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free text-to-speech narration

Previously we looked at how to create free text-to-speech narration using a free application. The audio quality is decent enough for those who need the text-to-speech audio. Today we’ll look at a free (or inexpensive) way to create your text-to-speech narration that’s just as easy and hardly costs anything, if at all.

If you’re using Storyline, then you have access to text-to-speech as a feature inside the software. Here’s more information on how to use Storyline’s text-to-speech. If you want to create the audio outside of Storyline or for other purposes, this post will help.

Earlier I showed how to create an Amazon S3 account as a way to share your courses. The first 5 GB is free and after that, it’s very inexpensive. If you use a site like Wix for your e-learning portfolio, Amazon S3 is an easy way to add URL links to your courses since those sites don’t allow uploading course content.

Once you have an Amazon S3 account, you have access to Polly, a service where you can create free text-to-speech narration. And the voice quality is very good, much better than the default SAPI voices you get with your computer.

Here’s an example of a few narration files I downloaded from Polly.

text-to-speech Amazon S3 Polly demo

Click here to view the text-to-speech examples.

As you can hear, the audio quality is decent and makes the robot voices tolerable. And odds are you won’t go past the initial free allocation.

How to Create Free Text-to-Speech Narration in Amazon S3 Polly

Creating the narration is really simple. First, you’ll need an Amazon S3 account. Here’s a link that shows how to get one.

Don’t worry about the prices, they’re nominal. You get a cushion of free space and after that, you pay $4.00 per million characters. That’s about 23 hours of audio. To put it in perspective, if you narrated “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, it would cost about 66 cents.

demo os Amazon S3 Polly text-to-speech

Basic Steps

  • From the Amazon S3 console, select Polly.
  • Insert your narration script.
  • Select a language.
  • Select a voice.
  • Preview and download the audio file.

It’s all pretty simple. Once you have the audio file, you can do some post-production editing (if necessary) and then insert into your course. Easy as that.

So there you have it, one free application where you can create text-to-speech narration and this inexpensive (or free) solution via Amazon that should meet most of your free text-to-speech needs.

If you use Polly, feel free to share your feedback.


Free E-Learning Resources

Want to learn more? Check out these articles and free resources in the community.

Here’s a great job board for e-learning, instructional design, and training jobs

Participate in the weekly e-learning challenges to sharpen your skills

Get your free PowerPoint templates and free graphics & stock images.

Lots of cool e-learning examples to check out and find inspiration.

Getting Started? This e-learning 101 series and the free e-books will help.

3 responses to “Let Amazon S3 Do Your Text-to-Speech for Free”

Interesting how the text to speech is really improving. In few more years, I think we will not be able to make out which one was recorded with the software the one which a person have given actual voice over.

June 26th, 2017

I am very excited about this! Unfortunately, AWS requires a credit card to create an account–even just to use the free stuff. 🙁

June 26th, 2017

@hdoggett: true, but it’s still free (for the most part). Having to provide a credit card is also a good way to discourage spammers and those using fake IDs.