Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing? - Singing Success (2023)

Before you ask yourself “does my singing voice sound awful?” remember this crucial concept:Multifactorial– involving or dependent on a number of factors or causes.While this term typically refers to medical diagnosis, it can be a helpful term when considering how your recorded voice sounds to your own ears.Below is a list of these considerations that we’ll be discussing in the following points. Some of these factors, you can help or change. Some are up to individual listeners.Some may have to do with psychology, ability, sound perception, nutrition, lack of sleep, lack of practice, sore throat, over used speaking voice on day of recording, dehydration, wrong microphone having a bad day, wrong technique or training, singing the wrong song, emotion, experience, production (types of instruments in the arrangement, who is your producer?), genre of music, expectations and ‘does the song fit your voice?’The quickest answer I usually give singers that they don’t have a good warm up routine for the studio. This assumes the voice sounds good already. Only you know when your voice is warmed up enough to begin singing. Although great coaches can tell—if educated and truly listening as they warm you up.Read on for details on how to fix this issue!Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing? - Singing Success (1)

Is It Me? Do I Just Sound Bad?

Remember me talking aboutperception? To gain understanding of the variouspossibilities, let’s start here:

yes… you LEGITIMATELY sound bad

The first consideration should be your tone and articulation. If you don’t sound bad and you have general sense of style or personality in your voice, then usually the voice can be fixed. Even, and especially, if you sing off key. Fixing pitch is easier than fixing performance.A great producer can often drag (sounds harsh, but yes… DRAG) out a decent vocal performance out of a somewhat gifted singer.A vocal coach can do this too, though we all may approach this differently. Some come at it from technique only, while others simply want a believable performance. I believe in both!Your singing voice is different in the studio than on a stage, in your shower, bedroom, outside alone or on stage.Sometimes…. recordings don’t lie.Your vocal cords are weak and your limited training, practice, discipline and understanding could prematurely cause you to think you just have a bad voice. But there’s a difference between a bad singer and a bad voice. The first is easier to train and fix. The second is extremely rare. Meaning…. EVERYONE can improve and at least NOT sound awful.Remember this, an untrained wild horse might look good in a luxury car commercial, but they don’t win races. An untrained voice sounds different to an audience than to yourself.

no…you’re just your own worse critic

Your recordings actually sound good, but hearing your actual voice recorded for the first time throws you off.My own daughter has one of the most amazing recorded voices I’ve ever produced. And that was at 12. And yes…she’s my daughter and#1-Parents are supposed to love their own kid’s voices and yet some are overly harsh to their own children out of jealousy or wanting to discourage them, so they’ll do something else. So, parents aren’t always the most objective surveyors of talent.#2- She has an advantage being the daughter of vocal coach, so of course she’s going to be good. But this isn’t true. She worked her butt off, sometimes singing 3 to 4 hours a day before her tone became compelling.#3- She has unusual genetics, which is true. But without the work, she wouldn’t have gotten there and has drastically improved over the years.So my point is that she sometimes cringes when she listens to her recorded voice, though her friends are literally shocked at how good she is.The problem is in perception of sound as we’ll continue to discuss. If you expect to sound like Aretha Franklin, but sound more like Adele, you might be disappointed. Even if everyone loves your voice. It’s the initial shock of “gosh, I thought I sounded totally different than I actually do.”

do you hear what i hear?

