Text to speech products are supposed to help you be more efficient, yet oftentimes, getting these products to work can be a frustrating and and time-consuming experience. You either have to hunt down the correct speech synthesizer, or the program becomes too cumbersome to be useful.
One open source application that makes this process incredibly easy is AudioDocs. The free app does an outstanding job of bringing Microsoft Word documents to life. With little to no hassle, you can have those .doc and .txt files read aloud.
- Supports the 64-bit versions of Windows 7/8
- Works with docs from Word 2007 or 2010
- Offers an easy to use interface
- Changes speaking rate
- Changes volume
- Works with the Windows built-in TTS Voice synthesizer
- Saves in .wav files
- Download the compressed file.
- Extract the compressed file.
- Change into the newly created audiodocs-XXX folder (XXX is the release number).
- Double-click the setup.exe file to start the installation.
- Walk through the installation wizard.
After the wizard completes, you should find an AudioDocs entry in the All Programs section of the Start Menu.
One nice thing about the AudioDocs installation is the .NET 4 dependency is included, so you don’t have to download or update prior to this step.
When you fire up the tool, you will be greeted by the main window (Figure A). There are no settings icons or menus — the only settings come into play when you click the MS Word To AudioDoc button.
The AudioDocs main window’s simple interface. (Click the image to enlarge.)
In the new window that opens, you can set the minimal options (Figure B), which include:
- TTS Voices: This will depend on what TTS voices you have installed on your computer.
- Speaking Rate: The pace of the spoken audio.
- Volume: The volume of the spoken audio.
When you click the drop-down for the output voice selection, you’ll see there is only one option available: Microsoft Anna. If you have installed other sapi files on your computer (many times they will be installed along with third-party applications), they should be available from this drop-down list.
You also need to select the source file. To do that, click the Browse button, locate the file, and click Open.
After you set the options, click the Create AudioDoc button. This process can take awhile — it depends on the length of the source file. After the process completes, you should have a .wav file of the same name in the same directory as the source file. Open that file with your favorite .wav player (I like VLC) and listen away.
Most likely, you will need to adjust the speaking rate, the volume, or both to get the spoken voice so you can best understand it. I found the default settings to be pretty good. If you find it hard to understand Anna well enough, slow her down a bit.