MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Why can't people recognize their own voice on tape/video recordings?

Date: Wed Mar 21 04:38:20 2001
Posted By: Bruno Putzeys, Staff, Electroacoustics and Analog Electronics, Philips ITCL
Area of science: Physics
ID: 984607398.Ph


The reason is that people always hear their own voice differently from 
what it really sounds like. When you speak, part of the sound (that which 
others hear as well) goes through the air outside the head and enters the 
ear in the normal way. However, the ear also picks up sounds from inside 
the head due to vibrations in the flesh and skull (tap your own head and 
compare the sound to tapping someone else's). Of course, the vocal cords 
and the air inside the throat will cause such vibrations and the sound you 
hear is the sum of outside sound through air and inside sound through the 
skull and flesh.
Eustach's tube (a thin air duct between the throat and the inner ear that 
allows inside pressure to equalise with outside pressure) does not come in 
to play here, since it is closed when you speak normally. When you yawn 
you do sometimes hear sound coming in that way, but otherwise not.

A curious side-note there is that when you are often confronted with your 
own voice in recordings (singers, radio hosts) you stop noticing the 
difference after a short while.



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