CNET Editors' review
Text-to-speech (TTS) and voice synthesis technology have come a long way since the days of choppy monotones and "computer speech." Today's TTS tools can be customized in so many ways that they can be hard to distinguish from natural speech in some applications. "Balabolka" means "chatterer" in Russian, and that's where Ilya Morozov's freeware TTS tool takes its name. Balabolka is based on Microsoft's Speech API (SAPI) but with changes designed to improve the clarity and articulation of the artificial speech generated by speech platforms such as the nearly ubiquitous Microsoft Anna (by the way, she's included with Balabolka). The program uses VBScript syntax for spelling and error correction, so it's compatible with most spell-checkers. Balabolka works with high-quality aftermarket TTS voices, too. Recent updates include improved German language support and Windows 8 readiness.
Balabolka installs and sets up normally, though of course you'll need to have sound enabled as well as speakers or headphones to hear Balabolka's TTS output. If you're not sure, a good place to start is Balabolka's Audio Output button, which appears on the SAPI5 and Microsoft Speech Platform tabs. Clicking this button opens a small tool for choosing which audio output device to use with Balabolka, if you have more than one. Balabolka has a number of options, including the ability to customize the program's fonts, colors, and skins, and a main Settings sheet with no less than 12 tabs. There's even a Tools menu with a File Splitter, Batch File Converter, Magnifier, and other useful extras. We could toggle open a Panel of Dictionaries for reference, quickly bookmark sections, and extract, save, and convert clips from Balabolka's toolbar. If it seems like too much, just open the comprehensive Help file.
We think most users won't have any trouble simply opening and playing a document in Balabolka, though. That's what we did, and it was totally easy. Varying the pitch and rate produced some amusing effects, too. An online search will turn up plenty of TTS voices to add to Balabolka, many of them free. We're impressed with Balabolka's ability to make top-quality TTS available to every user.
From Ilya Morozov:
Balabolka is a Text-To-Speech (TTS) program. All computer voices installed on your system are available to Balabolka. The on-screen text can be saved as a WAV, MP3, OGG or WMA file. The program can read the clipboard content, view the text from DOC, RTF, PDF, ODT, FB2 and HTML files, customize font and background color, control reading from the system tray or by the global hotkeys. Balabolka uses various versions of Microsoft Speech API (SAPI). It allows altering a voice's parameters, including rate and pitch. The user can apply a special substitution list to improve the quality of the voice's articulation. This feature is useful when you want to change the spelling of words. The rules for the pronunciation correction use the syntax of VBScript.
What's new in this version: Version 188.8.131.525 adds item "Edit with Notepad" to the context menu of the dictionaries' panel.
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All versions:3.4 stars
out of 22 votes
Current version:0 stars Be the first to review this product
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"Excellent Program. Avoid Bloatware During Installation!"
Version: Balabolka 184.108.40.2060
- Full featured TTS Program
- Read text can be saved as an mp3, wav, oog, mpeg 4,amr
- None that I have found so far
Warning!The Balabolka homepage actually has all the voices available on Sphenet and Bytecool.
Some users have been complaining about undesired software being downloaded onto their computers. Unfortunately, this is simply a result of missing some prompts during the installation process.
To avoid undesired software being downloaded, be vigilant during the installation process.
You will be asked to download a program called "Wagjam" (or something similar). Choose "Decline". If you choose "Accept" (which deceptively seems like the next logical option in the downloading process) you will download this program along with TTSReader.
Next you will see an image for a game. Make sure to click "Decline" again.
Next you will see a prompt for a program I can't recall. This time make sure to "uncheck" the boxes embedded in the description paragraph.
I know. It's all rather deceptive. A guileful way to have you download a bunch of programs you don't want. If you actually like a program and use it often, please consider donating to the developer. But this surreptitious way of fooling users into donating programs they didn't ask for is unimpressive.
Thankfully, I avoided all the extra bloatware, and I can say that Balabolka itself is a splendid program.
My only complaint is that the voices are very robotic, but that is a result of the free voices available, not the software itself.
Tip : Free Extra Voices
You can download some extra voices from the developer "SpheNet" here :
You can download voices in languages besides English (French, Spanish, Korean, etc.) from "Bytecool" here :
My favorite voices are the British English voices (Peter and Carol) from the SpheNet site.
TTSReader vs Balabolka
Both are excellent programs.
