Be it because you have a visual impairment that does not allow to read print or simply because you want to put your eyes to rest, the free edition of Text to MP3 Converter offers you a simple text-to-speech functionality that will read aloud for you any text using a synthetic voice. You can modify the speed, the volume, and the emphasis of the audio so that it fits your preferences. You can then save this on-the-fly conversion as an MP3 recording for later enjoyment.
The program claims to be able to read any text-based document (plain text files, Word and RTF documents, HTML pages, OpenOffice text files, etc.), pretty much any text you can send to your clipboard and paste on the program’s interface, and even PDF files. It is true that the program warns you about PDFs stating that not all versions are supported – in my case, and after trying with PDFs of various sizes, types, and versions, I was left with the impression that no version is actually supported. At least, not in the free version. I had a similar feeling of frustration when trying to save an audio recording as a WAV or PCM file, as I could not find any other output format than the one offered by the “Convert to MP3...” button. Again, this might well be yet another limitation of the free version of this tool.
Once you accept the things that you cannot do with Text to MP3 Converter and set out to test the program, you start to appreciate its beauty. Text can be imported into the main panel in various ways – by opening any file in one of the supported formats or by pasting text taken from a different tool or document (i.e., a PDF file). You can add more text at any time or open a different file, but you won’t be allowed to have more than one document active at any given time. Regardless of the type of document you open or the type of text you paste into the program, this will be automatically converted into plain text to allow the TTS engine to work with it. Both the original layout and whatever graphical content the file may have contained will be ignored, but all readable text (even that included in a table, for instance) will be preserved. The program will allow you to search for a text string and to replace it with a different one, and even use regular expressions in your queries.
Before creating the MP3 file, you can perform various adjustments to the quality of audio, both on the TTS side and on that of the future recording. On the TTS side, you can adjust the volume and the speed, as well as to increase or reduce the emphasis. The program’s built-in audio player will let you prehear the results and perform as many adjustments as required before launching the MP3 recording. Besides, you can tell the program to highlight the text as it’s being read, fully synchronized at a word level. As for the MP3 file itself, this can be mono or stereo and with the sampling and bit rates of your choice. The quality of the voice itself will depend on which you have installed on your computer – the one that I have is not that good, but that is not something I can blame the program for. It is to blame, though, for the medium-to-low quality of the TTS engine and the somehow jumpy flow of the reading. Note, besides, that the free version won’t read more than 1,000 characters and won’t open files larger than 2 Mb.
Be it as it may, and despite its limitations, one can’t deny the useful functionality that Text to MP3 Converter still offers and the flawless performance of all its features. Even if you only use it for notes or other small texts, this free version of the program is worth having on your desktop.