Have you ever played back a voicemail you had left or heard a recording of yourself and wondered “oh god, why??” Or you can’t seem to put your finger on who that stranger on the recording is but later realize that it’s actually you. Many people hate hearing themselves or don’t recognize themselves in a recording or when a voicemail is being played back. Either they sound too deep, too high pitched or as some people classify themselves: as a cartoon. Some females complain they sound “manly” while some men tend to say they sound “light and squeaky”. I’m not saying this is the exact case for everyone, but we all do sound different from when we hear ourselves talk in person compared to that over the phone. We assume technology just isn’t our friend and is screwing over the way our voice sounds.
The reason to why we sound different over a recording or over the phone is because we perceive sounds in two different ways. We hear sounds either air conducted or bone conducted. Air conducted sound is the way we retrieve sound when we listen to a recording. Air conducted sound as Jordan Gaines defines it to be is:
Transmitted through the eardrums, vibrating three bony ossicles (malleus, incus and stapes) and terminating in the cochlea. The cochlea, a fluid-filled spiral structure, converts these vibrations into nerve impulses to be interpreted in the brain.
However when we hear ourselves as we speak, our eardrums then perceive the sound as bone conducted. When it comes down to bone conducted sounds, vibrations from our vocal cords reach straight to the cochlea. By doing so our brain tends to deceive us by “lowering the frequency of these vibrations along the way, which is why we often perceive ourselves as higher-pitched when we listen to a recording” (Gaines, NBC News).
Now you may be wondering why so many people do not like the way they sound over a recording. That is because of the fact that we are so adjusted in hearing ourselves through bone conduction. So the moment we hear a recording, it catches us by surprise, we hear something we are not used to which is why many people tend to dislike the sound of their voice. The same case goes for why at times we don’t like pictures of ourselves. That’s because when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we are adjusted to that setting. However in a photograph, everything is reversed where we pin point out all the flaws and do not like what we see. Now of course this isn’t the case for everyone but for many people that is true.
So the next time you tend to get a little self-conscious about the way you sound, have no fear. Reassure yourself by talking to yourself out loud… that wouldn’t be strange at all. (I do advise not to do that in public whereas you might come off as someone who’s having an off day). But honestly, don’t sweat it. Technology is out there to get you and make you sound a way you don’t prefer. It’s just the way we perceive that sound depending on the way we hear it.