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Chapter Seven. Production And Branding > Prompt Creation—Text-to-Speech and Rec...

Prompt Creation—Text-to-Speech and Recorded Voices

There are two ways to create audio prompts. One method is to record a real person, called a voice talent, saying phrases, while the other is to use text-to-speech (TTS) software that converts text stored in a digital form (for example, an e-mail message) to a spoken utterance, in real time. TTS is generally used to read dynamic information in a cost-effective manner that otherwise would be difficult or impossible to prerecord, for example, the daily news or the weather. There are two types of popular TTS engines—those that synthesize the sound, formant TTS, and those that take thousands of small pieces of prerecorded human-speech and concatenate them, or string them, together, called concatenative TTS. The following are the primary differences among the three methods (recorded phrases and the two types of TTS) of producing the audio files.

  • Recorded prompts sound great and convey the most precise meaning, since voice talents can vary every aspect of how they speak according to the desired direction. However, each prompt takes up disk space, though not a large enough amount as to be much of an issue.

  • Formant TTS engines sound the worst; they don't sound like any particular voice talent since they generate the speech signal from scratch using a noise generator and a series of filters to change the noise to make it sound like speech. However, they can sometimes be a good choice because they require very little computing power, disk space, or memory.

  • Concatenative TTS engines, when built properly, are able to sound nearly like the person from whom the audio files were recorded (allowing seamless blending between the recorded prompts and the TTS-generated ones), though they can't convey the rich meaning that the recorded prompts can. However, these systems require faster computers and much more disk space and memory.


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