When I hear myself sing, which I only do in my car to and from work everyday now just to practice (which is about 2 hours total), I actually like the way my voice sounds. It is at least tolerable.

My workplace also sells a huge number of products, one of which is earplugs. So again while singing in my car, but with earplugs this time, I still like the way my voice sounds regardless of if I have one or two earplugs in. Not quite as much as without the earplugs but I still like it.

I started this practicing after I just tried winging it after buying a Sterling Audio ST51 Large Diaphragm FET Condenser Microphone and it sounded terrible. Thinking back I was probably singing out of my pitch range which made it difficult to keep the notes I was trying for, but it still sounded terrible even when I sang the same part but an octave or two lower just for an attempt at harmony.

It embarrassed me to the point where I went and bought Melodyne from a friend. I haven't had a chance to use this with my DAW yet due to his version being old and incompatible with it.

Anyways, after doing a decent amount of research and also having a couple lessons on recording and mastering vocals in this free class I attend, I realized that I hadn't done anything terribly wrong when I tried recording my voice. I added a compressor and EQ'd it to raise the bass and high frequencies since it sounded seriously lacking in bass tones. I was an appropriate distance away from the mic. Since the room I'm in has a TERRIBLE echo, I recorded myself in between a little fort I made out of my comforter. I did this because I used to be in a band way back in high school and we recorded in a studio once and the guy liked us so was explaining a lot of what he was doing since we didn't technically pay him to mix or master our recordings but he was a good guy ^_^.

Anyways even after all of this, I still sounded like I was 13 in that stage where my voice is cracking. It wasn't literally cracking, but the high parts sounded atrocious.

What gives? For the tl;dr type, how do I get that sound from my head that I like? I thought wearing earplugs was supposed to make you hear your voice more as it actually is.

I remember reading somewhere about how your not used to hearing how your voice actually sounds and something with how your brain automatically blocks the common wavelengths in your voice to improve hearing other things or something? Please any help would be appreciated. I know my voice is not good or anything special but I honestly don't think my voice is that bad

  • 1
    What is your question? Are you wondering why your recorded voice is different from what you hear when you sing to yourself? Or are you wondering how to process your recorded voice to it sounds more like you want it to sound? As it stands, your question may be a better fit for biology.stackexchange.com or physics.stackexchange.com. Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 19:59
  • The what gives is supposed to imply why doesn't it sound the same? I thought wearing ear plugs was supposed to make your voice sound more like how it actually sounds.
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:15
  • Sure, but you are throwing a lot of stuff out there in your question. If you edit your question to make it clear what is being asked, it will be much easier for us to help answer your question. If the question is "what gives", then it probably belongs on biology or physics. If it was "how do I make my voice sound the way I want it to" then it makes more sense here. Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:19
  • 3
    in general, people are smart enough to imagine all kinds of things that you never intended! Commented Sep 20, 2012 at 20:53
  • 1
    "voice in my head" made me think about some medical.stackexchange.com or psychiatrist.stackexchange.com Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 19:32

3 Answers 3


As sound waves travel through bone as well as air, of course you will sound different to a recording. When you play back a recording you just won't get any of those sounds transmitted through your skull.

You will be able to approximate the sound by using an equaliser and boosting our cutting frequency ranges - trial and error is your best bet here, as no-one else will know how you sound to yourself.

  • awesome, will give this a shot since I wrote some I was just wondering if there was a known way of doing this that works effectively. Guess I will have to boost the bass levels and mid levels since my mic only seems to capture mostly the highs. If I used a spectrum analyzer, is there anything I should look for in particular?
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 13:06
  • A spectrum analyser won't really help - as the sounds you hear in your head are only yours. But you are right in that bass and mid will need to be boosted. Just play with it and see what sounds good.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Sep 21, 2012 at 17:31

None of us hear our voices as they are. As Dr. mayhem pointed, you hear your voice through bones (and skull is a pretty complicated system with lots of small resonating cavities) and through the air. Have in mind that your ears are behind your mouth so the air part that you hear is mostly reflected around. All that is then filtered by the brain (which is, if I remember right but don't take my word for it) a psychological process learned in the early childhood to somewhat level your voice and other people's voices.

Now, singing in the car and with earplugs actually made that difference even bigger. Not only that you lowered the ratio of "air" voice, you changed the resonance structure of your skull. And car is a tight and upholstered space so you probably muted the sound quite a bit. Theoretically, I find it strange that you find your voice good in that environment.

Anyway, the point is not to make it sound like it is in your head but to sound good. Just as you would do with any other voice. So, EQ's and compressor are your friends. Though part is that you are working with your own voice and, if it's any consolidation, about 98% of sound engineers I met hate doing that.

But before you start playing with EQ's, have a nice recording in the first place. Experiment with different rooms, probably with something that will pump lower frequencies (if it sounds good in the car) and with low reverberation. But don't be shy to try spaces with more reverberation, there is a reason so many people sing in the bathrooms with all those sound-reflecting tiles around them. :)

And btw, the room you mentioned probably didn't have any echo (it takes 17.5 meters to the wall to have echo) but reverberation. First one is when you can actually distinguish original from the reflected sound. later is when they mix together.


You basically need a Binaural microphone. I haven't used one myself, but the way these work is by capturing sound at the same place you hear sound; within your ears, one mic in each ear.

The shape of your head and ears shapes the sound you hear, so you'll need to replicate that shape (or just use your own head/ears) to capture "what you hear", in addition to capturing the room's acoustics (to actually record how you sound in your car, you'd need to be in your car). These recordings are often done with a dummy head, but the dummy head versions are very expensive.

  • that is very interesting. I will have to look into that. What would be the point of a dummy head exactly? I'm gonna guess that its to pick up sound as other people hear it? Is a binaural mic similar to mics that pic up the vibrations from your throat? My friend has one of those for his xbox and I can always hear everyone else in the room while playing with him
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 18:13
  • @TravisDtfsuCrum the dummy head doesn't match any one person 100%, but it does match everyone mostly, so it gives the impression of actually having been in the room with the sound source (great for recording things like concerts, where the acoustics are part of the appeal). And no, it's not the same as a throat mic.
    – Ben Brocka
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 19:09
  • Would a binaural mic pick up the vibrations from my skull? Since that is what I am hearing right?
    – Travis Dtfsu Crum
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 19:41
  • No, it won't do that. It lets you record external sounds as your ears hear them, not the internal resonances.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 13:41
  • Three years later, we have this: kickstarter.com/projects/ripplebuds/… I don't plan on trying them myself, at least not at the moment, but they do look interesting, especially in light of the topic here.
    – AaronD
    Commented Dec 2, 2016 at 7:13

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