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Why Does My Voice Sound Different on a Recording?


iAmCam

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Why Does My Voice Sound Different on a Recording? I did some reading on it, but I still can't wrap my head around it? Is what I'm hearing in my head the same as what people are hearing? When I hear myself sing I sing fine but when I record it it sounds so much different and worse. Why?

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Your voice sounds different because you're hearing it as it sounds to the rest of the world. The voice you hear in your head is altered by the bones in your skull that vibrate with your voice.

 

 

Its hard to get used to your own recorded voice. I like it when i listen to somthing that i have done and i forget that its me. Its a strange feeling when you snap back. rat

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I noticed that when i first started recording and would hear my voice it was very awkward. Especially when I would play back what I recorded and listened to it wiht people around.. But I also noticed that if you sing with the song it does match perfectly so it really isn't too wierd i guess.

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Perhaps a fair comparative analogy is this:

 

Take an acoustic guitar. Press your ear up against the back of it and play something. Anything. Sound different? Of course.

 

Your voice as it comes out of your head is touching the resonating chamber - your own sinus cavities, etc. - so is distorted in a similar way to pressing your ear up against the back of the acoustic guitar.

 

When someone else hears your voice, they hear it unaffected by direct contact with that resonating chamber, and moderated by the natural acoustics of the room, which YOU are NOT hearing much.

 

Add in a recording chain and you are subjecting your voice to the quality and character of the mic, preamp, effects, etc. that are put on that track.

 

If it sounds bad (ie. out of tune, no resonance, etc.), there is a problem with your technique. If it just sounds different, then you're okay. You'll get used to it soon enough.

 

Chris

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I have a question:


I assume disliking one's "voice on tape" is natural... since it isnt what we hear.


But, are there any stories of good singers hearing themselves and going "Yeah damn!! I sound so much better!":confused:
:confused:

 

I was wondering the same exact thing.

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I think that now that I am used to hearing the recorded sound of my voice.

 

Another interesting thing that happens is this - as a singer, you are (hopefully) 'hyperaware' of things like pitch and resonance. Even the slightest bit off feels like a lot. The listener (even if it is you after the fact) doesn't have this sense of 'hyperawareness' and is more likely to not notice rather small discrepancies.

 

Chris

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I'm fortunate enough to have my lovely wife sing on alot of my originals. Not only does her voice have better depth than mine (sort of a Chrissie Hynde/Karen Carpenter thing), but hearing her gets me more "distance" from the tune to really hear it, rather than the eebie-jeebies of listening to my own voice...

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I have a question:


I assume disliking one's "voice on tape" is natural... since it isnt what we hear.


But, are there any stories of good singers hearing themselves and going "Yeah damn!! I sound so much better!":confused:
:confused:

 

I hated my voice the 1st time too but the first time I heard it doubled in the studio I was like, wow I don't sound that bad!

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The vast majority of vocalists believe they are better than reality shows due to this little acoustic-based illusion. The more you record the more you will come to understand, and make the most of this. Singing and monitoring your vocals with headphones is helpful. Just keep in mind that a refined vocalist who doesn't take risks belongs in an alternative pop-rock band. Robert Plant isn't idolized as a refined perfectionist, but a wild blues singer.

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your microphone can't capture EVERY single sound an nuance your voice makes. It's like a bad copy machine, it wont get every detail of the paper. We all buy nice expensive condenser mics, but even after we eq the hell out of our voice, they usually never sound exactly like us.

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your microphone can't capture EVERY single sound an nuance your voice makes. It's like a bad copy machine, it wont get every detail of the paper. We all buy nice expensive condenser mics, but even after we eq the hell out of our voice, they usually never sound exactly like us.

 

 

Wait a minute... What, is the real us? Is it what we hear through the mass of bone and tissue in our heads? is it what others hear of us?

 

Our tympanic membranes are not unbiased capturing devices any more than microphones are.

 

I challenge the assumption above.

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I think if I concentrate I can tell what I sound like.

 

I've trained myself to know about how I'm going to sound on a recording judging from the way it sounds to me as I'm singing -- so I'm not usually surprised by the sound that's captured.

 

When I was a little kid -- around 3 and a half or so, when tape recorders were really new, I simply refused to believe that it wasn't some kind of weird trick -- even when they recorded me and my mom talking together and played it back for me that first time, I said, OK, that's my mom, I guess. But it is for sure, not me. But I was hooked... after that I was nuts about wire recorders and tape recorders. (Ah... wire recorders... the beat up ones my dad had in the garage sure never worked as good as the ones on the old police dramas. I think the last wire recorder I saw was a real high tech, tiny thing, very expensive, made around the end of the fifties... what a pain in the backside, though. I never saw a wire recorder that didn't get tangled.)

 

Anyhow, as others have noted, the diff comes from the fact that your ears are mounted right n the vocal instrument. As you probably know, when we sing, we're a lot like a saxophone. All the sound doesn't come out the main hole... Er... what I mean is that the sound is shaped by our lungs/diaphraghm, all the piping on up, the voice box itself, the cords, the throat and mouth, the nasal cavities (or lack thereof in my case :D ), the sinuses -- and the hole skull is a resonant unit. Hell, your ears probably affect the sound of your voice in the outside world, forgetting the subjective for a moment.

 

Anyhow, you may not train yourself to ever be completely comfortable with it, but you can probably train yourself to know what to expect when you record.

 

One very positive thing is that you can use what you learn from recording to change the way you sing if your careful and diligent. Many folks feel like they're locked into a certain "voice" and, to be sure, your voice is rooted in and bounded by, in many ways, the factors outlined above, but it is also very certainly not immutable.

 

Mostly, my vocals are in the punk-folk tradition: characterful, rather than tuneful. But, when I'm in the mood and put my mind to it, I can actually stretch myself into something that almost sounds like it was trying for pretty. (Self-indulgent examples: pretty-ish | not-so-pretty | really-really-not-pretty )

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I hate my voice to. But others have told me that I sound pretty good, so I just go with what they say and forget about it.

 

 

Yeah... even if you are pretty hooked up with what your voice is going to sound like in a given recording -- it's still hard to figure out (at least for me) what's good or acceptable or genius (heh) anymore because its so easy to get lost in little details like, oh, you know, rhythm, pitch, diction... yet some of my very favorite vocal performances of all time have had small-to-significant in one or all of those areas, yet they transcended them and, in some funny way, maybe the problems made those classics better... like the tiny flaws that set off the beauty... or something.

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