Sound Communication: The Holdcom Blog

Let's Get Siri-ous About Voice Talents

Are the Voices Real

In this age of digital manipulation and reproduction, we often get questioned by customers about the source of Holdcom’s voice recordings… human or synthetic?  And the answer is… yes, they are most definitely natural, human voices…not artificial reproductions.  As a company specializing in voice over recordings for Message on Hold, IVR and multi-media narrations, Holdcom recognizes the value of using real, professional voice talents for all our productions.  And, as a business owner, you want your brand to sound genuine and personal… not computer generated.

“Since the advent of artificial speech, Holdcom has found that our customers are most concerned about the use of genuine human voices for their Message on Hold programs and IVR/Auto Attendant voice prompts.  One of the key goals of our quality control is to be sure that our voice recordings sound authentically human and not “robotic”- Neil Fishman, President & Co-Founder of Holdcom

One of Holdcom’s veteran professional voice talents, Liz, gave us her opinion on the matter, “As a voiceover talent, people have often asked me “Aren’t you afraid Siri will take over your job?” To which I usually reply, “The VO talent who IS Siri is a friend of mine, and she’s still working! “It’s true that synthetic text-to-speech has improved greatly, but it’s still not at the point where it can reproduce the nuances of the human voice in context. IVR and Message-on-Hold systems must reflect the customer’s brand and industry. As a voiceover talent, I don’t perform a Hospital’s script the same way I would perform a motorcycle retailer’s script. It’s all about context, and synthetic voices are not yet able to take context into account.”

Though progress has been made in the field of artificial speech, recordings generated by synthetic speech do not achieve the expression and emotion that voice talents provide.  Script context and direction dictate many subtleties that can only be captured by the human voice.  Holdcom realizes that digital voice production is dependent on software programming and algorithms; not on human interpretation.  As a business owner, you want your brand to be represented in a manner that will appeal to your customers’ expectations and humanity.

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Aleta, another veteran voice talent at Holdcom, offered the following, “One must never underestimate the value of the HUMAN voice. It is a gift, an instrument of sorts. It has the ability to soothe and comfort or excite and motivate. A robotic voice, in my opinion, cannot ever match this!” Human voices engage listeners in a personal manner that customers will relate to.  If your Message on Hold or IVR Greeting sound robotic and lacking in personality, how do you think that will make your listeners feel and your brand look?

“Though there have been some rather impressive developments in the areas of text-to-speech and synthetic voice production, capturing the full spectrum of the human voice remains an ongoing challenge.  Having been involved in music production for most of my career, I’ve experienced the decades long evolution from nascent synthesizers to advanced samplers.  And regardless of all the sophistication and technology behind digital audio work stations, a symphony is still best served when performed by an orchestra of real musicians!” – Neil Fishman, President & Co-Founder at Holdcom.

At Holdcom we work with a variety of professional voice talents, covering multiple languages, accents and dialects, and offer samples of these voices for client review and selection.  We advise customers regarding script content and assist in matching their message with the most effective voice talent(s).

Finally, artificial voice production allows for little, if any, input as to direction.  It is basically a “what you hear is what you get” scenario.  Since text is generating a pre-programmed synthetic voice, there is little room for expressive variation.  In contrast, a human voice talent can be directed to provide a multitude of “takes” and options regarding just how a script may be recorded.

Tags: Message On Hold, voice prompt, voice over, brand image, brand voice