Atlanta Voice Actress Susan Bennett Comes Forward as Original U.S. Voice of Siri
Atlanta resident and veteran voice actress Susan Bennett has claimed in an interview with CNN that she is original voice of Siri, Apple’s popular iOS voice assistant that was first introduced with the iPhone 4s two years ago today. While Apple has not confirmed the information, the report states that professionals within the technology industry are familiar with her voice, and cites an audio forensics expert with 30 years of experience who is certain that Bennett’s voice and the voice of Apple’s digital personal assistant are the same.
The story of how Bennett became this iconic voice began in 2005. ScanSoft, a software company, was looking for a voice for a new project. It reached out to GM Voices, a suburban Atlanta company that had established a niche recording voices for automated voice technologies. Bennett, a trusted talent who had done lots of work with GM Voices, was one of the options presented. ScanSoft liked what it heard, and in June 2005 Bennett signed a contract offering her voice for recordings that would be used in a database to construct speech.
...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.
Notably, the report also states that a feature titled Machine Language: How Siri Found Its Voice done by technology news website The Verge last month mistakenly gave the impression that another voice actor, Allison Dufty, was Siri:
But a new Apple mobile operating system, iOS 7, with new Siri voices means that Bennett's reign as the American Siri is slowly coming to an end. At the same time, tech-news site The Verge posted a video last month, "How Siri found its voice," that led some viewers to believe that Allison Dufty, the featured voiceover talent, was Siri. A horrified Dufty scrambled in response, writing on her website that she is "absolutely, positively NOT the voice of Siri," but not before some bloggers had bought into the hype.
Bennett also stated her feelings on then revealing herself to be the original voice of Siri after the video was released:
"I really had to weigh the importance of it for me personally. I wasn't sure that I wanted that notoriety, and I also wasn't sure where I stood legally. And so, consequently, I was very conservative about it for a long time," she said. "And then this Verge video came out ... And it seemed like everyone was clamoring to find out who the real voice behind Siri is, and so I thought, well, you know, what the heck? This is the time."
Released last month, Apple’s new iOS 7 mobile operating system contains a refined version of Siri with a noticeably different voice that does not appear to be Bennett’s. But with Bennett's version of Siri having been on every new U.S. iOS device since the launch of the iPhone 4s in 2011 until last month's iPhone 5s/5c debut, millions of users are familiar with her voice.