To make your voice sound older you will need to add some gravel, roughness and bass. You can achieve an older voice by applying methods such as:
- Training your voice with vocal exercises
- Practising speaking from your diaphragm
- Narrowing your glottis
- Using software effects
- Utilizing proximity effect
Combining all these methods will probably give you the best results. So let’s talk about each in more details.
Training your voice with vocal exercises
The first exercise you want to try out is humming. You should create “Ohmmmmm” sound if that makes sense. At first, it could sound a bit nasally. If so, try pushing the vibration towards the throat, you should start feeling it resonating in your throat and it will start sounding deeper.
Another exercise you want to try out is creating “rrrrrrrrr” sound with the tongue. Try pushing the tongue towards the throat to create deeper vibrations. Doing both exercises you will soon make you feel some irritation and warmth in your voice.
It is a fast method to get your voice quickly temporarily deeper and sounding older. However, practising these exercises regularly will provide a permanent deeper and hence older sounding voice. 10 minutes of such exercises daily will enhance your voice and should make a difference.
Another exercise you can try to make yourself sound older than you actually are is yawning. It releases stress from your mouth muscles and relaxed muscles will create a richer, deeper and older voice impression.
Practising it right before starting recording will give you a temporarily older sounding voice similar to previously mentioned exercises.
Speaking from diaphragm
Breathing from the diaphragm is more effective at producing a lot of air since it is deeper breathing compared to when you are breathing using the chest only.
So, how do you know when you are breathing using your diaphragm or chest. When breathing through the diaphragm which is a large muscle right below the chest you will feel as if your stomach is filling in. That is because the diaphragm is expanding and pushing down to allow more air to come in. When you are breathing from the chest it is going to be a quicker more shallow breathing and most notably your chest will rise a lot.
When you are breathing from the diaphragm your chest will rise a bit as well, but it won’t be as noticeable and that is okay. Producing more air will make your voice sound deeper, more confident and older.
At first, you will probably be breathing through your diaphragm only consciously, but after some practice, it is possible to make it an unconscious effort. You can practice breathing through the diaphragm by simply consciously breathing using it.
Also, I mentioned that diaphragm is a muscle which means you can train it. To train diaphragm muscle, lay down on a flat surface such as a bed. Bend your legs through knees and put a heavier book on your belly. Now try breathing using the diaphragm. This exercise will strengthen your diaphragm muscle and make your voice stronger and less squeaky.
Narrowing your glottis
It probably sounds weird, how do you exactly narrow your glottis? And maybe you don’t even know where your glottis is. In reality, it is somewhere where your Adam’s apple is, or if you are a female it is somewhere in the middle of your neck.
What you need to do is try speaking from your throat. You should start sounding a bit more like a batman from Christopher Nolan’s movie. You will notice this harsh, vibrating sound from your throat, it should feel a bit uncomfortable in your throat because it actually is a bit tiresome for your vocal cords.
It is not easy to control gravel voice right off the bat. You will need to practice the voice constantly. Try balancing at what sounds not too much and not too little of gravel, usually, it is the former. Then also try to maintain the same level of gravel. You want to become consistent or it will sound weird if your voice changes once in a while during the recording.
Try not to overdo this exercise as it might damage your vocal cords. You can look at Andrew Clement Serkis acting as a Golumn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. His voice was pretty much destroyed during the filming and he had to constantly drink lemon-honey juice to combat the issue.
Speak closer to the microphone
Speaking close to your microphone will make your voice sound bass-heavy, which is something common for older people.
It is called the proximity effect. To make the most use of proximity effect you should own a dynamic microphone, otherwise, if you are using a condenser microphone the proximity effect is much less prominent. You will notice the closer to the microphone the more bass heavy your voice will sound.
You can find a comprehensive list of microphones in this article.
Software could help you to make your voice sound deeper. Although, I recommend choosing it only as a last resort after you tried all the previous methods.
After all, combining all methods will give you the best results and you can use the software anytime you want. To make your voice sound older than it actually is you will need to apply some EQ.
Try removing sibilance from your voice using de-esser and add some bass by adding some volume in the lower frequencies right up to the 500Hz mark.
Play around with the settings so it sounds the most natural and clean. You can also try using pitch effect which as the name suggests changes the pitch of your voice.
Lower the pitch a tad bit to make yourself sound old. However, be aware that the more effects you apply the less natural your voice will sound. Do it in moderation and you should be happy with the end results.