-Speech Software of 2022 (Free, Paid & Online)
Text-to-speech software can bring tremendous advantages to your workflow.
Imagine being able to listen to a document instead of reading it so that you can multitask. You can just load the document into your phone and listen to it while you run your errands.
Auditory learners who retain more information by listening rather than reading will also find text-to-speech software useful.
Moreover, text-to-speech software is also invaluable to the visually impaired or people with dyslexia. They can help people who improve communication for people who can read a language but don’t speak it, or are trying to learn.
So, we’ve rounded up the 13 best text-to-speech software of 2022 in this post. We’ll review each one, talk about the key features to look out for in text-to-speech software, and explore some frequently asked questions about them.
Best Text-to-Speech Software
1. Amazon Polly
Best Overall Text-to-Speech Software.
Amazon Polly is a service by—you guessed it—Amazon that turns text into lifelike speech, allowing you to build speech-enabled products and applications that talk.
With advanced deep learning technology, Polly synthesizes natural-sounding human speech, offering several realistic voices across dozens of languages so that you can build applications that work in many different countries.
Amazon Polly offers Neural Text-to-Speech (NTTS) in addition to their Standard TTS voices. These voices come with advanced improvements in speech quality through a newer, better machine learning approach.
NTTS also supports two speaking styles so that you can match the speaking style to the specific use case. There’s the Newscaster reading style which is suited to news narration applications; and there’s a Conversational speaking style, which is great for two-way communication like in telephony applications.
Finally, you can get a custom voice created for your organization with Amazon Polly Brand Voice. In this engagement, you’ll work with the Amazon Polly team to build an NTTS voice that will be used exclusively by your organization.
On the free trial, Amazon Polly offers 5 million free characters per month for speech or Speech Mark requests for the first 12 months, beginning from the first time you request for speech. For the Neural voices, you get 1 million free characters.
Beyond the free trial, pricing is on a pay-as-you-go model. For $4, you get 1 million characters for Amazon Polly’s Standard voices. For the Neural voices, you get 1 million characters for $16.
- Incorporates lifelike voices
- Cache and replay feature so you don’t have to pay multiple times for the same text
- HIPAA compliant
- PCI DSS compliant
- Supports 60 voices and over 29 languages
- Some features are limited to certain voices or generation type
- Terminology sometimes is different from other similar tools
Best Alternative to Amazon Polly Text-to-Speech.
Based out of Germany, Linguatech has been creating text-to-speech software for over 25 years now. Their flagship product is Voice Reader Home 15. It’s a deceptively simple yet powerful tool.
You can stop the playback at any time and have it resume from where you stopped. You can highlight a section of text and have it reread that section. And if you’d like to generate an audio file from your text, it’s as easy as tapping a button to convert the text to an MP3 file.
That said, you only get controls for speed, tone, pitch, and volume. With these controls, even a small change can be quite significant.
In addition to the reading functionality, there’s also a sophisticated editing function that can be likened to a highly simplified word processor. All fonts installed on your system are available, and you have the freedom to edit styles, highlight sections of text, align text, and do many other things.
The problem with this part of the platform, though, is that you may be introducing errors into the document you’re trying to edit since there’s no spelling or grammar check.
While the conversion of text to voice is often very well executed, this platform does have a few odd flaws.
For one, in English for example, honorifics that have a period after them—as in ‘Mr.’ or ‘Dr’—can be a bit problematic; Voice Reader takes the period as an actual period and flags a brief pause mid-sentence while reading such words. So Mr. Smith ends up being read as Mr…Smith.
The same occurs with soft returns—although this can be useful in detecting soft returns you didn’t intentionally insert into the document. Either way, these interruptions ruin the flow and bring to light the fact that the voice is synthetic.
Another flaw is that you can’t adjust pronunciations. So, heteronyms are often quite problematic. The platform can’t tell Polish apart from polish, for example; in this case, it always goes with the polish, the act of shining a surface, even when the intention is clearly to refer to something that has to do with Poland.
To get Voice Reader Home 15, you only have to pay a one-off purchase price of €49 and you can use it forever from that point onward. But here’s the catch: that will only give you one voice in a single language. Want a different voice or a different language? That’s another €49. And that’s for a private use license.