TTSReader is more streamlined and easier to jump right into using, but Balabolka is more full featured (for example, audio files can be saved as Wav, mp3, mpeg 4, windows media, oog).
I'd recommend both programs.
Updated on Mar 10, 2013
You can find it here :
I'd highly recommend getting the Realspeak British English voice.
The voice is called Emily and it is an excellent compliment to the American sounding Microsoft Anna.
Updated on Mar 10, 2013Balabolka gets better and better.
Don't forget to install the English dictionary from the Balabolka homepage here :
The dictionaries for multiple languages are under the heading - Spell Checking - .
Apparently the dictionaries are the same as those used in the OpenOffice programs (which I use as my favorite Word Processor).
With the installation of the dictionary, all misspelled words show up in Red and can easily be corrected with a Right Click and the selection of the correct word.
If it continues to impress, I will be donating funds.
"Installs crap on your computer, Don't Bother, Move On"
Version: Balabolka 220.127.116.115
Sorry, no Pros.
Installs adware/malware on your computer, even if you opt out during the install.
I haven't had a chance to use this program, but there is a very good reason for that. For you see, when I go install the program that is ridden with extra "features", offers, and toolbars during the install process occasionally pop up. Naturally I don't install them as if I wanted them I would have set out to search and download such add-ons. This program, however, doesn't care if you don't want the add-ons or not. Even if you uncheck the boxes during install it installs the crap anyways. Already I'm in a bad mood and I haven't even finished the install and my computer is giving me warnings and notices. As a result, I uninstalled the program and uninstall the garbage that came with it separately, because it didn't undo what it did. I then had to restart my computer to finish deleting the crap. Having gone through that, do you think I'd want to use the program?
My advice: Don't bother with this. Find another TTS program. Hopefully one that respects you.
"Loaded with Malware - BEWARE or Do NOT install!"
Version: Balabolka 18.104.22.1682
Not many. Too many cons.
Will install approximately 32 different Malware files including a "Funmoods" extension in Firefox even though you deselect it in the installer.
I don't often file reviews for software but felt it was my duty to let you all know about this troublemakr. It may do a great job of translating text to speech but is it worth it to destroy your computer in the process?
Version: Balabolka 22.214.171.1242
Is the BEST free TTS i have tried - i have used many TTS program's mostly free but i have had a few paid one - which i will not name, this TTS app is highly more flexible and accurate then any of them.
I wish i found it sooner.
If you are lookin for i TTS app - THIS IS IT - others are saying trojans and stuff are in it - they are crazy there are none - not even a false positive. and for the voice - there is no need to download others - just use the adjustments to make the default voice as you wish - - DOWNLOAD & ENJOY
"Iobit detects malware upon installation"
Version: Balabolka 126.96.36.1996
It seems to be great, but with malware I would not install it. I had to cancel the installation.
Malware was detected upon running the executable. It was not detected while in zip format and even when right clicking on the executable, but upon running the executable. Malware was not detected by Iobit, Malware Malbytes, and by AVG while the program was not executed. Only Iobit detected malware upon executing the file.
"Best Text-to-Speech application I've found yet"
Version: Balabolka 188.8.131.527
Excellent SAPI4 and SAPI5
None come to mind
I use this program almost daily and it makes editing a breeze. Great application.
Version: Balabolka 184.108.40.2066
Reads most text well and does not seem to have text limitations (a la ReadPlease).
Like ReadPlease, reads St. Elsewhere as Street Elsewhere...
"Really cool software!"
Version: Balabolka 220.127.116.115
1. Saves position where it stopped reading.
2. Supports both SAPI4 and SAPI5.
3. Supports writing to audio file.
I don't have claims against this software; it just does what it has to do.
I recommend to use this software for anyone who needs simple but effective tool to listen books with PC or to create audio book and listen it with MP3 player.
"Best program ever, if it's safe."
Version: Balabolka 18.104.22.1683
When combined with a good voice, this is by far the best TTS I've used. The programmer regularly improves and updates it.
IOBit Malware Fighter v1.2 detects Trojans (in full and portable versions of Balabolka). Can someone please confirm whether this is a false alarm?
Excelent program IF not a real trojan.
"Wanted a simple program for a non-reading adult"
Version: Balabolka 22.214.171.1247
I have no pro comments for this product.
I Couldn't get it to read text to me. I uninstalled Balabolka and installed Speakonia which was simple to use.
I wanted a simple text-to-speech program for an adult who cannot read and Balabolka didn't provide the simplicity I needed.
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