Espeak Gespeaker and Mbrola

Thanks for all the information I found in the post: eSpeak: Text To Speech Tool for Linux.
I am trying to use this program for a student who has a visual impairment. (He is French-speaking). I am using Debian / KDE.
Gespeaker works well.
The voice is robotic and I would like to use the French voices of mbrola. I installed the mbrola package. Gespeaker finds the mbrola package but the voices do not seem to be installed. I would like to install these voices but I don’t know how to do it. I cannot follow the explanations I find on other websites.
Can you help me?
Thank you
Laurent DAVOU


Hi Laurent :wave:

I don´t know about mbrola, but may I suggest something else (which really works fine):

If you don´t want to deal with robotic voices but with something really understandable (like a human being) try pico2wave.
It´s very well documented here: Sprachausgabe › Wiki › (# in German however).

I´d say try it this way:

sudo apt-get install libttspico-utils sox

After the installation you may try it out. Here´s an example:

pico2wave --lang fr-FR --wave DATEINAME.wav "Bonjour.  J'aimerais trouver un ou des logiciels pour simuler des orbites et des révolutions de planètes autour de la terre.
Il m'arrive de voir ce genre de simulation graphique (créée à partir d'une base de donnée quelconque) et de pouvoir visionner le tout sur l'écran d'ordinateur."

That command creates a wav-file (“DATEINAME.wav”) which can be played back with any
sound-reproducing app (vlc, mplayer, mpv, audacious…).

I´ve also written a script for such a TTS application which takes care of deleting the wav-file once you´re done listening. :wink:
I use it on an almost daily basis.

Hope I could be of some help.

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:


mbrola is also mentioned as source for voices in the article, @Rosika cited.

I’m not able to provide any solution to the original problem, but I’d like to take the opportunity to mention the Mozilla Open Voices project:

Every person can contribute with her own voice in her own language. I believe, this project is important. Whilst there exist pretty good commercial applications for voice recognition and voice synthesis, only an open project with a huge voice database can provide the base for academic research in the field and open source applications.

If you are a woman, I would especially encourage you to participate: In all languages, there are far fewer female than male voices in the database, but who would want to hear her computer talking in a male voice?


Thank you very much Rosika and sorry for not responding earlier.
I will take a close look at the page you linked.
With the help of Samuel Thibault who works on the accessibility projects of debian and on mbrola, I managed to install the french languages of mbrola in gespeaker. (I actually managed to install 2 out of 4). I will make a comment to try to explain how I installed these languages.
At the moment I am trying to get the text reader to work in libreoffice.
Thank you very much for your sharing.
Have a good day.

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Hi Laurent,

No need to apologize. There´s often a delay with me, too, due to external circumstances. :wink:

I´ll keep my fingers crossed for you and hope you will be successful in reaching your goals for you and your student.

Sorry I cannot be of further help as far as gespeaker/mbrola is concerned.
I use espeak for those occasions when I need Swedisch text read out to me. But, as you said, it´s pretty robotic.
For e.g. English I makes use of pico2wave which provides a perfectly human voice (see above).

Many greetings.
Rosika :slightly_smiling_face:

Good afternoon,
I am french also and using espeak and mbrola, which I use with Calibre and Libreoffice. The best french voices they have are mbrola-fr1 (male voice) and mbrola-fr4 (female voice). They are much more understandable than the robotics one. I am using Linux derived from Debian like Mint, Ubuntu and Debian itself, the package names to find are:
mbrola-fr1_2.050+repack2-4_all.deb and
With tre right parameters (speed and pitch) the voices are good and permit me to listen to texts I translate to verify them.
In LibreOffice, I have parametered the “Read Text” extension like this:
“(OS_PY)” --c “espeak -v mb-fr1 -s 120 -f ‘(TMP)’” in the command line option of Read Text extension in LibreOffice 6.4.
You access to this following this way: Select a text written in french, then open the menu [Outils] → [add ons] → [Lire la sélection] , then you will see the Read Text dialog for settings where you cah play on the parameters with the above command line to adjust at your convenience. To directly read the text, click on the black Read Text icon in the menubar instead of going through the menus.
If you use GeSpeaker also, you can determine the best parameters with it also, then apply the same parameters everywhere you can use Mbrola or espeak. Gespeaker is not in the software list of Mint 20.1, but ok for Mint 19.3, Ubuntu or Debian Buster 10.x.
Sure it is not an air attendant speech, but at least it is very understandable, I find it helpful to detect mistyping or whatsoever in my french texts.
Hope it is useful for you and your friend.
Best regards

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