No, you don’t. If you plug your ears and sing, you’ll hear the resonance of your inner ears. But this is why I always tell singers…. “your inner ear is a liar”. More on this in the section titledSimply, the resonance your inner ears (also via your eustachian tubes which vary in levels and density of mucous) sounds different from room resonance and acoustics.Consider this also, the microphone, the pre amp, how close you stand to the mic, the effects, the compression and the eq can drastic effect your tone. You could get a completely different effect from changing just ONE of these factors.Also, everyone hears music differently because the shape of ears, the size of your inner ear structures and the sounds your ears are used to hearing will shape your musical perception.In other words, everyone has different musical taste and the sound of your voice could be loved by one person and hated by another. It’s a fact you must face and move on. Don’t get mad if someone you know hates cinnamon and you love it. That’s just for you! 😉Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing? - Singing Success (2)


Imagine running a marathon without taking a single drink of water, Gatorade or some hydrating liquid. You really can’t, can you.But too often, I’m called into the recording studio to coach an artist—sometimes an artist signed to a record label—is in the studio with a tiny 6 oz water bottle of which he’s only taken 2 sips. His voice sounds scratchy and tight. His tone is strident and he is straining for notes he typically hits easily. We hydrate, wait 30 minutes, reset his voice with some simple exercises and he sounds MUCH better!Important note: watch for my blog on hydration.For now, realize that water is asolvent, which means it cleanses and flushes out toxins from the body, so without trace minerals, it’s not going to necessarily hydrate you. Hydration has many factors (there’s that words again).Too much water can be a problem, because you can getwaterloggedorover-hydrated.This condition can actually be DEADLY. Recently, a radio station had a water drinking contest where a listener drank 2 gallons of water in short amount of time…. and tragically…. she died! How horrible and yet unpredictable.It’s important to do a search for a ‘water calculator’ to see how much water you should be drinking daily in proportion to your weight and activity level. But seek out good mineral water or even add a small pinch of pink mineral salt added to purified water.But whenever possible, avoid tap water or water from a plastic water bottle. Glass is more preferable.Finally, be aware of foods that are more likely to cause dehydration, like food additives like MSG and other Excitotoxins, which—according to PubMed—a class of chemicals (usually amino acids) that overstimulate neuron receptors.The result is often unquenchable thirst. Avoid these. Also cigarette smoke, excessive or hard alcohol. Typically red wine or hard liquor cause dehydration worse than beer. But any inebriation (excessive alcohol intake or drunkenness) will make you a sloppy singer anyway. Practice moderation.Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing? - Singing Success (3)

Singing Incorrectly

Bad technique frustrates.One thing I’ve said over and over is that you need to trust your voice. Great technique should drastically improve pitch, duration and quality. This means that you have a connected voice (no breaks) between head and chest voice through a developed blend of both qualities. In other words, a mixed voice.The mixed voice is the most commercially compelling and safe sound a singer can develop for upper mid range notes. The vocal cords (also called vocal folds) receive less torque and tension. Yet the blended registers improve pitch and tone because this obeys the laws of physics.This means the swallowing muscles under your chin, towards the top of your neck, should not be flexed or rigid. The vocal cords should have been coordinated in your vocal warm up with your coach or with a systematic vocal training like the international best-seller I’ve authored, titled “Singing Success” which will train and coordinate every part of your voice from technique to style, as well as application of both to a song.Also,the way you warm up is the way you’re going to sing.Don’t compromise!

How We Hear Own Voice in Our Head Is Not How Others Hear It

As mentioned earlier, the inner ear is a distortion from what the audience hear. Also something called bone conduction, the way we sound in our heads is not how others hear us.

When Sounding Awful Isn’t the Fault of Your Voice

When the environment, headphones, mic and other equipment suck…. step back. It’s not necessarily your fault. A great vocal coach and a reputable producer mitigate (reduce) this risk. If you sing out of tune and listen back and not one is there to critique singing, you might hearing yourself wrongly.Also, I’ve heard recordings where the singers were great, but someone forgot to tune his guitar. 🤔

Low-Quality Microphones Won’t Do You Justice

You don’t have to spend a lot on a good microphone. Most music stores that sell mics will allow you to test out their microphones to see which fits your voice type. Also, recording studios should have a few condenser, tube and dynamic mics to test out. You’ll hear a dramatic difference from 1 microphone to the next.Also, some mics record high pitch tones better. If you talk into the mic first and then sing into the same mic, you’ll notice the difference.The exception is that some folks singing into a voice memo on an a smart phone can blow your mind. They are rare, so use every advantage!Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing? - Singing Success (4)

Not Using Pop Filters Can Affect the Way a Recorded Voice Sounds

A pop filter is placed in front of a microphone to lesson percussive or plosive consonants from being too abrasive. They soften your approach so that there’s no sudden boom in your vocal tone. The picture at the top of this article shows a pop filter.

