Top Microsoft TTS Alternatives in 2024

Microsoft's Azure suite includes a Text-to-Speech (TTS) service. This guide compares Microsoft's TTS service with other leading providers, focusing on voice clarity, overall quality, and emotional nuance to identify the top alternatives.

Microsoft offers a TTS service through its Azure suite. Obviously, Microsoft is a well-known and respected company and as you would expect, their TTS service is good. However, there are plenty of other TTS providers to choose from. 

This comparison guide will explore some of the main Microsoft TTS alternatives and focus on the top contenders. The main attributes that we will compare for each provider are voice clarity, overall quality, and emotional nuance. 

Overview of Microsoft TTS and Alternatives

Feature Speechify ElevenLabs Play_HT Microsoft Google Amazon Polly Open AI
Number of Voices 130 1200+ 600+ 400+ 220+ 60 6
Number of Languages 30 29 140+ 140+ 40+ 29 57
API Availability ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Voice Cloning ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
AI Dubbing ✔️ ✔️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️ ✖️
Free Trial ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✖️

Comparison Methodology

Our approach to comparing Text-to-Speech services was simple, yet effective.

We enlisted survey participants to listen to 3 unique audio samples from each of the TTS services in question. Participants were then requested to award a rating to each audio sample on a scale ranging from Zero (very bad) to 100 (perfect).

The main criteria used to guide these ratings were:

  • Voice Clarity – how clearly the voice could be heard and quality of pronunciation
  • Human Quality – how lifelike the voice was
  • Emotional Quality – how effective the voice was in terms of expressing emotions

The aim of the survey methodology was to provide a fair and in-depth comparison of the leading Microsoft TTS alternatives.

Please find below the audio samples from Microsoft TTS and ElevenLabs for evaluation:

Rating System Overview

The ratings were requested in the same way for each clip and participant. Here are the requests used:

  • Take a moment to listen to the AI-generated text-to-speech audio clip. Is the voice clear? Does it sound like a real person? Does it express emotions well?
  • Rate the clip between 0 (poor) and 100 (excellent). 0 means the voice isn't clear, sounds fake, and doesn't show much emotion. 100 means the voice is super clear, sounds just like a real person, and is full of feeling.

Quality Comparison – Microsoft TTS Alternatives

The chart below displays how often each TTS Provider received the highest rating in comparison to all others in the survey.

Features Comparison – Microsoft TTS Vs ElevenLabs

Language Support and Customization

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs offers more than 1200 voices in 29 languages. This allows for the production of emotionally nuanced speech in multiple dialects. It also supports voice cloning and the development of new voices using its VoiceLab tool, as well as AI dubbing.
  • Microsoft TTS: With more than 400 voices and 140 languages, Microsoft provides some control over speech output, including rate, pitch, and intonation adjustments, to cater to specific use-case scenarios. However, the range of emotion is advanced as ElevenLabs. Microsoft also offers basic voice cloning.

User Experience and Integration

  • ElevenLabs: Designed for generating speech that's contextually nuanced, it's widely used in sectors like podcasting, narration, and audiobook production. The ElevenLabs  API integrates smoothly with various apps and platforms, backed by comprehensive documentation and reliable customer support.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS, a component of Azure Cognitive Services, is designed to add realistic, natural-sounding voices to various applications. It can be deployed flexibly across different environments, from cloud-based applications to on-premises and edge locations using containers. 

Ease of Use

  • ElevenLabs is user-friendly and intuitive, simplifying navigation with a straightforward menu bar. Known for its ease of voice synthesis and cloning, ElevenLabs allows users to clone voices effortlessly or create new synthetic ones using its VoiceLab tool. The Projects Tool enhances user experience with its easy-to-use functionality for crafting long-form audio content. ElevenLabs also provides AI dubbing capabilities for video content. Its well-documented and user-friendly API ensures smooth integration into various workflows, catering to both experienced tech professionals and those new to TTS technology.
  • Microsoft TTS offers an accessible and manageable experience for users looking to integrate TTS into their applications. With its comprehensive documentation and support, Microsoft TTS makes it straightforward for users to implement and customize text-to-speech functionalities. The flexibility of deployment options, from cloud to edge containers, adds to its ease of use, making it an ideal choice for businesses looking to leverage TTS technology across a range of applications and platforms.

