Hate the Sound of Your Recorded Voice? Here’s Why…

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An acquaintance of mine once left me a voicemail message and shortly after, commented to me (face-to-face) that listening to my voicemail greeting reminded him how much he “hated” listening to recordings of his own voice.

He said the voice on the tape never sounded like him anyway….which is a fairly common response when listening to your recorded voice the first few times.

More recently, a couple of visitors to my blog made similar comments, so when Pauline Harris (http://pauline-harris.com/) and Kim Standerline (http://kimstanderline.com/) left comments about the way they perceive their own recorded voices on playback, it got me thinking that you too might find this information useful.

Now, if you’re like my acquaintance, and you too hate the sound of your own voice played back on a recording, well I’m hear to tell you you’re not alone.

In my experience many people feel the same way.

In fact, back in the 80’s when I used to record my adolescent voice on tape using my brother’s old cassette boombox (remember those?!) I too hated the sound of my recorded voice, and continued to hate it until I discovered the reason why.

Believe it or not, there’s actually a rational explanation why many of us hate the sound of our recorded voice…

You see, the sound you hear in your head, when you talk, isn’t simply the sound coming out of your mouth when you speak. The sound you hear in your head is made of sound coming from two distinct sources, one internal, and the other external.

The first source, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear, is the sound of the audio waves leaving your mouth, bouncing around the room, then returning to hit your ear drums, enabling you to hear what you just said. In essence, its an external sound source.

What might surprise you however is the unexpected origin of the second sound source. Without necessarily being aware of it, you’re also hearing sounds “inside your head” through a type of hearing called bone induction.

Simply stated, the vibrations coming from your voice box create a rich resonant vibration inside your skull, and this mixes together with the sound you hear through your ears to produce the sound that you perceive as your voice.

The way you hear your own voice is unique….you are the only person in the world who can hear it this way, because you are the only person in the world capable of receiving both the internal and the external sound sources that make up your perceived voice.

Everybody else receives only the external sound source….which incidental is the only sound source that a microphone is capable of recording, so when you hear a recording of your own voice, you’re essentially hearing only the external sound source….just like everybody else hears you.

All the internal vibrations that only you can hear are missing, which leaves you with the perception that your recorded voice sounds nothing like the “real” you….no wonder many people hate the sound of their recorded voice, it’s easy to see why they’d believe something is missing, or perhaps isn’t quite right.

Something IS missing….but it’s nothing anybody else can hear!

Your recorded voice is exactly how others hear you. Stop beating yourself up about it. Embrace it.

If you listen to recordings of yourself more and more, the “foreign” voice you hear starts sounding more familiar….and with familiarity comes acceptance. Who knows, given enough time and listening, you might actually come to love your “real” voice.

How do YOU feel about the sound of your recorded voice? Has your perception changed over time?

Let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Speak Up. Be Heard.



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  • Torsten Müller

    Reply Reply March 23, 2014

    Hi Con,

    just recently I tried to do my first video about a product. To avoid being on camera – I also hate myself on photos and videos – I used Camtasia as screen recorder. But as I saw the result I didn’t like it, most of all because of my voice.
    So I went ahead to buy a better microphone, as I used a headset before.
    Th quality of the sound is better now, but I still don’t like it and didn’t move ahead to publish it.
    I guess it is as you said, we just need to get used to our own voice over time.
    One more step to take in moving out of our comfort zone.

    Cheers and keep up the great work,

    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply March 23, 2014

      Hi Torsten,

      It’s funny you should mention buying a better microphone, because believe it or not, that’s what many of us do when we hear our recorded voice for the first time.

      Our initial reaction tends to be that its the quality of the audio equipment that has skewed the sound of our voice, so buying a better microphone seems to be a logical next step.

      In some cases, this can help, especially when you move from lower quality gear to high quality gear. But more often than not, this is not enough to bridge the perception gap between what we hear in our head and what we hear on tape (or perhaps more accurately these days, on disc!).

