Ask any ghost hunter about evidence gathered during an investigation, and you will probably be shown a handful of EVPs. Electronic Voice Phenomena is the act of capturing disembodied voices on audio recordings, and it is one of the most common ghost hunting techniques used today.
You’re probably already thinking, “How can I record my very own EVPs?” Before we get to that, let me give you a quick history of this technique. It all began in the 1950s when a filmmaker by the name of Attila von Szalay began capturing voices that he claimed were long-dead spirits. Soon after, a pair of men, Friedrich Jurgenson and Konstantin Raudive, managed to capture similar voices using a microphone in a sealed cabinet.
But most ghost hunters owe the use of EVP to a pair of investigators from the 1980s: William O’Neil and Sarah Estep. O’Neil would invent the infamous “Frank’s Box” (aka the “Ghost Box”), and Estep would create the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena. It is actually Estep who first caught my attention with EVP. I saw her on a television program called Sightings where she used her reel-to-reel recorder to capture eerie voices in old tombs.
When digital recording devices became more prevalent, there was a lot of debate about using them for EVP. A lot of people believed that there was a sort of magic in the old analog recorders—that the “white noise” produced by the gears enabled spirits to imprint their voices on the tape. Digital devices not only had no gears producing white noise, but there was no tape at all. This caused people to use white noise during EVP sessions, which just made the recordings noisy and undecipherable.
Thankfully, we have moved past all this nonsense and now fully embrace digital audio and video recorders. Chances are that you carry around a great, portable version of both of these: your phone! Can you capture EVPs with your phone? Of course you can! But you can do better. Here are five tips to help you capture great EVPs:
- Use the best microphone you can get. It doesn’t have to be an external mic, though; some recorders have better (and more) mics than others.
- Get a recorder that lets you listen as you record. This will allow you to hear a disembodied voice in real time and respond to it.
- Wait a full minute between questions. It takes energy for a spirit to vocalize, and that takes time.
- Pay attention to the acoustics of a room. The flatter the sound, the better your recordings will be. Avoid echos.
- Do short sessions. Smaller audio files are easier to review, and by working in short sessions you can cover more areas during an investigation.
And that’s it! Easy, right? Now get out there and get those EVPs!
Our thanks to Rich for his guest post! For more from Rich Newman, read his article, “Ghost Hunting in the Gilded Age.”