Can a Microphone Make You Sound Better?

Many people report feeling unpleasantly surprised when they hear their voices in a recording, and they figure it may have something to do with the limited capabilities of the recording device’s integrated microphone.

If you’re reading these lines, you might wonder whether a good-quality freestanding microphone could make your voice more pleasant to the ear. In this short article, we’ll attempt to give a comprehensive answer to this question.

Can a Microphone Make You Sound Better?

Generally speaking, a microphone can alter the sound of your voice depending on its quality, type, and the way it’s set up. Some standalone microphones can pick up specific frequencies and vibrations not normally captured by regular built-in microphones. Hence, you may expect your voice to be endowed with a richer color and a warmer tone.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that you may still feel unsatisfied by the sound, even when recording with a top-tier microphone. This could be tied to other reasons not wholly related to the properties of the sound but to the quality of the delivery.

Why Do We Sound “Worse” on a Recording?

There are numerous variables that intervene when we analyze our recorded voice, and you might want to be aware of them before trying out a new microphone. These are:

Physical / Psychological

The sound we hear in our head as we speak is not the same sound detected by external sources.

When you produce vocal sounds, your cochlea (the inner ear’s cavity) picks up your skull’s vibrations through the “temporal bone” (the structure that surrounds the middle and inner ear). This internal system amplifies certain frequencies and nuances that only your inner ear can discern. For the record, this also explains why you can still hear yourself even when you shut your ears.

Then, there’s the psychological facet that plays into why we feel underwhelmed when listening to our own voice on an external device. It’s the same principle that operates when we look at photographs of ourselves and compare our image with the one reflected in the mirror. Our mind will struggle to recognize our face in the picture because it’s more used to the inverted mirror look.

In a similar fashion, the mind initially can’t make sense of the sounds of our voice without the added vibrations. After enough exposure, it will begin to make the proper associations so that the shock factor is diminished.


While the physical and psychological factors described above play a considerable role in how our voice sounds to ourselves, our recorded voice can also be affected heavily by how we convey the message and the techniques used. These technical aspects can be refined through practice, and they include:

  • Pitch and intonation
  • Articulation / Pronunciation
  • Pacing

Improving upon these parameters will allow you and others to have a much better appreciation for the sound of your own voice, even if, for all intents and purposes, its tonal qualities haven’t changed drastically.


The technological reasons are easier to make sense of. To illustrate, you could easily blame the poor quality of your recorded voice on the input or output device, as well as the audio mixing console, the DAW (digital audio workstation), and the cables.

Before deciding whether to buy a new microphone, make sure you’re listening to the recording with the right output gadget or that you’re utilizing fully functional recording equipment/software.

This segues into our next topic:

Types of Microphones and How They Impact Your Voice

As of this writing, there are three major microphone types, namely:

  • Condenser microphones
  • Dynamic microphones
  • Lavalier microphones

We’ll begin with the most recommended type for voiceover work, which is:

Condenser Microphone

Condenser microphones contain a lightweight diaphragm that oscillates freely with the sound waves. This allows them to capture almost every vibration in their immediate surroundings with extreme ease. For this reason, they have the widest frequency response out of all the other types available.

Nevertheless, be mindful that condenser microphones are only fitting for highly controlled and soundproofed environments, such as recording studios, and fare poorly in crowded and noisy locales, owing to those same traits we just outlined.

Condenser microphones are the ideal type for voice actors, as these devices can grant their voice a fuller tone and tend to have a flat frequency response, so they’re equally sensitive to all frequency ranges.

When shopping for condenser microphones for your home studio, you’ll encounter two main variants:

  • Large-diaphragm microphones are usually the best choice for vocal work, as they can emulate the way your voice sounds in your head with much more accuracy, closing the gap between your “real voice” and your “perceived voice.” They also have less self-noise than their small-diaphragm counterparts.
  • Small-diaphragm microphones are suited for capturing pure and natural sounds and, for this reason, are employed heavily for instrument and ensemble tracks.

Judging from these descriptions, a large-diaphragm condenser could conceivably be your best option, though there is no set rule. Some voiceover actors feel more comfortable with a small-diaphragm condenser since it meets their specific requirements, whichever they may be.

Dynamic Microphone

Dynamic microphones are the oldest type on the list. They operate through electromagnetism, converting sound waves into voltage upon hitting the diaphragm, which vibrates and interacts with a permanent magnet underneath. The magnet is wound by a metal coil that works as a conductor.

Dynamic microphones are useful for loud venues, and they do a decent job of augmenting the nearest sounds they pick. Alas, these microphones are more handicapped when handling subtler vibrations as they’re less sensitive to signals. In consequence, they’re not the most appropriate for voice recordings, especially if you want to seize the full range of your vocal performance.

Lavalier Microphone

Lavalier microphones are designed for talking heads or people who require a less obstructive and obtrusive amplifier in order to move around more freely. These are discreet devices that can be clipped to clothing for free-hand operation.

If your aim is to do voice acting, lavalier microphones may not be the best alternative, as they won’t offer the same returns as those of “regular” microphones (especially condensers).

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