Ghost HuntersHow-ToUsing a Digital Recorder to Capture EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena)

Using a Digital Recorder to Capture EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
By Steve Gonsalves


It's the contention of many paranormal experts, and my own personal experience, that voices from the other side can manifest as EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena). EVPs are generally inaudible to the human ear, but can sometimes be picked up on electronic recording devices. At TAPS, we use digital and analog recorders to attempt to capture EVPs.
Because of the inexpensive cost of good analog and digital recorders—in the range of $50 to $80—and the relative ease of using them, they have become one of the most widely used tools for collecting evidence in a paranormal investigation.

TAPS has two primary ways we use digital and analog recorders to do EVP work.  The first is called “Stationary Recording”.  This is when you activate a recorder in a specific location. An investigator may or may not remain in proximity to the recorder and recording may last the duration of your investigation.

The second is to stage a recorded Q&A session where you are doing your EVP work. Here, an investigator must be present to ask a spirit questions and sometimes even provoke it into communicating.

At TAPS, we typically like to start our investigations with EVP work.  You can either be mobile and take the recorder with you or remain stationary in a single location.
Based on the high success rate we’ve had capturing EVPs I highly recommend using digital and analog recorders in your own investigations.  Whether you’re investigating using a single or multiple recorders, you should follow the following guidelines to stage an effective recording session.

Step 1
Place digital recorders in “Hot Spots”

If you’re on an investigation, the locations where you’re going to do your EVP work will be informed primarily by witness accounts.  For instance, if a family member reports witnessing activity in a certain part of their house, you would want to tag that area a “hot” or “active” zone and set up a recorder in that location.  When you’re interviewing an individual, make sure they are as specific as possible when telling you where they’ve encountered the presence.  A detail like “the kitchen” is good.  “By the breakfast nook in the kitchen” is better.

If you have multiple recorders, don’t be afraid to set up a stationary recorder where there have been no reports of paranormal activity.  Spirits can roam, so it makes sense to account for more than one room at a time.  If you have an investigation team with you, encourage all of them to carry their own recorders so you can investigate multiple “hot spots” at the same time.
Once you pick your spot, you need to make sure you’re using your recorder correctly.  First, make sure you are not covering up the microphone.  Leave your recorder on standard record.  Do not use the voice activated record setting.

Analog recorders—basically your average mini-tape recorder—can yield some solid results, but many people have a hard time filtering out the background noises associated with this type of recording device. If you do use them in your own investigations, be aware of the limitations in sound quality.

Once you’ve picked your spot and have activated your recorder, the session can begin.

Step 2
Acclimate yourself to the sounds in your surroundings

All locations can have a level of background or ambient noise.  For instance, you might hear a dripping faucet, the banging of a radiator, or the hum of an electrical appliance.  The location might also have audio anomalies coming from an external source—the noise of traffic or the voices of children coming from a nearby playground.

If you don’t catalog these noises, they can interfere with your EVP session.  It’s imperative that you train yourself to be aware of these noises and disregard them when reviewing a recording session.  The best way to help you do this is to “tag” every sound you hear.

Step 3
Tag sounds in your recording

Whether you are doing a Q&A session or just letting the recorder roll as you go about your business, it is important to tag everything you hear.  Some paranormal researchers tag the beginning of their recording session. For instance, their opening tag might be  "Today is xx/xx/xxxx and we are at x haunted place and Steve and Dave are the investigators,” and that’s it. They don’t bother to tag anything else.

You must tag everything. If you hear your fellow investigator clear their throat, TAG IT.  If you hear someone walk into the room and speak to someone—although you should discourage talking while doing your EVP work--TAG IT. If you hear the family chatting quietly in the next room, TAG IT.

Make a mention of every sound into your digital recorder.  You can also catalog these sounds in an investigation log as a backup to the audio tagging you’re doing.  When you are setting down a stationary recorder with the intention of going elsewhere, make sure your opening tag takes into account all the sounds you heard before leaving, “I hear voices outside, the clanging of the furnace, etc.”