If you would like to use the software commercially (such as for voiceovers on your videos) or require multiple voices in a single language, you should get Voice Reader Studio 15 instead for €499.
- Support for 45 languages and 67 voices
- Regional accents supported
- Only one voice and language per private-use license, and one language per commercial license
- No pronunciation adjustment
3. Capti Voice
Best Text-to-Speech Software for People with Print Disabilities.
Capti Voice Narrator is an app designed to be used by people with print disabilities such as blindness, low vision, and dyslexia.
Users can import all kinds and formats of documents, ebooks, and web pages into the system, and Capti Voice will read them out loud or display them in large text.
However, Capti Voice can also serve as a great productivity tool for people without disabilities. It is available as a browser-based platform, as an app for iOS devices, and as a Chrome browser extension.
Navigating the app is easy. You can import your content into the app with as few as four taps. As the app reads text out loud, it also displays the text and you can follow along if you want to.
But the text on the app menus is quite small; so, those with vision impairment may need to have a VoiceOver screen reader or Zoom magnifier to be able to use it.
Capti Voice Narrator features abundant options for people with disabilities, and it has won numerous awards for this reason. You can choose from six free voices or buy any of the premium voices, most of which cost about $5.
You can also have the content text displayed in a wide variety of fonts—including the widely popular OpenDyslexic font—and you can enlarge the font size as well.
You have the option to set the text to be displayed on high-contrast backgrounds and increase the spacing between words as needed.
As the voice narrator reads, Capti Voice highlights the text, allowing users with visual processing issues or dyslexia to focus more easily on words.
Moreover, Capti Voice offers numerous integrations with different services. Under the Book Libraries menu, you’ll find services like Bookshare and Project Gutenberg, giving readers access to hundreds of thousands of books.
The platform also integrates with cloud storage platforms like OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud, allowing users to import files directly from these platforms. Adding web articles to Capti Voice Narrator can be done with the browser extension or by copy-pasting a link. And there is an OCR scanner built into the app.
You can download the app for free and create a free account — an account is required. But if you would like features such as image viewing, increased file size limits, language translation, and multiple playlists, you would need to pony up $18/year for the premium plan.
There are also premium voices available for purchase, and most of them cost about $5 each.
- The free plan is good enough for most people
- The premium plan is relatively inexpensive
- Offers several useful integrations, including an OCR scanner and other assistive technology
- The app menus on the interface are difficult to read
Best Text-to-Speech Software for Voice-overs.
Murf is a text-based voice-over maker that features hyper-realistic AI voices. Just type in your voice-over script or upload a voice recording and the app will convert it to a studio-quality AI voice-over.
Murf’s voices are trained on professional voice-over artists and checked for quality against several parameters. There’s a wide range of voices available; so, there’s always one that’s appropriate for every use case.
One difficult part of making videos with voice-overs is achieving perfect timing with visuals. Murf makes it easy to sync the timing of the voice-over with videos and presentations.
You can add pauses or alter the narration speed, thereby eliminating the need for post-processing. Murf also allows you to change pitch and even add emphasis to certain words. Bottom line, there’s a lot of flexibility for customization.
You can also convert voice into editable text. In this text, you can select and delete any part—just like a regular word processor—and the audio for the deleted part will be trimmed automatically.
Murf Studio has an AI assistant equipped to check for punctuation, grammatical, and spelling errors. The assistant makes recommendations to improve your script.
The Pause feature comes with three settings: weak, medium, and strong. But if you like, you can customize the duration of the pause or add pauses simply by stretching out the duration of an audio block in the timeline at the bottom of the screen.
Additionally, Murf comes with a wide selection of royalty-free background music for your videos. You can also upload your own music, recorded audio, video clips, and images. And you can trim parts of your video directly in the studio.
Murf allows you to combine multiple images and videos to create your final video. This means that you can add introduction slides and end screens to your video, and also insert images in between video clips.
Finally, the platform can also render videos in standard sizes according to the platform on which you’ll be uploading the video, including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and others.
On the free plan, Murf gives you 10 free minutes of voice-over render time to test voices and other features in the Studio. Priced plans start at $19 for the Basic plan and go as high as $99 and up for the Enterprise plan.
