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Old 10-05-2014, 07:51 PM   #1
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Voice Dream: an iOS TTS app


I've searched around and noticed the Voice Dream app mentioned a few times here and there, but mostly in connection with other conversations. I think it's a brilliant app and wanted to dedicate a thread to bring it to other people's attention, and also have a discussion spot for those of us who own it.

The Voice Dream app, at $9.99, is relatively pricey but is, IMO, worth every cent. I discovered it at a time when I was actively searching for a text-to-speech (TTS) solution for my iPad and it's now one of my most-used apps. It reads just about anything (DRM-free/doesn't read mobi) from your other reading apps, and it has it's own built-in thingy for getting reading material from Dropbox, Evernote, Gutenberg, and elsewhere. It can also be linked to the Pocket app, which is the handiest thing for me.

One of the things I love about the app is the variety of voices. It comes with a built-in voice (Heather) and also works with the iOS voices. However, you can also buy voices, as in-app purchases. There are 3 kinds of voices; Acapela ($1.99), NeoSpeech ($2.99), and Ivona ($4.99). I don't much care for the Acapela voices (Heather is one of those), the NeoSpeech voices have a mechanical/robotic undertone (what you may be used to with regular TTS but sounding more refined), and Ivona voices are, IMO, the best and most natural-sounding. The voices also come from different regions and in different languages.

I've bought some voices (Amy, Emma, Salli, James and Paul) and I think all of them are quite good; the female voices are all Ivona and both the male voices are NeoSpeech. The male voices are my one peeve; I find most of the available to be too languid/too affected that I think it would drive me crazy to listen to them for any great length of time. The male voices I got aren't that bad but I mostly use them with shorter reading material.

I have yet to listen to a full book (but I've done short stories) with this but I use it a lot for my Pocket articles and it comes in very handy for listening to chapters here and there when I have to desert my reading for housework etc. I do find it lends itself better to non-fiction than fiction, though.

If you're interested in the app, you can find more information here and on its Appstore page.

I would love feedback from other Voice Dream users; what do you like/dislike about it? Any tips for newbie users? Any questions, ideas for enhancement etc?
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Old 10-05-2014, 10:59 PM   #2
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I haven't bought any voices for it, are any of those more natural sounding than the built in voice? Because that annoyed me enough to not use it past the first page of one book! I kind of expected the level of natural with the voices you get in good GPS apps... and it wasn't, it was stilted and really unnatural. Also, the writeup said you'd get a voice appropriate to your country... I guess they did not want to distinguish between the various kinds of English... but I prefer British English to American, but American is what I got.

[Edit] Cancel that. I just trawled the voices and decided that the Neospeech ones were as good as they could be, and closest to natural speech. I bought Bridget (UK) and Paul (US). There werent any Aussie Neospeech. Still dont sound great. Maybe I have been spoiled rotten by audiobooks :-/

I like that it will pull in stuff from dropbox, being as how I store my library there, as well as my pdfs which I dont keep in Calibre.

Last edited by kyteflyer; 10-05-2014 at 11:50 PM. Reason: addit info
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Old 10-06-2014, 12:31 AM   #3
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Oh yeah, the iOS voices are not very good. Heather isn't either. I got Salli and Joey for now. I hope they implement Alex (a voice they ported from OS X to iOS 8 - It's on my 5S but not on my Mini, and it's probably because it takes almost a gig of space).

I really like it though. Not just useful for books either.
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Old 10-06-2014, 02:39 AM   #4
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I've bought six voices (yeah I know I can't make up my mind!) I got Salli, Heather, Amy, Bridget, James and Emma. Some are UK English speakers some are US. My favorites are Salli and Emma.

