Voice banking equipment and services
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an important clinical intervention for many people with motor neurone disease (MND). Some people with MND may want to bank their voice for future use within high-tech AAC systems.
This information is for health and social care professionals. It gives an overview of the equipment and services needed for voice banking and where to find more information.
What equipment is needed for voice banking?
There is a range of voice banking services available. We are not able to make recommendations, but some of the available options are listed below.
Voice banking services are accessed online, so a PC or laptop is required, with access to the internet for some or all of the time. Certain services may need to use a particular browser, such as Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. These are free to download on to any computer.
Tablets do not usually have the processing power needed for voice banking, so are not recommended for the recording process. They may, however, be used with the synthetic voice as a communication aid.
A suitable microphone is important. This should be a headset model with a USB connection, that allows the person to keep a consistent distance from the mouth to the microphone.
Desktop or built-in microphones on PCs or laptops are not suitable. Individual companies will advise on which headset they feel works best with their software.
The recording environment should be quiet and have no background noise. Some of the services need a microphone test to be carried out first to make sure the recording environment is suitable. It is important that the same recording environment is used every time.
Voice banking can work well when the recording is made at home, and it does not need to be as quiet as a recording studio to be successful.
The speech and language therapist may need to support the person with MND for voice recording to have a chance of success.
Options for voice banking
We have included details below of voice banking services currently available online. These are not provided as recommendations for any particular service, but as links for professionals to find out more about the options available online.
The MND Association is not responsible for the content or products on any of the following websites.
Please note, this is not an exhaustive list and other options may be available. Costs or services offered may change at any time.
This service currently costs £499, which includes a microphone that is sent to be used for the recordings. Payment is made upfront, but will be refunded if the person is unable to proceed beyond the initial trial phrases. Once the full recording process is started, the costs will not usually be refunded.
This product is currently only available in English but will soon include a French option, with other languages to follow. One aspect of this service is that it is possible to tweak the final voice.
As of 1 July 2017, this service costs $100 US Dollars (about £80), payable when the person downloads the completed voice to their device. The person will need to purchase a USB headset microphone – see the ModelTalker website for the model they recommend. ModelTalker voices can be used on Windows and Mac-based devices, and iOS and Android mobile devices. They can be built in to the Predictable and ChatAble apps.
ModelTalker is currently only available in American (English) language, but this does not affect the accent of the synthetic voice. During recording, all sentences will be rated with a colour for quality: green being acceptable quality, followed by yellow for adequate and red for unacceptable.
Although ModelTalker is set up for American (English) pronunciation, this doesn’t make it more difficult to complete recording of the sentences. However, the person recording should aim to accept all sentences rated yellow, rather than making endless attempts for a green rating. This should not affect the quality of the final voice.
There is currently no charge for completing the recording process, but a charge of €2,400 (approximately £1,685) is applied if the person wishes to download their synthetic voice on to a device. They will also need to purchase a microphone to record phrases. The user interface is available in English or French, but recordings can be made in a range of different languages. My-own-voice synthetic voices can be used on the Proloquo4Text app for iPad.
This service offers ‘vocal legacy’ and ‘bespoke voice’ options. Vocal legacy is a voice banking service that someone should use if they are able to record the 3500 sentences required. For information about the ‘bespoke voice’ service please see the section on Voice Repair. The cost for both of these services is currently $1499 (approximately £1200). A microphone would need to be purchased.