MBROLA has been one of the most successful speech synthesizer from the 1990s. It has been initiated by the TCTS Lab of the University of Mons (Belgium) with the aim of developing good-quality speech synthesis for as many languages as possible, and provide them free for non-commercial applications.

It boosted academic research on speech synthesis, and particularly on prosody generation, for the last 15 years. Today MBROLA is a diphone-based concatenative “phoneme-to-speech” synthesizer keeping a reasonable quality, a small CPU footprint, and supporting over 30 different languages (over 70 voice databases).

In 2004, the Armaggedon Opera for Robots (Art Zoyd, France) suggested that MBROLA could be ported as a Max/MSP object, in order for them to use it in their performance. The access to such an intelligible speech as a Max external was (and still is) quite unique in the huge cloud of available Max objects. MaxMBROLA (so-called at that time) has then been applied in several other projects: talking machines, theatre, etc.

Discontinued when moving to Intel processors, the object is now back with a major rewriting, making it more stable and with a higher sound quality. Moreover, it slides from “MaxMBROLA” to “MBROLA for Max” because we add its gentle brother in the cloud, called “MBROLA for Pd”, providing this technology to Pure Data patchers.

MBROLA is not an open source project, but it’s free for non-commercial applications. Consequently MBROLA for Max/Pd is under the same license. It is currently only available for Mac/Intel plateforms, but a Linux porting of the Pd version is planned.