Why does my voice sound different?

When I hear my voice on a tape recording or on voice mail, it doesn’t sound the same as when I hear my voice talking. I think my voice is much lower than it sounds on tape. What could cause this? I wonder do other people hear me the way I do or the way I sound on tape?

You hear your own voice through, for lack of a better term, “bone induction”. The sound waves travel through a solid (your head (nyuk nyuk)) to your eardrum, rather than through the air. And, well, that changes the sound a bit.

There’s already technology around that takes advantage of this. A company named Jabra used to (and maybe they even still do) make a device called the EarPhone. It was an earplug-style headphone that acted as both a speaker and a microphone, but instead of picking up your voice through a mic in front of your mouth, it picked up vibrations from inside your ear. I never had one, so I don’t know if that made your voice sound to others the way you yourself hear it.

IIRC, your voice is resonating in your head, in your mouth, pharynx, nose, nasal sinuses, etc. and is transmitted to the inner ear primarily directly. Everone else hears it without that internal resonance. Other people hear you the way you sound on tape, but don’t worry, it sounds as natural to them as it sounds unnatural to you.

Oh No!
You mean everyone is hearing that tinny little voice instead of the sultry full-bodied version? Thanks for the info. Maybe if I try practising like Lauren Bacall, I’ll end up with a normal pitch.

The Master Speaks

A fun thing to do:

hold two large books or folders (your hands will do in a pinch) against the side of your head directly in front of your ears; it should look like you have huge, book-shaped ears. Then speak or sing, and pay attention to how it sounds. Robbed of the sound from directly ahead, your ears will tune into the sound coming back from the room; it will resemble much more closely your true voice.