      If you REALLY want to bridge the gap, and I don’t recommend this as a normal next step, but if you want to introduce that deep, rich vibration that “sounds like its missing” from your voice recordings, you might consider using some audio effects to “colour” the sound….perhaps adding a little compression or EQ to the mix.

      Don’t go overboard otherwise you’ll start sounding like a bad FM radio promo voice!

      Great to hear from you and thanks for sharing your thoughts here,

  • Sky Nealon

    Reply Reply March 25, 2014

    Hi Con

    Interesting topic of discussion here and I must admit initially I absolutely hate my own voice and like you mentioned, I thought I had a voice with no accent like those news readers on TV which I liked, but unfortunately after hearing my first record, you could imagine my dismay when I realised I had this high-pitched squealing like voice which frankly I thought was embarrassing, but then I realised that there’s nothing I can change about, so embrace it because there may other big issues to worry about instead, like making sure what I want to share i.e. quality of content is more important.

    Kind regards

    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply April 1, 2014

      Hi Sky,

      It’s interesting you raise the topic of having a voice with “no accent”. As a kid growing up in Australia in the 70’s and 80’s, I was convinced I too had “no accent”…sure, my voice sounded different to the actors on all those imported British & US TV shows, but as far as I was concerned THEY spoke English with “an accent” not me….fast forward to today and I’m now convinced EVERYBODY has an accent. Whether we like it or not, somebody somewhere in the English-speaking world will hear us speak and think we have an accent because we don’t sound like them 🙂

      As for having a “high pitched squealing like voice”, I love that you’ve moved beyond “embarrassment” and have embraced it with open arms….I believe that every voice is “perfect for something”, and embracing your point of difference may just be the ticket to discovering YOUR perfect vocal application.

      I would love to hear all about it when you do!


  • igor Griffiths

    Reply Reply March 25, 2014

    Well hello Con, I must admit I felt the same when I heard that first personal recording emanating from my tape deck.

    If anyone is any doubt about the power of bone resonation try this simple test, fit ear plugs and go for a walk around your house. Quickly all you will hear is the booming sound of your footsteps which is the thumping of your feet shaking your bones including those in your ears. Of course normally this noise would be drowned by the external noise you hear with unplugged ears.

    As you point out whilst getting a reasonable quality mic is a good investment, the best option is to just embrace the sound of our voice and respond to any constructive feedback you receive.


    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply April 1, 2014

      Hi Igor,

      It’s great to hear from someone who actually remembers recording on a tape deck…we’ve certainly come a long way haven’t we?!

      I love your example of fitting ear plugs and walking around the house to hear just how pronounced done induction hearing really is, that’s a great way to demonstrate it.

      When I run voice-over workshops for corporate Learning & Development teams here in Australia, one of the exercises I usually run is to have the team stick their fingers in their ears and say a few words to themselves. With their fingers blocking all external sound, the only sound left is the “voice inside their head”. Try it when you get a chance, and you’ll hear the exact tone that constitutes the “voice inside your head” that only you can hear….subtract this tone from the sound you perceive to be your “own voice”, and what’s left is precisely what your microphone records 🙂

      Thanks for your insights!


  • Andrew

    Reply Reply March 31, 2014

    Great post Con, I’ve always suspected that there was a reason such as this that you heard a different tone of voice between recording it and hearing your own tones, and your post explains it well.

    When I started making videos I wasn’t very impressed wither! I think half the problem is my Scottish accent is naturally so quick that I have to slow it right down to like a robot speak, so people can understand, and therein the voice can become sort of robotic.

    I think half the battle is to make short videos on a specific topic that you know lots about, so you are speaking with knowledge rather than trying to fill in time with umms and ehhs!

    This way you will hear your voice as instructive and helpful, and therefore you, and others, will associate your videos with quality and value.


    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply April 1, 2014

      Hi Andrew,

      I appreciate your kind words.