Last edited by Josieb1; 10-06-2014 at 02:41 AM.
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Old 10-06-2014, 09:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kyteflyer View Post
I haven't bought any voices for it, are any of those more natural sounding than the built in voice? Because that annoyed me enough to not use it past the first page of one book! I kind of expected the level of natural with the voices you get in good GPS apps... and it wasn't, it was stilted and really unnatural. Also, the writeup said you'd get a voice appropriate to your country... I guess they did not want to distinguish between the various kinds of English... but I prefer British English to American, but American is what I got.

[Edit] Cancel that. I just trawled the voices and decided that the Neospeech ones were as good as they could be, and closest to natural speech. I bought Bridget (UK) and Paul (US). There werent any Aussie Neospeech. Still dont sound great. Maybe I have been spoiled rotten by audiobooks :-/

I like that it will pull in stuff from dropbox, being as how I store my library there, as well as my pdfs which I dont keep in Calibre.
While it's definitely not audiobook quality, it's loads better than anything I ever expected in TTS. Also, I don't think the samples are long enough for some of the voices so it kinda warps your expectations. From the sample I thought I would like Paul more but I find I prefer James.

It's great that it pulls stuff from most of your major 'storehouses'
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:07 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jessica Lares View Post
Oh yeah, the iOS voices are not very good. Heather isn't either. I got Salli and Joey for now. I hope they implement Alex (a voice they ported from OS X to iOS 8 - It's on my 5S but not on my Mini, and it's probably because it takes almost a gig of space).

I really like it though. Not just useful for books either.
Yeah, the iOS voices are icky. I never used Heather after I starting buying voices. I love Salli; she's my default voice. I listened to the Joey sample (again ... and again ) and I might buy it, but I think the sample is too short. I just want to settle on a good-sounding male Ivona voice.

I've found two additional uses for Voice Dream:

I plan to use it to 'edit' my long(ish) business correspondence. I recently had a 4-page letter to send to a new client. As I'm so much better at spotting other people's typos than my own, I gave it to two of my coworkers to proof-read. Between them they found one error each; I put it through Voice Dream and discovered about five more.

I also use it to determine how long it'll take me to read a particular book, even if I don't plan to 'read' it through Voice Dream. This helps me plan my reading, especially for the weekends when I have longer stretches of free time. It invariably takes me less time to read a book than the app's estimate, but it's still a reliable gauge.
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Old 10-06-2014, 10:10 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Josieb1 View Post
I've bought six voices (yeah I know I can't make up my mind!) I got Salli, Heather, Amy, Bridget, James and Emma. Some are UK English speakers some are US. My favorites are Salli and Emma.
My favorites were the same as well, but Amy has kinda replaced Emma in my affections
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Old 10-11-2014, 07:47 AM   #8
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Not mentioned yet (I don't think) is the feature to adjust the reading speed of the various voices. While 180 word/minute is about normal, changing that up or down slightly will improve the normality of the voice or make it easier to understand, especially for those with hearing problems. For example; James at 180 seems a bit mechanical. Up him to 185 or 190 and James becomes more human.
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:05 AM   #9
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Not mentioned yet (I don't think) is the feature to adjust the reading speed of the various voices. While 180 word/minute is about normal, changing that up or down slightly will improve the normality of the voice or make it easier to understand, especially for those with hearing problems. For example; James at 180 seems a bit mechanical. Up him to 185 or 190 and James becomes more human.
My default speech rate is 300 but I prefer my NeoSpeech voices (Paul and James) at about 250 or less. Anything higher borders on gibberish to me.
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Old 10-11-2014, 09:17 AM   #10
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My default speech rate is 300 but I prefer my NeoSpeech voices (Paul and James) at about 250 or less. Anything higher borders on gibberish to me.
There's probably an age relationship involved here. As one grows older - and I should know - the rate at which speech can he heard and understood is inversely proportional to the age of the listener.
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Old 10-11-2014, 05:27 PM   #11
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There's probably an age relationship involved here. As one grows older - and I should know - the rate at which speech can he heard and understood is inversely proportional to the age of the listener.
MUAHAHAHAH! I can relate directly to that!!
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