The voice behind Siri steps out from the shadows

By on October 4, 2013, 10:00 AM
apple, siri, personal assistant, voice actor, susan bennett, gm voices

The true voice of Siri has remained a mystery for years but a recent in-depth article dissecting machine language and how Siri “found its voice” prompted the actress behind Apple’s iconic personal assistant to finally come forward. Her name is Susan Bennett and she is a voiceover actor living in suburban Atlanta.

Bennett claims she recorded the groundwork for Siri in 2005, well before the first iPhone was ever announced. She was working with GM Voices, a local company with a solid reputation for capturing spoken words that would eventually be used as automated voices.

In June 2005, Bennett signed a contract with ScanSoft to lay down recordings of her voice to be used to build a database that could construct speech. For a solid month – July 2005 – she read aloud nonsensical phrases and sentences into a microphone. The audio was eventually synthesized through a process known as concatenation to build words, sentences and paragraphs.

After meeting her contractual obligations, Bennett moved on to the next job. She assumed her voice would be used in some sort of company phone system but it wasn’t until October 2011 when she finally discovered what the recordings were ultimately used for.

A colleague e-mailed her and asked if the voice on the new iPhone was hers. Bennett didn’t have the latest handset so she went to Apple’s website to listen to a clip of Siri. The voice, she said, was unmistakably hers.

Proving the voice of Siri is indeed Bennett isn’t exactly cut and dry. The world of voice acting is incredibly secretive. After all, Bennett herself said she didn’t come forward because she wasn’t sure she wanted the notoriety. And neither Apple nor Nuance (ScanSoft became Nuance in October 2005) isn’t commenting on the subject, either.

Marcus Graham, CEO of GM Voices, wouldn’t go into any details about deals he worked back in 2005 but he did flat out say that Bennett was definitely the voice of Siri. To that end, CNN hired a forensic expert to compare her voice to Siri.

Ed Primeau, who has been working in the field for 30 years and has testified in court multiple times, came to the conclusion that the two voices are identical – a 100 percent match. He even consulted with a colleague as he understood the importance of accuracy. “It’s 100 percent Susan.”




User Comments: 14

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cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

What difference does it make? Hasn't she already been paid?

4 people like this | Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

What difference does it make? Hasn't she already been paid?

None but it must be slow new day at CNN.

lipe123 said:

Yeah it's not like millions of people are dying in Syria or the US govt is acting like tantrum trowing teenagers that cannot even get a budget done.

No by all means lets focus on whats really important *sigh*

Guest said:

I'd rather watch a fluff piece than their biased views on the real news.

Guest said:

From the numerous reports I've read, it doesn't seem like this lady is asking for anything from Apple. She presumably was paid for the recordings she made years ago, and the intellectual property was purchased by Apple at some point.

I just think it's fascinating to think about what her experience must be like, to hear her own voice in so many places.

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

It is fascinating but nothing anyone says will please everyone - even news of free money would upset someone out there. It's a good break from all the bad news we see all day long on news networks.

Khanonate said:

It is fascinating but nothing anyone says will please everyone - even news of free money would upset someone out there. It's a good break from all the bad news we see all day long on news networks.

Free money?! I will definitely get upset! If I didn't get some...

Railman said:

Siri on my wifes iPhone is a male voice. It drives me round the bend.

1 person liked this | Nima304 said:

I couldn't care less about who voiced Siri, and if I could, I'd probably throw myself off of a bridge.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

I really don't get why many of you people are getting your panties in such a wad over this.

"Yeah it's not like millions of people are dying in Syria or the US govt is acting like tantrum trowing teenagers that cannot even get a budget done.

No by all means lets focus on whats really important *sigh*"

And I'm sure they have a journalist working on that. Not every single journalist at a web page or news source works on the same things. Seriously people, stop whining about a simple little article. There are some people (like myself who is interested in voice over artists) who like to know the voices behind the things we hear every day. It's not gonna kill you to have an article released over it.

learninmypc learninmypc said:

None but it must be slow new day at CNN.

cnn is known for repeating their news broadcasts too numerous of times which is why I quit watching it. They'll probably begin re examining this siri article dozens of times.

1 person liked this | backo said:

What difference does it make? Hasn't she already been paid?

None but it must be slow new day at CNN.

Thank you! ...really couldn't understand how this is news. Fun fact maybe but to hire a forensic expert... over kill.

avoidz avoidz said:

Slow news day. Has Apple run out of ideas?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Slow news day. Has Apple run out of ideas?

In hindsight (that is if they didn't) Apple should have recorded Steve's voice for the heard. lol

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