Electronic voice phenomena, or EVP, is the mysterious recording of voices from an unknown source. Where these voices come from (theories include ghosts, other dimensions, and our own subconscious) and how they are recorded on various devices is unknown.
Ghost hunting groups and other researchers attempt to capture these voices as a routine part of their investigations. But you don’t have to belong to a ghost hunting group to try EVP. In fact, you don’t even have to go to an allegedly haunted location. You can try this at home (if you want to). Here’s how.
- Buy basic equipment. Get the best voice recorder you can afford. Most researchers prefer digital recorders over cassette recorders because cassette recorders, with their moving parts, create their own noise. You’ll also want good quality earphones or headphones to listen to your recording. Some researchers also recommend an external omnidirectional microphone to connect to your recorder as it might be more sensitive and produce better quality recordings, but this isn’t mandatory.
- Set up the recorder. Many digital recorders have a selection for quality. Always choose the high quality (HQ) or extra high quality (XHQ), setting. (See your recorder’s manual.) Make sure you put in fresh batteries.
- Choose a location. EVP can and have been recorded virtually everywhere. You don’t need to be in a reputedly haunted location (although this might be more fun). You can even try it in your own home. But consider how you’ll feel if you succeed in getting EVP voices in your home. Will that bother you or others that you live with?
- Keep it quiet. You are trying to pick up voices that can often be soft, subtle and hard to hear, so keeping the environment as quiet as possible is of utmost importance. Turn off the radios, TVs, and computers, and any other sources of extraneous noise. Avoid moving around to eliminate the sounds of footsteps and the rustling of clothing. Take a seat.
- Turn on the recorder. With the recorder on the HQ setting, put it in RECORD mode. Begin by stating out loud who you are, where you are, and what time it is. Don’t whisper; talk in a normal tone of voice.
- Ask questions. Again, in a normal tone of voice, ask questions. Leave adequate space between your questions to allow the recorder to pick up any possible responses. Researchers often ask such questions as, “Are there any spirits here? Can you tell me your name? Can you tell me something about yourself? Why are you here?” Surprisingly, EVP voices sometimes respond to direct questions.
- Have a conversation. If someone is with you during your recording session, you can talk with each other. Just don’t be too talkative; you want to give the EVP voices a chance. A conversation is okay because many researchers have found that the EVP voices actually comment on what you’re saying.
- Be aware of ambient noise. As you are recording, try to be very aware of noises both inside and outside of your environment. In everyday life, we have trained our brains to filter out a lot of background noise, but your recorder will pick up everything. So when you are making your recording, be aware of those noises and remark about them so they are not mistaken for EVP. For example, “That was my brother talking in the other room.” “That was a dog barking outside.” “… a car passing on the street.” “…my neighbor yelling at his wife.”
- Give it some time. You don’t need to spend hours recording, but give your sessions a good 10 to 20 minutes. You don’t have to be asking questions or talking the whole time. Absolute quiet is okay, too. (Just remark about those ambient noises.)
- Listen to the recording. Now you can play back the recording to hear what you got if anything. Listening to the recording on the recorder’s little speaker is usually inadequate. Plug in your earphones and listen carefully to the recording. You can also connect the recorder to external speakers, but earphones are better in that they are also blocking out external noise. Did you hear any voices that you can’t explain? If so, you might have captured an EVP!
- Download the recording. A better method of listening to and analyzing your recording is to download it to a computer. (Many digital recorders come with software for doing this; see your manual.) Once you have it on your computer, it then becomes easier to turn up the volume, pause, go back and listen to specific segments of the recording. Again, it’s best to listen through your computer via a set of earphones.
- Keep a log. When you download the recording to your computer, give the audio file a name that reflects the place, date and time, such as “asylum-1-23-11-10pm.wav”. Create a written log of your recordings and any results you might have heard so that you can easily find the recordings again when you need to. If you do hear a possible EVP on your recording, be sure to note the time on the recording and put that in the log. For example, if you hear a voice say “I’m cold” at 05:12 on the recording, put that in your log for that recording as “05:12 – I’m cold.” This makes it easier to find that EVP later.
- Have others listen. EVP vary greatly in quality. Some are very clear while others are very hard to hear or understand. For low-quality EVP especially, understanding or interpreting what the EVP is saying is a very subjective thing. So have others listen to the EVP and ask them to tell you what they think it is saying. Important: Don’t tell them what you think it is saying before you have them listen to it as this can influence their opinions. If other people think it is saying something different than what you hear, note that in your log, too.
- Be honest. As with all aspects of paranormal research, honesty is of prime importance. Do not fake EVP to impress or scare your friends. Be honest about what you are hearing. Try to be as objective as possible. Eliminate the possibilities that the sound was just the dog barking or the neighbor yelling. You want good quality data.
- Keep trying. You may not get EVP the first time you try it… or the first five times you try it. The strange thing is, some people are luckier (if it is luck) at getting EVP than others, using the exact same equipment. So keep trying. Researchers have noted that the more you experiment with EVP, the more EVP you’ll get and with greater frequency. Persistence often pays off.
- Work at night. One reason ghost researchers often seek EVP at night is not only for the spooky ambiance, but it’s also quieter.
- Leaving the room option. Step 6 above says to ask questions, but another method is to start recording, state your name, place and time, and then set the recorder down and leave the room or area. After some time — 15 or 20 minutes to an hour — come back and listen to what your recorder has captured. The disadvantage of this method is that you aren’t present to hear and discount any ambient noises.
- Set it down. Even if you stay in the room with your recorder, it’s best to set the recorder and microphone down on something like a chair or table to eliminate the possible noise of your hands on the devices.
- Editing software. Aside from the software that came with your recorder for listening to your recordings, you also can use audio editing software such as Audacity (it’s free!) to better analyze the EVP. The software lets you boost low volume, eliminate some background noise, and other tasks. Most helpful, it will allow you to cut out the specific EVP sections of the recording, duplicate them, and save them separately.
- Share your EVP. If you’ve captured what you consider good quality EVP, consider sharing them. Join a local ghost investigation group so you can share what you’ve got.
What You Need:
- Voice recorder
- Headphones or earphones
- External microphone (optional)
- External speakers (optional)
- Audio editing software (optional)