Speechelo: a scam or a great deal?

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Ack

Been playing with computers since the stone age, online since the '80s, and developing websites since the '90s.

22 Responses

  1. Thank you for your great review about Speechelo. I agree – noone sells a really working AI software for 40 $ – good competitors charge about 300 – 600 $ for a single license. Additional I do not trust such a marketing shit. I would never install such a software – and it seems it’s only an speech API – nothing else. As soon as they have found enough stupid buyer the service will be shutdown and your money is lost 🙂 you will see.

  2. olipool2
    Oli says:

    Thanks for the real neutral analysis. The tool popped out of nowhere and I thought: “Where is the catch?”
    And then I looked at their site and it was very unclear what the offer actually entails. Thankfully I am old enough to investigate further if something smells fishy. o i found this article and it saved me a ton of trouble.

  3. ynot116
    ynot116 says:

    ok, this review is way too long.

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      I do ramble, yes, but it’s also thorough. It’s meant to be informed, therefore it will be long, relatively.

      If, as many on Facebook and social media do, you are the type to reply to a post after only reading the title, but no further, your opinion is reactionary and uninformed. It is therefore without value and largely meaningless. Try reading peer-reviewed journals and government white papers. They are long.

      Still, I’ve taken your feedback into consideration and made the article slightly longer but also potentially shorter for those too impatient to read beyond the headline.

      “This post: circa 5,1250 words, estimated reading time, excluding video content: 25 minutes.”

  4. Thanks for the in depth review, I am searching for days now to find a software that I can use offline on my windows computer that sounds as humane as possible. there is lots of TTS software around but most sound like Stephen Hawking 🙂
    I wanted to buy this speechelo but had a idea that they could just stop the cloud service at any time and so lets me lose my investment.
    Seems you can “hack” the price to 27 dollar by entering the code “-” in the payment link behind &coupon=
    If someone has a good alternative that sounds good and is free or acceptable one time fee I would like to know 🙂
    Have a nice day and stay safe

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      The code (removed) was just the affiliate link. They have a lot of affiliates. Speeechelo don’t make their money from the ‘buy while it lasts’ promotional offer, but from the fees attached to the full version, which seems to be a hard sell once they have you on their books.

      Some people seem to like the products, more have reservations. I suspect Google will one day offer free and high quality TTS, but as it standards, Amazon’s seems to be one of the best, and is usage based, so you just pay for what you need, no more.

  5. whitehot
    Anonymous says:

    Good article.
    Second the red flags coming up re. their cheesy marketing campaign.
    Base software for 1 shot $37 fee looks like a reasonable deal and appears to work fine in our tests so far.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I really agree with you, their marketing strategy just pushes the limits. I signed up and within the first 24 hours I got 9 emails, about userstories, webinars, all off course promting me to go pro. Anyways I tried it out. It was easy to hear that these voices was not real. I do not understand thoose who say they are close – they are not, or maybe my hearing is just to use to real quality voice-overs and therefor to fine-tuned. So, I asked for my money back, again, and again, and again … anyways now it has been nearly three weeks and I am still waiting – it is matter of principle. And I will keep on sharing about my experience everywhere I meet one of their commercials or posts. I can’t belive that I jumped on that train – their website pretty much says it all.

  7. fscheps – Switzerland
    fscheps says:

    Thank you for such an extended investigation on Speechlo, It also caught my attention their excessive marketing tactics which made me really doubt about them. Until I found your review and confirmed my suspicion. I also started to feel this is an Amazon Polly or a Google Text to Speech front end which in the end I would prefer to set it up on my own and pay for what I use from one of the market leaders. YouTube is also filled with referrals saying they are doing an honest review and obviously they are biased.

