Sunday, April 19, 2009

Machine voice used for Zamzar text to MP3 conversion surprisingly good

Today's Computer Guy's Tech Tips mentioned an online text to MP3 conversion service named Zamzar and, since I'm a multimedia kind of gal, I had to try it out. I took three paragraphs of a blog post (203 words), saved it in Notepad as a .txt file and converted it. The result was a 311 kb .mp3 file that I opened in iTunes. As I listened to the .mp3 file I was pleasantly surprised to hear a voice that changed pitch and cadence with enough variation to be considered quite usable for things like closed captioning or even podcasting. It even did a good job of interpretation of proper names too.

Zamzar was obviously using a conversion tool with capabilities of the more advanced current text- to-speech software. Like many free services, free gets you the basics including conversion of a file up to 100 Mb. For $7/mo the file size maximum increases to 200 Mb. They also toss in 5 Gb of file storage. For $16/mo, the file size maximum increases to 400 Mb and storage to 20 Gb. For $49/mo you can convert a file up to 1 Gb in size and they give you 100 Gb of storage. Your file conversion priority in their processing queue also increases with each successive level of service.
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