How to: Build a cheap hardware speaking/singing machine

Module Records Blog has a nice report on options for hardware speech synthesis (this is following on from the singing robots post). For $150 you can buy a complete TextSpeak module, which takes the output from a PS2 keyboard and turns it into speech. $1,995 (!) gets a VoiceNote mPower QT, which does the same sort of thing, but presumably much better. But the cool option is Speakjet - a one-chip speech synth. Just $55 gets you the Speakjet development kit (including the chip). It's a circuit board with switches and LEDs and a battery and a speaker output, plus various analog and digital ins and outs. Stanley from Module Records has one and says: "The chip sounds very good with delicious robotic feeling. I plan to make a computer controlled musical speech synthesizer with it, so stay tuned..." He won't be the first: Here [mp3] is a demo of a SpeakJet chip being controlled by a modular synth (using a PSIM module).

I sense a talking machine series coming.....

There is a fascinating history behind talking machines.

DAMMIT! Someone's gonna beat me to the punch. I've been working on sing speech synths (concatonated), as well. However, I'm sure no matter who starts it, "it" will be a trend. Soon, everyone will have robots singing that sound almost human. And everyone will get sick of it.
Try this....
Make a big multisample of yourself saying all the phonetics. ("Ah, buh cuh deh eff fu gu hu ih juh kuh luh muh nuh" etc, "ay bee cee dee, ee, eff" etc). And some sss, khh sounds. Make it so you have each sample on it's own key.
Then play sentences with your own voice!
Kept me amused for hours. :)
Making it monophonic and adding an occasional pitch bend helps it sound real in an unnatural kind of way.

I actually dreamed a while back that I found a hardware rackmount speech synth at a car boot sale, and made a 7" of just synth singing, and John Peel played it... ;( Alas the dream didn't come true...

Here's instructions to interface a Speak & Spell to a Sinclar/Timex computer!!

:-O that combination of devices is almost too 80's!!!
"Make a big multisample of yourself saying all the phonetics."

I've gone so far as to record all the vowels and consonants, AND add loop points to vowel sounds I've sung. I then created a Soundfont out of it. The first time I did it, the trouble was the transitions from vowel to soft consonants ("oo" to "mmm"). So now, I'm going to start recording again, but this time record every consonant-vowel and vowel-consonant combination possible.
Any way to interface with the Speakjet on a mac 12" powerbook? No serial out. :(
OPG - when you've finished, I trust you'll mail me the finished soundfont, so it can be shared with the MT reading public?
"When you've finished, I trust you'll mail me the finished soundfont, so it can be shared with the MT reading public?"

I sure will. Unfortunately, the combinations I've come up with is around 600, way too many for a soundfont to lay out on a 9-octave keyboard. I may have to get SynthEdit involved and create a VSTi.
Even better!
Ok well, speech synths are pretty cool, but it seems like they sounded "cooler" back in the late 70's ala Kwerk "radioactivity". What the hell were Kraftwerk using back then?

The newish ones just don't seem to have the gutteral dynamism of the old ones, sorta like virtual analog vs real analog.

And no more bent Speak and Spells! That train has left the station.
Kraftwerk where using a Texas Instruments Language Translator. info can be found here
Kraftwerk where using a TexasInstruments "Language Translator" for the robot voices. More info on the hardware can be found here in the "speech products" section
I have built a speaking machine using SpeakJet and PIC 16F877 microcontroller. For more info, here
Post a Comment

<< Home
Music Thing on Twitter
    follow MT on Twitter

    Music Thing Hits:
    Music Thing Heroes:
    Music Thing Friends:
    My music gear for sale
    DIY Modular Synth
    Matrix Synth
    Create Digital Music
    Analog Industries
    Boing Boing Gadgets
    London Video Production
    Wire to the Ear
    Palm Sounds
    Noise Addicts
    Retro Thing
    Analogue Haven
    Music Thing Massive
    About Music Thing:
    Send tips to Music Thing
    About this site
    Music Thing Massive
    RSS Feeds

    Problem with the ads?
    Please let me know