EVP 101

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I had been toying with the idea of posting something in regards to EVP’s when I was informed that my friend Michael had posted similar information on his site. Michael is a fantastic person and has been doing this a lot longer than I have. My intention is for this post to simply add to the valuable information Michael provided as well as giving a slightly different perspective from another researcher’s point of view. By combining both, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to capture some incredible EVP’s in the very near future.

I guess I will start with something that I get asked a lot. “Should I do EVP sessions in my own home?” In my case I have no problem with this. A lot of people seem to think by doing an EVP session in their own home they are inviting spirits or ghosts into their space. For starters, these entities don’t need an invitation to swing by. And secondly, if we’re dealing with a former owner or occupant of your home, they’re more than likely already there. Does doing an EVP session at home open up a portal or a door to the other side? Honestly I have no idea. However, if you’re researching the paranormal you will eventually be followed home or checked out regardless, but the overall decision is up to you. The way I’ve always looked at it is that you are in there home asking them to communicate with you so is it really fair to say “Oh, but you can’t come to my home?”

If spirits have free will, the odds of them stopping by to speak with you and deciding that watching you eat breakfast every morning, watch television and go to sleep at night is more interesting than being elsewhere is probably minimal at best. If this is a major concern of yours, you should simply find something else to do as a hobby.

I’m not an EVP expert. Michael will tell you the same thing about himself. As a matter of fact, since getting my P-SB7 I almost never use a digital voice recorder at all any more. However, we’ve both done this long enough and made enough mistakes to know what works and what doesn’t at this point. You don’t have to follow these tips as gospel nor should you. You should incorporate them into your own style until you figure out what works best for you. Once you know you captured something good but it’s unusable because you messed up, you’re going to make a mental note of it.

So what is an EVP? To be totally honest, I have no idea. Because spirits seem to be able to affect electronic devices in so many ways it’s really hard for me to tell you exactly what is needed and how the end result is obtained. All I know for certain is that I listen to something I recorded and hear an intelligent response in what usually sounds like a human voice by someone (or something) that didn’t appear to be there with me physically at the time I made the recording. I say usually because EVP’s are not always what can be described as your classic human voice.

What you will get in an EVP varies. I would say the majority of the time it’s a human sounding voice in a whisper. Many times it’s more of a normal speaking tone. I’ve also had many that fall under the disembodied voice column (a personal favorite). I heard the words at the time they occurred and picked it up on a digital recorder and camcorder audio as well. That’s a tough one to dispute. Here is an example of a disembodied voice I heard and recorded on two devices at the same time.

I have also had EVP’s that sounded, I’m not sure how to say this, mechanical. I’m still having trouble describing this variety of EVP. You will know it if you ever capture one because there is usually a lead-up to it that sounds like some sort of mechanical device running. Below is an example of what I am trying to explain. A female voice responds to my question with “I think so.” However, listen carefully and you will hear a build-up prior to the voice that sounds like a machine being manipulated, almost like pulling the arm back on a slot machine. You will also hear this same sound 3 times (once per syllable) on her reply. When she says “I think so” you will hear a chink chink, chink at the same time.

Not all EVP’s will be a voice. I have captured a dog bark, a cat meow, tapping, thumps, as well as probably the most disturbing EVP we’ve captured so far. Sometimes you won’t know what it is you’re hearing, only that it wasn’t there when you recorded it. In this EVP, four things happen in less than a minute. You will hear someone say what sounds like “pachoo”, followed by a voice saying a few words, then towards the end you will hear what sounds like someone trying to whistle, followed by what I can only describe as a very unusual sound. This was one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever captured on audio and still have no idea what the hell was going on there. This file was recorded in a cemetery that is unfortunately extremely noisy so overall I classify this as inconclusive, but weird.

