Devices That Can Change Your Voice on a Microphone

Written by scott shpak
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Devices That Can Change Your Voice on a Microphone
A singer's style can be enhanced by microphones, effects and PA equipment. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

John Lennon of the Beatles, regarded as one of the best singers in rock, hated the sound of his own voice and was constantly imploring producer George Martin to find new ways to change it. The history of recording is filled with developments to make voices sound better: richer, deeper, larger-than-life. Recent advances in technology present more options than ever for altering the sound of a voice for recording or live performance.

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Just as no two voices are alike, not all microphones are created equally. Deep, rich "radio announcer" sound is, in part, created by using mics made for the purpose. Directional microphones (those that are more sensitive in one or two directions) display a characteristic called "proximity effect" that enhances the lower frequencies of voices closer to the mic. So the microphone itself as well as how you use it can have an impact on the overall sound.


The most fundamental change after mic choice and placement is equalisation. Adjusting specific frequencies can not only enhance a vocal, it can create effects such as the sound of a transistor radio. Vocal effects called "exciters" artificially create overtones from the vocal signal to brighten the sound of singing or voiceovers.

Time-Based Effects

Echo and reverb are frequently used methods of changing the sound of voices. Capitol Records' studio in Hollywood was renowned for the sound of the reverb chambers they had built into the ground. Nowadays, digital modelling provides the sound, but reverb and echo remain all but universal. A short-duration echo can create an effect called "artificial double tracking" (ADT), which gives the illusion of a singer performing with herself, creating a full sound.

Pitch Correction

Being "auto-tuned" is all the rage today. Stemming from software algorithms developed by Antares Audio Technologies called Auto-Tune, pitch correction is available in both software and hardware units. Artificial harmonisation is also available in effects, to create two- and three-part harmony from a single voice. Vocorder effects remove pitch from a vocal performance and make a human voice sound robotic.

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