Any GPS device worth its salt will come preloaded with a number of prerecorded voices for speaking turn-by-turn directions aloud. But how many words does your GPS device know; what if you don't like any of them; or what if your language isn't available? Traditionally, you'd be stuck searching for and purchasing professionally recorded voice packages, but if you own a Garmin Nuvi, you can use a free application from Garmin called Voice Studio to record your own voice prompts. Here's how it's done.
Before you get started, you'll need a PC running Windows XP or greater, a microphone, and a Garmin Nuvi GPS device. To make sure that your Garmin Nuvi is compatible with the Voice connect software, check out the full list. While you're there, go ahead and download and install the Voice Studio software.
Once installed, start the Voice Studio software, then select File, and New Voice from the drop-down menu. When the New Voice dialog appears, give your voice a name and click OK. You'll be greeted with a list of about 60 to 65 spoken phrases that your Nuvi supports. Now you're ready to record. Simply select a phrase from the list, click the record button, and speak the phrase into your microphone. If you've done this correctly, the Voice Studio program will play back your recording and mark the phrase as complete. If you botch a phrase, don't worry. Simply select it again and rerecord it. You'll have to rerecord all of them, which should take about 10 or 20 minutes.
When you're done with all of the phrases, you can test your new voice to make sure all is well by selecting a phrase and hitting the Test button. Voice Connect will then create a sample command using your recordings. For example, "Drive four-hundred feet and turn right." If you're happy with the way things sound, then you're ready to load the voice onto your Garmin.
Connect your Garmin Nuvi to your PC using its USB cable. Then from the Voice Connect software, click the Send to GPS button to finalize and load your custom voice.
Now, disconnect the Nuvi, power it up, and head to the Tools menu. Under Settings, you'll find the Language menu where you'll be able to select your custom voice. Now all of your turn-by-turn directions will be read using your recordings. You can record as many separate custom voices if you want to, so have some fun.
Today's best GPS devices feature text-to-speech systems that generate words on the fly allowing them to speak proper nouns, such as street and POI names. You'll have to give up this function in order to use your prerecorded voice. But with a little bit of creativity this can be a great way to add an unsupported language or to have a bit of fun to break up the monotony of getting from Point A to Point B.