Electronic Voice Phenomena
Any seasoned ghost hunter will have plenty of stories about odd equipment malfunctions, but EVP Recordings fall into an unusual category.
EVP (Electronic voice phenomena) are electronically captured sounds that seem to resemble human speech, but occur in parts of a recording where no human speech should exist. Usually, EVP sounds are short, only a word or two, but longer EVPs have been recorded in recent years.
Earlier generations of ghost hunters simply ignored the “static and background noise” and usually assumed that the more obvious EVP were caused by equipment malfunctions. However, better microphones and digital recording equipment and digital editing programs, such as Pro Tools and Final Cut Pro, have made it possible for ghost hunters to more closely examine these sounds and have opened up the world of EVP recording to serious ghost hunters.
Most paranormal investigators assume that EVPs are a form of communication from ghosts or other entities existing beyond the physical realm of existence, usually as a form of post death communication. However, sometimes, particularly in the case of shadow men and demons these EVP recordings are not so friendly.
Some people claim there are natural explanations for EVP recordings such as apophenia (finding significance in insignificant phenomena), auditory pareidolia (interpreting random sounds as voices in their own language), equipment artifacts, and simple hoaxes.
Recordings of electronic voice phenomena are often created from background sound by increasing the gain (i.e. sensitvity) of the recording equipment. Seeking out EVP recordings is probably the most technically challenging area of ghost hunting, because many, perhaps most, EVPs are recorded when the investigators heard and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Your equipment needs to be good quality and you need to really understand you equipments strengths and weaknesses to get good results. Also, it really takes patience.
A Short History of EVP
EVP’s were know to sound engineers from the earliest days of recorded sound, but they were generally ignored as mistakes or anomalies. Some paranormal experts were curious about the unexplained sounds and during the early 1900’s many scientists and researchers, including luminaries such as Thomas Edison, attempted to build devices that would capture spirit impressions electronically, with much difficulty and disappointing results.
However, it was not until 1959 that Friedrich Jurgenson, a Swedish film producer and artist, began to seriously investigate EVP as a unique and separate phenomenon. Jurgenson was tape-recording bird songs in the countryside, when on playback, he heard a voice discuss “nocturnal bird songs.” The voice was male and the language was Norwegian, and at first he thought it was interference from a radio broadcast.
Nonetheless, Jurgenson made other recordings to see if the same thing happened again and this time he heard numerous voices when listened to his recordings. The voices shocked him, some gave personal information about Jurgenson, plus instructions on how to better record EVPs.
At first, word of Jurgenson’s discoveries did not have a major impact, but as the price of electronic recording equipment fell and the reliability and capability of the equipment increased many paranormal investigators began to examine EVPs.
Many of the early researchers were engineers and electronics experts who devised sophisticated experimental equipment for capturing the voices, but what makes EVPs so fascinating for modern part-time ghost hunters is that today anyone can buy much more sophisticated and reliable equipment than the early researchers had for less than $100.
EVP Rating System
In 1982, Sarah Estep developed a rating system for EVPs: Class C are the faintest recordings, sometimes indecipherable; Class B voices are louder, clearer, and make more sense; and Class A voices are clear, can be heard without headphones and can even be duplicated onto other tapes. This system gives a new researcher a way to describe the EVPs he discovers to others in terms they will understand.
EVP’s are one of the easiest and most exciting phenomena for any beginning paranormal investigator to examine. With the right equipment and a little patience you should not have any problem recording unexplained sounds and noise.