      You’re spot on when you say that half the battle is speaking about something you’re familiar with…but I dare say not for the reasons you probably think.

      You see, when we talk about something we know about, we generally have this natural rhythm when it comes the words we use and the way we deliver those words. If you know about the topic, you’ll naturally come across as a “real human being”, not because you avoid the umms and ahhs (real people use those too!) but because your pace and tone take on a natural feel….just like you’re having a real conversation. Real conversations are much more engaging than robotic reading….and passionate conversations are even better at drawing the other person in.

      I love the way you describe hearing your voice as instructive and helpful….isn’t that what we all aim for when we’re teaching someone either face-to-face or via video?

      I’d be interested to hear you in action sometime, let me know when you post one of your conversational videos 🙂


  • Jamie Miller

    Reply Reply April 11, 2014

    I have always hated the way my voice sounds on recordings. I am little over 6 feet tall man that weighs 208 pounds, but when I here my voice on a recording it sounds like I am a 10 year old girl.

    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply April 13, 2014

      Hi Jamie,

      It’s a very powerful contrast you’ve described here, Big Man / Little Girl, and in my experience, we are often our own harshest critics, I know I certainly am.

      Back when I first started training as a voice over artist I recall doing a take and then listening to the sound of my recording coming through the studio speakers. Whilst others in the room were assessing my delivery & performance skills, I was cringing at the sound of my voice. Ironically, I was the only one cringing because as far as anybody else was concerned, the voice coming through the speakers was actually “just me”. They heard the same voice coming out of the speakers that they’d previously heard coming out of my mouth. I was the only one who heard something different, which meant that I was the only one who had a problem with it.

      Learning to accept, value and (eventually) love the sound of your own recorded voice is a journey…and every journey starts with a single step. Listening with an open mind is as good a first step as any, and I encourage everyone to try it.

      Best wishes for your journey ahead.

  • Pauline

    Reply Reply April 13, 2014

    Hi Con,

    I am still not in love with my recorded voice, but because of your explanation I now realize that this is my real voice. The voice that people who know me already accept, so it can’t be that bad.

    I will in the near future actually make a recording for my blog.

    Take care

    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply April 13, 2014

      Hi Pauline,

      Congratulations on coming to this realisation so quickly…..that’s a massive step…some people take years to reach this very same point.

      Take your fear in one hand, your courage in the other and make that recording a reality….I look forward to hearing you in action soon!


  • Dave Thomas

    Reply Reply April 14, 2014

    Hi Con

    So I’m not alone in hating my own voice when recorded, whoopee! I have functions I attend where singing is required and everyone says they can hear me singing because my sound is so bass and is below everyone else.
    If I go to weddings, or now mainly funerals as I and my acquaintances are getting to that age, with my wife she asks me to mime rather than actually sing as it embarrasses her! Sometimes out of spite I sing and loudly!

    My talking voice sounds OK when I’m talking, but is very nasal and deep when recorded and, despite my best efforts, comes out very monotone. As Sky says above, nothing you can do so if I am going to broadcast then I’m going to have to man up and try to add some excitement to my timbre when I talk.

    Any hints to help me?


    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply May 8, 2014

      Hi Dave,

      Absolutely, you are most definitely not alone!

      OK, so you mentioned that despite your best efforts, your recorded voice comes out quite monotone. Here are a couple of quick tips to help overcome your monotone-blues….firstly, think of something that makes you feel happy or excited…It might be an event, like your last major birthday celebration with family and friends, or it might be a thought like remembering the last time your football team was at the top of the league. Try and make it a thought that stirs up a strong feeling and picture it in rich detail. Now go and tell somebody about it. It doesn’t matter who, just tell somebody that’ll listen.

