Will AI replace voice actors?

Spoiler alert: We don't think so. Dive into this article to find out why.

An AI voice actor 'performing' a futuristic voice performance in a studio.
Will AI replace voice actors? We think not.
Loading the Elevenlabs Text to Speech AudioNative Player...

In recent years, AI has appeared more regularly than not in new media. From video narration to radio commercials, video games to audiobooks, AI voices are everywhere.

As with any new and unique technology, there are many benefits and pitfalls to AI voice acting, and human voice actors may be concerned about their future in the industry.

In this article, we'll explore how AI affects the voice acting industry, the future of AI voice technology, and the ways voice actors can make AI work for them.

A man is assisted by AI to create voices in a studio

How AI is changing the voice acting industry

Since ChatGPT burst onto the scene in November 2022, AI is fast becoming part of our daily lives, and AI voices are no exception.

Asking virtual assistants like Siri to add an item to your shopping list is utilizing AI voice technology, as is listening to a podcast with AI narration or an AI-generated YouTube video. Some of these synthetic voices are so realistic that you may not be able to differentiate them from the real thing.

This realism is now a huge part of the voice acting business, where projects may choose to implement an AI voice to voice their characters rather than hire a human voice actor. However, this is not always the case, and artificial intelligence can not and will not replace voice actors.

How AI is being used in voice acting

One of the most popular ways that artificial intelligence is being used in voice acting is through 'voice clones.' Using speech synthesis tools such as ElevenLabs, voice actors can clone the sound, vocal pattern, and inflections they use in everyday speech for future projects.

AI voices can also be generated by using already developed voices (like in ElevenLabs' Voice Library) and editing their tone, timbre, and emotion to produce a new, unique sound for use in audiobooks, video games, and more.

ElevenLabs Voice Cloning

Try the highest rated voice cloning software ever

Clone Your Voice

The current state of AI voices

AI voice generation technology uses machine learning algorithms to successfully replicate voices from voice samples, thereby creating AI voice clones. While these synthetic versions may sound great and are constantly improving thanks to their advanced machine learning, they can't always compete with the real thing.

Here are just a few places where AI voice technology falls short:

Creativity

In order to bring characters to life, voice actors bring creativity to every role - something AI can't replicate. Voice actors may draw from their own life experiences to improvise and adapt, which artificial intelligence can't do.

Emotions

Human voice actors bring real emotion to their voices, and tones and timbre can reflect moods such as pain, sadness, or joy. AI may be impressive at replicating normal speech, but it is challenging to replicate certain emotions.

Nuances

Human voices have cultural nuances, such as regional accents, that make them unique. AI may be able to learn these, but understanding local sayings and jokes does not equate to a lived experience.

Spontaneity

Voice actors can adapt to new changes and unscripted situations and improvise on the fly, all of which AI cannot yet do. Unanticipated scenarios are not AI's strong suit, where a voiceover artist would be able to adapt seamlessly during a recording session.

The future of voiceover technology

A futuristic AI voice studio creating random voices without human assistence

AI voice technology is making significant strides. So, instead of asking whether AI voices will replace human voice actors, it's important to reframe the discussion.

Are there was that voice actors can harness AI voice technology to earn more money and work more efficiently? Instead of taking jobs, could it be that AI voice tools will become an integral part of a voice actor's career?

The answer is yes. AI tools will complement voice acting, not replace it, by streamlining work processes for voice actors and industry users. The potential benefits of AI voice technology include:

Modulating voices

Voice actors can use AI tools to modulate their own voices, allowing them to change pitch and tone to fit any character using their very own voice. Being able to create new sounds on demand is key to diversifying your career and portfolio.

Reduced costs

One of the largest costs for a voice actor comes in the form of expensive recording equipment or rent paid on recording studios. Projects require a high-quality, crisp voice output, which means expensive equipment is a must. Yet AI tools could change this by automatically cleaning up audio output, removing background noise and small mistakes.

