Have you ever wondered why your voice sounds different to you than it does to everyone else?
In this post, we’re going to explain how air and bone conduction contribute to the difference in the sound of your voice.
First, what is air conduction and what is bone conduction?
Air conduction is the process of sound waves travelling “to the inner ear through the ear canal, eardrum, and bones of the middle ear” (1).
Bone conduction is the process of sound waves travelling “through the bones around and behind the ear” (1).
How do air and bone conduction contribute to the difference between how I hear my own voice and how others or recordings hear it?
When you think about it, the reason your voice sounds different to you is pretty obvious: Since the sound comes from inside you, it’s obviously going to sound different.
As you know, the human voice comes from the larynx, otherwise known as the “voice box” (2). Since this is located in your neck—which is connected to and in close proximity to your head and ears—you not only hear the sound of your own voice from your mouth, but you also “feel” it through vibrations in your body (2, 3, 4). As a result, we perceive both the air and bone conduction (vibrations) of our own voices, whereas other people and recording devices only perceive the air conduction (2, 3, 4).
And what is the result of adding bone conduction to how we hear our own voices? We hear a much deeper, fuller sounding voice. Why? Because the “human skull boosts low frequencies and cuts high frequencies”—that is, the skull makes lower pitches sound stronger and higher pitches sound weaker (3, 4). Simple as that!
So, it’s all in our heads…literally. :)
(1)- Definitions for air and bone conduction from The U.S. National Library of Medicine:
(2)- Information about phonation from Eric Armstrong of York University:
(3)- A study of air and bone conduction by Sook Young Won of Stanford University:
(4)- Another study of air and bone conduction by Sook Young Won of Stanford University:
Links to More Information
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