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Fernspider's avatar

Why do we hear ourselves differently to how our voices actually sound?

Asked by Fernspider (3582points) August 20th, 2009

Do you cringe when you hear a recording of yourself played back? I do and often say “Do I really sound like that” to which the response is “Yes”.

What I don’t understand is, why do we sound different to ourselves when we speak?

EDIT: Oops, I have just realised that this question has already been asked. How do I delete it!? LOL

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24 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Think about where your ears are located, and about conducted sound.

PerryDolia's avatar

Because when we hear ourselves, part of what we hear is conducted through the jaw bone and skull and part is from the air going into our ears. So, we hear two sources.

Others only hear what is in the air, one source.

le_inferno's avatar

What @PerryDolia said. That also explains why our chewing sounds differently to us than to others.

charliecompany34's avatar

i must say, i think we were thinking alike about this. i thought about asking same said question about a week ago. i was teaching a song about two weeks ago and heard myself talking and singing on a CD. i did not recognize it was my voice at all, but i knew it was me. when i heard it, it seemed to put a whole different face on who i believe myself to be. isnt that weird?

Tink's avatar

I don’t know why that is. But I’ve noticed this when I am speaking another language. I hear myself say it but when I hear it recorded I sound different.

Jack79's avatar

I was like this too when I first heard myself (recorded). Then as years went by, and I recorded albums, played at concerts where of course I could hear it coming out the speakers, did radio shows, interviews and so on (especially when hearing my own voice live through the headphones when talking on the radio), I got used to it. Now, even when I talk without headphones, I can easily imagine how my voice sounds to others, and am quite comfortable with it. I don’t hear a noticable difference anymore between my “inner” and “outer” voice.

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes. I always though I sounded like James Earl Jones.

Turns out I sound more like Jimmy Neutron.

filmfann's avatar

Same reason we sound better in the shower.
BTW, I used to work in Manholes. That is a GREAT place to sound good, when you can’t carry a tune.

charliecompany34's avatar

@Blondesjon hey, u changed your avatar. just noticed.

i think i always sounded like bryant gumbel of NBC “today show” old times. then i believed i sounded like that nasal sound of radio hosts. when i heard my voice i was like, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! that cannot be me. that is not my voice. but had to come to realization that it is what people hear.

why are our voices not what we think they are?

eponymoushipster's avatar

Because my mojo doesn’t work on me. It’s like you can’t tickle yourself.

Grisaille's avatar

I thought I sounded like Pacino. I apparently sound like John Leguizamo.

On helium.

DominicX's avatar

My voice always sounds deeper on recording and more gay.


Blondesjon's avatar

@DominicX . . .Isn’t that an oxthymoron?

Grisaille's avatar

@Blondesjon What, a deep-throated gay guy?

Sounds pretty normal to me.


wildpotato's avatar

@PerryDolia But when you hold the stem of a tuning fork up against your skull to get the tone, you hear the same note as when you hold the tines next to your ear. Or am I thinking about this wrong? – is the analogy more accurate if I think about it as mono versus stereo? Ooh, now I’m excited to try a tuning fork against my skull and outside my ear at the same time. And if I got someone to hold one against mthe other ear, too…hm. This will be interesting. Need more tuning forks.

@Jack79 Thats really interesting. I wonder if it’s the same for other people who hear their own voice a lot. It’s cool that sensory habituation makes such a difference to our perception of ourselves.

DominicX's avatar

@Blondesjon @Grisaille

lol, thanks guys, thanks.

That’s my voice for real. It’s audio from a video I posted on AIROW once.

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

I’ve always imagined your voice as a mouse, no offense my little russian muffin

Grisaille's avatar

my spidey senses are tingling, telling me there’s a love connection happening before my very eyes

Blondesjon's avatar

@gailcalled . . .i just dropped a tear on that one.

gailcalled's avatar

If truth be told, I did laugh…honesthly.

Blondesjon's avatar

I was hoping it wouldn’t just be viewed ath a typo.

gailcalled's avatar

Never by Mrs. Sharp-eyeth.

hearkat's avatar

@wildpotato: The tuning fork test is called the Rinne Test

The sound of the tuning fork is being generated outside of you body, so it should sound the same whether it’s against the bone or in the air

If you have a problem with your ear that impedes the sound from getting through to the inner (—e.g. wax build-up, otitis media), then you hear it louder through the bone conduction.

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