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At the repetition of the Modim blessing the prayer leader and the congregation say two different things. I have seen two different customs at this point. As a shliach tzibur, I was taught to say מודים אנחנו לך loud, then somewhat lower my voice, and then from הטוב כי לא כלו again loud. Other communities do not seem to make any distinction. Is the practice of lowering the voice mentioned somewhere?

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    It's a terrible practice. A leader's job is to fulfill the obligation of those who don't know the prayers. How can he do that if he's whispering??
    – Double AA
    Jul 3 at 12:41
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    What kind of leader purposefully makes it harder for the people who need to to hear him?? He should raise his voice to be heard through the inevitable cacophony of congregants who know the prayers saying a private prayer too loudly
    – Double AA
    Jul 3 at 12:42
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    I recall learning that the Rav said that the chazzan should say it inaudibly because he cannot be motzi anyone else's obligation to say the sentiments in Modim.
    – rosends
    Jul 3 at 12:52
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    @rosends I think you're conflating the leader's obligation to pray out loud to fulfill others' obligation to pray, with the individual's obligation to give thanks on their own. One imagines that anyone who needs the leader to fulfill their prayer obligation can't give thanks on their own, and will be listening to modim. But even if they did know modim d'rabbanan, they're obligated to listen to the leader, if that's who is finding their obligation.
    – magicker72
    Jul 3 at 13:54
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    @rosends Regardless, the latter obligation still obtains, and necessitates an out-loud modim.
    – magicker72
    Jul 3 at 17:35

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Although today in most cases the Chazzan's repetition is not being motzi anyone, there is an instance where he is, and this exact issue is discussed;

The Shulchan Aruch 124:10 says in a case where someone forgot Yalle Veyovo they can be yotzei with the Chazzan -

מי ששכח ולא אמר יעלה ויבא בר"ח או בחולו של מועד או בכל דבר שצריך לחזור בשבילו יכוין דעתו וישמע מש"צ כל י"ח ברכות מראש ועד סוף כאדם שמתפלל לעצמו ולא יפסיק ולא ישיח ופוסע ג' פסיעות לאחוריו דכיון שכבר התפלל אלא ששכח ולא הזכיר אע"פ שהוא בקי ש"צ מוציאו:

One who forgot and didn't say "Ya'aleh Veyavo" on Rosh Chodesh or Chol Hamoed, or any other thing that you would be required to repeat, he should concentrate and listen to the prayer leader the entire Shemoneh Esrei from beginning to end, like one who prays himself, and he should not interrupt nor speak, and he takes 3 steps back [at the end]. Because since he already prayed but just forgot and didn't remember, even though he is competent [to pray himself], the prayer leader fulfills his obligation. (Sefaria)

The Mishna Berura 124:41 discusses the issue of Modim and mentions the custom to say it quietly and explains that there is no source for this, and at a minimum he should make sure that 10 people who are around him can hear him -

מראש ועד סוף - עיין בספר ברכי יוסף דמסיק שלא יאמר אז מודים דרבנן אלא יכוין לשמוע מש"ץ המודים שהוא אומר והאידנא שנוהגין איזה חזנים לומר המודים בתחלתו בלחש לא יוכל לצאת תפלתו ע"י הש"ץ ולא ידעתי מאיזה מקום יצא להם המנהג הזה דאף דנוהגין הצבור לאמר אז מודים דרבנן מ"מ תפילתו ניתקן להוציא מי שאינו בקי וצריך לאמר עכ"פ קצת בקול שיוכלו לשמוע עשרה בנ"א העומדים סביבו

As far as how they can hear him if they are saying something else at the same time, R' Shlomo Zalman (Halichos Shlomo Tefilla 8:40) says that since both are saying the same topic it is considered that they can hear him even though they are saying something else.

The Eliya Rabba 127:1 says that the Chazzan should just say the first few words and wait for the tzibbur to finish, before continuing -

וסימן לדבר מודים שמאריך בו החזן כדי שיאמרו הקהל מודים דרבנן עד כאן לשונו, וכן כתב אבודרהם דף כ"ח, משמע בעוד שמאריך השליח ציבור בתיבת מודים אנחנו לך יסיימו הקהל מודים דרבנן וכן פסקו השולחן ערוך ולבוש בסימן נ"ז בברכו עיין שם

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    The yerushalmi is clear the Modim Derbanan is said in a whisper. If everyone would, like me, still do that then you wouldn't have any problem hearing the chazzan
    – Double AA
    Jul 3 at 15:49
  • Just one comment on the last part, the lengthening of the first three words seems to a different practice than saying the middle part on a less loud voice. Jul 3 at 19:28

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