Why Your Own Recorded Voice Often Sounds Weird

Have you ever sent a voice message, via WhatsApp or Instagram, etc,. And found that when you played it back, the sound of your own voice shocked you?

Have you ever seen a video of yourself and not recognized the voice in the video being played back?

Well, if you have, then you’re not alone.

As it would turn out, virtually everyone on the planet hears and perceives their own voice differently on a recording than what it actually sounds like.

However, there is a scientific reason for this!

So, let’s dive in.

Why your voice sounds different on a recording

Without getting too technical here, the basic process of hearing is pretty simple.

When you make a sound with your mouth, your eardrums pick up those sound waves and convert them into vibrations that can be translated by the brain into sound.

But, this isn’t the only way that we hear.

When you make a sound, those sound waves travel all around you.

Your own ears pick them up and allow you to hear yourself through these eardrum vibrations.

However you may not know that when you make a sound you also hear it inside your head–literally.

Man speaking to a dictaphone

The sound waves made by the vocal cords will literally vibrate your skull, and cause your brain to convert those vibrations into separate frequencies–usually lower tones–that you hear in tandem with the higher pitches of your vibrations in the ear.

This causes your voice to appear slightly deeper within your own head than it would if someone else was hearing it.

What does all this translate to?

Well, essentially, when you listen to a recorded voice that voice is not being received via vibrations in your skill.

It is only going through the eardrums.

This cuts out the slightly lower tones of skull vibrations.

So, when you hear your own voice on a recording, you are hearing it without these vibrations that you are so used to perceiving.

You are hearing your voice as everyone else hears it.

Why is this so annoying?

The fact that we find this so irritating is a pretty difficult topic.

The truth is, that we don’t know with 100% certainty why we don’t like our own voices.

But our best guess is pretty good.

The simple truth is that when you get used to something, you begin to expect that thing after a while, and you start to grow irritated when it’s not there anymore.

When we become used to how our voices sound, our brains learn to expect ourselves to sound that way.

It has conditioned itself to hear your own voice in one specific tone, frequency, and accent.

These things can get lost when you strip away the deeper element of inner-cranial vibrations.

So when you play a recording of yourself, your brain is preparing to hear a voice that sounds exactly like, well, you.

But it doesn’t.

It sounds like a different you.

This leads to quite a few people feeling like they can’t stand their recorded voice, or avoiding listening to their recorded voice altogether.

This is, of course, a very simplified version of how the science works.

But it essentially boils down to how you expect to perceive your own voice versus how your voice actually sounds.

Simple, right!?

How can I avoid this?

Listening to your own voice might be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be.

Forcing yourself to listen to your own voice so much that it is no longer weird, might be the easiest way to become more comfortable listening to your own voice.