voice in headWhen you get a new microphone, you may be tempted to reach for the equalizer controls on your mixer, so you can dial in the sound until your voice sounds “just right” in your headphones.

Don’t fall into this trap!

Remember the first time you heard a recording of your voice? You probably said “that doesn’t sound like me!” Well, of course it sounded like you… you were finally hearing your voice the same way that everyone has been hearing you. Why did it sound so different?

The voice that everyone else hears is comprised of several elements, the sound coming from your mouth, mixed with sounds coming from your nose, as well as vibrations from your face and chest. But you are also hearing the sounds from the inside. The chest and nasal resonance are louder in proportion to the actual voice, and they are directly vibrating your eardrums. Then the outside sound hits your ears, and it all gets mixed together. You are hearing a very different “mix” of all the components than what is being sent to the “outside world.”

If you adjust your mic’s sound to suit your own ears, your decisions will be affected by your own internal sound mix. The better way to approach the situation is to record yourself talking, then make adjustments while listening to playback of that recording. Adjust only one element at a time. Say something like “I am speaking to my new microphone with the equalization set to flat… now I am speaking with an adjustment of 5dB boost at 200 Hz… now I am speaking with an adjustment of 10 dB boost at 200 Hz.”

You will easily determine which setting works for that particular adjustment. Write it down, and move on to the next part that you want to tweak.

This method takes a bit longer, but the result is that you will accurately know how your voice will sound to the rest of the world when they hear your work.

Continue to listen to yourself in headphones as you work. It’s the most effective way to hear if you have drifted off-mic, or if something has gone wrong with the recording. Just don’t use the “live” monitoring to judge critical adjustments to the character of the sound.

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