We’ve all been there.
For people my age, it was probably an answering machine message.
You hear your recorded voice played back to you and you can’t believe how horrible you sound!
Is that weak, pathetic voice really you?
It is. I hate to tell you this, but that’s how you sound to everyone else.
I suppose these days, most people are more used to hearing their own recorded voices, so it probably isn’t quite so shocking anymore.
But 30+ years ago, it was a traumatic experience that left us all wondering: why do I sound bad when I record myself singing? Or just talking?
Keep reading to learn exactly why that is the case. We also have some tips for improving the way you sound a bit.
Table of Contents
- 1 Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing?
- 2 Why Our Recorded Voices Sound Bad: Final Thoughts
Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing?
Your voice will always sound different on a recording, for many different reasons. The main reason is that when you speak or sing normally, your voice echoes through your own body, which changes the way it sounds.
When you hear a recording, you are not hearing your voice through your own body anymore. You are hearing it through the air, just like everyone else hears it.
In addition to this, there are also a number of other factors that interfere with the sound waves from your voice, before they reach your ears.
There is interference alike on the sound waves that go from your voice to the recording device, and those than go from the speakers to your ears.
All of these interferences added up is what makes hearing your own voice on a recording so weird and strange. But it doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Outside Interference On Your Voice
Whether you are a professional or amateur singer, broadcaster, voice actor, TikTok user, etc., spoken voice and recorded voice are always going to sound different. And this can be frustrating.
You may wonder “How do people listen to me? Is that a real voice? Why does my voice sound so different on a recording?”
But it is perfectly normal for your singing or speaking voice to sound strange and different on a recording.
You study, you prepare, you rehearse, and when you record your voice, it turns out that this is not the voice you hear.
Instead, your voice sounds very different. To most of us, it sounds ugly. And you start to hate your voice! What is happening?
Three main factors can alter the result of a voice recording. It is also very common that the first time you hear your voice on a recording, be it a professional recording, a home recording, or even a WhatsApp or Messenger voice message, you are surprised at how different it sounds.
Here are the top 3 reasons you need to know to help you understand why your voice sounds different on a recording.
To begin with, how your voice ends up sounding depends a lot on the voice recorder you intend to use for singing.
Voice recorders use a microphone to record, and microphones, just like the human ear, have a frequency curve. Some are more sensitive to treble and others are more sensitive to bass.
If you are going to record, it is important to know which microphone to use, so that your voice does not sound ugly when recording. Knowing more about how microphones work will help.
The different sensitivity of each microphone affects the timbre of your voice when you record yourself. If you record with a bad microphone, most usually with a poor frequency curve, don’t ask yourself later why your voice sounds ugly and strange.
Acoustic Conditions In The Recording Location
Have you noticed that your voice sounds different if you sing in the kitchen versus in in the bathroom? That is because each place has different acoustic conditions.
Acoustics is a branch of architectural physics that studies the behavior of sound in different places.
Among the acoustic conditions of a location, you have different reverberation, resonance, frequency response, acoustic isolation, etc. All of that makes your voice sound different when you record yourself.
Quality Of Recording And Playback Equipment
Could it be that you use poor-quality equipment? To obtain a recording as close to reality as possible, you need good equipment. And we are talking about all the equipment, recorder, microphone, cables, mixer, etc.
A bad microphone will make your voice sound ugly and nothing like your real voice. Poor quality cables will add noise to your recording, usually noise from the electrical installation.
You must also take the reproduction equipment into account. It may be that your recording is very good, but if you listen to it on bad speakers, it will sound bad.
Internal Interference On Your Voice
People hate the recorded sound of their own voices. This has long been the case for people who used recording equipment, but this unpleasant experience of listening to your own voice has now spread to almost everyone, thanks to smartphones and our social apps.
But there is a very simple explanation for that feeling. And no, it’s not that your voice sounds awful. What happens is that you simply don’t hear yourself in the same way as you are used to.
When you hear a recording of your own voice, you do it through the same channel through which you hear other people: through the vibrations of the air that enter your ears.
But you don’t sound like that when you speak, because your entire vocal apparatus transmits the vibrations of your speech through your head.
Your own body makes your voice sound deeper and clearer than it actually is. That’s also why you don’t notice this when you sing karaoke. You are still hearing your voice through your own head.
It’s only when you remove your own body as a transmission apparatus that you hear yourself the way others hear you. And gosh, it can sound awful!
It Doesn’t Just Happen With Your Voice
But it only seems awful ,because we are not used to it. Our brain is very used to a very concrete idea of ”I”.
Although singers, actors, and audiovisual professionals, in general, are used to it, it is still difficult for most of us to come to grips with this. And it does not only happen with sound.
You may have noticed that the same thing happens with photos: many people don’t take well to seeing themselves in photos because “they are not photogenic”, or for other reasons.
But the truth is that we are used to our face as we see it in mirrors. And it turns out that mirrors return rotated images to us.
We are not symmetrical. When a photo shows us how others see us, we feel strange, because our reality is to see ourselves differently. We are used to the false image of ourselves reflected in a mirror.
How Can I Hear My Real Voice?
The reality is that you will never have an exact definition of what your voice sounds like. However, after recording yourself a lot, with a lot of different microphones and equipment, you can get an increasingly accurate idea of what your voice is really like.
The more you record yourself, you will have a clearer perception and you will be able to answer yourself how your voice really sounds like. In fact, you will surely be interested in knowing how differently others hear your voice.
Why Our Recorded Voices Sound Bad: Final Thoughts
The primary reason your recorded voice sounds so bad is that you are used to hearing your own voice after the sound has vibrated through your head. When you hear it after the sound has traveled through the air from a speaker it sounds very different.
And none of us like the way it sounds. Unfortunately, that is more or less how other people hear us. When we hear our own voices resonating through our heads, they end up sounding deeper and clearer. That’s why our true voices come as such a shock.
Additionally, the quality of the recording equipment, and the playback equipment, also plays a role. If you want to make yourself sound as good as possible, invest in quality equipment, like a high quality microphone and good preamp to pair it with.