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Casting

Casting the right voice is one of the most important tasks in creating a successful speech-recognition system. The right voice talent must be appropriate for the application and reflect the overall brand of the client. A large bank might want to cast a voice talent for their advertisements that possesses a strong, masculine quality such as Charlton Heston. However, his voice may not be appropriate for their speech applications because it might sound too rough or intense. The right voice may have similar hallmarks to Heston's, but might sound more approachable and friendly. (See the section “Choosing the Voice of the Brand” later in this chapter for a more detailed discussion of this topic.)

One way to start the casting process is to call local recording studios or casting companies and ask for a demo tape or CD of several voice talents. It is reasonable to ask the talents to read a script that you have prepared so that you can hear the voice talents saying the exact text that would be used for a system. Listening to these samples will help narrow the pool of candidates. But listening to an audio sample will not reveal what it's like to work with a particular voice talent—or how that person will sound reading the actual audio prompt script. So it's usually a good idea to audition the voices personally.


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