Electronic Voice Phenomena

Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) is the capture of disembodied voices onto audio recording equipment. Frequency is measured in cycles per second which is called hertz. The human voice speaks between 300 Hz – 3500 Hz and our hearing is between 20 Hz – 22,000 Hz.

Anything below 300 Hz can be considered an EVP whether it’s a ghostly voice or a residual type that may be footsteps heard every night at three o’clock in the morning or a cannon blasting on an old haunted battle field. Radio signals go between 535,000 to 1, 705,000 for Am and 88,000 to 108,000 for FM. These signals can occasionally be recorded in high radio disturbance areas such as airports but can be picked out easily with software which is discussed later on in the article.

None other than famous inventor Thomas A. Edison was the first to look into the idea of recording spirit voices in the 1920’s. His mother who was very ill at the time was soon to die and Edison wanted to find a way to communicate with her after she was gone. Along with his assistant Dr. Miller Hutchinson they worked on a device called the Thomas Edison Communicator (TEC). The design was that of a big microphone that was supposed to pick voices out of the air. Unfortunately Edison passed away before the device could be completed but, one can only wonder if EVP would be the mystery it is today if the TEC had been completed and actually worked.

Swedish filmmaker Friedrich Jorgensen who was known as the “Father of EVP” was credited with its first findings in 1959. He was alone in a forest recording bird song with a reel to reel recorder for an upcoming movie. After returning home to playback what he had recorded, he noticed two very faint but, distinct voices in the background of the recording. One was that of a man speaking of the bird song at night. The other was his own mother calling out to him “Friedel, my little Friedel” and told him he was being watched. Of course this amazed and startled Juergenson because he had been skeptical of life after death. After this he became obsessed with EVP and went on to record thousands of these ghostly voices until his death on October 21, 1987.

Today EVP is treated with the same protocols as it was back in Juergenson’s days but the technology has grown tremendously. Most EVP experimenters today are still using analog equipment such as tape recorders but, digital note takers are quickly becoming the medium of choice for communication efforts.

Most EVP sounds are in short, abrupt segments, usually the length of a word or phrase; sentences are uncommon, but not unheard of. The segments are frequently heard in the language of the listener.

Possible explanations, paranormal and non-paranormal, have been proposed and scrutinized by researchers and laymen.

A paranormal explanation, for example, is the idea that bodiless, ethereal spirits, in the absence of their own vocal cords, imprint their messages on recording media through some elusive method.

Some researchers speculate that its origins rest in psychokenisis or the voices of spirits. Psychokenisis connotes the ability to move objects with your mind. It concerns the manipulation of matter and energy with just the mind.r.

Non-paranormal and scientific explanations include interference, pareidolia, capture errors, processing artifacts, and hoaxes.

Interference is common when EVP phenomenon is recorded on devices that contain RLC circuitry. The sounds are, evidently, voices and sounds from broadcast radio sources. Capture errors are anomalies created by the overamplification of a signal at the time when it was initially recorded. A plethora of odd noises can result from it. A processing artifact is a sound that results from attempts to boost the clarity of an existing signal. I.e., frequency isolation, re-sampling, and noise reduction and enhancement can all conspire to create a sound that is artificially unique in comparison to the original. Pareidolia means that you mistakenly perceive images and sounds as being recognizable. A man in the moon, a face in ripples of glass windows, or hearing messages on records played in reverse are keen examples of pareidolia.

External microphones are very popular with those who choose to use tape recorders. They dramatically cut down on the internal motor noise to give you a nice clean recording. Omni directional are the choice of many because of their ability to record from all directions. Uni- directional will only record in the direction that the microphone is pointed which could result the loss of receiving a message form a spirit.

Hi-bias cassettes such as Sony CD-It are recommended for their almost CD sound quality. The have a very low metal content are very sensitive. Some are so sensitive that what is recorded on the A side may actually bleed through on the B side so; it is very important to only record on one side of the tape. You can tell the difference of cassettes by looking at the tape. A high-bias will have a black tape and all others will have a brown.

Audio editing software has also become a big issue as whether to use it or not. There are still those who choose not to use it because they feel that it’s tampering with the evidence. In reality you are only enhancing what has been recorded and not altering the file as long the proper effects and filters are used. It also gives you an upper hand on those who don’t use it by reading out the frequency so, EVP can be documented by its hertz level. Adobe Audition has become the most popular choice among those who do clean up their recordings. It’s very easy to see why with the features that the title brings, but the high price does drive some away so they go with a less costly program such as Gold Wave or Wave Pad.

Methods are also used as a way to conduct organized recording sessions. The question and answer method is the most widely used because you are coming into direct contact with the entity whom you are trying to reach. Simply by asking ten to twelve short answer questions, messages can be received from the spirit realm and answers can sometimes have a reverse meaning. The stationary method consist of placing the recording device on a flat smooth surface and just letting it run for twenty to thirty minutes at a time. More residual EVP is captured this way. Since it is a very unpredictable occurrence, it is best to leave the area where you are recording so no extra noise will get recorded, which can easily cover up a faint EVP. Some even go as far as sprinkling baby powder around the device to make sure that it isn’t being tampered with in any way.

White noise is a low-volume electrical or radio noise of equal intensity over a wide range of frequencies. It is a common tool that EVP experimenters use to induce communication with the other side. It is believed that spirits use the noise to manipulate their voice or call them in and calm them as it would the living. The most common sources of white noise are radios, televisions, running water, and fans. They are played at a very low hum when used so that it won’t cover up an EVP. Even overlapping foreign language radio broadcasts and quartz crystals have been used to enhance the recording of the phenomena. With the release of the blockbuster White Noise DVD in 2005 many people got to see first hand how to record EVP from the extra content that the DVD included. 

Classifying is the process of determining the quality of the EVP. Class A would be the best and doesn’t require the use of software to hear clearly what is being said. A Class B is not agreed upon by all who listen until software is used to clean up the file. Class C is an EVP that is not understood by anyone but, is in the 300 hertz or below range. There can also be a Class R for reverse EVP. These can be captured with a forward and reverse meaning of the same, only a reverse meaning, or a forward and reverse with different meanings. A good example of this would be if you recorded a voice saying “It’s cold” in forward and “On the other side” in reverse.

One must remember that these disembodied entities are just like us. They can have mood swings and may not feel like talking at the time they are trying to be reached. Others are confused and don’t know that they are dead. This is why respect should be shown every time EVP is attempting to be recorded. There have been a lot of times where researchers will playback their tapes and hear a voice saying “Get out” or “Leave”. That’s why it is very important to always ask if they would like to talk before a lengthy recording is taken place. Ouija Boards, pentagrams, or other conjuring techniques should not be involved in any type of paranormal research. They can be very dangerous and the evidence that is found will be laughed at simply because of the use of these items.

Energy and the mental state are just as important as a high-bias cassette or external microphone. If the mind is not focused on the task at hand then the whole vibe is lost. Always give it undivided attention and be in the right frame of mind to do so. By putting your energy into it the outcome will be much more satisfying and the spirits will appreciate your interest.