Analysing scripts

Scripts often need edits, and AI can look through any given script for a recording session and suggest appropriate pacing and emphases for each line, leaving voice actors with some great suggestions to take on. This will save time for a voice actor, allowing them to produce (and earn) more.

Expanding work capacity

Many voice actors are only physically able to take on a few projects at a time, because of time constraints and the impact of overwork on their most valuable tool: their voice. By harnessing AI, voice actors can create more output, speeding up delivery times and increasing their earning potential.

Generating passive income

Voice acting can be a difficult job, with gruelling schedules and long work days. Many voice actors work on a freelance basis, meaning time off is often time unpaid. Once a project is complete, it's up to the voice actor to find another one. To remedy this, ElevenLabs is now paying voice actors for the use of their voice on the platform. This is a great source of passive income, and can provide a stable way of earning money without needing to work.

Creating a voice: AI vs. Human voice actors

Human emotion can't be replicated to a gold standard in an AI-generated voice, and only real human voices can perform human speech. However, creating a voice using AI technology has its advantages, such as:

  • Consistency: An AI voice can be used over and over again with no changes, unlike voice actors whose voices may change over time with age, or with illness.
  • Casting options: AI technology offers the chance to craft a diverse catalog of voices for any project in the voice-over industry.
  • Cost-effectiveness: A synthetic version of a voice is much cheaper than hiring human talent.

While the above may seem great, there are also disadvantages and new challenges to using AI voice generation, such as:

  • Unrealistic: As discussed above, AI voices can't yet replicate human emotion perfectly, and that is a unique ability that only humans possess.
  • Low emotional range: Even the best current AI-generated voices can't convey complex emotions or explore true emotional depth as a voice actor can.
  • Ethical implications: Generating AI voices that mimic real people has ethical implications and may lead to legal action.
  • Legal issues: Laws surrounding ethical AI voice generation have not yet been set as AI continues to grow, leaving many areas grey.

ElevenLabs Voice Cloning

Try the highest rated voice cloning software ever

Clone Your Voice

Final thoughts

While the world may be changing, and the pendulum appears to be swinging toward AI, humans still lead the charge for voice acting. So, when the question "Will AI replace voice actors?" is posed, it can be definitively answered.

AI is a trusty partner for voice actors, helping them bring their talent to more avenues and earning extra income, too. The future of voice acting will be a collaborative effort, where humans are center stage, and AI helps from behind the scenes.

Although the new technology is fast developing, there will not be a future where AI tools replace voice actors completely. Instead, AI is a fantastic opportunity for voice actors to improve efficiency, take on more projects, and increase their earning potential.

To turn your voice into passive income using ElevenLabs, sign up here.

AI voice FAQs

Is AI going to replace voice actors?

Don't believe everything you read on social media posts - AI isn't the enemy, and synthetic voices can work for you. AI voice actors rarely take on starring roles in animation or films, and the imitation that AI can produce is not yet perfect and, therefore, isn't replacing voice actors.

Notable voice actors have handed over the reins of their famous roles to AI, such as James Earl Jones, the voice of Darth Vader, who recently sold his voice and rights for AI use in future Star Wars projects.

Is there a future for voice actors?

AI platforms such as the ElevenLabs Voice Library can give voice actors fair compensation. Add your own voice samples and earn money when your voice data is used. Supplement your salary with AI, and market yourself more widely and effectively.

Will AI be able to replace actors?

A person's voice can never be fully replicated, and the voice actors union SAG-AFTRA represents many voice artists and acknowledges that AI has its place, but the future is still firmly placed in human actors' hands.

About ElevenLabs

ElevenLabs stands at the forefront of AI voice generation technology. We offer a selection of 120 unique voices in 29 languages. What’s more, our tool's intuitive interface lets you fine-tune your audio, whether you're producing an audiobook or adding flair to video game narration. Trusted by digital creators worldwide, Eleven Labs sets the standard for lifelike, versatile, and secure AI-generated speech.

Try ElevenLabs today

Get Started Free