Siri's voice: Susan Bennett reveals that she is the real voice behind Apple's Siri

Though you’ve never met Susan Bennett, you are probably more familiar with her than you think. You may have asked her for directions, what the weather is like, the score to baseball games and even to remind you to pick up dog food.

Bennett has revealed herself the voice of Apple’s original Siri, and in a recent interview with CNN, she dished on, among other things, how she came to be the one to give life to your favorite snarky personal assistant.

Bennett has done voice work for automated systems since the 1970s. Her first job in the biz was as the voice of Tilly the all-time teller, the first ATM machine. She’s also lent her vocals to GPS devices, automated telephone systems and even Delta airlines terminals.

“The Siri voices were recorded in 2005, in the month of July, four hours a day for the whole month,” Bennett told CNN. “When I recorded those voices, I had absolutely no idea where they would end up.”

Software company ScanSoft, which eventually merged with Nuance Communications, approached Bennett about doing some recordings that would be used in a database to construct speech. Nuance is believed to be the company that partnered with Apple to provide the technology behind Siri.

Though Bennett’s thought was that those speech samples would be used in company telephone systems, according to CNN, she first heard her voice as Siri the same time many of us did - after the launch of Apple’s iPhone 4s in 2011.

Susan Bennett, voice of Siri
“The first time I actually heard my voice as Siri was when my friend emailed me and said, ‘Isn’t this you?’ Bennett said. “And because I didn’t have the newest version of the iPhone, I went to the Apple site and that’s where I heard the voice, and I just went, ‘Ohh, hmm. That is me.’”

Apple has yet to confirm that the Susan Bennett recordings were what was used to create the original Siri voice, but legal representation for Bennett has vouched for her and audio-forensics have told CNN that Bennett and the Siri voice are a “100%” match. Bennett says she was inspired to reveal herself after a feature in tech news site The Verge called "How Siri Found Its Voice," after which many readers concluded that the voice of Siri was another voice actress, Allison Dufty.

Dufty cleared up the record on her own website; her website now comes with a disclaimer that she is "positively NOT the voice of Siri." Great Britain's Siri -- a man on the UK version of the phone -- is Jon Briggs, a voice actor who revealed himself in 2011 shortly after the release of the iPhone 4S. The identity of the American Siri had been kept a mystery for some time, but now it appears Bennett has provided a definitive answer...

...for now, at least: With iOS 7, Apple has given users two options for Siri voices, a male and female now. And though Apple will neither confirm or deny, it sounds as though Bennett’s female voice has been replaced.

As for the sometimes “snippy” tone of our beloved original Siri, there may be an explanation for that.

"There are some people that just can read hour upon hour upon hour, and it's not a problem,” Bennett explained to CNN. “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. Those sounds might have been recorded the last 15 minutes of those four hours."

Siri, it’s nice to meet you.
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