Séances, Mediums, Ouija boards – is it possible to talk to the dead? Can the dead communicate with us? Many paranormal researchers believe it is possible using a method known as EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomena.
EVP involves recording empty space or white noise on tape recorders or other magnetic devices and subsequently examining those recording looking for discrete messages from spirits. These messages may sound like noise to some but EVP investigators using computer software, can clean up those recordings in order to make the voices easier to hear. Since recorders use magnets to record sound, anything that would disturb this magnetic field, such as paranormal activity, could be recorded on tape.
Famous EVP Researchers
Who is to be credited with discovering the EVP technique is up in the air. Legend has it that Thomas Edison himself worked to develop a EVP device, a device he called the "psychic telephone". In 1920, the respected magazine Scientific American, asked Edison if he thought it would be possible to contact the dead.
Nobody knows whether our personalities pass on to another existence or sphere but it is possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and Ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication.
In the late 1940’s, Reverend Drayton Thomas began investigating the famous medium, Gladys Osborne, in an attempt to disprove her abilities. Gladys had predicted that the voices of lost souls could indeed be captured on a recording device. Thomas captured one of these spirit voices on tape and was stunned to hear the voice of his departed father speaking to him from the dead.
During the 1950’s, psychic Attila von Szalay was renowned for his ability to hear disembodied voices that others were incapable of hearing. Szalay, along with psychologist Raymond Bayless, began researching a way to record the phenomena. They initially began their attempts using a 78 RPM Pack-Bell record cutter – the results were disappointing. They next constructed a box like device consisting of a microphone resting inside a speaking trumpet that was placed inside a wooden cabinet. The microphone connected to a recording device located outside the cabinet. Almost immediately they began recording strange voices. Later they produced even more remarkable results using a open microphone connected to a reel-to-reel tape recorder.
German bird watcher (and retired Swedish opera singer) Fredrich Jurgenson, was recording bird calls near his home in Sweden during the 1950’s when he made the exciting discovery. Upon playback, Jergenson claimed to have heard a man’s voice giving him instructions on how to better record the bird calls. His interested tweaked, Jurgenson continued his recordings for many years after and even published a book, Voices From the Universe, that detailed his discovery of electronic communication with the dead.
Later EVP investigators included Dr. Konstantin Raudive (who recorded thousands of voices), G.W.Meek, Paul Jones, Klaus Schreiber, Martin Wenzel, and Hans Heckman.
Interest in EVP grew in the United States thanks to Sarah Estep. Estep, the founder of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena, claims to have heard the voice of her late husband on Teac reel-to-reel tapes of recording she made in the 1970’s. Estep now has recording of over 20,000 ghosts.
How to Record EVP
One strange characteristic of EVP recordings is the requirement that there be noise in the background. Cheap records work best and if higher quality recorders, which would produce a cleaner sound, are used then "white noise" must be generated. This requirement is why skeptics often claim that EVP is nothing more than radio interference.
To record EVP you first need a recorder – IC recorders have become very popular. A high quality microphone and good headphones are also needed. If the circuitry on your recorder is high quality then you’ll get best results by including "white noise" using a white noise generator of by using a AM radio that is tuned off-station. Many claim that any kind of noise can be used including recordings of white noise, nature sounds, or running water.
A typical EVP session involves taking your gear to a location where spirits would be most likely found – a graveyard or an old haunted house. Walk around the area and speak questions into your recorder, then wait for 30 seconds or so (while playing "white noise" if the internal circuitry of your recording device does not produce enough noise on its own) and record the responses (which you most likely won’t hear on site). Take your recordings home, transport them to your computer, and then use sound edition software such as Cool Edit (now called Audition) to clean up the resulting recordings.