Siri Voice Revealed: Susan Bennett Talks About Siri
Susan Bennett of Atlanta has revealed herself as the the voice of Siri. In an interview with CNN, she recalled, among other things, how she got to this point in her long career and how she found out what her voice was used for.
Bennett has done voice work since the 1970s. Her first job in the voice over business was as the voice of Tilly the all-time teller, which was the first ATM machine. Down the line, she lent her vocals to GPS devices, automated telephone systems and even Delta airlines terminals. However, this gig is the only one that has led to international fame.
For four hours a day, every day, in July 2005, Bennett sat in her home recording booth. Hour after hour, she read nonsensical phrases and sentences so that the “ubergeeks”, as she affectionately calls them, admitting they leave her awestruck, could work their magic by pulling out vowels, consonants, syllables and diphthongs, and playing with her pitch and speed.
When asked why Siri sounds a little…um, snippy, sometimes, she said, “There are some people that just can read hour upon hour upon hour, and it’s not a problem. For me, I get extremely bored … So I just take breaks. That’s one of the reasons why Siri might sometimes sound like she has a bit of an attitude,” Bennett said with a laugh. “Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours.”
Susan wasn’t told about how her voice was going to be used. She assumed it would probably be for a company telephone system. The surprise came in October 2011 after Apple released its iPhone 4S, the first to feature Siri. Bennett didn’t have the phone herself, but people who knew her voice did.
“A colleague e-mailed me [about Siri] and said, ‘Hey, we’ve been playing around with this new Apple phone. Isn’t this you?'”Bennett went to her computer, pulled up Apple’s site and listened to video clips announcing Siri. The voice was unmistakably hers.
“Oh, I knew,” she said. “It’s obviously me. It’s my voice.”
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