I have also captured EVP’s where it appears the entity was deliberately trying to make their voice sound strange. There’s a long story involving this one which is explained if you watch our entire Kenton Station investigation series, but Snoopy appears to be making his voice sound like a cartoon because I constantly refer to him using a cartoon dog’s name.

Sometimes the EVP shows a sense of humor as in when I asked Mary if she could say something and her reply was “something.” I’ve asked how many fingers I’m holding up and been told “fourteen.”

So basically expect the unexpected and don’t listen only for voices.

Now that you know the sort of things to listen for, let’s move on to your digital voice recorder itself. There are many styles and types to choose from. Michael got into some of the technical aspects in his article so read it if you want to know about that side of things. I will however say that it should be capable of picking up on infrasound (sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz (Hertz) or cycles per second, the “normal” limit of human hearing.) Many EVP’s are in this “inaudible to human ears” range which is why you usually don’t hear them as they occur. It’s also possible that EVP’s are “placed” onto the device and not “spoken” on it, if that makes any sense.

One thing to watch out for is the ability (or lack-thereof) to transfer your recordings to a computer. Amazingly many simply don’t have a USB port on them or a way to get the data easily from one device to the other. Some require an audio cable into the sound card which is just a giant pain in the ass. Some are also also ridiculously over-priced. Currently I use an Olympus VN-480PC recorder that was around ~$35. I also have a Sony I haven’t used in over 3 years.

We have also used the RT-EVP which retails for about $300 but if you can afford it, get it. Simply an amazing device that not only records with a ceramic mic, handles infrasound, eliminates RF signals and is basically a small computer, but can also double as basically a PX device. It’s an incredible tool and worth every penny. In the world of EVP’s there’s literally nothing the RT-EVP can’t do. The heavy breathing and “Big uh, no!” EVP’s above were recorded with this device and they are crystal clear.

Now that you’re ready to get started, the finer details of how to actually conduct an EVP session become extremely important. A lot of this was covered in Michael’s article but this is how I do it personally. Let me start off by saying again that I’m not an EVP expert, I just want to pass along some helpful hints so that you can avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made.

I read somewhere once about not getting frustrated when trying to get EVP’s, that the average investigator will record 100 sessions before they get what would be considered a Class-A recording. I have no way of knowing if this is the case or not and I’ve never broke it down and run the numbers, but my guess is that I get an audible response about every 5 attempts or less. This alone tells me that I’m doing something right.

I actually don’t do very many EVP sessions during an investigation. At most I don’t do a single one but still capture them on my camcorder. Maybe they just like talking to me or maybe it’s the opposite and they don’t like me at all. I’ve captured as many as 9 during an investigation where I might have spent a grand total of 5 minutes doing EVP sessions. The most I ever captured was around 33 at Imperial Arms where again I didn’t spend a lot of time doing them. They were just real eager to talk there.

I normally investigate alone and therefore am the only one with a video camera and along with the spirit box most times I don’t even bring a digital recorder with me. When I do them however, I follow some simple guidelines.

1. I highly recommend doing this alone. Keeping track of where others are and what they are doing every moment is something you shouldn’t have to worry about. This also eliminates audio contamination to a large degree.

2. Don’t bother turning the recorder on if there is any noise at all such as a generator, traffic or other equipment running, even if it’s far off in the distance. In some instances this is very difficult (such as the cemetery I mentioned above) but should be something you strive for. If you’re in a loud environment you may have to skip the EVP thing all together. Nobody wants to listen to noisy inconclusive audio clips.

3. Use a normal speaking voice. Just talk to them like you would anyone else.

4. Ask a question then do a silent 8-10 count in your head. Many times there will be a pretty decent gap between the question and the response.

5. I always sit. You would be amazed at the amount of contamination simply walking quietly will create on the recording. This is the best EVP I ever captured while walking and feel I got pretty lucky.

