Listening to Your Voice: 3 Ways to Get Instant Audio Feedback

There are arguments for and against listening to the sound of one’s own voice.  The biggest argument against listening to how we sound is the innate tendency to dislike our own voices.

Do you remember the first time you heard your voice on a recording?

If you are like most people, it was a strange experience and not altogether believable or pleasant.

For now, let’s assume a healthy, balanced perspective on listening to the voice, and discuss how learning to hear your own voice “in the room” can make a difference in your training goals.

Why listen in the first place?

Since the voice sounds very, very different inside our skulls than “in the room,” it is important to both become comfortable with the sounds we are producing and to realize what sounds we are actually making.

Audio feedback mechanisms are like mirrors for the voice.  Sometimes it helps to look at what we are doing so we can make adjustments faster and with more precision.

3 Voice Feedback Tools

1. The Smartphone

Most smartphones have a voice memo app.  These built-in apps capture great sound and don’t require much memory.  Use your app to sample a few seconds of singing or speaking and then listen back with an open mind.  You will most likely hear all kinds of interesting things, and you can also re-investigate to your heart’s content.

2.  Your hands

Place the heels of your hands together in front of your chin.  Point your fingers back toward your ears, and leave 2 inches between your face and the cups of your hands.  This creates a mini recording booth effect.  Your sound is automatically directed back toward your ears.  Be careful not to over sing, though.  You will get the full force of your volume.

3. HearFones

Before talking HearFones, please note this is a product endorsement because I think these are practical and fun.  No other reasons.  For most people the first experience with HearFones is kinda mind blowing, and several of my clients have experienced mini-voice-epiphanies while using them.

The HearFones give you instant vocal feedback and can be adjusted to account for volume.  They are like being in the vocal booth without the vocal booth.

Of course, using your hands as described in #2 has the same effect as HearFones.  One method is free, the other is hands free.

Want to get a pair for yourself?

An Argument for Voice Lessons

Voice professionals are also a useful and (often) necessary tool for learning to master sound production.  Since we cannot hear what our voices sound like in real time, an expert ear can help guide and shape sound the same way an athletic trainer can fix movement issues in the moment.

I’ve found that practicing alone, listening back to my sound, and professional guidance are all important aspects of successful voice training.  Take one tool away, and the process becomes much more daunting.

(In another post I’ll make sure to address the evils of “over listening” to one’s sound, and how to avoid the god-awful anxiety it can produce.)



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1 Comment

  1. The sound of my voice: I haight it, I haight it, I haight it, was for me my feelings for a long time. I was told to embrace it and with a struggle through time I learned to change my perspective. There are many parts of our being that create our sound and all of them have to be addressed. For me the song is about telling a story, delivering a message, and making a point with a related feeling via prosody. And technique, though relevant became not my primary goal, but the rendering of believability through a connection with my heart.
    Since then, I have redesigned the Hear Phone to materials of wood and paper other than plastic. The sound is softer and more appealing. The mic on my phone is ok, but I redesigned that too to an improved lapel mic with a more flat response. Mems mic technology is here and much improved over the electret mic on our phones. Samsung Galaxy is first to implement them.
    If I could post a picture on this blog, I could share my design ideas. Also the spell check on this blog is in the dark ages:)
    Thank you Liz for raising this topic.
    Rob Ogilvie

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