Pricing and Licensing (at the time of writing - January 2024)

  • ElevenLabs
    • Free Plan: Suitable for hobbyists. This plan provides up to 10,000 characters monthly, allows the creation of three custom voices, grants access to shared voices, and supports basic speech synthesis in 29 languages. Usage of this plan requires crediting ElevenLabs.
    • Starter Plan (Priced at $5/month, with initial month discounts): This plan builds upon the Free plan by offering 30,000 characters monthly, up to 10 custom voices, and includes a commercial license.
    • Creator Plan (Priced at $22/month, with initial month discounts): An extension of the Starter Plan, offering 100,000 characters monthly, up to 30 custom voices, access to Professional Voice Cloning, and enhanced audio quality.
    • Independent Publisher Plan (Priced at $99/month): Targeted towards authors and publishers, offering 500,000 characters monthly, up to 160 custom voices, and features an analytics dashboard.
    • Growing Business Plan (Priced at $330/month): Geared towards larger publishers and companies, providing 2,000,000 characters monthly, and allowing for up to 660 custom voices.
    • Enterprise Plan: A tailor-made plan for businesses with unique requirements, offering custom quotas, premium quality speech, and prioritized support.
  • Microsoft TTS
    • Free Plan: Microsoft offers $200 credit to use within the first thirty days. These credits can be used across MS Azure services.
    • Pay as you go: There is a free monthly amount of credits and if you exceed that, you pay for the credits you use.

Why Choose ElevenLabs?

In our comparative survey, ElevenLabs consistently outperformed Microsoft TTS, achieving the highest score in 37% of instances, compared to Microsoft TTS's 6%. 

The significant 31% gap underscores ElevenLabs' superior quality in voice clarity and human-like characteristics. Additionally, ElevenLabs surpassed the performance of the other five TTS services evaluated in the survey, further establishing its leading position in the field.

What Is Microsoft TTS?

Microsoft TTS, part of Azure Cognitive Services, is an innovative text-to-speech solution that converts text into natural-sounding speech. It's designed for a wide range of users, from individual developers to large corporations, and is particularly notable for its customizable and realistic voice generation capabilities. Microsoft TTS is ideal for creating applications that require spoken output, such as customer service chatbots, e-learning modules, and digital assistants.

Key Capabilities of Microsoft TTS

  • Synthesized Speech: Microsoft TTS excels in producing fluid, natural-sounding text to speech that closely matches human intonation and emotions.
  • Customizable Voice Models: Users can create unique AI voices that reflect their brand's identity, offering a distinct and personalized voice experience.
  • Audio Controls: The platform provides control over voice output, allowing users to adjust rate, pitch, pronunciation, and more for tailored speech synthesis.
  • Flexible Deployment: Microsoft TTS offers versatile deployment options, including cloud, on-premises, or edge in containers, to fit various application needs.
  • Custom Voice Creation: With the Custom Neural Voice capability, users can develop highly realistic voices for more natural conversational interfaces.
  • Comprehensive Security and Privacy: Microsoft TTS adheres to strict security and privacy standards, ensuring user data protection and compliance with industry regulations.

What Is ElevenLabs?

ElevenLabs is renowned in the text-to-speech (TTS) arena for its advanced AI-driven software. This software excels at producing speech that’s remarkably human-like, capturing a wide range of emotions and tones.

Key Capabilities of ElevenLabs

  • Variety in Voices and Languages: ElevenLabs boasts an impressive array of over 120 voices, and its capabilities span 29 languages. This facilitates emotionally rich and linguistically diverse speech generation.
  • Voice Cloning and Customization: With its VoiceLab feature, ElevenLabs allows users to clone voices from short audio snippets or create entirely new synthetic voices. The platform’s Voice Library offers a range of pre-made voice profiles to suit different requirements.
  • AI Speech Classifier: This innovative tool helps identify if an audio sample is generated by ElevenLabs' AI, contributing to efforts in creating a universal identifier for AI-generated audio.
  • Projects Tool for Extended Content: Ideal for creating long-form content like audiobooks and dialogues, this tool ensures the use of context-aware synthetic or custom voices.
  • AI Dubbing Capability: The AI Dubbing feature of ElevenLabs broadens its applicability across different languages and dialects, enhancing its utility in global content creation.
  • Broad Sector Application: ElevenLabs’ software is versatile, used in podcasting, narration, video dubbing, and more. Its accurate replication of diverse accents and languages makes it invaluable to content creators and publishers worldwide.
  • Commitment to Ethical Use: Upholding high ethical standards, ElevenLabs implements strict guidelines to prevent misuse, such as unauthorized voice cloning. The platform actively works to detect and address any violations of these guidelines.

