Do I Really Sound Like That On A Recording?

Don’t you just hate it when your recorded voice sounds different from own voice?

If you do, you’re not alone.

A lot of musicians that I’ve worked with have had many sessions where they ask if they really sound like the recording.

The answer is yes, you really do sound like your voice on the recording. The perception of your own voice is both psychological and physiological.

What your voice sounds like on a recording sounds different to you because what you’re hearing on the recording is only sound transmitted through air conduction, what you hear when you speak with your voice is sound internally conducted directly through your skull bones. 

Due to a combination of both external and internal conduction, and internal bone conduction appears to boost the lower frequencies which makes your voice sound deeper.

Physiology of how you perceive sound

The Human skull is basically made of bone, and it conducts whatever sound is produced by the vocal folds.

When you hear someone else speak, you only experience sound which travels by air to your ears.

There is no vibration and no bone conduction involved.

However, your own speech is different in that you can hear it not only from it outside, but from inside as well.

Therefore, When you speak, vibrations are conducted through the air, through bone and various tissues –

straight to your cochlea which is a part of the inner ear.

Without realizing it, you can hear shifts in pressure and other internal processes when hear your voice while you speak.

Obviously, you’re going to sound different to others because they cannot hear those things.

They’re only able to hear sound transmited through air conduction.

By the way, what you consider your ‘real’ voice is a bit higher than how you perceive it.

That’s why you’ll notice that it sounds less bass-y and more high pitched.

Bone conduction works best with lower frequencies which means when you listen to your voice while speaking,

it sounds much deeper because it is literally being generated from inside you.

I know most people don’t like how they sound on recordings especially new musicians that haven’t heard their voice on too many recordings.

I guess it’s just weird hearing the difference between what you experience on a daily basis and what you’ve been told is your actual voice.

Although audio equipment cannot capture voice how humans experience it for the simple reason that it’s not an ear,

it’s as close to ‘real’ as it gets – and much, much closer than how you experience your own voice.

The psychology

Not liking how your voice sounds on recordings is not only physiological but also psychological.

People that have to listen to their voice on a recording have to face the reality of what their voice sounds like outside of themselves.

Your voice makes up a huge part of your self identity therefore the reality of what it sounds like on recordings will be and is uncomfortable for most people.

This is because getting something different from what you think you present vocally to people can be hard for you.

The truth is most people just don’t like the sound of their own voice on recordings.

The remedy

Granted not everyone likes how they sound on recordings. This is true for artist, musicians and other people in general.

For the musician this can be quite inconvenient because it can make you uncomfortable to record your music.

I’ve worked with too many people that have gone through this.

Below are some ways you can ensure that you enjoy how you voice sounds on records.

Get comfortable

Most people are way too tightly bound by their own minds when it’s time to record music.

I’ve noticed this with newer musicians that haven’t been in recording studios that much.

Which is why sessions for them become almost unbearable because they cannot overcome their fear and this translates into their recordings.

If you want to record music properly, loosen up and enjoy the recording session.

Keep in mind that your voice will sound different from the way you perceive it….when you speak and hear yourself speak.

A good way to loosen up is spend enough time in the recording studio.

Even if you’re not recording.

Just being in that environment can loosen you up and possibly help you pick up some techniques from the pros.

Overcome your fear of recording and your fear of sounding bad. When you do this you will make some progress.

Record often

Spending enough time in recording studios is important for overcoming your fear.

It can also help you acquaint yourself with the whole recording process which is even better.

But after this you need to go a step further and practice recording more often.

The more you record, the more you’ll get attuned to how your voice sounds and you’ll undergo less stress when listening to the way your voice sounds.

If you’ve been recording music for a while, I’m sure you can testify as to how listening to your own voice took some getting used to.

If you’re a complete newbie that’s wondering why their voice sounds different on recordings.

Not to worry, everyone goes through that and you’re not the only one.

Try as much as possible to perform well while recording so your voice can be appealing to you.

Also spend enough time recording music so you can eventually start getting used to the sound of your voice.

This will help you get rid of that unnecessary tension of feeling like your voice isn’t sounding the way it should.

Ask your engineer/producer’s opinion

Your music producer or sound engineer helping you record your music is there for a reason.

Their job isn’t just to make sure you record but it’s also to make sure that you record well and properly.

So….if you feel your voice is not doing justice, you can easily ask the engineer/producer for their opinion and utilize their feedback.

This way you can get genuine criticism that can help you either change how you record or continue recording the way you do because your voice sounds fine.

You can also ask the opinion of other people present in the recording session (If any) for their opinion.

If there are experienced musicians in the studio, this can even be more helpful because they can show you how they pull off their own recordings.

All in all; the point is to get in the booth and record, that’s how you get an understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

Final Thoughts

Your voice will sound different on recordings because you’re not used to hearing it played back on an audio device.

What your voice sounds like on a recording sounds different to you because what you’re hearing on the recording is only sound transmitted through air conduction,

what you hear when you speak with your voice is sound internally conducted directly through your skull bones.