The voice of transportation

Ever since the New York City Subway started broadcasting automated voice announcements a few months ago, people have noticed a striking but hard-to-place familiarity in the voice behind the announcements.  If you couldn’t put your finger on it, the New York Times has interviewed Carolyn Hopkins, the voice artist behind not only the subway announcements, but also those at all three NYC airports (LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark).  Not to mention subway systems in Chicago, Washington, and Paris, and many other subways and major airports in the US and worldwide!

Despite the ubiquity of her voice here, Ms. Hopkins does not live in New York City, and though she visits occasionally has not used the subway here since 1957.  She works from her home studio in Maine, recording the announcements in “a windowless room in her house with sound-absorbing material on the wall — a tapestry, hung like a painting but covering foam.”  Even improvised absorptive treatments like these can go a long way toward improving audio quality in basic studios and recording booths—and the benefits are are no less in any room with so much as a speakerphone.

Of course, some might not be surprised that Ms. Hopkins provides the voice of the subway from the Maine countryside.  No one that had to use the subway regularly could be so calm and composed when delivering your wait for the next train!

Tags: , , ,