Convert pdf to mp3
February 22, 2008 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Is there a conversion site that converts pdf to mp3? If not, is there freeware that does it?

I'd like to listen to some of my pdfs with a portable mp3 player. I don't mind that a robot voice will do the talking; though AT&T voices tend to enunciate a little better than Microsoft Sam.
posted by Eiwalker to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A quick google brings up a bunch of results, including a windows solution and a linux solution.

Both seem to convert the pdf to plain text and then run it through a text-to-speach application, recording the output to mp3.
posted by jjb at 6:41 PM on February 22, 2008

Response by poster: jjb: that "windows solution" is not a conversion site, nor do I see a downloadable program to convert from pdf to mp3.
posted by Eiwalker at 6:57 PM on February 22, 2008

Not freeware, but cheapware: TextAloud can read PDFs aloud and output to an audio file.
posted by lunchbox at 7:33 PM on February 22, 2008

If you are on a mac, this is what I do: I copy all the text into a text file, drag it onto the application TextToMP3 (obscure program, but it works). It gives you some scary-looking messages, but it works. Also- don't do anything else while you are doing it, and it takes a bit to start up, especially if the text is long.

And if you have Leopard, make sure your default voice is Alex- it really makes the difference.

I usually edit it in Audacity to make it shorter. That also takes a while.
posted by zenja72 at 8:29 PM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you're running Mac OS X, you can use a couple free, open-source utilities and the built-in speech synthesis in Mac OS X:

1. Download and install pdftotext, which converts PDF files to text
2. Download and install LAME, an audio format-to-MP3 tool
3. Open the Terminal application (within Applications > Utilities)
4. Type in pdftotext myPDFdocument.pdf and press Return (replace myPDFdocument.pdf with the name of your PDF document) to create myPDFdocument.txt
5. Type in say -f myPDFdocument.txt -o myPDFdocument.aiff and press Return
6. Type in lame -h -m m -b 64 myPDFdocument.aiff myPDFdocument.mp3 and press Return

I don't think you'll be able to do this on Windows or Linux without a bit more work.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:37 PM on February 22, 2008 [3 favorites]

say is seriously one of my favorite OS X command line tools. I use it all the time at the end of scripts so the computer can shout "I'm done!" at me.
posted by bigtex at 8:59 PM on February 22, 2008

This came up on a quick google for "pdf voice reader". I have no idea if it works, but the google results had a few more options. It outputs to WAV but I dare say you can figure out how to encode it as an mp3- LAME is one free encoder I know of, but I'm pretty sure there're other options out there.

Alternatively, you could convert the PDF to text (upload to web and use the google pdf->html thingie? I don't know much about PDFs), use the voice utility on your computer to read it out, and use audacity to record the output. If you wanted to be really roundabout about it. Not really practical at all, but I figured I'd throw it out there.
posted by MadamM at 9:05 PM on February 22, 2008

Oh, you do know that Adobe reader has a built-in "read this document" feature, right? The only thing missing out of the box is the ability to record to MP3.
posted by lunchbox at 9:29 PM on February 22, 2008

Oh, you do know that Adobe reader has a built-in "read this document" feature, right? The only thing missing out of the box is the ability to record to MP3.

I didn't know that. You could feed that into Audio Hijack Pro, which will spit out MP3s from any running application, but that would cost a little money.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:44 PM on February 22, 2008

I really should be ashamed to post this, but I've been known to get around the hassle of finding software that does that by simply connecting up the speaker output plug to the mike in with a standard 3.5mm male-to-male cable. Dead simple and you can record mp3 with Audacity for free.
posted by katrielalex at 5:26 AM on February 23, 2008

That's not necessary. Just make sure that there will no other system sounds besides the one you want and modify your recording volume settings to catch 'Stereo Mix' instead of 'Mic Volume'. (It's possible it says 'Select' instead of 'Mute', in that case just uncheck everything that's not Stereo Mix).

If Stereo Mix doesn't appear, go to Options > Properties and select it in the 'Show the following volume controls' box.
posted by Memo at 9:41 AM on February 23, 2008

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