Voice for radio? New research reveals it's in the cords

New research from the University of Sydney Voice Research Laboratory has discovered unique vocal cord vibration patterns might be the secret behind a good radio voice.

The world-first study filmed the vocal folds of 16 male performers, including announcers, broadcasters, newsreaders and voice-over artists and found their vocal folds move and close faster than non-broadcasters.

Speech pathologists, Dr Cate Madill and Dr Samantha Warhurst from the Faculty of Health Sciences, said the research reveals radio performers close their vocal folds with greater speed and force than non-broadcasters. This may be because they have better control of the tension in their vocal folds while speaking.

"Most radio voices are unique in their depth, warmth or resonance but until recently we have been unable to pinpoint what is happening physically with the vocal folds to achieve these qualities," Dr Madill said.

"This research has uncovered a possible cause for this distinctive sound."

The study used a high-speed videoendoscopy camera—technology commonly used to diagnose voice disorders—to examine the vocal folds of healthy performers. The camera, inserted via the mouth, was able to capture 4000 frames a second and allowed the researchers to measure the performer's vocal folds vibrating at a speed greater than 90 times per second.

"When you speak, a stream of air comes up from your lungs to the trachea and larynx and makes your vocal folds vibrate, open and close. The vibration pattern of the when the air comes out of your mouth determines how your voice sounds," Dr Madill said.

"While the control group had equal opening and closing times, the male broadcasters closed their vocal cords much more quickly."

Dr Samantha Warhurst said the study, published in PLOS ONE, follows on from previous work by the University of Sydney Voice Research Laboratory which explored the acoustic differences between radio voices working across public and commercial stations.

"Unlike singers and other performers who use visual cues, are one of the only professions which rely entirely on their voice to communicate their message," Dr Warhurst said.

"This research gives us some significant clues on how a good voice for radio might be trained."

Related Stories

Beatboxing poses little risk of injury to voice

date Dec 23, 2013

You might think that beatboxing, with its harsh, high-energy percussive sounds, would be harder on the voice than the sweet song of a soprano. But according to new research by voice expert Dr. H. Steven Sims ...

Koalas' low-pitched voice explained by unique organ

date Dec 02, 2013

The pitch of male koalas' mating calls is about 20 times lower than it should be, given the Australian marsupial's relatively small size. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Dec ...

Voice prostheses can help patients regain their lost voice

date Oct 24, 2012

Help is on the way for people who suffer from vocal cord dysfunction. Researchers are developing methods that will contribute to manufacturing voice prostheses with improved affective features. For example, for little girls ...

Recommended for you

The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

date 1 hour ago

Article Spotlight features summaries written in collaboration with authors of recently published articles by the Journals Program of the American Psychological Association. The articles are nominated by the editors as noteworthy ...

Demi Lovato gets vocal about mental illness

date 4 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Demi Lovato huddled in the back of her tour bus, eyes wet with tears as she watched a horde of fans streaming into the venue where she was about to play.

Acquiring 'perfect' pitch may be possible for some adults

date 4 hours ago

If you're a musician, this sounds too good to be true: University of Chicago psychologists have been able to train some adults to develop the prized musical ability of absolute pitch, and the training's effects ...

How men and women see each other when online dating

date 6 hours ago

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn't stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International ...

We trust kids to know what gender they are

date 7 hours ago

I will start by asking two questions: at what age did you know your gender, and do you think someone else had to tell you what it was? I'm director of mental health at a leading gender clinic in the US. Our clinic is a half-decade old – and in that short pe ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.