Other Microsoft TTS Alternative Services

  • Speechify: Known for its ease of use, Speechify transforms various text forms into spoken words using AI. Ideal for a broad audience, it's particularly helpful for those who face challenges with reading.
  • Google Text-to-Speech: Google's TTS technology excels in producing natural-sounding voices and supports a wide array of languages. Integrated across Google's products, it's essential in tools like Google Assistant and Google Translate.
  • PlayHT: Specializing in AI voice synthesis, PlayHT is adept at creating realistic voiceovers for diverse applications. It features an extensive selection of voices and languages, making it suitable for everything from marketing projects to e-learning materials.
  • Amazon Polly: This cloud-based service excels in turning text into lifelike speech using advanced deep learning techniques. Amazon Polly is commonly used for applications needing spoken outputs, such as gaming and news reading.
  • OpenAI Text-to-Speech: OpenAI's TTS technology is renowned for producing speech that closely mimics human voices. While specific offerings may vary, their focus is consistently on creating speech that's realistic.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS be integrated into existing applications or workflows?

  • ElevenLabs: Absolutely, ElevenLabs is designed for seamless integration into diverse applications and workflows. Its user-friendly API allows for smooth incorporation into various platforms, ideal for content creation, audiobooks, and other digital media.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS also offers robust integration capabilities. Its services, part of Azure Cognitive Services, can be integrated across a wide range of applications and workflows. This adaptability makes it especially valuable for businesses already utilizing Microsoft's ecosystem, including those in e-learning and other professional domains.

How do ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS handle different languages and accents?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs excels in handling multiple languages and is known for producing emotionally nuanced, multilingual speech. Its voice cloning technology adeptly captures the subtleties of different accents, making it highly versatile for global applications.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS, part of Azure Cognitive Services, supports a wide range of languages and accents. It provides customizable voice options, enabling users to create unique voice models that reflect their specific needs, making it a valuable tool for various international applications.

What are the pricing models for ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS? Are there free trials available?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs offers a spectrum of pricing tiers, from a complimentary basic plan to more advanced subscription models. The free option is great for trial and light usage, while paid plans cater to more extensive needs with additional features and higher character limits.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS adopts a pay-as-you-go pricing model, allowing users to only pay for what they use with no upfront costs. This flexible pricing, along with the availability of Azure's free account which includes an initial credit, makes it an accessible option for varying scales of use, from small projects to enterprise-level deployments.

How do ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS ensure the naturalness and emotional expressiveness of their voices?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs employs advanced AI algorithms to generate speech that not only sounds natural but also richly conveys emotions. This technology is proficient in contextual text analysis, which allows the voice output to align accurately with the emotional tone of the text.
  • Microsoft TTS: Part of Azure Cognitive Services, Microsoft TTS focuses on producing fluid, natural-sounding speech that mirrors human intonation and emotion. Users can customize their AI voice generator to create unique voices that fit their brand identity, making the speech output feel more personalized and engaging.

What types of applications or industries commonly use ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs is popular in industries such as content creation, digital media, and audiobook production. Its ability to deliver emotionally expressive TTS makes it a favored choice for sectors requiring dynamic and engaging audio content, from podcasts to video narrations.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS is widely utilized across various industries, especially in businesses integrated with Microsoft’s ecosystem. It is ideal for creating conversational interfaces, customer support chatbots, and other applications where natural and brand-specific speech synthesis is crucial. Its flexible deployment options make it suitable for both cloud-based and edge-based applications.

Are there customization options available in ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS for voice characteristics?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs excels in offering a wide range of customization options for voice characteristics. It enables users to create unique voices and clone existing ones, providing flexibility to tailor voices for various applications and requirements.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS, part of Azure AI Services, offers customizable voice models. Users can create unique, brand-specific voices and adjust various speech parameters, such as rate, pitch, and pronunciation, using tools like Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) or the audio content creation tool.

How do ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS handle user data and privacy concerns?

  • Check out ElevenLabs privacy policy.
  • Microsoft TTS ensures comprehensive privacy and security for user data. It is backed by Azure infrastructure, providing enterprise-grade security, compliance, and manageability. Users can view Microsoft's detailed policies and procedures for data management and privacy through their official website.

Can ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS voices be used for commercial purposes?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs accommodates commercial usage, especially with its higher-tier plans which are designed for professional use. These plans include advanced features like voice cloning and enhanced speech synthesis, suitable for various commercial applications.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS, being a part of Azure AI Services, supports commercial use as well. Users can utilize it for various business and professional purposes, leveraging the technology's robust and customizable voice models under its different service plans.

What kind of support and resources do ElevenLabs and Microsoft TTS offer to their users?

  • ElevenLabs: ElevenLabs offers comprehensive support through various channels including customer service, detailed FAQs, and potentially community forums or knowledge bases. This ensures users have ample resources and assistance available for their TTS needs.
  • Microsoft TTS: Microsoft TTS provides support backed by Azure's infrastructure, including detailed documentation, training courses, and expert assistance. Users can access a range of resources to help integrate and utilize Microsoft TTS effectively in their applications or workflows.

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