Bad Recording Software

Not all recording devices or recording software is created equally. A recording device typically needs an interface to convert analog vocal sounds into digital. For example, Garage band plugs straight into the USB port, including a USB microphone.But if you sound bad recorded, you’ve compromised your singing. If you want folks to listen to your true voice sound or tone, you songs, the reflection of your life, my personal recommendation is to wait to be heard only after you record on a microphone worthy of your voice.Also, do NOT let out bad recordings. Some times we thing singers suck when they are really just recording on a cheap microphone or have hired a bad producer. Singers stand strong!I could give an entire lecture on this. But for now, my go to list for recording vocals:

  • Pro Tools- Industry standard and loaded with technical tools. Very high end super powerful for recording acoustic instruments. Very pure sound.
  • Logic- Extremely user friendly and great for programming beats and other synth related music. Simple presets to give your voice an edge in tonality.
  • Reason- Most underrated and yet distinctly professional sounds. Costly, but one of my favorite.
  • Cubase- Used alot for indie music and rock. Very user friendly.

Runner ups are the free programs:

  • Garageband- the cheap, simplified version of Logic. Requires great skill to capture a usable sound. Good for demos but sound quality is thin.
  • Cakewalk- Considered best free program by a lot of beat makers.
  • Audacity- Open source program which means this could be a darkhorse. A pleasant surprise for those looking for something with differentiation.

The Recording Environment

Sometimes the recording environment is not conducive to a recording session-it’s important to be in a quiet environment with minimal external noise. Don’t lose hope. Imagine yourself in your favorite practicing room. If you choose the wrong places to practice singing, your singing might be unpolished as well. Especially if you are hearing yourself sing with distraction.Good singing isn’t enough. A good singer and a great song?! Not enough. Need VIBE!Why Do I Sound Bad When I Record Myself Singing? - Singing Success (5)


Sound waves travel through the atmosphere much differently than through a microphone and headphones. Very few people are condemned with a bad, tone deaf, singing voice. You might sound awful, but most singers don’t know their true voice sound yet.Also, if your legitimately not improving, you’re just practicing your mistakes. Listen to your recordings. Does your singing talent actually need coaching? I think we all want to sound better. You can, by becoming aVIP memberand studying with our coaches. Both are not required, but you HAVE to start sometime. Procrastination is fantasy of the foolish. We want to make you great.To schedule a private one-on-one session call or email us at:615-866-1099support@singingsuccess.com


Why do I sound good singing to myself but bad when I record? ›

The primary reason your recorded voice sounds so bad is that you are used to hearing your own voice after the sound has vibrated through your head. When you hear it after the sound has traveled through the air from a speaker it sounds very different.

Why does my singing voice sound weird on recording? ›

Since you're missing the part of the sound that comes from bone conduction within the head, your voice sounds different to you on a recording. When you speak and hear your own voice inside your head, your head bones and tissues tend to enhance the lower-frequency vibrations.

Why do I hate the sound of my own singing voice? ›

If you're hating the sound of your voice, it often means that you're trying to push your sound through to get a certain tonal quality or note. And when you're doing this it's causing you to constrict in some way. So it's not going to sound great.

How can I make my singing voice sound better on a recording? ›

In addition, following some basic guidelines listed below will help you form good habits in the name of professional sounding vocals.
  1. Make Sure the Singer Warms Up. ...
  2. Choose the Right Mic. ...
  3. Consider Room Acoustics. ...
  4. Make Them Comfortable. ...
  5. Take Time over the Headphone Mix. ...
  6. Use a Pop Filter. ...
  7. Avoiding Sibilance. ...
  8. Easy on the Reverb.