Alternatively, you can pay a one-time fee of $9 for 30 minutes of voice generation and all the features of the Basic plan if that’s all you need.
- Both subscription and one-off plans are available
- Gives users granular control over voiceovers
- Does not support voice recording at the moment
Best Text-to-Speech Software for Webmasters Aiming to Improve Website Accessibility.
Many internet users may recognize the familiar voices of Natural Reader from several YouTube videos. It’s a popular solution that has become a victim of its success; its popularity detracts from its naturalness because people are now used to the sound of its voices.
Still, it would be a travesty to not include Natural Reader in this list as it is still one of the top text-to-speech solutions on the market today.
Natural Reader’s interface is as simple as it gets; it’s pretty much a point-and-shoot affair. You simply paste your text into the panel in the center of the screen or drag and drop the text file there. Or you can load the file from your storage.
Or, if you’re using the online version on a Chrome browser, you can highlight text on a webpage and use the Chrome extension to transfer the text for transcription.
At the top of the screen, there’s a bar to control the playback, choose voices, and control the speed of delivery. On the far left, you have a menu with extra options such as controls to edit pronunciations.
Available languages include English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German, Italian, and Swedish.
One unexpected use of this tool—and most other text-to-speech tools, for that matter—is that it can serve as a great alternative to professional proofreading since it is remarkably easier to hear a botched sentence than to read the errors.
Additionally, Natural Reader provides a WebReader widget that website creators can attach to their website to help users read web pages out loud. This feature is particularly useful for those with sight impairments that need to browse the internet.
When in use, the widget highlights the text being read and marks each word as it is spoken. It will use any of the 61 standard voices in any of the 18 languages available. This feature also works with web pages viewed on mobile, too.
The widget is free for websites that expect to use the widget on less than 2,000 pages per day, and there are subscription plans for those that need more.
In all, the flaws of this software become apparent when it comes to names, technical words, and the pronunciation of historical texts. But this should hardly come as a surprise as even humans have problems with the same things.
And the software even makes it easy to fix these issues by giving you access to a pronunciation editor.
Natural Reader is available in two versions: the Commercial version and the Non-commercial version. With both versions, there’s a free plan.
Beyond the free plan, the Commercial version costs $49/month (annual billing) for a single user. The Team plan starts at $59/month (annual billing) for 2 team members, adding $10 for every additional member.
For the Non-commercial version, Natural Reader starts at a one-time fee of $99.50 for the Personal plan and goes all the way up to $199.5 for the Ultimate plan.
- WebReader widget available
- Available on Windows, Mac, and as a browser-based application
- Free for 20 minutes every day
- Overused on YouTube
- Can sound stiff at times
Best Text-to-Speech Software for Translation.
Notevibes is a wonderful text-to-speech software with a free version and a feature-packed paid version. It offers 201 unique, natural-sounding voices and 18 languages. Users get 500 characters of translation and the ability to customize pronunciation.
While the free version is great for personal use, you’ll need a commercial license for commercial applications. The number of characters you can translate depends on the plan you purchase. After translation and voice synthesis, you can download the audio in MP3 or WAV format.
The platform supports anywhere from 200 – 1,000,000 characters. The voices generated are realistic and natural sounding. When you need to, you can add a pause with a single click. Changing the pitch and playback speed are also allowed, and you can manually emphasize certain words and control volume.
Notevibes’ free plan allows limited usage. There are two pricing plans; the Personal pack starts at $9/month while the Commercial pack starts at $90/month. Naturally, the Personal pack can only be used for personal projects and activities like e-learning and private listening.
If your plan runs out mid-project, you can refill with a pay-as-you-go option. These one-off packs range from $29.90 for 300,000 characters to $89.90 for 900,000 characters.
- Refill packs are available for when you run out of balance
- The commercial pack is pretty expensive
- The free plan is quite limited
- Refill packs are only available for personal use
Best Text-to-Speech Software for Mobile.
Text-to-speech software isn’t limited to computers alone; there are also plenty of great options for mobile and Voice Dream Reader is a standout example. It is a mobile text-to-speech app that offers users a premium Acapela Heather voice. It works on both Android and iOS, although it is primarily designed for iOS.
