Electronic Voice Phenomena - Tips and Techniques
by: Bret Oldham
One of the most exciting areas of paranormal research is capturing EVPs. There is much to learn from spirit communication and when done properly working with audio evidence can be very beneficial in helping you to help your client in understanding and resolving the haunting that they may be experiencing. Many paranormal researchers have their own methods and procedures that they use to obtain EVPs but there are some basic parameters involved that will provide you a chance for better results. I will offer these basic guidelines here as well as some other useful tips that I have learned over the years. We have been very successful in catching numerous EVPs at almost every investigation we do using the methods listed here.
My wife, Gina, and I are Halo Paranormal. A husband and wife paranormal team. We research and investigate UFO's, Alien Abduction, Cryptozoology, NDE's and Ghosts. One of the things we specialize in are EVPs and ITC (Instrumental Trans Communication) which is spirit communication through the means of electronic devices such as what is commonly called a "ghost box" or a "spirit box". I will do a spirit box article in the near future for those of you interested in that mode of spirit communication.
One of the most important things to use in doing EVP work is something you already have. Yourself! Too many people close themselves off to the spirit world while doing investigations. Sometimes this is caused by fear since it is much easier to be brave in a dark, reportedly haunted location when you pretend that nothing is really there and dismiss everything you are exposed to. Of course, I'm not saying that one shouldn't be skeptical and make rational attempts to debunk but there are those that are over skeptical and will dismiss actual real evidence. Spirits sense this. Fear is your worst enemy on an investigation. Getting yourself in the proper frame of mind and focus will enhance your senses and open up your own inner psychic awareness which will attract spirit communication. Gina and I expect to receive spirit contact where ever we go and we usually get it. Ego is another trait that will hamper your efforts to receive EVPs. Do not think that just because you are a living being and the spirits are not living that you are somehow their master. We do have the power in our domain but we do not own them. Please be respectful to the spirits just as you would if you were speaking with a live person. We do not condone taunting in any way, shape or form. This will NOT make a ghost/spirit want to communicate with you anymore than it would a live person. Introduce yourself and your team, speak in a friendly causal manner. Ask relevant questions and always ask if there is something they need from you. Many times this may be the first acknowledgment from a living person that they may have had. They may be haunting a location because they do indeed need something resolved themselves. Showing sincere compassion and understanding for the spirit world will get you far in your quest for communication with them.
The second thing you will need for proper EVP research is the right equipment. Things have come a long way since the old analog tape days. It is now much easier to record and analyze EVPs than it ever has been. It is imperative that you take the time to learn how to use your equipment and software properly. Although there are cheap digital recorders on the market I would suggest spending a little more for a higher quality digital recorder. Sony and Olympus make some good models. If you really want to go high end then the Zoom H2 or H4 are great choices as well. Other paranormal investigators may recommend different brands but the point is this, you are not going to get real good quality recordings with the $25 to $35 digital recorders. When using your digital recorder on the investigation be very careful not to move it around anymore than you have to. Most of the better recorders will pick up every step and every movement. Even the slightest ones. Sometimes these movements will sound like a whisper or voice and confuse people thinking they have caught a legit EVP. I also prefer and recommend that you hold your recorder during an investigation. Although you can catch EVPs by simply setting a recorder down in a room, you will increase the number of responses you will receive by holding the recorder. I can tell you from years of experience that this is the case most every time. I believe that the spirits use our energy too when trying to speak to us. By keeping the recorder close to your body and asking them to speak into it you are enabling them to use your energy too in order to do so.
Another tip I could offer is to explain to the spirits what it is you are asking them to do. Remember some of them are from a different time and have no idea what a digital recorder is or how it works. Take the time to explain to them in the simplest terms you can what the device is and why you are using it. Ask them to speak into the red light or whatever color of light your particular recorder has. Don't forget to tell them that you mean them no harm and that the device will not harm them in any way. Yes, believe it or not, there are ghosts who are afraid of us. Lots of them!
We prefer to create files of shorter duration during an investigation. This makes it easier when going over the audio later because you don't have to load in such long files into your audio software. This is also very easy to do. Simply stop your recorder at an opportune time during the investigation and then start recording again which will start the next file. Another very important thing to get into the habit of doing is "tagging" your files. If you happen to hear something or someone make a noise that you know is not paranormal then speak out loud into your recorder and "tag" the sound as to what it really was. You would be surprised how many people will actually record their own or someone else's stomach growling and then hear the growl at a later time during analysis and believe that they have picked up an EVP of a "Demon". Whispering during a paranormal investigation is another big no no! Many EVPs that are recorded are whispers. Once again, this is the kind of thing that people will confuse with real EVPs. It is very important to not ever whisper during an investigation. This should be thoroughly explained to everyone present at the investigation. Too much talking will also greatly decrease the number of EVPs you will catch. We call it "walking" on an EVP. This means that you have caught a spirit speaking to you but you or someone else present was talking and the human voice overlaps the spirit voice and makes it almost impossible to discern what the spirit said. Sometimes this can't be avoided but limiting your conversion will help alleviate this problem. We have discovered that some spirits who may not answer you if you ask them questions will interject during our conversations. Sometimes even responding to what we are talking about. In cases like this then it is always good to space out what you are saying during your conversation. This gives them the time and space to interject. But we still find it best to keep the overall conversation to a minimum - especially when conducting the actual EVP session. We always start recording the minute we get to a location. This is usually the time you will catch them interacting with the conversation. If you are in an old house or a location with hardwood floors, everyone present will need to hold still during any EVP sessions. Footsteps, body movement, shuffling about will all be picked up and could potentially ruin a great EVP.
