It’s been a while, since we I homebrew on this blog. By coincidence I came across an interesting port of the old Atari-speech synthesizer for the Nintendo DS. This is not new, was made for the Neoflash NDS coding competition in 2005. With it, you can type any text in the the DS and let it speak by the machine. Unfortunately some important details on the implementation are terribly wrong, pulling the fun of use down. But first.. what is DS Speech? We read in the about-section:

“Based on Atari ST Speech Synthesizer “STSpeech” by A.D.Beveridge & M.N.Day, ported from 68k assembly by Stefan Stenzel and using Starscream 680×0 emulation library by Neill Corlett the first Win32 version of STSpeech was an authentic rendition of the Atarti ST Speech Synthesizer. Stefan Stenzel removed the emulation library dependancy and re-wrote the entire synth engine to be stand-alone. The difference between the original port of STSpeech and Stefan’s reworking and changes brought STSpeech Win32 from a harsh sound to a much smoother and professional sounding voice synth. The Synth in it’s current form is far removed from the original. Much credit should be given to Stefan Stenzel for his major modifications. He is a professional in audio synthesizers, so it’s understandable the journey of change STSpeech has undergone.”

And to be sure, that thing really sounds good! But unfortunately with some drawbacks. First I loaded the Version 1.2, where the onscreen-keyboard (where you type the text) was on the wrong screen! Hitting the keys was a cat and mouse game on a black screen. No option to swap the screens. Than I found the recent V 1.5 without this bug. But two details really pull at the nerves in long time use… and they also disqualify this magical oldschool sounding speech synthesizer tool for the use on stages for live-performing. First, when you type in the text, it makes a *click, click, click* sound on every keystroke. Why? Imagine a performer on stage, boosting this clicking keys through a 120 dB soundsystem. Wheew. I don’t think, that the audience would like it. Other way would be to pull down the volume each time on typing. The next big issue: there is no hotkey, for bringing back and editing the last phrase you have entered. So if you want repeat a phrase often (this could for example happen on stage), you always have to enter the whole text again, key by key.

Please! Changing this little details should be no problem at all, but would boost the fun of using DS Speech by minimum 300 percent. If this issues would be fixed, this could become one of the most entertaining homebrew sound-tools for the Nintendo DS, where even artists could perform with. It would become a real insider tip. At least the speech is sounding oldschool and good. And can be enjoyed about.

Blog - Date published: January 25, 2009 | 1 Comment

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