Does Skype turn you/him/her on?
February 20, 2007 1:09 AM   Subscribe

Does Skype "smooth" your voice to make it sound mellower, more seductive etc.? That's my impression; but is there any evidence to support it? I suppose an analogous means of customer retention might be the use in shops of "slimming mirrors".
posted by londongeezer to Technology (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Any audio codec is going to change your voice to some degree. The big thing with Skype is that they have a wider frequency response than land lines, and particularly cell phones. So you're probably picking up on hearing more of who you're talking to.

(Incidentally, it's ridiculous that high bandwidth telephones haven't become more popular, particularly for conference calls.)
posted by effugas at 1:51 AM on February 20, 2007

They do filter your voice to remove noise and acoustic echo to make the audio clearer and better. At least that's what I'm doing in our software (I'm responsible for the audio parts, among other things, for one of the skype competitors.)

The side effect might be that the voice sounds more mellower or seductive, but that is not the main reason to do it (at least for us, Skype might of course have additional requirements and audio filters...). But now I'm getting some ideas for our clients... :)
posted by rpn at 2:03 AM on February 20, 2007

Response by poster: But it seems logical that Skype, in devising the codec, would have given some thought not merely to, eg, bandwidth issues, but also to the way it makes your voice sound, no? Are the subtly altered voices of my friends via Skype merely the artefact of wider frequency? This seems unlikely to me because they sound, frankly, sexier via Skype than they do in real life.
posted by londongeezer at 2:08 AM on February 20, 2007

Response by poster: And if rpn is "getting some ideas" for his clients, it seems possible that the folk at Skype may have already had and implemented this idea...
posted by londongeezer at 2:11 AM on February 20, 2007

Skype doesn't do their own codecs, they use stuff by Global IP Sound, and they don't include any filters for these kind of things. It of course possible to add these things yourself. (I seem to remember some other VOIP software with a chipmunk filter etc.)

Thinking a bit more about it, I'm not sure you'd want to make a filter that makes voices more seductive, if possible, to be the default (imaging calling your parents...).
posted by rpn at 3:08 AM on February 20, 2007

(dare I say) Clearly not
posted by strawberryviagra at 4:57 AM on February 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

As a wild-assed guess: Skype may remove some of the higher frequencies, but keep more of the overall signal than a telephone does. Higher frequencies take more bits to encode, so if they throw away everything above a certain point, they save bandwidth. Deeper voices tend to be more attractive, but if this is indeed what they're doing, it's just a side-effect of reducing bandwidth, not a deliberate decision.

And yes, Skype sounds a LOT better than a normal phone, and I am also surprised that this move toward quality hasn't gotten more common.
posted by Malor at 5:06 AM on February 20, 2007

Yeah I notice the improvement in quality too (when it's not dropping calls, grr!) My voice is just naturally sexy though.
posted by Lotto at 5:10 AM on February 20, 2007

Response by poster: Malor, I think you may have it. Voices sound deeper on Skype. So I suppose the "sexiness" I perceived is a by-product of bandwidth economies.
posted by londongeezer at 8:15 AM on February 20, 2007

My interpretation has been:

1) Skype usually offers a much wider audio bandwidth than a land line phone (and vastly more than a cell phone), so you get much more information, including subtle mouth and lips sounds.

2) Most Skype conversations involve headsets.

The headset + high audio bandwidth ~ having an intimate conversation with lips inches from each others ears, which is generally a rather intimate position. Most people don't have that kind of conversation with causal friends or coworkers.
posted by Good Brain at 9:17 AM on February 20, 2007

Maybe your friends are too shy to try and seduce you in person, but Skype makes their inhibitions melt away and they deploy their full, sexy vocal resources.
posted by grobstein at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

Like Lotto, some of us can't imagine our voices sounding unsexy. So I don't really relate to this question.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:51 AM on February 20, 2007

Yeah right! When I use Skype everyone sounds like a robot!
posted by divabat at 12:31 PM on February 20, 2007

I actually think grobstein might not be far from the truth. When I'm talking on a headset, I tend to be much quieter and more relaxed than on a handset.

Here's an industry secret: customer service centers are actually really sexy places.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:56 PM on February 20, 2007

They may be using multiband compression or something similar. My Panasonic cordless phone system has a "voice enhancer" option that seems to do something of that sort.
posted by kindall at 1:32 PM on February 20, 2007

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