This practice is going to help insure that, when you analyze your evidence, you are not mistakenly presenting something as paranormal when it may not be. This has saved my analysis time and time again, and I urge you to practice this in your own investigations.

Step 4
Conduct a Q&A session

It’s my opinion that you should always include Q&A sessions in your EVP work. Spirits, if present, may respond to questions, and the Q&A provides a simple framework for responses. When you ask a question, make sure you don’t whisper.  If the spirit has retained its sense of hearing—this is not always the case—you may need a little volume to catch their attention.  As a general rule, if talking becomes necessary during any part of your recording session, make sure you use a little tone and volume in your voice.  You can easily mistake a random whisper for an EVP, whereas a voice with tone will be recognizable.  You don’t want to be so loud as to bother your fellow investigators at the location, but only loud enough that your voice is recognizable.

Ask the spirit questions like, “Are you here,” “What’s your name,” etc.  It’s a good practice to wait 10-20 seconds in between questions to leave a decent interval for a response.  If you suspect activity in a certain area, you may even want to provoke the spirit into manifesting themselves.

I am not saying that it is the best way to do your EVP work but I think it should be implemented into all EVP sessions, because it helps validate your evidence.
For instance, if you ask the question, "What is your name," and you hear a response when you play back the recording that says, "Mary," that would be a pretty big coincidence that at that precise moment you picked up a rogue transmission or frequency saying that name. If that name just happened to be picked up on your recorder, a skeptic may say you picked up a rogue voice or some sort of cross frequency.

Whenever you are doing an investigation and you hear a voice or a disembodied sound with your own ears, do not label that an EVP. To be an EVP, the sound must be captured with an electronic device or component.  If you hear it with your own ears it is a VP (voice phenomena).

Conversely, some investigators make the mistake of calling everything captured on an audio recorder an EVP.  If you hear a sound on your recording that has not been tagged, you want to look for specific audio characteristics before labeling it an EVP.

Step 5
Review your EVP evidence

Reviewing your digital recording after doing EVP work can be an arduous undertaking, but you should benefit from having previously tagged sounds that occurred during recording.
Pay close attention while reviewing the recording, listening for sounds or voices that don’t match the other sounds or voices in the room.  You’ll want to match any voices you hear to the people / investigators that were in the room at that time, so you can rule them out when you pick up a voice on the recording.  Again, tagging your recording ahead of time helps enormously so you don’t spend additional time listening intently to every noise you hear.

It’s important to note that noises occurring in a specific location are marked by the acoustics and geographical characteristics of that location. An EVP can often stick out like a sore thumb because it will not share the same echo and reverberation as other sounds in the room.

For instance, you might hear a conversation going on in the background during your recording session and find that, when you play the conversation back, you hear an additional voice that sounds completely unaffected by the acoustics of the room. It may even sound like it’s occurring in its own environment!  At that point, you want to isolate that voice and do more investigating.
If you’ve done a Q&A, you’ll obviously want to listen for the responses to your questions, but pay close attention to any anomalous sounds that occur during the session.
You may also hear noises that don’t jibe with other sounds in the room.  For instance, you may suddenly hear an object being dragged across the floor.  If no one is in the room and you haven’t tagged any sound like that previously, you would want to investigate.

In rare instances, EVP evidence can provide an audio record of a physical manifestation, support a piece of visual evidence, or corroborate a witness account.

Always listen to your recording in real time first before putting it through any type of audio software.  It will negatively impact your ability to listen to a recording if you’re able to sit there watching the peaks and valleys of an audio file.  It’s better to train yourself to actively listen to sounds and make deductions on your own.

Despite the convenience of EVP work, actually doing it takes long hours, and most of the time you may find no discernible evidence of the paranormal.  But if you follow strict guidelines, and do your work professionally, you might get a piece of evidence that makes all your labor worthwhile.


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