Some people, myself included, are clairaudient. Meaning we can sometimes hear the spirits speaking in real time without the use of any equipment. My wife Gina has been able to hear them too. I believe that most people have this ability once they learn how to use it. Be sure that if you do hear a "voice" speaking to you that you speak up and say so. Even if you aren't sure what it is they said. The spirits will like that you can hear them and this will usually result in getting much more communication from them. I've heard them since I was a kid but no one would believe me. You can imagine what a relief it was when I got older and learned about EVPs. It was a very empowering feeling to know that these "voices" that I had heard for years were actual spirits speaking to me and I could now prove it by recording it. So don't be afraid to speak up if this happens to you during an investigation. You will have the proof when you go over audio later and the spirit will stay attracted to you during the night usually attempting to make more contact.
Once you've made your recordings during your investigation then the real work starts, the audio analysis. There is a lot of audio software out there and some of it can be expensive. Most people don't have the budget for the expensive versions and quite frankly, there is no need for it for EVP work. There are several free versions of software that you can use to do audio review. One that is mentioned frequently is Audacity. We've used it but I don't particularly care for it although it will work fine for EVPs. I would recommend an audio software program called Wavepad. There's not much of a learning curve and it does a good job. There is a paid version if you want to add a few features such as frequency analysis.
If you do serious EVP work then it is good to have frequency analysis since it helps determine the frequencies of a human voice, which is typically somewhere between 300 HZ ( Hertz ) to 4000 HZ. There are exceptions to these figures but by using this feature it does help eliminate any false EVPs that came from a human and not from a ghost. Find an audio software program that you are comfortable with and take the time to learn how to use it properly.
Pay close attention to the waveforms during your audio analysis. Even the slightest fluctuation could be a potential EVP and warrants giving it a closer listen. For most EVPs you shouldn't have to do much if any enhancement. Changing the speed of a possible EVP is something to not take lightly. Many people miss EVPS for this very reason. What they think is merely some weird unexplainable sound is sometimes spirit communication but it is spoken and thus recorded at a much faster speed than humans speak or are used to hearing. Gina and I believe that this is due to the vibrational rate of the spirit world being faster than ours is in this dimension. We have found full sentences being spoken when we have slowed down the section in question so it is definitely worth the extra effort when you find these kind of audio anomalies during your review. We have even found some EVPs spoken in reverse albeit very unusual. It's also important to remember than not all EVPs will be in English. We have on several occasions caught what we believe to be Native American languages. You may find other languages as well. EVPs are generally classified in three categories. Class A, B and C. I'm not going to bother explaining a Class B or Class C EVP. Suffice it say that although you may find it exciting that you caught something, no one else will care much about it unless it is indeed what is considered a Class A EVP. A Class A EVP is defined as one that is understood by almost everyone with little or no doubt as to what is being said. Trust me, these are the only ones that will matter to anyone and you will save yourself a lot of aggravation and time by keeping anything other than a Class A EVP to yourself. Sometimes you will catch a "full voice EVP" meaning they are spoken in what sounds like a full voice as if someone would naturally speak to you. Most EVPs are whispers with some being louder and more clear than others but there are those spirits out there that have the energy to communicate in full voice. There are devices that many paranormal investigators use such as an EMF Pump which pumps electromagnetic frequencies into the atmosphere. It is believed that this will help to help increase the energy level of the spirits and thus increase activity such as EVPs. Full voice EVPs are the best of the best and very difficult for anyone to dispute. Just make sure that what you have caught is indeed spirit communication.
Sometimes you will catch intelligent responses and sometimes you will catch residual EVPs. Residual is really just an imprint in time being played over and over, usually stemming from some sort of traumatic event. Although these kinds of EVPs are interesting it is the intelligent spirit communication where you will get the most answers and which will aid you in helping your client or learning about the location you are investigating.
It is important to note a couple of things here. Do not spend too much time on any one EVP. If it takes you more than a few plays to figure out what is being said then move on. No one else will understand it either. Other than sometimes changing the tempo of a clip and boosting the volume not much more should be done to enhance a regular EVP which is one not coming from an electric device such as in ITC work. Occasionally you may need to run it through noise reduction. Be very careful using the noise reduction as it will tend to give you that over processed under water sound if it is not set properly and end up doing more harm than good to your EVP. Another important thing to remember is to not get caught up in "audio paraidolia ". This happens when one interprets sound as human voices. Sometimes people will want to capture an EVP so badly that they unknowingly start developing audio pareidolia. If it's there it's there. If it's not then don't force it and move on. In closing I would like to mention an often over looked aspect of EVP research, which is what you are listening to your audio EVP analysis on. You must use high quality speakers or a very good set of earphones when going over audio recorded during your investigation. I guarantee you that you will miss EVPs and/or misinterpret them if you are not using high quality speakers. Then your client will be trying to listen to them on bad speakers too and most likely will not hear the same thing as you did. Always suggest to your client that they use the best speakers or earphones that they have available when listening to any EVP evidence that you send them. When possible, play it for them on your system if you are using quality speakers. Gina and I use powered recording studio monitors and I highly recommend using them to anyone who does continual EVP work. There are models on the market that aren't as expensive as one would think and well worth the investment.