Voice Banking

Samples of banked voices

Georgina's Voice

Hello, my name is Georgina and I’m a speech and language therapist with the KM CAT Service. I would like to share my experience of banking my voice.  I’ll let you judge if you think the end results sound like me, or enough like me, to be worth going through the voice banking process.

A bit of background information

I banked my voice with ModelTalker. This required me to read and record phrases/sentences (some short and some a bit longer) in a quiet room using a laptop and a headset microphone over a number of sessions.

There are several companies that offer voice banking.

It’s worth considering that a close family member or friend can bank their voice on your behalf if you wish.

Once you have finished recording your voice and downloaded it, you have the choice of playing it on your laptop, or using it with AAC (Alternative and Augmentative Communication) software. For example, it can be used on a text-to-speech app on an iPad where you type words/sentences and press ‘speak’ to hear them.

Samples to listen to

Here are four versions of my voice for you to listen to, as well as an off-the-shelf voice that is widely available on AAC devices for comparison.

Here is my normal spoken voice, so you can hear what I usually sound like...
ModelTalker 'Full inventory' voice
Amount Recorded:  1600 Sentences

Recording Period:    4 x Sessions

Time Taken:             5 hours and 35 minutes

ModelTalker 'Full2 inventory' voice
 Amount Recorded:

3165 Sentences (1600 full inventory sentences, plus an extra 1565 sentences)
   In addition, some names and phrases were banked to ensure correct pronunciations.
   It’s possible to record a lot more of these than I chose to.
 Recording Period: 9 x Sessions (5 on top of full inventory)
 Time Taken:

12 hours and 6 minutes (6 hours and 31 minutes on top of full inventory recording time)

ModelTalker 'Full2 inventory' voice with some pronunciation edited on AAC software
The AAC software enables pronunciation of individual words to be edited. This feature can be used to make them sound more like your voice. Although it would be impractical to edit every word that sounds a bit unnatural when spoken with a banked voice, correcting a few, commonly used words can make a huge difference.

We can provide training on how to change pronunciation, however it would be up to the user to do the editing.

'Lucy' voice
‘Lucy’ is an off-the -shelf AAC voice which is widely available. There are a number of off-the-shelf voices available.  This is just one example.

Georgina's Observations

Pros  Cons 
It was straightforward to log in and get ready to record. 

I found the process quite tiring (a mixture of being a bit bored and having to concentrate) 

You hear (as well as read) the target sentence before you record it, which helps you know what you are aiming for in your recording. You are in control of when you start recording.  You have to press the mouse pad to start each recording. Someone with upper limb weakness may require a second person to be present to do this as it is quite repetitive and tiring. 

It is possible to listen to each recording and re-record as necessary.

I had to re-record a number of lines due to 'fluffing my lines' or external noise (car engines, doors slamming, people talking). The microphone will pick up on external noise, so choosing a quiet space and time of day is really important. 

I have a voice that sounds quite like me to use on AAC devices. It was a big commitment to make the recordings.

A note about message banking

As an alternative, or in addition to voice banking, it is possible to message bank. A big advantage is that recording is quick to do and it will sound exactly like you. You simply select and play the messages you have recorded and saved. 

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has published an information sheet on the subject of voice / message banking.

Patients' Experiences

If you have banked your voice and would like to add some comments below on our website, please email us at acat.service@nhs.net 

We would love to hear and share your thoughts and advice about voice banking.