    I contacted them to check their way of responding to questions, here you have some of them:

    —————————–
    Hello Fernando,

    And buying these two would give me lifetime access to unlimited usage without any restrictions?
    YES

    How many natural voices, the real ones that sound like a human beings and in which languages?
    All are natural
    —————————–

    As you can see from the above, they claim not to have restrictions, but then when I found your screenshots and comments about the 500.000 restriction per month, I challenged them and only then they replied:

    ——————————
    Hello Fernando,

    I am sorry about this. Speechelo has no direct limits, but if you generate more than half a million characters in a 30 day period, our system will block you. This is based on our fair use policy, to keep Speechelo affordable and working for everybody.
    You can read more about our Fair Use Policy in our Terms Of Service:
    https://speechelo.com/terms-conditions/

    So that means that you can use about 16.000 characters/day with no problems.
    But if you use half a million characters in 1 day, you will need to wait 29 days for it to reset.
    If you use them in 20 days, then you need to wait 10 days and so on.

    Please try to not generate the same text multiple times.
    If you generate a long text, it’s better to split it in multiple sentences, and then merge them all together using the merge feature.

    To help keep our service working for everybody, please try to limit the number of text you generate in a short time.
    ALL our products comes with 30 or more day money back guarantee.
    Why not check it out and see if it works for you?
    —————————–

    When I asked them why they didn’t mention any of the restrictions when I specifically asked them if there were any, they said:

    Hello Fernando,
    Sorry about the confusion

    Finally to close this comment and to make it visible to anyone searching for the information, when I contacted them these were the prices they shared with me for the lifetime product they offer:

    Hello Fernando,
    You need STANDARD ONE TIME USD 37
    https://speechelo.com/founders-offer/
    and
    PRO USD127 one time fee
    https://speechelo.com/get-speechelo-pro-onetime

    So apparently because you approach them directly the commissions to the referrals are saved and they reduce a but the cost to you.

    I remember seeing some other product many years back with this same tactic, a website very commercial, fully loaded of graphics and that was quite suspicious.

    I do not like this abusive marketing tactics, so I will not be buying it, but will test Google or Amazon services.

    Thank you!

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      Aye, this type of tactic is commonly for commission-driven multi-level marketing (MLM).

      Some years back I wrote about what I saw as a similar problem with apps and such for Twitter. Affiliate based scamming. One guy in particular was setting up hundreds, possibly thousands of accounts and corresponding sites to push a commission based product. Interestingly, he used some of them to push an obvious scam and then pointed to these (his own sites) to say, “My product is the real deal, don’t be ripped off by people like him.” It was a confidence trick.

      https://ackadia.com/computing/twittertraffic-affiliate-spammer-johngoogle-et-al/

  8. Rami Honig says:

    Thank you for this post. It confirmed what I suspected for myself as soon as I started to use this flaky application. Definitely ticked that first “Sod it” box you mentioned in my case. All those glowing reviews from affiliates put a fog on the real situation and it’s my own fault for not Googling “Speechelo reviews” before plonking down $37 (Sod it).
    I will be checking other TTS machines that you graciously point us to in one of the other comments.
    May the powers that be give you the energy to continue with these reviews since they are really helpful.

  9. Anonymous says:

    it’s basically a front end for amazon/microsoft/google’s voice services all wrapped up. what a nice job for ease of use!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wow thanks… I’m researching for text to speech, speechlo one them. I want my language sample, but they want me to purchase since there are 30 days money back guarantee. I don’t want to enter the trap and cannot get refund :D. But this review makes me sure speechlo is not what I need. So thanks.

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      Some of the voices on Speechelo seem better than other, some – like the British one – are dire, but that fact they won’t offer a trial version is a teller.

      I did look into it a lot at the time as it sounds great and indeed some of the reviews are impressive. However, saying a product is awesome and following it by “get it now via my affiliate link below” well, they would say that, wouldn’t they.

      There are hidden limits too, but they don’t mention those. I remember the first text to speech some 40 years ago, things have moved on a lot since then, but they still need work. By 2025 they should have it nailed to the point it’s genuinely (almost) indistinguishable from a human voice. Until, Amazon seems the best I’ve found in terms of quality and value, through free versions pop up form time to time.

