Voice Acting

The Male Voice & How to Describe It 

Keaton Robbins | May 19, 2023

A main with black hair and a beard is wearing headphones and smiling towards the camera.

The voice is our most powerful instrument. 

Through our voices, we have the capacity to communicate, sing, express ourselves, and defend our values. According to research, 18% of musicians are singers, meaning the voice is also the second most popular instrument (after the violin). 

In this article

  1. What is the Male Voice?
  2. Qualities of the Male Voice 
  3. The Biology of the Male Voice
  4. Social Characteristics of the Male Voice
  5. The Male Singing Voice 
  6. Types of Male Voice
  7. Male vs. Female Voices 
  8. Wrapping Up

Understanding the complexities of voices is essential to master your own voice. Whether you are a man or a woman, your voice is unique—research suggests that everyone has a distinct voice.

However, men’s and women’s voices differ in several important ways—and the male voice has distinct features that set it apart from the rest.

If you’re a singer, voice actor, or voice-over professional, you must know how the male voice functions to describe it adequately. 

Use this guide to the male voice to learn everything you need to know about this beautiful instrument and its capabilities. 

What is the Male Voice?

The human voice is a unique apparatus. It cries, sings, speaks, and shouts. It performs many functions—but one may ask how does it work?

The vocal mechanism involves coordinated movements between muscles, organs, and several other structures in the head, chest, and abdomen. The vocal cords vibrate as the air courses through the larynx in the throat, releasing a unique sound to all of us. 

Voices are typically categorized according to four main categories:

  • Pitch
  • Range
  • Register
  • Quality

Although every voice is different, male and female agents differ in several important ways. 

The male voice is typically associated with men—male humans with XY chromosomes, who have testes and produce sperm—while the female voice is familiar to women, female human beings with XX chromosomes which make ovaries and eggs. 

While this distinction is essential in biology, many people can adjust their voices with the help of vocal training with a vocal coach and hormone replacement therapy (HRT). As a result, some people born female have male voices and vice versa. 

Ultimately, the voices of male-born persons typically share specific characteristics, which you will find detailed below. 

Qualities of the Male Voice 

You’ve likely heard a male voice, but you might find it difficult to describe. 

Most male voices are more profound than those of women. Although men and women typically have an average vocal range of two octaves, men have a lower pitch than women. 

The familiar male voice lies in the pitch range of 85 hertz to 180 hertz, while the female pitch ranges from 165 to 255 hertz. 

Although men and women have similar ranges, male voice ranges are occasionally slighter smaller than women’s. 

According to research, men are perceived as having more forceful voices, typically because they speak more loudly, forcing more air from the larynx and through the vocal cords. 

Male voices are often described as being more: 

  • Gruff
  • Deep
  • Low
  • Confident 
  • Gravelly 
  • Authoritative 
  • Confident 

In music, male voice types are typically divided into categories based on the vocal ranges. These categories include countertenor, tenor, baritone, and bass. We’ll discuss these categories more at length later in the article. 

Lastly, scientists have developed a system of adjectives to describe the voice. These are:

  • Aphonic
  • Bleat
  • Breathy
  • creaky
  • Diplophonic
  • Flutter
  • Hoarse (raspy)
  • Honky
  • Jitter pitch
  • Nasal (see honky)
  • Pulsed (fried)
  • Resonant (ringing)
  • Rough
  • Shimmer
  • Strained
  • Strohbass
  • Tremendous
  • Twangy
  • Ventricular
  • Wobble
  • Yawny

The Biology of the Male Voice

The biology of the voice can be localized in three general areas of the body.

First, the lungs pump air throughout the airways, producing airflow.

Then, the vocal cords vibrate, using airflow from the lungs to generate audible pulses that then eventually form the sound source.

Subsequently, the muscles in the larynx, an organ in the airway, adjust the length and tension of the vocal cords, ultimately determining tone and pitch. 

Lastly, the lips, cheeks, tongue, and palate move-in coordination to articulate the sounds coming from the larynx. 

The differences in male and female voices are mainly due to biological distinctions in these organs.

First, men and women tend to have differently-sized vocal folds. Because men have more prominent vocal folds, they can produce a lower pitch. On the other hand, women have shorter vocal folds and a higher pitch. 

Additionally, the male larynx drops lower down the neck during puberty, causing the vocal tract to elongate by nearly 15%. This causes resonance frequencies to lower, generating the difference between male and female voices. 

