Balabolka Free PC Text-to-Speech Application

Balabolka is a software that you can download for free that helps converts text-to-speech output.  The software works with any voice install on your PC.  The software uses the SAPI 4 and 5 voices developed for the Microsoft operating system.  These voice are high quality, and come in versions for languages other than English. SAPI 5 voices sound far superior than the older SAPI 4 voices supported by MS Agent.

Balabolka can read in about 30 different languages, but you need to have a voice on your computer to be able to read in those languages as well.:

English Arabic Armenian Bulgarian
Catalan Chinese (Simplified) Chinese (Traditional) Croatian
Czech Dutch Filipino Finnish
French German Greek Hungarian
Italian Japanese Korean Persian
Polish Portuguese (Brazil) Portuguese (Portugal) Romanian
Russian Serbian Slovenian Spanish
Turkish Ukrainian Vietnamese

 

File Types

The software can accommodate translation from the following file types:

AZW, AZW3, CHM, DjVu, DOC, DOCX, EML, EPUB, FB2, HTML, LIT, MOBI, ODS, ODT, PDB, PRC, PDF, RTF, TCR, WPD, XLS, XLSX

When the Balabolka translates these files the graphics and structure of the original document are stripped out, leaving only the text.  You can open a URL and all text from the html is presented for speech output.  You can then edit what text you want to hear read, like in any text editor.

Voice Changes. One can alter the voice by changing to another SAPI voice, or one can alter each individual voice.  You can change the reading speed, pitch, and volume.

Audio file

Once you have a file opened in Balabolka you can select a portion of the file or the whole thing and converted to an audio file. You can generate a variety of auto outputs: WAV, MP3, MP4, OGG or WMA files

Foreign Language Translation

Screenshot of language translation You can translate languages one word at a time: The options are to translate to and from the following languages:

English, Esperanto, Estonia, Filipino, Finnish, French, Galician, Georgian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Kiswahili, Korean, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Maltese, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Welsh, and Yiddish. 

 

Additional Tools to Try

Another tool is called the Spritz Reader.  It allows the text to appear one word sat a time, so that you only see the word being voiced.  This is an elementary way of learning to read, but can benefit those who have trouble focusing on the text as it is read.

More sophisticated uses allow for tags to alter what language, pitch, speed and volume a piece of text is read.  Say for instance you have more than one language, or more than one character in a book.  You can tag those sections to read with separate voices.

Resources:

Belabolka’s Demo at Point of Access

Download free SAPI voices

History of Speech Synthesis

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