With this app, you can convert ebooks, web articles, and documents into natural-sounding speech. It comes with 200+ built-in voices and 30 languages that include English, Bulgarian, Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, and several others.
You can have the app read a list of articles while you drive, exercise, or work. There are also auto-scrolling, distraction-free, and full-screen modes to help you focus. And the platform integrates seamlessly with cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, iCloud Drive, Google Drive, Instapaper, Evernote, and Pocket.
Even the free version of the application offers a rich feature set, boasting features such as text-to-speech conversion, text highlighting, dictionary lookups, creating & pinning notes, and full-screen reading mode.
As if that isn’t enough, the platform works offline, requiring no internet connection to work its magic. It supports files in several formats including ePub, PDF, Daisy audio & text, MS Word, MS PowerPoint, plain text, and webpage, etc.
Users can control parameters like pitch, speed, pause duration, and voice. There are also controls for font, font size, and font color.
And finally, there’s an integrated OCR module, and library management functionality.
Voice Dream costs $14.99 for iOS users. For Android users, the app is available as Legere Reader on the Play Store for $9.99.
- Offers the best text-to-speech experience on mobile
- Includes loads of useful features, even on the free plan
- Comes with 36 built-in voices
- Integrates with cloud platforms
- iOS 12 users get 61 free voices
- More suitable for iOS users than Android users
Best Free Text-to-Speech Software.
Its website may not look like much but Balabolka is one of the best in the business, especially if you’re a developer looking for a free solution. It's available as a download that you install on your computer and supports various file formats including HTML, PDF, and DOC.
To use Balabolka, you can either copy and paste text into the program or open a supported file format in the program directly. You can adjust the speed, pitch, and volume of the playback to create a custom voice.
Besides reading words aloud, this free text-to-speech software can also save your narrations in a wide range of formats that include MP3 and WAV.
It also features bookmarking functionality so that you can jump to specific locations within your longer audio files. And if ever needed, you can customize the pronunciation of words, too.
Balabolka is completely free to use.
- Completely free
- Excellent file format support
- Several voices to choose from
- Can create audio files
- Comes with bookmarking tools
A Pared-down, Free Version of Natural Reader.
Natural Reader Online Reader is the pared-down free version of Natural Reader. It can be used in a couple of ways. You may choose to load documents into its library and have Natural Reader read them aloud from there.
This is a great way to manage several files, especially since the platform supports an impressive number of file formats.
There's also OCR functionality, which allows you to upload an image or scan a piece of text into the app and have the platform read it to you.
Alternatively, Natural Reader Online Reader offers a floating toolbar option. With this feature, you can highlight any text in any application and use the toolbar controls to start and control the narration.
This is a great way to use the app in your web browser, word processor, or other programs. Plus, there's a built-in browser to more easily convert web content to speech.
This version of Natural Reader is completely free to use.
- Built-in OCR
- Choice of interfaces
- Built-in browser
- Dyslexic-friendly font
- Not as full-featured as some other free options
A Powerful Text-to-Speech Software Bundled Together with an Exceptional Video Editing Platform.
Boasting over 2.5 million users across the world, Wideo is a video editing program that offers a free text-to-speech tool to its users. With Wideo, creators can produce professional videos with amazing voice-overs.
You can convert text into a high-quality voice-over that you can download as an MP3 file for use on videos that you create with the platform.
The text-to-speech feature comes bundled for free with Wideo’s editing platform. And while there’s a free version of the platform available, it’s pretty limited. Pricing starts at $19/month (billed annually) for the Basic plan and goes up to $79/month (billed annually) for the Pro+ plan.
- Comes for free with Wideo’s editing platform
- Standout editing features
- Offers concerted text as downloadable MP3 files
- Text-to-speech function not available as a standalone offering
11. Panopreter Basic
Best Windows-Only Text-to-Speech Software.
Call it simple or basic, a lot can be said about this powerful text-to-speech solution. Panopreter is a Windows-only text-to-speech software. Panopreter offers both 32-bit and 64-bit applications, although it doesn't offer a 64-bit version for Windows 10, which is quite surprising.
