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.”