• Question: Why does helium make your voice squeaky?

    Asked by ruthenium to Suzi, Tim on 24 Jun 2011.
    • Photo: Tim Fosker

      Tim Fosker answered on 24 Jun 2011:

      Hi @ruthernium

      Great question!

      Helium changes the ‘timbre’ of your voice (timbre is the quality that makes the same note on a different instrument sound different – like the same note played on a piano or a violin).

      Sound waves can travel much faster through helium than air so as the sound waves are produced by the helium passing through your vocal folds the fast waves in the sound (high pitches) are amplified when the bounce around the vocal tract and the slower waves in the sound (low pitches – like when you listen to someone through a wall) are lost.

      You end-up sounding really funny 🙂

      I hope that helps explain it.

    • Photo: Suzi Gage

      Suzi Gage answered on 24 Jun 2011:

      Hi @ruthenium
      Tim has answered this really well!

      Have you ever tried it, it’s very silly! 🙂