Electronic Voice Phenomenon- (EVP)
An imprint of unexplainable sounds or voices on audio equipment that was not detected by the human ear at the time the recording was made.
A Brief History of EVP:
1901- Russian Ethnologist Waldemar Borgoras recorded one of the earliest documented possible samples of paranormal communication in Siberia. Borgoras observed a Chukchee Shaman in a hotel room performing a ritual when he suddenly began to hear voices coming from all over the room that were captured on a phonograph and later analyzed to be both in Russian and English. The recording he made has been studied by anthropologists and physicists.
Note*- Some researchers would argue that this is not an EVP in the conventional sense. True EVP’s cannot be heard when the imprinting of sounds or voices takes place on a recording device. But, when a “disembodied” voice or sound is heard at the same time and is captured on audio, it is believed to have paranormal origin as well as long as it has been ruled out as not being a natural sound in the environment.
1928- Thomas Edison discussed the possibility of talking to the dead by using technology when he was interviewed by the Scientific American Journal. Some believe that he was developing such an instrument, but it has never been proven that he did build such a device.
1956- Raymond Bayless and medium Attila Von Szalay teamed up for a series of experiments that included placing recording devices in a soundproof closet as well as placing a recorder inside a can and burying it in the ground. When the audio was checked from the closet and the buried can, there were human sounding voices on both of the recorders. You can read about these experiments in D. Scott Rogo’s “An Experience of Phantoms,” for further information.
1959- Frederick Jurgenson is commonly and incorrectly referred to as the founder of EVP. However, his contribution to the phenomenon is landmark. He is the author of “The Voices from Space,” a book that brought the EVP phenomenon to the public eye.
Jurgenson first discovered voices on tape when he was simply trying to record birds singing in his backyard. He not only is said to have recorded voices interacting intelligently with him, but, claimed to have captured the voice of his deceased mother as well.
1964- Konstatine Raudive began to work and experiment with EVP with Frederick Jurgenson. Raudive was able to record voices in German, Latvian and French. Raudive is said to have recorded over 100,000 audio tapes in his research.
What is Electronic Voice Phenomenon?
The Skeptical Theory:
The scientific and skeptical community dismisses EVP as audio recorders simply capturing radio frequency or cell phone transmissions on recording devices. We are bombarded with radio and cell phone traffic on a daily basis. Low end or cheap audio equipment has a greater probability of capturing radio frequency or cell phone bleed than higher end recording equipment.
Example: Baby monitors are notorious for recording both radio frequency and cell phone bleed when these signals are in close proximity to the monitor.
The Spiritual Theory:
Many paranormal investigators think these voices or sounds that are captured on audio are spirits trying to communicate with the living.
The Psychokinesis Theory:
This very controversial theory is often used by the skeptical community which theorizes that the human brain might be imprinting sounds or voices on recording devices by using psychokinesis. Psychokinesis simply means how the power of the mind can influence, or, have a physical effect on equipment and/or inanimate objects. Even though psychokinesis has never been proven, experiments conducted at Duke University in 1934 by American Parapsychologist J.B. Rhine included a gambler that seemed to have the ability to influence the roll of the dice to the numbers he wanted under controlled conditions. However, later experiments with the gentleman were deemed inconclusive.
Can the human brain then create and manifest a voice, then imprint the voice on audio devices using psychokinesis? Up to this point, it is unknown and is still a mystery.
My Theory of EVP:
I believe that EVP could indeed be audible phenomenon connected to paranormal activity. In numerous investigations, I have recorded EVP in structures where other reported phenomenon has taken place.
Methods of gathering of EVP evidence during investigations:
The EVP Session:
We find that this is a very good way of gathering audible evidence in a building or a home. The investigating team conducts a controlled 30 minute EVP session, asking simple, direct questions, 15 to 20 seconds apart. (This is to let the audible phenomenon time to respond.) We find this method most useful in gathering intelligent, interactive, EVP responses.
The Multiple Recorder Method:
The more recording devices in use, the better chance you have at capturing EVP. In an average-sized household, blanket the entire structure with audio devices. We have found out in our own investigations that audible phenomenon might respond to a question from another room in the building during a controlled EVP session. Using multiple recording devices can also help you verify or dismiss EVP as evidence.
The Passive Theory:
In this situation, you would leave a recorder in a home then come back later and check the audio for any paranormal type sounds or voices. I do not recommend doing this. It would be very difficult to ascertain the validity of the evidence.
Helpful Hints on Recording EVP:
- If using an analogue recorder, make sure to use high bias or low noise cassette tapes. This will insure better quality of the recording.
- Only use one side of the cassette tape. Never re-use the tape.
- Always use an external microphone if using a cassette recorder. The internal noise from inside the unit will be recorded on the tape if you don’t.
- Never use a micro-cassette recorder. The lack of quality recording band-width capacity on the small tapes used hinders EVP collection.
- Digital recorders can be used without an external microphone since noise can’t be recorded internally from the audio unit. However, if an external microphone is not used, you increase your chances of capturing radio frequency or cell phone bleed-over.
- Always lay the audio unit on a hard surface. Many investigators perform EVP sessions while walking around the room, waving their arms and then later, they mistake those noises captured as paranormal. Certain fabrics will sound like whispering voices if the investigator is in motion while the recording is being made.
- When performing a controlled EVP session in a home or structure, insure that only one person at a time is asking the question. Never whisper, and ask questions in a normal or loud tone of voice.
Environmental Control and EVP.
