There are a number of brand synthesizers out there using various bits of electronic wizardry to simulate speech. The above chip is the SpeakJet, apparently originally designed for use in the American military but later adapted to incorporate all manner of other sounds. It is the chip used in the Flame Talking Synth, for example (I highly recommend Analogue Haven, by the way). I went looking for the component by itself and hit the jackpot, it would seem.
Here’s a description lifted from SparkFun Electronics: The SpeakJet is a completely self-contained, single-chip voice and complex sound synthesizer. It uses a mathematical sound algorithm to control an internal five channel sound synthesizer to generate on-the-fly, unlimited vocabulary speech synthesis and complex sounds.
The SpeakJet is pre-configured with 72 speech elements (allophones), 43 sound effects, and 12 DTMF Touch Tones. Through the selection of these sounds, and in combination with the control of the pitch, rate, bend, and volume parameters, the user has the ability to produce unlimited phrases and sound effects, with thousands of variations, at any time.
The SpeakJet can be controlled simultaneously by logic changes on any one of its eight Event Input lines, and by a single I/O serial line, allowing for both CPU-controlled and stand-along operations.
Programmable, 5-channel synthesizer
Natural phonetic speech synthesis
DTMF and other sound effects.
Programmable control of pitch, rate, bend and volume.
Programmable power – up or reset announcements.
Multiple modes of operation.
Simple interface to microcontrollers.
Simple “Stand Alone” operation.
Three programmable digital outputs.
Internal 64 Byte input buffer.
Internal programmable EEPROM.
Extremely low power consumption.
Low pin count.
Multiple case styles available.
For a pretty reasonable $24.95, it might finally be time for me to stop fart-arsing about and buy a decent soldering iron, then get down to making some home-brew noise circuits – not least of all given the price that you can pick up a Gristleism circuit for from the lovely people over at Endangered Audio. Make more noise!