6. Do not hold the recorder in your hand.

7. Stay as still as you possibly can. Even your breathing will affect the recordings.

8. Know your recorder and the location of the buttons by heart. I turn mine on and off in complete darkness and any fumbling around will be extremely loud on the recording. I catch a lot of EVP’s a split second before I turn it off, as if they know. You will miss these if your fingers are feeling the recorder for the button. I use the tip of one finger to start/stop recording and try never to touch it otherwise. Practice this at home with your eyes closed or in complete darkness.

9. Keep your EVP sessions short. I do 1 minute bursts. I may start it again a split second after I stop it but it makes a big difference keeping them no more than a minute in length. If you don’t get a response to one, two or three questions in a minute it’s probably not going to happen on that recording. When it comes time to sit down and listen to all your clips you’re going to thank me that each one is only about a minute long. It’s much easier to focus, concentrate and pay attention to five 1-minute clips than it is one 5-minute clip.

10. I don’t state my location when I start an EVP session because I don’t normally walk around. If I sit in one location and invite the spirits that want to communicate to come to me, there’s no reason to do so. That’s a television tactic. Most of us know where we’re at and don’t need to announce it.

11. When you go over your EVP’s, listen to them at least twice each. You’d be amazed how many times you hear something on the 2nd or 3rd listen that you didn’t catch on the first one.

12. Always listen to your recordings with closed-ear headphones, not through speakers or with ear buds. Also, in my personal opinion, laptops have crap sound quality compared to a PC or a Mac. I use a good sound card on a desktop PC and plug the headphones directly into the sound card. The integrated sound cards on laptops generally suck for EVP’s.

13. I don’t know how important this is but it’s how I do it. Go into every EVP session expecting to get EVP’s. I have no idea if this affects anything or not but every time I do one I am 100% convinced I will get something. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be wasting my time doing it.

Many EVP’s seem to be tailored to the individual making the recording. Don’t be surprised if you hear a very clear response in a male voice while others hear nothing, something else completely or something said in a female or child’s voice.

Intent is very important. Go into a recording with good, positive intent. You should be focused on communication and learning and not on getting something cool to show others.

A couple of final things about EVP’s. I know this is going to sound really weird but I’ve done enough of these to know that it does happen.

On more than one occasion I have had EVP’s actually change on me after they were recorded. I know this makes no sense but I have not only had what was said actually change but have also had them become clearer over time as well as longer. I have had EVP’s that I busted my brain over trying to figure out what was being said suddenly become quite clear a week later. The “something” EVP by Mary was one of these. For a long time I couldn’t make it out at all, then it sounded exactly like “somewhere” and several weeks later was clearly “something”. I have come up with a term for this which I call EVP Transmutation and have written an article about this subject as well.

Another thing I have learned doing EVP’s is that sometimes they appear to know the question before you ask it. I have had them mimic the last word I said in the question at the exact same moment I said it so that the last word we basically spoke together. I have also had them give an intelligent response to the question the split second after it was asked. This makes perfect sense if time does not exist for the spirit world or at least not linear time as we experience it.

In regards to editing. I do not believe in filtering or manipulating audio files in any way. I do not amplify, apply noise reduction or  any filters to the files as I feel that this alters the original file to the point I consider it corrupted. I go in with the attitude of “If you have something you want me or others to hear you need to say it loud and proud.” If I can’t tell what’s being said without manipulation of the file then I simply disregard it and move on to the next one. Digging through the layers for me is a waste of time based on several factors. Spirits can speak clearly on a recording so if they want to play a game that requires me to spend time digging deep into the file I’m simply not going to participate.

The only other thing to really cover regarding EVP’s is the software side of things. I personally use Adobe Audition the most but since I generally use software to listen to and then crop a file, I can use pretty much any of them.

Good luck and be sure to post your EVP’s to Soundcloud.com and share them with everyone.

Also, be sure to read Michael’s article if you haven’t already.

UPDATE:

Recently I decided to see if I could still get an EVP using a digital voice recorder so I turned it on and asked one question. This is the file I recorded.