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THOUGH FEW PEOPLE PROBABLY KNOW
If one has Adobe Reader version 7.0 or later and go simply open a file and go to the drop-down menu at View and click on Read Out Aloud / Activate Read Out Aloud / Read This Page OR Read To End of Document and the file will be read out to them. One could try recording the Adobe "default" voice track by going to the START button at the bottom left of the screen and then All Programs / Accessories / Entertainment / Sound Recorder but, the results aren't very good AND, the main drawback of that suggested routing in that one can only "Save As" .wav format audio files, which then have to be converted to MP3 files ! In any case, PDF files, despite their "compression", are generally quite large in size and can take some time to load e.g. a 24.6 mb PDF file could take some 15 minutes to download at just 0.6 mbs internet speed, Microsoft Word .doc and Text Only .txt files will both downloading 'almost instantly' and one should register with a service, in the U.K., such as http://www.thinkbroadband.com/ so that you can test your broadband internet speed before downloading any documents. Even though Microsoft Word 2003 and later editions and some other word processing programs can be set up to read documents, though not always directly record an audio file copy of the "text-to-spech (TTS)" conversion, some searching around the many and variously available "text-to-speech (TTS)" programs, both free and otherwise, on the internet, suggests, for most purposes, that one might consider downloading D-Speech , a free program, from Dimio's Tools at http://dimio.altervista.org/eng/ - Scroll nearly half-way down the page and you'll see it.
DOWNLOADING and INSTALLING DSpeech Click on Download DSpeech v1.55.1 (Windows NT/2000/XP/VISTA) ca 800 KB and once you've installed that, Click on To open PDF files, you must download the DSpeech PDF Plug-In (ca 250 KB), just underneath "Other components you need to install" - Unzip this 'plug-in' file to your Desktop, most computers can do this without having to download a special program, such as 7-Zip at http://www.7-zip.org/ and you simply right click on the zip file on your Desktop (screen), select Open, Extract, and again choose Desktop - You'll now see a new folder on your screen, DSpeech PDF Plug-In - Again right-click and Copy. 1
Next, go to and click on the Start button at the bottom left of your screen and then double click on My Computer, double click on C-drive and, scrolling down, on Program Files and, again scrolling down, on the DSpeech folder Now, simply go to the top, main, toolbar and go Edit / Paste (or and put the DSpeech PDF Plug-In into the DSpeech program along with all the other files. Open the DSpeech PDF Plug-In folder and Copy and Paste the pdftotext.exe icon into the the main area of the DSpeech program files, as you did before with the unzipped file folder. Your computer should already have a "default voice" - Go to Start / Control Panel and double-click on Speech and then on Text-To-Speech where you'll see the "default voice" under 'Voice Selection' - Turn on your speakers ( ! ) and click on Preview Voice - In all probability you won't like the "default voice" and, even if you find that you have a choice of voices already installed, you will need to find something easier on the ear. If your computer runs an earlier operating system than Windows XP, the "default voice" is most likely one of the older SAPI 4 voices, these now generally available for free and most sounding like "Daleks" - Windows XP and Vista use the new SAPI 5 voices and "Microsoft Sam (Speech Articulation Module) is a commonly-shipped SAPI 5 voice. In addition, Microsoft Office XP and Office 2003 installed L&H Michael and Michelle voices. The SAPI 5.1 SDK installs 2 more voices, Mike and Mary. Windows Vista includes Microsoft Anna which replaces Microsoft Sam. Anna is designed to sound more natural and offer greater intelligibility. Microsoft Anna is also installed on Windows XP by Microsoft Streets & Trips 2006 and later versions" says Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_Application_Programming_Interface So, going back to the DSpeech downloads on Dimitrio's Tools' page, under "Other components you need to install", select what you need, either, on Windows XP, if you want use SAPI 4 voices, you must install SAPI 4. Download it here (800 KB) or, on Windows NT4/2000 you must install SAPI 5, you can download it here or here (6 MB). Regardless, because the DSpeech program can work with both SAPI 4 and SAPI 5 voices, you can download the older style SAPI 4 voices for free by scrolling down to near the bottom of the TextAloud's page at http://www.nextup.com/TextAloud/SpeechEngine/voices.html#morefreevoices TextAloud is a good text-to-speech program but, it costs $29.95, about £ 18.00 (including VAT) at current rates of exchange AND then you will also have to pay around £18 to £20 for EACH of the newer SAPI 5 voices, which is why the DSpeech program will be more financially appealing for most people. Luckily, DSpeech has a download link for a free SAPI 5 voice, Emily, which you can find by scrolling further down the DSpeech download page to "Where find the Voices" and you should click on "RealSpeak : They are good voices and it seems that Microsoft will integrate them by default on Windows Vista - British English Now, before opening and experimenting with the DSpeech program, go to Start / My Documents and, right-clicking in the main area of the window, New Folder and title it something like My TTS Conversions, meaning Text-ToSpeech conversions. At last, double-click on the peculiarly-looking DSpeech icon on your Desktop to open the program, and though an "Open File Security Warning" notice, citing DSpeech.exe, will appear every time you do this, simply click Run and the DSpeech will open, an animated picture of the 'voice character' appearing in the little window, at the top right of the program. Go along the toolbar to Options and click on either "Use SAPI 4 voices" or "Use SAPI 5 voices" and then go to File / Open and choose your first document to read, perhaps you should read the DSpeech (ENG).txt file to learn a little about the program ! This is the only 'Help File' for the program and you'll have to learn everything else by experimentation ! Having (above) selected the type of voice your are going to use, SAPI 4 or SAPI 5, click on the Voice Select box dropdown arrow and find out 'who' is there and choose (if there is more than one option) 'who' you want - The 'character picture' will change as you select different voices and each 'character' will, IF YOU'VE REMEMBERED to TURN YOUR SPEAKERS ON, announce his or herself ! Beware of the SAPI4 voices, for "they have worse quality but are easier to find and downloadable for free; the best are L&H TrueVoice : They have a good voice sampling, but wav and MP3 conversions are very slow" - Download British English here. 2
That done, click the cursor into the start of the text that you want read and click on Speak - Everything that follows about using the program is relatively obvious AND relatively simple. TO MAKE AN MP3 of the text-to-speech conversion, your text open and the cursor placed at the start of the text - Click on File / save wav, mp3, ogg as ... - Then Save in My Documents / My TTS Conversions AND MAKE SURE THAT you a) Type in the FILE NAME (as you want it) AND also SAVE AS MP3, rather than a WAV or OGG type file - Now click SAVE. You will hear a single "Beep", the main program will disappear and a little 'pop-up' box will tell you the progress of the file 'converting to wav ... ' - The program will First convert to the wav-format and then tell you that is is 'encoding to MP3', the whole process, in the case of the suggested DSpeech (ENG).txt file, taking little more than a minute or two. Now go to Start / My Documents and look for and Open up the 'new' My TTS Conversions folder, where you will find your finished MP3 conversion, double click on it to listen to the file which, like any other MP3 file, you can later transfer to an MP3 player etc. etc. Now, if you have downloaded the DSpeech PDF Plug-In folder and successfully followed the instructions for installing the 'plug-in', you will find that you can use the DSpeech program to read almost every one of your text files. You can do a lot of things with the DSpeech program despite the lack of any instructions and there is even a Speech Recognition 'plug-in' for it, which could be fun ! On Windows NT4/2000/XP, if you want use the Speech Recognition features, you must install the MS-Recognition Engine as well (30 MB).
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