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Mar 30

Why do we sound better singing in the shower?

Even if your family groans when you sing along to the car radio, even if you didn’t make the cut for the choir, and even if you got asked to be the drummer rather than the lead vocalist in your friends’ garage band, you sound exactly like your favorite pop (or opera) star in the shower. How come? And why do we enjoy singing in the shower to begin with?


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Mar 30
First, there’s the psychology and brain chemistry of shower crooning. In the shower, we are behind closed doors (bathroom and shower), water blasting. Under the comforting blanket of hot water and steam, we feel relaxed and unselfconscious. The splashing water also produces negative ions, which are thought to make us happier. And so we are inclined to burst into song, confident that no one can really hear us, anyway. But we probably wouldn’t keep on singing if we didn’t sound so mysteriously good. We can thank shower acoustics for putting us in the running to be the next Bathroom Idol. Scientists say that a shower stall acts a bit like an electronic sound mixer, naturally improving the quality of your singing voice. How it works: The hard tile or glass in most showers absorbs very little sound, bouncing most sound waves right back. (Ordinary ceramic tile reflects about 98 percent of the sound striking it.) As the sound ricochets back and forth between walls in the confined space, your voice is effectively amplified. Presto: instant vocal power. Meanwhile, the shower also acts like a bass booster. A cavelike space such as a shower stall has its own special amplifying frequencies. Sounds that happen to match those frequencies will resonate. In an ordinary, smallish shower, the resonating frequencies fall in the lower range of the human voice. So when you sing low notes, the shower obligingly amplifies those sounds, like turning up the bass on a stereo. Finally, there’s a touch of reverberation. As sound waves bounce around the shower stall, some travel longer paths before entering your ears. This stretches out the sound, like an electric organ played in reverb mode. And the prolonged, echoing notes make your voice sound richer to you. Reverberation also makes you sound like you’re in tune, even when you’re really not. As your voice bounces between the walls (and through the spray of water, where sound waves temporarily accelerate), the sound gets a bit blurry. The fuzziness smoothes out variations in singing pitch, rather like a karaoke machine. Of course, you’re not really hearing your true singing voice. But to feel like a pop star for 15 minutes in the morning, shower in a smooth-tiled stall with a glass door for the best reflections. And for the most impressive bass boost, make sure your shower is on the small side. Bigger-size spaces have their strongest resonant frequencies below the range of human hearing.

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