      Not tried these yet, but Google have one as an app – Google Text-to-Speech

      TechRadar recently did a review too ( Best text-to-speech software of 2021: Free, paid and online voice recognition apps ) Amazon is on top, Speechelo never made the list.

      In the free one’s listed by TechRadar, Balabolko came top.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Yep. Thank you for this review.

  12. omar says:

    Thank you for saving me. So many fishy affiliates which reminded me of all the scares of pumping out VPN resales.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Speechelo is actually reselling Amazon Polly. The voices are exactly the same. Incidentally the voices were originally from the Ivona Text to Speech software, which Amazon acquired and converted to a pay as you use model which they renamed Polly.

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      I’ve heard a few people say that, and would make sense given their apparently undisclosed caps. Code a new front end (the Speechelo ‘app’), push it through Polly as an AWS – Amazon make money, they make money, the affiliates make money and some of the users are happy, for the most part. It’s Internet so you have to take everything with a grain of salt, but there are people who ‘say’ they have used both and prefer Speechelo. Could be true, could be a case of “I’m paying so much a quarter for this I’ll convince myself I like it”.

      The only caveat I have here is the lack of firm evidence and citations. So, lawyers might advise rewording “Speechelo is ‘actually’ reselling Amazon Polly” to something like “Speechelo is allegedly reselling Amazon Polly”.

      I used to work in a potato chip factory and with a reel change the own brand because Sainsbury’s or Asda’s label, not illegal as long as all parties are aware and signed up for it. I imagine that a company the size (and greed) of Amazon would be aware of someone reselling their services. The fact Speechelo won’t allow trials of the ‘software’ does support the idea that it’s actually Polly, so the question to consider here would be ‘do you like the Speechelo front end enough to pay a premium for it?’

      Plus, there are free text to speech apps, and the output quality of all TTS is improving year-on-year, so it pays to look around.

  14. Chris Lazos
    Chris says:

    Hello there,

    I was thinking of buying the non-pro version to create short messages (for my phone system) in English-British.
    I understand you mentioned that the quality of this particular voice is not good.
    Could you be so kind to create a short message sample (2-3 sentences) which might help me (and possibly others) to see the problem you’re mentioning?
    Very much appreciated if you can!

    Thank you
    Chris

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      As I said in the article, I was reviewing their marketing, rather than the actual product, because the latter case is far more complicated.

      Part of it is sociolinguistics, but mostly it’s dialectology. Over distance, slang, intonation, vocabulary change. This is affected by mobility. In America, for instance, it’s a lot more common to move a thousand miles for a new career, in the UK it’s more common to live within a mile or so of where you were raised, and your grandparents, and so forth, back generations. A generalisation, but close enough to fact.

      For instance, as I mentioned, it’s similar with Speechelo’s ‘Dutch’. It’s not Dutch, it’s Flemish. And again with the ‘Spanish’ – they say it’s “Spanish”, but not whether it is Castillian (to be assumed) or Catalonian.

      Also South American Spanish is not the same as European Spanish, just as Algerian French is different from Parisian French, and different again from Canadian French, as spoken in say Quebec. Linguistically then, it appears, they are rather ignorant, or uncaring, which is rather strange given the nature of their product. They will tell you if ask, but the marketing makes little to no effort to distinguish.

      Amazon’s Polly also sounds mechanical to me, so until the technology advances another few steps, it’s a case of what you consider acceptable, while trying to understand that what you hear, and how you hear it, depends entirely on your own first language, your childhood dialect, and how many other languages (if any) you speak. Plus a number of other factors (e.g whether you have musical training, the quality of the creation software they used, the hardware they used, the hardware you use to listen).

      I read a great academic paper on the subject a few years back, relating to linguistic tones. In the most basic sense, a Chinese baby, learning Mandarin, will have the ‘language’ hard-wired. To clarify, this is the linguistic and acoustic nuances, intonations, breaks and glottal differences, as opposed to the vocabulary and sentence structure, which comes later. Thus western person trying to learn the language, having been primarily been hard-wired to English or French, has an inordinately hard time learning Chinese, and visa-versa.