While it isn't made for most browsers, Panopreter does come with a toolbar for Internet Explorer (another strange decision seeing as Internet Explorer is now obsolete) and Microsoft Word. The platform is incompatible with the .docx file format; it only works with the .doc file format.
To get started you have the option to purchase Panopreter directly or test drive the software for 30 days free of charge. It's a very easy-to-use piece of software, although its UI is rudimentary at best.
On the home screen, you get all the tools you need to get started. You can cut or copy, paste, delete, and replace sections of text just like with any old-fashioned text editor. Panopreter supports the following file types: TXT, RTF, PDF, DOC, HTM, HTML, and MHT.
Panopreter works with a wide variety of languages that you can choose from the left sidebar. You can also choose from several different voices, adjust volume, speed and pitch.
You can process XML tags and set the application to highlight words as it reads them.
Panopreter can also read the text you paste on your computer’s clipboard. This means that you do not necessarily have to open the application’s UI every time you need it to read something to you.
Finally, Panopreter offers support through the app, FAQs, and email.
There’s a 30-day free trial available after which the software costs a one-time fee of $32.95. Your experience during the free trial won’t be encumbered by any limitations.
- Very easy to use
- Works with a wide range of document formats
- Integrates neatly with Microsoft Word
- Supports multiple languages
- One-time purchase
- Only available for Windows users
- Unattractive, outdated UI
- No support for modern web browsers
- No support for .docx files
Best Free Text-to-Speech Plugin for Microsoft Word.
WordTalk is an add-on developed by the University of Edinburgh that brings text-to-speech functionality to Microsoft Word. It is compatible with all editions of Word and can be accessed via the toolbar or ribbon, depending on what edition you're using.
While it is a barebones offering, it does support SAPI 4 and SAPI 5 voices, all of which you can tweak to your liking. The software can read individual words, sentences, or paragraphs aloud. You can also save your narrations, and there are several keyboard shortcuts for quick and easy access to options that you use frequently.
WordTalk is completely free to use.
- Integrates well with Microsoft Word
- Offers customizable voices
- Speaking dictionary
- Unattractive design
Best Text-to-Speech Software for Application Developers.
Google Cloud Text-to-Speech is not an option for general users. Instead, it is geared towards developers.
With this platform, developers can integrate text-to-speech and other Google apps to create an intelligent and comprehensive app. Developers can also combine Google Cloud Text-to-Speech with Google Translate to create something a lot more advanced.
Google says it can be used for voice response systems in call centers, enable IoT device speech, and convert media like news articles and books into audio format. Google Cloud Text-to-Speech offers 100+ different voices in 12 languages and allows users to control pitch, speed, and volume.
There’s a limited 90-day free trial available. After that, you get 4 million free characters per month on the Standard Voices plan and 1 million free characters on the WaveNet Voices plan. Then you’d have to shell out $4 per million characters for the Standard Voices plan and $6 per million characters for the WaveNet Voices plan.
- One of the best text-to-speech APIs on the market
- Great documentation
- Generous free plan
- Text processing can be slow at times
- Not for beginners or non-technical users
Key Features to Look for in Text-to-Speech Software
The features you’ll need in text-to-speech software depend on exactly what you need it for. A student with accessibility issues will need different features than an application developer who needs to add text-to-speech functionality to his latest creation.
As such, it would be impossible to create a one-size-fits-all list of features to look for in text-to-speech software. But there are still a few key factors that apply to text-to-speech software of all kinds; so, let’s explore some of them briefly.
Ideally, you’ll want text-to-speech software that comes with the most natural-sounding voices you can find.
While you might feel like you’re saving yourself a few bucks by going with something the comes with robotic-sounding voices, it won’t be long before you forget the low price you paid and find yourself stuck with a listening experience you don’t enjoy.
You’ll also want something that offers a wide range of customizations to the voices. You’ll want to be able to control the pitch, tone, volume, and speed of delivery, and you’ll also want to be able to customize pronunciations whenever necessary.
Finally, it’s nice to be able to select from a wide range of voices. Some providers offer several voices, some even as many as 200 voices. It’s great to know that you can change voices at any time to freshen the experience.
This is another big one, especially for those who may not speak English as a first language or who may want to use text-to-speech software to help them learn a new language.