      When we talk about something that really interests us, something that excites us, our natural tendency is to add a rich palette of speech characteristics to our conversation. We’ll vary the pace, getting faster as we talk about something REALLY exciting, and slowing down as we try and convey important points that we want to make sure our listener has understood. Our natural inflections will kick in and all those wonderful characteristics that makes our voice uniquely our own will naturally come out to play…our pitch and pace will vary and we’ll naturally vary our pauses to convey meaning…..in most cases without thinking about it.

      Once you’ve done what I’ve just asked, and experienced what it’s like to naturally insert vocal colour into your conversation, repeat the process but have the other person discreetly start recording shortly after you’ve started (most smartphones these days allow you to record audio on your phone, so just use a phone), this allows you to capture your voice in all its decidedly-non-monotone-glory.

      By having a conversation with another person, about a subject that really tickles your fancy, you’ll naturally exhibit all the vocal characteristics that can transform your recordings from monotone to out of this world. And by discreetly recording it, you can listen to a recorded example of your voice sounding…well, natural 🙂

      Hearing it played back not only shows you what you can sound like, but more importantly, it helps you overcome your ingrained belief that your recorded voice is monotone.

      Hope this helps 🙂


  • Gordon Smith

    Reply Reply April 18, 2014

    Hi Con

    This is such a great topic.

    I watched a presentation from Rich Schefren on YouTube and he advised creating a 2 or 3 minute video every day for a couple of weeks to get used to actually making a video presentation and getting used to the sound of your own voice.

    I think you could have a unique perspective on a product topic.


    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply May 8, 2014

      Hi Gordon,

      That’s great advice from Rich Schefren. I’ve heard it said that doing something everyday for 21 consecutive days helps embed whatever you’re doing as a habit….this is a great way get comfortable with the sound of your recorded voice.

      Thanks for sharing.


  • Ron Killian

    Reply Reply June 30, 2014

    Does any one like their own voice? Well, sure there are some people, but for most folks, as you said, are not fans.

    I am one of those that have not done much video or audio. Guess it’s kind of out of my comfort zone. But people say it can make a huge difference when it comes to personal branding, build trust, ect. Last video I made took probably 20 takes. I’d make a mistake and start over again. Practice makes prefect, huh?

    I like Gordons suggestion as well, great idea!

    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply February 11, 2017

      Hi Ron,

      I’m a big believer in the fact that as a procuct creator and a marketer, your audience wants to hear YOU; and hearing YOU (rather than someone else) talk about your products, can really help you to build rapport, familiarity and eventually trust with your audience.

      Keep practising Ron, can’t wait to hear a recording of you talking about your next product 🙂


  • Rahima

    Reply Reply May 29, 2015

    I’ve never heard of anyone actually liking their own voice – I guess its just human nature because we’re not used to hearing our voices like others hear it. I’d rather accept my voice than dwell over it. Practice does make perfect!

    Just a quick tip, audacity helps to enhance the ‘quality’ of your voice when doing recordings, its a useful skill to have. Software isn’t hard to learn either :p

    Cheers for the useful post,


    • Con Dolmas

      Reply Reply February 11, 2017

      Hi Rahima,

      You’re absolutely spot on, practice DOES make perfect!

      The more you record you voice and the more your hear recordings of your voice, the more you’ll eventually come to accept it. Its like listening to a song on the radio over and over again and having it slowly grow on you. It’s a cognitive bias called The Mere-Exposure Effect 🙂

      Regarding Audacity, its a fantastic tool with some awesome functionality, and given that its a free tool, I can understand why its so popular.

      There are however some limitations.

      Most people I’ve come across tend to get by with a little trial and error, so by all means I’d highly recommend anybody who is reading this to experiment with some of the “vocal quality enhancement” effects you referred to.

      All I’d add to that is just be aware there can be a bit of a learning curve here. And by learning curve, I’m talking about understanding “when” and “why” you’d use some of the vocal effects like compression, peak suppression and EQ, rather than talking about a learning curve for using the actual software itself.

      Like you said, the software isn’t hard to learn 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a thoughtful comment.


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