Have you ever recorded your voice only to be shocked because it sounded so different from how you thought you sounded in real life? It can be a very strange experience, indeed!
Is it just your imagination? The sad truth is that you’re not imagining it when you think that your voice sounds different in your head as compared to on a recording.
There’s a really good reason for this! With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s causing your voice to sound strange and what you can do about it.
How Do We Really Hear Ourselves?
When sound reaches the inner ear, most of it that you hear is as a result of air conduction as sound waves are transmitted through the air to reach your inner ear.
However, what’s interesting to note is that air travel is not the only method by which sounds can reach your inner ear – the tissues and bones inside your head conduct sound waves too, and these get sent to the cochlea directly.
Your vocal cords also produce their own sound waves. These move through the air to your inner ear. Your head contains bones and tissues that also direct those sound waves directly to the cochlea. So, when you hear your own voice in your head as you speak, you’re hearing both of these methods of sound transmission.
What happens when you hear your voice in a recording? You’re only hearing the sounds that were created via air conduction. You’re not hearing the sound that comes from the bones and tissues in your head.
This is why your voice will tend to sound quite different from how you thought it sounded. For example, you might say that your voice on a recording doesn’t sound as full or rich.
Is This Why We Hate Our Voices When We Hear Them?
The fact that our voices change in recordings as compared to how we hear them in our own heads can certainly make us dislike them.
However, there’s another reason why we don’t like hearing our recorded voices. When you hear your voice in a recording, it sounds different so it exposes that difference between your reality and self-perception.
This is why it can feel so strange to experience! You will realize that this recorded voice is what other people hear all the time, and you had no idea!
While those around you might reassure you that there’s nothing wrong with your voice, what’s really upsetting is the feeling that you’re encountering a new side of yourself, a new voice, that can be quite confusing and even unpleasant to your own ears. There is some good news about your perceptions, though.
In a study, when participants were asked to rate how attractive different recordings of voice samples were, when their own voices were mixed into them without their knowledge they tended to give higher ratings to their voices when they didn’t know it was theirs. So, maybe your friends are right and you sound good!
Can You Change How Your Voice Sounds?
If you really don’t like the way you sound on recordings, this can have a negative effect on your life.
Say you want to start a podcast or record an album, for instance. This negative perception you have about your voice could prove to be an obstacle on your path.
Therefore, you might wonder if you can change the way your voice sounds. The good news is that you can.
Tips On How To Change Your Voice
There are different ways in which you can change how your voice sounds to others. Here are some to try.
Speak from your diaphragm
Here’s an experiment to try: speak from different places in your body, such as your throat or diaphragm. When you do this, you’ll see that your voice sounds quite different.
When you speak from your diaphragm, your voice will be richer and not so breathy. It will also lack the squeakiness or nasal quality that you dislike.
How to speak from your diaphragm:
- Touch your abdominal area, just above your stomach. Now, take a deep breath. You’ll feel that the area starts to fill with air.
- Pull in your stomach to exhale as you speak. You’ll see how your voice is clear and loud when you do this.
- By doing breathing exercises, you’ll project your voice from your diaphragm.
These exercises include the following:
- Inhale in a comfortable way and hold your breath for 10 seconds. Then, exhale. Over time, increase the length of time in which you hold your breath as this will make your diaphragm stronger.
- Laugh in a hearty way, focusing on making a “haha” sound. As you laugh, make sure you release all the air from your lungs, then inhale quickly and as deeply as you can.
- Lie on your back with a solid object, such as a book, on your diaphragm. Relax and notice the diaphragm’s movements as you breathe. Try to keep your stomach as flat as possible when you exhale. Then, stand up and inhale deeply. When you exhale, count from one to five out loud, making sure you only use one breath. Repeat this exercise until you can count up to 10 without losing breath.
While it might sound strange or trite, staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water will help to keep your vocal cords limber. This will prevent you from having to clear your throat, but it will also give your voice a wider pitch range as well as greater stability.
Make a Voice Recording of Yourself
Your voice may sound different to you than it does to others. That’s because when you talk, your voice goes through the air and into your brain simultaneously.
As you sing, your voice gains resonance as it travels through your sinus canals, which you can hear as it exits your mouth.
When you hear your singing voice from a first-person perspective, this creates a misleading sense of its attributes, which is why your voice sounds different on a recording. To prevent this, place two hefty folders or magazines in front of your ears, pointing out from the sides of your face.