      (Hardwiring here refers to neurospasticity and not a culturally or genetically innate factor. An orphan child of Chinese parents, raised in London by English foster parents would have the same struggle to learn Mandarin as any other European.
      The argument for natural linguistic abilities is a separate matter, noting that musicians are better at learning languages because they trained themselves to pay close attention to sound patterns.).

      For instance, I have studied several languages to varying degrees (and forgotten most), and I know I can pick up romance languages easily, and Russian and Arabic with effort, but really struggle with Germanic and Dutch accents. If I watch foreign films, while I can’t understand them, I can pick out individual words in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Farsi, etc, but German, it’s too guttural, too harsh. Yet German is supposed to be one of the easier languages for Westerners to learn, so there are other factors too.

      Anyway, for me, if I had the time to and need for the product, the American male (Billy) would suffice, but the British voice – Arthur – is intolerable.

      As I said in the post, there are some voice samples on Speechlo’s home page, and if these are their best, their best is not nearly good enough!

      This guy – obviously an affiliate – offers samples on youtube: How to Howdy

      The next one is better again, and a much better insight to the product:

      VidSociety

      Another interesting video, this time from Ken Furukawa (yet another affiliate), points out the ‘obvious’:
      “A human voice can show inflection and emphasis, where an autogenerated voice simply can’t”.

      This is the difference that matters in learning languages, and how authentic (or not) the generated speech is. It’s also why the claim of “100% human-sounding” is a lie.

      If you played Arthur to 100 Brits from Chelsea or the East-end of London, claiming it was “undetectable” all 100 would probably laugh at you (You ‘aving a laugh?). If you played it to 100 Americans from NYC, some, perhaps many would think it was a “cool British accent – so your target audience should actually dictate which voice you use, and that can only be done with market testing.

      If Speechelo wanted to give me a trial I’d have a play, give a better, product focused review, but it would still be based on how *I* hear (audibly process) the results, which is not going to be quite the same as others.

      To give a better analogy, perhaps, ‘these’ earphones were free with a £1 phone, while these Bose QuietComfort® 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling™ headphones cost £250 on their own. The same wave file will sound completely different. Different manufacturing, you see. Or the same earphones from an iPhone verses an equivalent Android-based phone will each sound different to discerning ears.

      One last one, as these guy offers various languages too: ImminentBusiness

      Sophia, the British female is also dire. Not as bad as Arthur, but they clearly have made little to no effort to ask British folk how their authentic their translations are – or rather are not.

  15. Hi, I wish I read your article earlier on, because I’m one of the idiots who decided to use their product, even ordered the pro version and then I also entered the 500,000 word cap abuse notice you mentioned in your article. I also discovered it’s indeed a white label version of Amazon’s Polly. I used PayPal and ended the pro subscription so they cannot charge me quarterly. All I wanted was to create audio books. I use the American voices because they sound OK, not great, but good enough. I enhanced the poor 11khz output with CoolEdit Pro.

    • Ack – UK – Been in and and around computers and online since the stone age!
      Ack says:

      I would not say you are an ‘idiot’ at all, you bought the product in good faith, if it did what they ‘claim’, you would be satisfied, but their claims vary between obfuscation and misdirection to outright lies. That claim a full refund if you are not satisfied, so you should be able to get your money back. Also, if/as they hid the details of the cap, claiming it was unlimited, you should be easily able to get the ‘pro’ subscription refunded from Paypal as well due to false advertising. If enough people do they, they will either go bust, or change their sharp practices.

      I’ve not researched this area as much as I’d like, but there are a number of free text to speech products available, one of which might be adequate, but at least would give you a better feel for the market, similary with such products that offer trials (it is telling the Speechelo won’t offer a trial.

      Can’t speech for the quality of Amazon’s Polly, but it looks interesting, and if their pricing structure has no hidden extras, would allow you to convert add entire audio book for under a tenner (depending on word counts)

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