We’re used to hearing our voices through a combination of sound leaving our mouths and traveling through the head into the inner ear. Therefore, when we use a mic to record for the first time, it is surprising how different the way we sound.
Does a microphone make your voice sound better?
A microphone can make your voice sound better because certain aspects of your recorded voice, such as the prominence of specific frequencies, tone, color, and overall clarity can be improved by choosing the right microphone. This is however just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to making your recorded voice sound better.
Choosing a suitable mic for your voice is a good idea if you want to improve the quality of your recordings.
Accomplished singers often go through the process of identifying the best microphone for the unique qualities of their vocal style, and the same can be done for the spoken word. Nevertheless, there may be other reasons that you aren’t satisfied with the sound of your voice when it is recorded and played back.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to overcome these hurdles and make your voice sound better.
Why Don’t I Sound Good When I Record Myself?
Firstly, let me start by assuring you that you’re not alone in being unhappy with the sound of your recorded voice.
This is a very common feeling that the majority of people who aren’t accustomed to hearing their voice in this way experience. There are several reasons that you may think you don’t sound good when you record yourself.
Some people find that the way their voice sounds when it is recorded is much higher in pitch than the way they hear it in everyday conversation. It’s rarer to hear your voice as lower when it is recorded, but a small percentage of people do experience this also.
There is a physical explanation for this.
The sophisticated system which allows us to hear and perceive sound is located within our inner ears. When a sound is made, the vibrations travel from the source, into the inner ear. If someone is talking to you face-to-face, the sound waves leave their mouth, travel through the air, enter your inner ear and eventually reach the cochlea, where they are processed by the brain.
This process is called air conductance, and it is how we hear the vast majority of sound in the external world. However, when we talk, we hear our voice both through air conductance, but also as a result of another process, which is more internally focused.
As the sound leaves your mouth, some of the waves travel through the air in front of your face and make their way into your ears. Simultaneously, your voice travels through the bones and tissues in your head and face and reaches the inner ear internally.
The process of the sound traveling internally to your ear causes the tone and pitch to be altered compared to the sound that is conveyed through the air. This explains why it can be a shock to people when they hear themselves on a Zoom call recording, or a video for the first time.
- The reality is though, that the way your voice sounds on the recording is the way that everyone hears it in everyday life.
You are the only person who hears your voice the way that you do, due to the unique process of it traveling both externally and internally into your cochlea at the same time.
Another reason that you may think your voice doesn’t sound good on recordings is more psychological. Due to the perception you’ve had all your life of how your voice sounds, which as I just explained is quite inaccurate, you simply haven’t become accustomed to hearing your voice when it is projected purely through air conveyance.
It’s the same as when someone gets a new haircut or changes their appearance, our brains notice this change, and it takes a while to get used to it. Then, after a little time has passed, we struggle to even imagine what that person used to look like before.
The good news is, this can also be achieved in regards to the sound of your recorded voice.
Is Your Voice on Video Accurate?
Although the sound of your voice on video or audio recording sounds very different from what you are used to hearing in everyday speech, it is more accurate. This is the way that other people hear your voice, because they hear it only through air conveyance and with no reverberation from your head or face, as you do.
The likelihood is that when another person hears their voice on a recording or video, they will also be quite shocked at how different it sounds. People who are used to listening to recordings of themselves are unlikely to even notice the difference.
Indeed, there certain factors which affect the accuracy of your voice on video or in a recording. These include:
- The microphone
- The speakers
- Audio compression
- Playback speed
Even with these variables, the sound of your voice on the video is still more accurate than the one you hear when you talk, simply because there are no alterations to the pitch or tone caused by the internal movement of soundwaves entering your ears.
If you’ve been unpleasantly surprised by the sound of your voice on a video, this probably isn’t what you wish to hear, but it is true.
Simply put, the reason many people don’t like the way they sound on a recording or video is that they haven’t gotten used to the contrast compared to their everyday speaking voice. The more familiar you become with the sound of your voice on video or recording, the less apparent these differences will become.
It’s important to keep in mind that everyone else is in the same situation as you.
The way your friend or family member’s voice sounds to you when they speak is also completely different from the voice they hear when they speak. The chances are that they don’t notice any difference between your everyday voice as your voice on film, just as you probably wouldn’t notice any difference in theirs.
How Different Mics Affect Your Voice
The question of whether or not a mic has the power to make your voice sound ‘better’ is a complex one. Firstly, we need to define what you mean by better. What is it about your voice on video or a recording that you don’t like? It could be the:
Each of these aspects of your voice can be improved with dedicated and consistent practice, but this can also cover up some of the slight nuances which make your voice unique.
Whether you choose a condenser or dynamic microphone will impact the way that your voice sounds on a call, in a recording, or in a video you create. The differences may be subtle, but if they help you to enjoy the sound of your voice recorded then it’s worth considering using a particular mic.
Condenser microphones are the most commonly used for recording vocals, especially spoken words. This is because they have larger diaphragms, which allows them to capture your voice in greater detail. Condensers also enhance the high-end frequencies of the recordings.
You can get good-quality USB and desktop condenser microphones that are ideal for calls, live streaming, podcasting, or recording video voiceovers. These allow you to position the microphone on your desk, and sit comfortably as you record your vocals.
A popular choice is the plug-and-play Blue Yeti USB Microphone. This is simple to use and set up and has great recording qualities.
Here’s a really useful video to help you get a Blue Yeti Microphone set up.
Dynamic microphones are also a good choice for recording your voice, and they tend to sound better on louder sound sources. If you naturally speak loudly or get excited when you talk, a dynamic microphone might suit you better than a condenser, which could potentially start to clip if the recording gets too loud.
Lavalier microphones, which use a clip-on mechanism to attach to an item of clothing, are a great option that allows you to move around while recording your voice. This may make you feel more at ease, which will ultimately lead to a more natural-sounding recording.
|Attention to detail||Handles loud volumes||Discreet|
|Enhances high-end||Records sharp transients||Easy to move around with|
Does my audio interface affect my voice recordings?
Although it’s not as impactful as the microphone you use, your audio interface will also shape the coloration and tone of your vocal recordings. The better the preamps, inputs, and processing capabilities of the interface, the clearer the recordings will be.
Will compression make my voice sound better?
Using compression on your voice recordings can help to smoothen out any dynamic inconsistencies, but it’s important not to overdo it. You should play around with the ratio and threshold settings so that it sounds strong but natural.
How can I build confidence in my voice?
The best way to build your confidence is simply to practice recording your voice consistently until you feel accustomed to hearing it back. The likely reason for your lack of confidence is that your recorded voice sounds different from what you are used to hearing.
I have written an article on why your voice sounds different in your own head! You can read it here.