These will function as sound deflectors, preventing you from hearing the false sensation of resonance you’ve been used to, enabling you to focus on honing in on your actual vocal style.
Avoid speaking nasally
A nasal voice is one that’s higher than it should be because your voice doesn’t resonate properly to create a deeper sound. To prevent a nasal voice, clear your breathing passages.
If you battle with sinus or allergy-related problems, these can clog up your nasal passages. You should also try to speak with your mouth wider and your jaw dropped. By speaking from lower in your mouth, this can prevent you from producing sounds from the soft palate.
Work with a vocal coach
A vocal coach will be able to teach you how to shape consonants and vowels in a different way, and you’ll get to learn various elements of speech, such as your tongue position, articulation, diaphragm voice projection, how to hold your lips and mouth while speaking, and more.
Learn to relax your voice
Vocal exercises can help you to relax your voice so that it becomes deeper and more rounded. Simple vocal exercises can include lip buzzing, humming, deep breathing, loosening your jaw, yawning, and massaging your throat to loosen any muscles that have become tense.
Your vocal cords, like your skin, require protection to avoid premature aging. If you abuse your vocal cords, your voice may become gravelly, whispery, or otherwise unappealing long before its time. Take the following steps to protect your vocal cords:
Make an Effort to Inhale Fresh Air
If you live in a polluted location, fill your home with plants to help clean the air. Make an effort to visit parks or take short trips outside the city as often as possible to breathe fresh air.
Don’t Shout Excessively
If you’re a big lover of hardcore music or just like shouting on occasion, keep in mind that doing so might strain your vocal.
Lead a healthy lifestyle
By quitting smoking and reducing how much alcohol you drink, you’ll be able to keep your voice in good condition.
Smoking dries out the vocal cord mucosa and can inflame the vocal cords, leading to vocal changes over time. Drinking alcohol, on the other hand, dehydrates your vocal cords.
Don’t strain your voice
Avoid using the extremes of your vocal range, such as whispering or screaming, as these put strain on your voice.
What About Surgery?
While more invasive, there are surgeries available that will help you to either increase or lower your voice pitch. These include the following:
- Laser vocal cord turning. This is a surgical procedure in which a laser is used to tighten up the vocal cords. This helps to raise one’s vocal pitch.
- Pitch-lowering surgery. On the other hand, this procedure loosens the vocal cords so that your vocal pitch becomes lower. Sometimes the soft tissues can also be rearranged so that mass is added to the vocal cords.
- Voice feminization surgery. In this type of surgery, your voice box is made smaller and your vocal cords are shortened. Doing this ensures that your voice won’t make low-pitched sounds, and it’s a type of surgery that trans women sometimes choose to have.
Factors Influencing Voice
Multiple elements influence the tone and sound of your voice.
You’ve probably observed that members in the same household typically speak in a similar tone. That’s because the larynx, like every other part of your body, holds a wide range of anatomical variances.
Sex also plays an integral part in determining your voice. Boys have bigger vocal cords than girls from birth. Testosterone causes the larynx to expand throughout puberty.
As you become older, your voice chords stretch and thicken, resulting in a deeper vibration and resonance. That’s why, as boys get older, their voices get lower and deeper, whereas female voices remain comparatively higher-pitched.
Weight and Hormones
The effects of hormones on weight might also have an impact on your voice. Overweight men generate an excess of estrogen, which causes their sounds to rise. Overweight women, on the other hand, produce an excess of testosterone which deepens their voices.
Obesity can also impair respiratory control, resulting in a harsh or breathless voice. Inversely, being underweight can harm your sound by lowering resistance and making your vocal cords vulnerable to damage.
Your voice can also be affected by your height. Taller people have large lower airways and lungs, resulting in a deeper voice.
Your vocabulary, diction, and accent can all be affected by structural abnormalities like a cleft palate or deviated septum.
The pitch, timbre, tone, and texture of your voice can be affected by your overall health, age, emotional condition, and the purity of the air you inhale.
Is your voice genetic?
People in the same family tend to sound alike because laryngeal anatomy is determined by ancestral DNA. This is also the case for your other physical traits.
Why do our voices change when we grow old?
As a result of a lifetime of speaking, our vocal cords and tissues lose their elasticity, and our mucous membranes become drier and thinner.
“Why does my voice sound different on recording devices?”
If you’ve ever heard your recorded voice, you might have felt surprised that it sounded so different from the voice you hear in your head.
In this article, we’ve looked at why this happens and what you can do to change your voice if you don’t like it.