Why Does My Voice Sound Bad Recorded?
If you're reading this post, you're probably worried that you are an absolutely awful singer. You might have thought you were okay but then recorded yourself and wanted to crawl away into a hole and never come out again.
It's alright, you are not alone.
Now here's the bit that'll make you feel a whole lot better. Your voice sounds different recorded than it does in real life and usually for the better.
Although, if you're utterly convinced that it IS that your voice sounds terrible and you want to explore the possibility of getting better, head this way for some free training.
CHECK OUT THE VID BELOW FOR EVIDENCE
The Distortion of Sound is a short documentary explaining how recordings are put together and how compressed songs files such as mp3s aren't giving the listener the proper experience of the music.
If you have 22 minutes, make sure you watch the whole thing because it's fascinating (and the first section will particularly interest songwriters), but if you're time poor skip to about 11.10 where you can hear the difference in the vocals.
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WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOUR VOICE
Compressing music into a small digital file means taking some of the colour out of it or as described in the video "the emotion and the life out of music."
It flattens the sound and we lose a lot of the richness in tone which makes our voice sound unique.
We're often already critical of the sound of our own voice but when we hear it back on our phone or a tape recorder we are even more devastated because we're losing the elements of our voice that we connect with.
AND ANOTHER THING...
There are sounds bouncing around in your head that your microphone or recording device can't even hear. We hear the vibrations of sound through our eardrums but also through bone conduction (when the vibrations bypass the eardrum and go straight to our inner ear).
This means that the sound we're hearing has both air-conducted elements (which the mic can pick up on) and bone-conducted (which it can't).
WHAT YOU SHOULD AND SHOULDN'T USE RECORDINGS FOR
If you're recording your lessons or your practice sessions, firstly - go you brave thing! It can be hard for us to listen to our mistakes and learn from them, so it's fantastic that you're doing that.
But that's all you should really be using them for.
You'll be able to hear constriction or cracking or breathiness and other obvious technical hurdles that you can work on but please don't judge the quality of tone based on a recording on your iPhone.
WHAT YOU CAN DO INSTEAD
A better way to get an idea of your tone doesn't need any technology at all (going old school here). Cup your hands around the backs of your ears with your elbows straight out in front of you.
You'll notice that when you start to sing you can hear yourself better because the sound is bouncing back off your arms towards you. It's a pretty cool trick if you don't mind looking like a monkey!
The other option is of course to work with a microphone and amp if you have one and you'd like some more arm mobility for extreme dance moves or crowd-pleasing gestures.
WHAT IF YOU STILL DON'T LIKE WHAT YOU HEAR?
Your singing voice can always be improved my dear! There are so many little adjustments you can make with how you breathe, how you stand and how you shape your lips, tongue and mouth that have a huge impact on the way it sounds.
That's why people learn singing technique, to figure it out and to have the know how to be able to adjust their sound depending on the style or tone they want. Cool huh?
Still pretty sure it's your actual voice that needs a bit of work?
Luckily I have a Kickstarter Pack with free workshops and downloads to help.