I'm writing a story and I was wondering on the feasibilty of having a set of bio-engineered vocal chords that would have a voice modulator built in to help disguise the characters voice, would it be possible for someone to find out what the character really sounds like?

To my knowledge the way this is done normally is because when an external voice modulator is used, there is still the normal voice before it gets modulated, and you just run it through a program that allows you to modulate it back to a normal sounding voice. If there is no normal voice in the first place is this still possible?

  • $\begingroup$ How scientifically accurate do you need to be? Most of the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies had modulating tape-on gizmos that made your voice audially identical to another. No need for surgery (and a better-than-average example of how authors sometimes get caught up in details that don't matter). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jun 8, 2018 at 22:40
  • $\begingroup$ Strangely enough, in the real world, vocal mimicry is surprisingly common. Actors can do this reasonably well. Some people have an absolute talent for doing so. Our vocal chords do quite a good a good job of modulating our voices. It wouldn't be possible to discern the normal voice of a good vocal mimic with demodulating program. I suspect you're overthinking the problem. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Jun 9, 2018 at 2:19
  • $\begingroup$ When I say a voice modulator I'm meaning more like in spy films when they're using a phone, and it makes the voice distorted. $\endgroup$
    – C.Dixon
    Jun 9, 2018 at 18:13

1 Answer 1


You Want A Syrinx Instead of A Larynx

Parrots can modulate their voices and produce a far wider range of sound because instead of a one-way Larynx they posses a Syrinx. With humans our voices are produced by the air running through a single passageway in our throat. A Birds Syrinx is an inverted Y shape with an expandable air sac that allows air from both lungs to be used at the same time like ours, or only air from one lung at a time. Additionally instead of vocal chords they have a vibrating membrane attached to this air sac. By expanding and contracting this air sac they can not only more accurately control the airflow across this membrane than we can, but also change the resonance of their voices as well. Something one can only kind of do with expandable/contractible vocal chords within a larynx.

This means that a person who had been somehow bio engineered to posses a functioning Syrinx could cover a far wider range of sounds and frequencies than a normal human. Here's a highly simplified picture of how a Syrinx works.

enter image description here

Keep in mind that when a person is caught by police who happens to have exactly the wrong body part needed to say that they were capable of making the voice in the phone call then they are as good as caught anyways. Unless having a Syrinx installed is all the rage and everyone has them then if your person gets connected to the call by other evidence its as good as a smoking gun that they made the call. Kind of like how burning your finger-prints off would make you pretty much the only guy who leaves blank fingerprints at a crime scene and thus wouldn't make you any harder to connect to the crime or any less reliant on wearing gloves to avoid leaving prints.

  • $\begingroup$ How exactly would you identify this even in someone you suspected had it? $\endgroup$
    – user25818
    Jun 8, 2018 at 22:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Well, if I were a cop who was worth anything and genetic enhancement was regularly enough in use in my society to be used in committing crimes then I would assume that the person was using other methods than electronic tools to perform their voice modulation. I would then assume my perpetrator had modified their throat in some way and utilize other means to locate them, then get a warrant to have their throat examined by a medical professional as a way to prove that said person was connected to the call. $\endgroup$
    – TCAT117
    Jun 8, 2018 at 22:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe someone that has undergone this (I assume surgery) has either a scar on their throat (leading to the individual having to wear turtle neck like clothing). Even if no scar exists maybe having the Syrinx would have the individual having a different shaped Adam's Apples that could (possibly) be physically identified. $\endgroup$ Jun 9, 2018 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ The way that I'm imagining it is that the character has scars all over his body anyway, (having been captured, tortured and caught up in an explosion) so a scar on the neck could easily be explainable without it being suspicious. Also the enhancements aren't common, it's something he's had done to make himself less identifiable if anyone decides to record him surreptitiously. It wouldn't be anything the police would have cause to suspect. $\endgroup$
    – C.Dixon
    Jun 9, 2018 at 18:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .