The Voice of Siri

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The Voice of Siri

Lilly Carle, Journalist

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She’s been in the hands of over 100 million people. Perhaps she’s slept on your nightstand. She may have even butt dialed your ex. And guess what: Susan Bennett, the original voice of Siri, never saw it coming.

On October 4, 2013 Susan Bennett claimed to be the voice of Siri. She is an American voice-over artist. A voice-over artist’s job is be to be the voice of an unseen character speaking, like in a motion picture or television commercial. She recorded her voice in 2005 without knowing it would be eventually used for the voice of Siri.

Bennett said, “A fellow voice actor emailed me and said ‘We’re playing around with this new iPhone, isn’t this you?’ So I went on the Apple site and listened and said ‘Oh my god yes. Wow! How did this happen?’”

How do you become the most popular voice in Apple without realizing it?

She only got the gig, she says, when the actor supposed to be auditioning for the role failed to show. She says she recorded hundreds of phrases and sentences that were created to get all the sound combinations in the English language. The English language has over a million words, so you can imagine how long this took.

Because everything had to be voiced in exactly the same tone, pitch, and pace, it was hard work. The initial recordings took a month in 2005 before the iPhone even existed, four hours a day, five days a week, and updates in 2011 and 2012.

Siri can do many things including searching the Internet for information, managing device settings, navigating, checking information, language translation, and others.

When Bennett discovered she was the voice of Siri, she said it was a little creepy. She stayed quiet for two years. But she says her work turned out for the best. It’s opened an aspect of her work that she’s never imagined.

The updated IOS 7 iPhone system uses a different voice for Siri, as well as a male voice, whose identities are unknown. But that doesn’t mean Bennett is going away. She has been in the voice talent business since the 1970’s, so you can hear everything from Delta Airlines to First National Bank’s ATM machines.

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