Lastly, when testosterone floods the male body during puberty, the voice box grows more extensive, and the bones in the nose, sinuses, and the cavities in the back of the throat grow more prominent, causing the voice to echo more deeply. 

While some vocal differences are rooted in biology, others are social. Men are conditioned to speak loudly and in a lower, gruff tone than women.

On the other hand, when men spend more time around women, their voices occasionally change slightly to accommodate this new way of speaking. Although biology plays a vital role in voice formation, it isn’t the only factor. 

Social Characteristics of the Male Voice

Your voice can determine how others perceive you.

While social factors influence the voice, one says it also, in turn, affects others’ perceptions. 

Human voice research has reached several important conclusions about the impact of the male voice. 

For example, researchers have found that male and female leaders with more traditionally masculine (i.e., lower-pitched) voices tended to have higher approval rates. Men, in particular, tended to prefer leaders with male voices. 

Experts have also determined that falling intonation (as seen in men) tended to create the illusion of a more confident voice, which most participants preferred.

Others found that men lowered their register when threatened by other men, and researchers determined that threats delivered in a lower record were more effective in disarming the opponent. 

Deep-voiced men are also more likely to be perceived as attractive by women, to mate more frequently, father more children, and occupy positions of power.

Lastly, men with deep voices are perceived to be more socially dominant, creating further opportunities for them. 

Because of the above, many men aim to speak in lower tones, aligning with the dominant trait. 

The Male Singing Voice 

In music, the male voice is divided into four voice types.

A voice type is a group of voices with similar ranges capable of singing similar music with similar transition points throughout the tune. Although vocal classification is a traditional European classical methodology, it has come to identify male voices worldwide.

Types of Male Voice

The four male voice types are:

  • Countertenor: The countertenor is the highest-pitched male voice, similar to the female contralto (E3-E5). 
  • Tenor: The tenor is the second-highest pitched voice and covers C3-C5. This is the most popular vocal range for operatic performance. Luciano Pavarotti is a tenor. 
  • Baritone: The baritone is the second-lowest voice range, covering A2 to A4. This is the most popular vocal range for villains and the vocal range of Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.
  • Bass: The lowest vocal range, bass, hovers between E2 to E4. Morgan Freeman is a bass, as are many older, wise characters in Hollywood.

Some vocalists include the bass-baritone range, which lies between the baritone and the base. 

Male vs. Female Voices 

Male voices and female voices differ in many important ways. Gender affects the pitch, range, and frequency of the vote, and the vocal types for men and women vary according to this distinction. Male and female voices vary according to the following characteristics.

  1. Pitch: Men have a lower angle, while women tend to have a higher pitch. The male pitch range is between an A2 to C3 octave, while the female pitch range is A3 to C4. Male voices typically come in at 60 hertz to 180 hertz, while women have a pitch of 160 hertz to 300 hertz resulting in a rather shrill voice.
  2. Articulation: Men generally speak more forcefully than women, who talk with a soft voice.
  3. Intonation: Refers to how much the voice rises and falls, and men tend to have more limited intonation ranges than women. Their voices are often perceived to be less expressive as a result.
  4. Non-Verbal Communication: Men and women typically move their mouths slightly differently due to biological differences, and men are more likely to use gestures to express themselves. 

The differences between male and female voices are mainly due to biology. Men have more prominent vocal folds than women, and their voice boxes expand after puberty, causing more reverberation in the vocal tract. 

Moreover, pubescent males also experience an elongating larynx, causing the voice to deepen—surprisingly, increasing the likelihood of choking hazards.

Although male and female voices are different, many people use vocal coaches to approximate voices of the opposite gender.

Additionally, different medical therapies can change a person’s voice’s pitch and vocal range. 

Lastly, environmental factors are often at play. Men who spend more time around women typically have higher-pitched voices, and women in positions of power often try to emulate male voices.

Although differences in voice are grounded in biology, science doesn’t quite explain everything!

Wrapping Up

Voices are as attractive as they are unique.

We all have one, yet they’re as different from one another as the fingerprints on our hands or DNA.

Understanding the differences between male and female voices is advantageous in any environment. For example, studying these characteristics and working with a vocal coach can help you approximate the voice you want. We hope this guide has answered all your queries regarding the male voice and improved your knowledge.

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