Modulations of the voice convey affect, and the precise mapping of voice-to-affect may vary for different languages. However, affect-related modulations occur relative to the baseline affect-neutral voice, which tends to differ from language to language. Little is known about the characteristic long-term voice settings for different languages, and how they influence the use of voice quality to signal affect. In this paper, data from a voice-to-affect perception test involving Russian, English, Spanish and Japanese subjects is reexamined to glean insights concerning likely baseline settings in these languages. The test used synthetic stimuli with different voice qualities (modelled on a male voice), with or without extreme f(0) contours as might be associated with affect. Cross-language differences in affect ratings for modal and tense voice suggest that the baseline in Spanish and Japanese is inherently tenser than in Russian and English, and that as a corollary, tense voice serves as a more potent cue to high-activation affects in the latter languages. A relatively tenser baseline in Japanese and Spanish is further suggested by the fact that tense voice can be associated with intimate, a low activation state, just as readily as with the high-activation state interested.