Probably the single most common thing said to me by people who meet me for the first time is some variation of “you’d be a perfect radio host, you have the perfect voice for it.” But when I hear my own voice, I don’t particularly like the way my voice sounds. Matt Soniak attempts to explain why:
The inner ear doesn’t get stimulated only by external sound waves coming down the ear canal, though. It also picks up on vibrations happening inside the body, and it’s a combination of these two things that make up the sound you hear when you talk.
When you speak, vibrations from your vocal cords resonate in your throat and mouth, and some get transmitted and conducted by the bones in your neck and head. The inner ear responds to these just like any other vibrations, turning them into electrical signals and sending them to the brain. Whenever you speak, your inner ear is stimulated both by internal vibrations in your bones and by the sound coming out of your mouth and traveling through the air and into the ears.
This combination of vibrations coming to the inner ear by two different paths lends your voice as you normally hear it a unique character that other, “air only” sounds don’t have. In particular, your bones enhance deeper, lower-frequency vibrations and give your voice a fuller, bassier quality that’s lacking when you hear it on a recording.
Okay, but that would explain why we think our voices are deeper and fuller than they really are. But my situation is the opposite — other people who aren’t inside my head hear my voice as deeper and more sonorous than I do. The Ed in your head sounds better than the Ed in my head. I’m still stumped on why that is.