Environmental control is a very important factor in collecting EVP evidence. If you control your surroundings to the best of your ability, the EVP evidence you collect will have better value in your investigation.
For instance, before you perform an EVP session in a structure, insure that all doors and windows are secured before you try and capture EVP.
Perform EVP sessions in small groups only, and, assign monitors in the group to report all natural sounds that might be mistaken for paranormal ones.
Ask simple, direct questions during the EVP session. You would like to capture names and dates that can be verified through historical research if possible.
EVP filtering software
There are many types of audio software available to help you filter your EVP evidence. Most EVPs are low grade and very difficult to understand, so, a software program for EVP analysis is essential. Just remember that you do not have to spend a great deal of money on programs to filter sound effectively. API uses Sony Sound Forge and Magix to filter and check our audio evidence. Check the internet for free programs that you might be able to download into your computer.
An important tip on filtering your evidence is the denoiser and dehisser effects that you will use to make you recording sound clearer. If you use too much denoiser on your EVP sound clip, you might actually slightly change the sound of the EVP. Dehisser will not change the sound at all.
If you use a filtered EVP as evidence, make sure you provide the client with an unfiltered version of that EVP.
Techniques for Capturing Audio Evidence:
The most basic, inexpensive, or standard way to capture audio evidence on a paranormal investigation is to utilize hand held analog or digital audio recorders.
Analogue recorders: This includes recording devices that use magnetic tape.
Micro-cassette tape players:
These microcassette units are small and easy to carry, but, should not be used to gather audio evidence. The small band-width on the tape makes it very difficult to capture clear evidence on investigations.
Full Size Tape Recorders:
In the 1970’s the reel to reel tape recorders were used to try and obtain EVP evidence. Many researchers were very successful with the reel-to-reel component. They were then replaced by smaller, full sized tape recorders that used cassette tapes. EVP gathering then went into a decline. EVPs were not captured like they were with its predecessor and to date, nobody really knows why.
Digital Audio Recorders:
Digital recorders are now the preferred tool for capturing EVP in the paranormal field. You do not have to purchase expensive tapes while the digital audio technology provides for clearer sound captures during an investigation.
Should I use Digital or Analogue Recorders?
This is a personal choice that the investigator must make for themselves. Both can do the job. If you do choose analogue cassette recorders, remember that you must also purchase an external microphone. This will keep the internal noise of the recorder from being recorded on the tape. The digital recorder does not need to have an external microphone since it will not record any internal noise on the audio tracks.
If you do use analogue cassette recorders, we recommend that you purchase LN (Low Noise) cassette tapes. They were designed to pick up low sounds. We also suggest you pick up an Omni- directional microphone to insure better audio coverage during an investigation.
The EVP Session:
Investigators use the EVP session to try and confirm if there is any type of paranormal activity in the location. This technique can also be used to try and verify historical information about the property as well.
In a normal size house, try and cover every room with a recorder. Gather all investigators in one room to conduct a group EVP session. One investigator should monitor the session live with headphones if possible.
It is important to assign a monitor to the session to report on all natural sounds such as cars and planes passing by, stomach growls, and whispering that might have accidently occurred. Here are some other general rules to apply to a successful EVP session.
- Control your investigative environment by making sure all perimeter doors and windows are secured from inside before you begin.
- Try and keep the participation in an EVP session down to as few people as possible. The more investigators present during an EVP session, the less control you have over the environment.
- Report all feelings, changes of temperature, or anything else you sense as unusual as it happens.
- After each question is asked, count slowly to 15 in your head to allow time for the phenomenon to respond to your question before another question is asked. 15 to 20 seconds in between questions is ideal since most EVP responds just a few seconds after a question is asked by the investigator. This is the most abused rule in controlled EVP sessions. Investigators often get excited and start asking questions every 3 to 4 seconds. This will ruin any true EVP that is recorded since you will not know what question the EVP is responding to.
- Perform EVP sessions in 30 minute intervals in different locations in the structure.
- Ask simple, direct questions. Questions about the property history, names, and dates should be asked multiple times during the session. You need to gather information that can be historically verified.
- Be respectful and professional at all times while asking questions.
- Hold EVP sessions in the areas where the highest level of reported paranormal activity has taken place.
- Use as many recorders as possible. The more you use during an EVP session, the higher the probability that you will receive an audible response of some sort.
- If you have any recorders not in use, place them facing outwards by windows in the room that you are performing the session in to intercept any outside noise bleeding in through the glass. This is just another control measure to obtain the best evidence you can.
- Place your recorders on surfaces around you. Do not hold them in your hands. Movement by your fingers near the microphone can cause strange sounds on the audio track or tape that you are using. Make sure that all of the investigators are sitting quietly and avoid moving around or walking around a room during the session. Creaky environmental sounds can be mistaken easily for EVP voices.
- Video tape the EVP session if possible.
Filtering your audio Evidence:
There are many EVP software programs out there that you can use. Check the internet for free downloads. Just remember that when you filter an EVP and present it to the client, make sure you present the unfiltered version as well so that they can compare the two.
Denoiser and Dehiss functions:
These are the two controls of filtering you will use the most in filtering your EVP. The Dehiss mode takes away hissing sound on the recording. But if you use too much of this, it will make the EVP sound very suspect, as though it has been severely edited.
The Denoiser control can make the EVP sound clearer, but using too much of it can actually slightly change what the raw, unfiltered cut sounds like. So be careful of this when analyzing your evidence.
Feel free to contact me on E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions! I am always available to assist new EVP investigators!