I’ve made a very detailed post that compares Speech Central, Voice Dream Reader and Speechify on over 100 criteria.
Several times since then I’ve been asked: “And what about NaturalReader?”. So here comes the answer. It won’t be as detailed as the previous post, as this post comes in the context of the previous post and augments it. Together they make a great new addition to our text-to-speech knowledge base.
Before we start it might be useful to know the official name of the product is “NaturalReader”, but frequently people refer to it as those are two separate words like “Natural Reader”, but that is not another product.
NaturalReader is a product based on the voice streaming from the internet. It uses Microsoft Azure voices that can be setup in Speech Central too. However as it follows the business model of reselling online voices it is similar to Speechify in many ways:
- it is an expensive product that requires a subscription
- those premium voices are of high quality
- as the app it is a fairly bare-bones app that comes with limited customization
- it has a free tier whose experience is downgraded to unbearable.
Also it has a few differences:
- It has two subscription levels, the premium is similar to what Speechify offers though it is slightly cheaper (140$/year vs 110$/year). The other subscription tier is priced at 60$/year. However the voices on this tier don’t sound significantly better than Apple Premium voices and maybe even Google online voices, so you pay only to have bearable experience (e.g. that headers and footers in the PDF files are not read on every page).
- It doesn’t have any celebrity voices.
- It can export files to MP3.
Basically both of those apps are oriented on providing premium voices that are of better quality than those that are built-in in your device. That was a great offer for many people that were willing to make a trade-off: pay significantly more and have fewer featured apps but have the best voices out there. But with latest versions Speech Central has closed this gap (for now only on iOS) – you can have the voices of same quality at 100x less cost in long run and enjoy the unmatched feature rich interface of Speech Central. This was done by adding neural Microsoft voices that allow people to register for the free tier that matches offers of those apps. The only remaining reason to buy one of those apps is that they are fully multi-platform and work across devices even outside of Apple ecosystem.
To conclude – you may consider NaturalReader as a slightly cheaper Speechify competitor. While availability of few options may vary as mentioned above, you can’t expect significant differences. As such if you came to conclusion that Speechify is right choice for you based on our fact sheet, it may be worth to see whether NaturalReader fits you even better. Otherwise NaturalReader is not a solution for you.