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Audio Icons

Getting the recorded prompts sounding right is critical, but there are other sounds that can be used in an application besides the spoken word. Audio icons are short sounds—for example, a blip, a swoosh, or a set of tones—that may or may not have words spoken over them. Some well-known examples are the three tones associated with NBC radio and TV, the opening chord that sounds when a Macintosh computer is started up, or the four-note phrase that accompanies “Intel Inside” in all Intel radio and TV spots. These usually short sounds can add much to the feel and user experience of an application.

What Audio Icons Can Do

Audio icons serve a number of purposes. When callers hear a welcoming phrase and an audio icon (for example, “Welcome to FedEx RateFinder <audio icon>”), they are immediately informed that (a) they are not speaking to a live person (nobody I know picks up the phone, says “Hello,” and plays a music chord); and (b) this is a well-produced, professional-sounding system.


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