You’ll want software that supports a wide range of languages, or at least offers your preferred language. Choosing a text-to-speech tool without checking if it supports your language would be a grave mistake.
3. Download Options
You’ll also want to be able to download narrations in a wide variety of formats such as MP3 or WAV. This will allow you to save your narrations and come back to them later.
Since a lot of providers price their services according to how many characters you have them narrate each month, being able to download your narrations means that you can listen to older narrations over and over again without eating into your character quota.
4. Licensing Options
Licensing is another important factor to consider when choosing text-to-speech software.
If you’d like to use the narrations generated by your text-to-speech software commercially (such as on YouTube videos, marketing material, premium courses, etc), you should opt for a tool that gives you a commercial-use license, not one that only gives you a personal-use license.
And if you only need text-to-speech software for personal use, why pay a premium for a commercial license?
It’s always nice to be able to sync your software tools to one another. This eliminates the need to move data manually from one place to the other.
And it’s no different with text-to-speech software. For example, if you use cloud storage services to store your files, it makes sense to go for a provider that syncs with your cloud storage provider so that you can fetch files that you want to read without leaving the text-to-speech software’s interface.
This also applies to other services like Bookshare and Project Gutenberg, and even word processors.
Plus, it makes sense for the software to be compatible with your web browser, too, especially for visually challenged individuals or people with print disabilities who may have a hard time reading web content on their own.
6. User Experience
This goes without saying; the text-to-speech software you choose has to be easy to use and give you full control over the playback. You want to be able to pause, play, stop, and resume the playback in the most intuitive way possible.
Some providers offer extra features that boost usability, such as text highlighting (the reader highlights words on the screen as it reads them), the ability to control pause duration, and so on.
These extra features are nice to have for some people but may be necessary for others. Students learning a new language or those with reading disabilities looking to improve their reading might find the text highlighting feature particularly helpful, for example.
For visually challenged users, accessibility is a big issue, and providers who offer accessibility-driven features would be preferred.
Finally, OCR functionality is a nice-to-have feature. It allows users to scan printed documents into the software and have it read out the contents to them. This is very useful for accessibility.
Frequently Asked Questions
Text-to-speech software is a type of assistive technology that reads text inputted into it aloud. It converts text into audio at the tap of a button. It works with devices and text files of all kinds, and even works with web pages.
No. Some use AI-generated voices, while others use actual human voices, with some premium offerings using voices of famous narrators like Morgan Freeman and David Attenborough.
With text-to-speech software, even establishing a pricing range is near impossible, especially since there are many pricing models.
Some providers offer their products 100% free, some charge a monthly fee (some charging as high as $90/month), some charge a one-time fee (some as high as $199), and others charge per character (such as Google Cloud Text-to-Speech and Amazon Polly).
At the end of the day, what you have to pay will be decided by what platform you choose to go for, and that will be determined by the features you need from your text-to-speech software.
Text-to-speech software has a wide range of applications in various fields. Most commonly, it is used by people with learning disabilities, print disabilities, visual impairments, and literacy challenges.
Text-to-speech software is also used to provide queue-free self-service customer care in several industries like banking and finance. It can be used by text editors to detect mistakes and errors that they may have otherwise glossed over while reading.
Content creators—podcasters, YouTubers, online course creators, and others—may use text-to-speech software to create voice-overs for their content.
Even people who need to stay productive use text-to-speech software to read documents aloud while they multitask or run errands. The applications of text-to-speech software are truly wide-ranging.
Which Text to Speech Software Should I Pick?
We already established that choosing the right text-to-speech software depends on your specific needs. One software cannot fulfill everyone’s peculiar needs. Factors ranging from pricing and voices to licensing and download options will all play a role in your final decision.
But we can make a few suggestions based on what category of user you fall
- For bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, online course creators, and other content creators, Murf is an excellent choice.
- For businesses and eLearning projects, NaturalReader is a great option.
- Developers looking to create speech-enabled applications will find Google Cloud Text-to-Speech and Amazon Polly to be particularly useful options.
- Developers looking for a free way to add text-to-speech to their applications would be hard-pressed to find a better option than Balabolka.
- Anyone with print disabilities will find Capti Voice to be indispensable.
And for mobile users, check out Voice Dream Reader.