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The world’s favourite voices, and why we like them so much

What’s in a voice? Okay, that quite a hard question, but there is just *something* about some of our favourite voices that make them so great.

Some voices are known the world over, famous for their unique, unmistakable tone. Whether it belongs to an actor, a newsreader, or a musician, a great voice fosters trust, engages with listeners, and has the ability to bring words to life.

So, this got us thinking about the voices we particularly like listening to, and why this is. What makes these voices so engaging and likeable? And, as a specialist voiceover agency, we of course go one step further and look at what makes an effective voiceover

Our favourite voices

First and foremost, it wouldn’t be a list of iconic, instantly-recognisable voices without a mention of David Attenborough. The broadcaster, biologist, and natural historian is without a doubt a national treasure, and we have all become very fond of his soft, calming tones.

So much so, a poll commissioned by Virgin Media found him to be the UK’s favourite voice, with 28% of those surveyed agreeing that he has the “best voice”.

Hot on David Attenborough’s heels was Stephen Fry, who came in in second place, with 19% of the vote share. Fry isn’t just a famous actor, but also a notable voice artist, including being the voice that brought all seven Harry Potter novels to life in audiobook form. It comes as no surprise, then, that his rich, expressive voice was voted one of the country’s favourites.

Arguably the god of powerful voices (I mean, he literally played God in Evan Almighty) is Morgan Freeman. His authoritative voice combined with his ever-calm demeanour has solidified his spot as one of the most respected figures in modern cinema, both on the screen and behind the mic.

There’s no denying that Freeman is one of the most universally-recognised voices of all time, with quite an impressive CV to prove it. Not only has the actor played the president in thriller movie Angel Has Fallen, he’s also voiced presidential campaigns for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Speaking of whom, the 44th US President has also been commended for his voice, coming in at spot number eight in the rundown of the top 50 greatest voices. Obama’s captivating yet comforting voice has no doubt inspired millions, highlighting how a special kind of voice can demand authority, whilst also fostering trust.

Other honourable mentions in this hand-picked selection of remarkable voices include Samuel L. Jackson, Judi Dench, Joanna Lumley, and none other than Her Majesty the Queen.

Why do we like them so much?

It’s a perfectly valid question – what makes these voices so great? We love listening to David Attenborough tell us all about wildlife and nature, and we can’t resist turning the volume up to fully appreciate Morgan Freeman’s tones, but now we’re wondering – why do we like them so much?

Well, ultimately, the voices we choose to be our favourites are the ones that make us feel something. Whether that feeling is one of comfort, inspiration, or enlightenment, the bottom line is that they resonate with us for one reason or another.

The spoken word is one of our most powerful tools, and communication is vital to our mental wellbeing. So, whether we listen to our favourite voices to gain inspiration and trust, or just for some emotional comfort, the point is that we feel a connection to those voices, and we begin to recognise them as our favourites.

So really, how a voice resonates with us depends on what we’re hoping to gain from the listening experience. Overall, though, in many opinion polls, male voices seem to dominate. The top preferences for these kind of voices are deep, slow, and soft (the top choices previously mentioned are being to make more sense now, right?).

On the other hand, when it comes to female voices, listeners prefer someone who has soft, upbeat, and husky tones. Male and female voices have significant differences, which listeners have come to associate with different traits and feelings. For example, female voices are typically perceived to be more trustworthy, whereas male voices are seen as more authoritative.

What makes a good voiceover?

So, we know that an effective voice has the power to make us feel something, and we have grown to associate certain things with different types of voices. This leads us to our next question: what makes a good voiceover?

Having a ‘good’ voice is one thing, but being able to use that voice to bring cartoon characters, video content, and advertisements to life takes a whole lot of skill.

All the voices who have been voted as listeners’ favourites are different from each other and unique in their own way, but still highly successful. This is because different voices are good for different things. For example, a voice artist who specialises in narrating corporate content will have professional and clear tones, whereas someone who brings kids’ cartoon characters to life will be quirky and energetic.

A common misconception in the voiceover industry is that, to be successful, you have to have the most unique and distinctive voice on the market, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A lot of companies and projects require more of a “normal” voice with neutral tones, especially for things like explainer videos and IVR prompts which need a clear and authoritative voice.

And it’s not just the voice that’s important when it comes to defining what a good voiceover is. Someone could have the best voice in the world, but without reading fluency, timing, and passion, any voice recording they do just wouldn’t make the grade.

How can we help?

Here at Matinée, we have a vast database of talented voice artists who specialise in everything from explainer videos to interactive toys. Whichever language you require a voiceover in (we offer over 80!) and whatever your next project is, let us help you bring it to life with our expert voiceover services.

We’ll help you connect and engage with your audience with the perfect voiceover, all the way from offering a selection of hand-picked voice demos, to recording and editing the final audio file. Why not get in touch with us today and find out more about how we can help you?

Call us on +44 (0) 118 958 4934

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