Video Production

Why Does My Voice Sound Different on Video

Do you feel that you don’t sound like you? Have you wondered why we sound different to ourselves? Let’s talk about science and human hearing ability.

Don’t you just hate how your voice sounds on video? Are you asking yourself, “why does my voice sound so different on video” or do you feel like you don’t sound like you? It makes sense.

Picture this: You’re out with your friends when they shot a funny video of you. You ask them to take a look, and the moment you hit the play button, you listen to your voice and... boom! It’s an entirely different person, and you’re here, Google searching, “why does my voice sound different on video?”.

You might not like it, but you don’t sound like you because this is how you really sound. Your voice is in reality more high-pitched, lighter, and different. A voice that you don’t really know whether you like or not, and kind of more light-bodied.

Confused? Ok, think it this way. This is exactly how your voice sounds to the people around you. 

But why? You might have guessed it right. Science.

Why Does My Voice Sound Different on Video or Recording?

When listening to our voices, we get a specific perspective of how we sound like and we don’t really get a complete overview of our vocal qualities. 

The sound we produce is vibrating in our head, and this is how we hear it. On the other hand, when we listen to our voice on a recording or video, we listen to it from the outside, which is mainly why it sounds completely different.

Let’s talk in scientific terms, though.

Generally speaking, there are two ways sounds reach our ears, and each style has a completely different result in the way people perceive them. Inside our ears, there is the cochlea, a spiral-shaped, tube-like bone. Cochlea gathers sound waves and translates them into individual frequencies so the brain can understand what we hear.

The first way for sound to reach cochlea is bone conduction, where sound travels through the head’s tissues. The second way is the transmission from the environment: air-conducted sound travels from the external auditory canal to the eardrum, and then makes its way to the cochlea.

When you’re listening to yourself speaking, your voice travels from your vocal cords directly to the cochlea, while bouncing on different structures, which enable low-frequency and deep vibrations. At the same time, you hear your voice externally as it’s spreading in the air and reaches your ears. This is what we hear when we listen to ourselves talk—a mix of internally generated and air-transmitted sound.

To listen to yourself only from within your body, you can simply plug up your ears and start talking. This deep, low-pitched sound is your body generated voice.

When you’re listening to a video or an audio recording, all this internal process disappears, and you only hear your voice from the external environment right into your ears. 

Now that you know that your voice really sound like it does when recording, we need to talk about the obvious.

Why Do I Hate My Voice on a Recording or Video?

First of all, it’s completely normal. Go ahead and ask a couple of your friends about it. Chances are they will all tell you that they hate their voice when they play it on a recording.

For a long time, psychologists keep saying that humans are emotionally connected to their voice since it’s part of their identity. When we experience this “voice confrontation,” we get to hear a more high-pitched, altered voice that makes us cringe. Because this is not what we expect from our identity and makes us question our own attributes and wonder why we sound weird on video.

But this is not all.

In 2013, a study titled I Like My Voice Better: Self-enhancement Bias in Perceptions of Voice Attractiveness found out something quite revealing. Researchers asked participants to score a sample of voices based on attractiveness. When their own voice came up without even knowing, the sample gave much higher ratings. All because they hadn’t recognized it as their own.

So, this is what makes us hate our voices. Unfamiliarity. We’re just not familiar with the sound we are listening to at the moment. Which leads to the next section:

But Is Your Voice Realy That Bad?

Many people ask, “why do we sound bad on recording?” but we don’t. We just sound different — and it’s weird.

The voice is sophisticated, and the way it works when we can hear ourselves talking in real-time cannot be described easily. The reason is that we can control it and make it sound the way we want. On the other hand, when we’re listening to a recording, we’re listening to a stiff, external instrument that gets away from our control.

And when you ask people for an opinion, they often become judgemental. So do you. When you’re listening to your voice, you want to compare it to something because we want to proactively describe it, so others don’t. 

When you want to figure out whether your voice sounds good, you can simply ask someone for their opinion. Sure, they will most likely tell you that it’s much more high-pitched than you thought, but this doesn’t mean that it’s terrible. Also, people don’t really judge other people’s voices negatively, so you might be the only person thinking that bad of the way you sound.

Can You Make Your Voice Sound As You Hear It?

If you’ve ever painted with acrylics, you already know that they always dry darker. However, painters have come up with a solution. They simply add white to their paint to achieve “natural,” controlled pigmentation.

Now think of your voice. Think of it as an acrylic color, but the other way round. It doesn’t dry darker but lighter or high-pitched. All you have to do is “add some white,” which, in our case, is bass. Make your voice sound much deeper in your head, and it will give off the impression of a heavier, steadier voice to your external environment as well. 

To learn how to make your voice sound deeper, click here. We’ve put together a complete guide with vocal exercises that will help you understand how to get that deep, low-pitched voice you’re looking for.

Now you know why your voice sounds different on video. But you need to remember that this is you. And your voice is another characteristic of yours that you need to accept and love.

August 19, 2020
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