Is my recorded voice my real voice? ›

When recorded, you might hear your voice sound shallower than you're used to. This is because the recordings are not affected by the internal resonance and bone conduction that affects how your voice sounds. However, the way your voice sounds on recordings is the way people perceive it in real life.

Why does my singing voice sound childish? ›

If you sound like a child, it is most likely that you are not using enough diaphragm support to release your singing voice in a relaxed mode; instead you constrict your throat more, in order to squeeze out your voice.

Does listening to good singers make you a better singer? ›

There's a lot to learn when you listen to world-class singers. All the elements of style: Vowel color, rhythmic phrasing, diphthongs, and vibrato. Plus musical vocabulary — melodic variation and licks. When you're first learning any skill, it's all about imitation.

How do you know if your voice is good for singing? ›

You can check your tonal sensitivity by taking a test online at tonedeaf.com, this will help you see if you have a natural ear for music. You can also test your vocal range too. This is one of the best tests because it helps you to find out what vocal range you have and what songs are best for your voice.

Do singers think their voice sounds bad? ›

So, yes, many singers hate their voice.

If you were expecting chocolate milk but actually took a sip of Coca-Cola, you might be surprised but not necessarily disappointed. It's the same idea with your voice. Just because you're expecting one sound and you don't get it, it doesn't mean that sound is automatically bad.

Do singers cringe when they hear their own voice? ›

Question : Is it normal for a singer to dislike the sound of their own voice? Answer : Yes it is totally normal — and not just for singers, but most people don't like the sound of their voice when they hear it on a recording and you are definitely not alone if hearing your own voice makes you cringe.

Do professional singers hate their own voice? ›

It's a common phenomenon among singers and vocalists to feel like they don't quite sound the way they want to when they hear their own voice. This feeling of dissatisfaction with one's own singing or speaking voice is often referred to as “voice shame,” and it can be incredibly difficult for singers who experience it.

How do I fix poorly recorded vocals? ›

Tips for Repairing Bad Recordings
  1. Use LEVELS To Identify Problems In The Mix.
  2. Use Editing Tools To Tighten Up Performance Issues.
  3. Use a High-Pass Filter to Remove Unwanted Low End.
  4. Use a Surgical EQ to Isolate and Remove Resonances.
  5. Use a De-Esser to Prevent Harshness and Sibilance.
Jan 5, 2021

What can I drink to sing better? ›

The best drinks before singing are warm drinks without caffeine or milk, warm water and herbal teas containing manuka honey, lemon and ginger are ideal. Warm or room-temperature water will hydrate your vocal cords, making them more supple and less liable to injury.

Why do I cringe when I hear my voice in a recording? ›

The anatomy of the skull makes it so that if we are hearing our own voice live, we truly do hear it differently than a recording. The cognitive dissonance of hearing a voice that your conscious brain knows is yours but not automatically recognizing yourself is perfectly natural: but it makes us uncomfortable.

Why does my voice sound higher when recorded? ›

Those vibrations travel up through your bony skull and again set the ear drum vibrating. However as they travel through the bone they spread out and lower in pitch, giving you a false sense of bass. Then when you hear a recording of your voice, it sounds distinctly higher.

Why do I sound like a little kid when I sing? ›

If you sound like a child, it is most likely that you are not using enough diaphragm support to release your singing voice in a relaxed mode; instead you constrict your throat more, in order to squeeze out your voice.

Is it good to record yourself singing? ›

It can help you improve faster.

Recording yourself allows you to stand in the observer role and REALLY hear yourself. If you do this daily or even a few times each week, you'll be surprised by just how much you are able to hear, evaluate, and correct by yourself. This will help you make progress by leaps and bounds.

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