Why You Hate the Weird Sound of Your Own Voice


You may be a lip sync master, but odds are you hate hearing the sound of your voice on playback. This high-pitched, tinny voice couldn't possibly be yours, right? If you've ever wondered why we sound different to ourselves than in recordings, the answer is as close as within your own head.

When you speak, the sound of your voice reaches your inner ear using two pathways. The vocal folds in your throat vibrate to create sound waves that travel not only through the air to your ears, but also via vibrations that surge through your skull and bones.

As the vocal vibrations go through your skull and zing around your throat, mouth and neck, they lower in frequency. This lower-frequency sound makes its way through the skin and flesh on your skull and outer ear, where the vibrations are spaced out and the pitch is enhanced. The result? When you hear yourself speak — recorded on tape, amplified through a microphone or, worst of all, on an echo-delayed phone call — you sound more Pee-wee Herman than Morgan Freeman.

Let's just say it's weird — to you, anyway. Everyone else has been hearing your voice this way, but you're not used to hearing it without filtering it through flesh and bone first.

When you listen to a recorded version of your voice, you hear waves of pressure using air as a conductor. These waves, or vibrations, are captured by the outer ear and then carried inward to the eardrum, where three bony structures — called ossicles — vibrate. The sound then reaches the cochlea, which converts the waves into impulses sent to the brain and interpreted as sound. What you're missing is the bone-conducted sound and the result is so foreign that it makes most of us cringe.

If your recorded voice especially disturbs you, maybe consider a lip sync app like Dubsmash. You can perfectly time your lip sync to a recording artist's voice — and skip the awful part where you have to hear yourself.

The reason why your voice sounds so terrible? It all has to do with sonic physics.
The reason why your voice sounds so terrible? It all has to do with sonic physics.
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