Voices.com to Offer Custom, Synthetic Voices Through Partnership with VocaliD
Voices.com yesterday announced that it will offer synthetic voices as an option for advertisers that are launching voice apps such as Alexa skills and Google Actions or using them in customer service channels. The synthetic, computer-generated voices will be based on recordings from voice actors and then converted into synthetic speech engines through a partnership with VocaliD. David Ciccarelli, CEO of Voices.com, approached VocaliD in early 2018 because he recognized the opportunity to help brands with their development of voice apps.
VocaliD was founded by Dr. Rupal Patel, initially as a solution for voice prosthesis that has since expanded into serving call centers and consumer brand engagement. The company can take a human voice recording to create a synthetic voice that uses machine learning to generate speech in that voice even for words and phrases that were never recorded. Many people in the voice community are familiar with Lyrebird created by researchers at the University of Montreal or research from Baidu into what is often referred to as voice cloning.
Augmenting Synthetic Speech Libraries with Voice Talent
Voices.com is the world’s largest global marketplace for voice talent and works with companies that are looking to match the right vocal sound with their brand image for marketing campaigns. Ciccarelli commented that synthetic voices like those offered by Amazon Polly and Google Assistant need not be used to replace professional voice actors in voice apps. For brands that want to have a unique sound, Voices.com leverages voice talent that can become a unique synthetic voice. Ciccarelli said:
“The fact is, to create a synthetic voice, source recordings performed by professional voice actors are required. We believe this is a tremendous opportunity for the thousands of professional voice talent looking to do what they love and continuing to serve as the voice of a brand. Likewise, brand managers can leverage the possibilities of synthetic voice to handle unscripted conversations with consumers to enhance user experience.”
Bridging the Gap Between Uniqueness of Human Voices and the Convenience of Synthetic Voices
There is traditionally a tradeoff between leveraging a voice actor or synthetic voice for your voice app. The voice actor sounds distinctive, you can ensure that no other brand can use the actor to establish a unique audio signature, and user engagement tends to be higher. However, those advantages come with a downside. If you want to change your voice app, you need to get the voice actor back into the studio to record the new content and that can add time and cost to an update cycle. Most synthetic voices available for licensing today are not unique. Anyone can use them.
If a brand can have a unique synthetic voice, then it can assure sonic differentiation while streamlining audio content generation to require only typing and no subsequent studio recording. It won’t quite match the intimacy and customization of a voice actor reading a script, but many brands will find it a reasonable tradeoff between differentiation and quality on one side compared to speed and convenience on the other.