The Evaluation of Audio for EVP Evidence
I'll start with the basics of my approach. Learn to listen. I listen just like I am listening to music. I have always
been one to follow individual instruments. I can separate out and isolate them, following them throughout the
piece. This is much easier with rock bands versus an orchestra because of the number of instruments involved,
the same for vocals. With practice you begin to catch mistakes made by musicians and vocals that just don’t
quite meet, especially in harmonies. I have done this all my life so it is easy now.
So what does this have to do with EVP? How I catch EVP is listening and zeroing in on things that are out of
"harmony". I listen to the whole track to get the gist of the audio, noting the voices of our people and other folks
that may be there with us. Learn to identify voices and the small things that are out of place with the
background. My mind clicks on things out of place. When that bell goes off in my head, I go back and listen
again. Most times it is nothing but an investigator changing the pitch of their voice or a sound that resonated
strangely because of acoustics.
Sometimes it is a true EVP.
In our early years of investigation, I listened to audio tracks directly from the recorder. This was OK but I ended
up missing a lot. With a pair of adequate but not quite state of the art head phones, I was able to hear some EVP
but I was missing more than I identified. How do I know this? I went back with some of the lessons I learned
along the way and re-listened to the same audio with surprising results.
For example, a fifty five minute slab of audio recorded in 2008 was reexamined after a year. The first time, I
isolated eight EVP. With improved technique and better head phones, I found there were twenty eight!
So what changed?
The first thing was I had practiced isolating things that did not belong. Secondly, I had changed how I listened
to recordings. Instead of listening directly, I took the recording from the device and downloaded it to the
Initially we used magnetic tape. This was a difficult download because it required minute by minute download.
It is time consuming and includes tape hiss. We started using digital recorders. These are small, compact,
stereo recorders with USB download as an MP3 file. The difference is seconds versus hours and a better
recording. The reason I picked these recorders was because of sound quality and price. There are many great
digital recorders out there. You just have to choose the features you like.
As a routine,I download to the computer, and immediately make a CD of the audio for preservation. This way I
don’t worry about losing evidence. Only then do I use an audio editing program. I have tried Sound Soap,
Audacity,and a few others,but I chose is Wave Pad. For me it was easy to use and had the tools I wanted for
clipping and sometimes modifying EVP.
Here is something that some may not have thought of, amplification! Many investigators I know plug their
headphones directly into the computer for analysis. I did this too for a while. I always have a set of high quality
speakers plugged in to my computer so why not add some amplification to what you are listening to by plugging
into the speaker head phone jack! This works very well! You can in turn adjust your head phone volume with
the speaker control.
An important technique is to reduce the base response from your recording. Many of the more expensive hand
held recorders like Sony, Panasonic, Bose add base to the track recorded, while the "electronic noise
cancellation" feature often edits out "recorded noise" and don't really do much to deaden the noise from the
Most manufacturers make what they call studio head phones that do two things: One, they use mechanical
exterior noise reduction, and two, studio headphones reproduce the sound exactly as it was recorded, nothing
added. I use Sennheiser HD.
The last thing I want to talk about is clipping, and sound editing. An ideal clip is one with little or no alterations
that includes a few moments before and after the sound. When that is impossible, clip may need amplification
or something else. On the program, make a copy of the original and one to work with. You may need to filter
out background noise, speed up or slow down a clip to understand it. Just remember, use the very minimum of
change to get the best result, and present both together. One other thing you may want to consider if you have
good sound quality but just can’t understand what is being said, try playing the audio in reverse. That may
sound unscientific, but it has worked on occasion.
Now you have your clip, you cleaned it up, listened in reverse and still you are not sure of the words. Unplug
the headphones, set the audio in a loop and hit play. Count the syllables,or walk away and listen from a
distance. That may be all you need. All of a sudden everything becomes clear. Do not label the clip, but write
down your interpretation before bringing it for group review. Listening Panels are best practice for EVP, they're
fun and a good way to get a majority opinion as to its authenticity. Agreement on EVP can be difficult because
no two people hear the same. But when in doubt throw it out or mark it as low quality or questionable.
The way I do all this fits me, who I am and how I listen. It might not work for you. These are just tips and
suggestions. Find your best method and then refine it to a point you have reproducible results. After months
have passed, go through the track again. See if you pick out the same items. You may be surprised at what you
find the second time.
Record keeping is important! I give each clip a specific code to make it easier to find later. PCP EVP codes
include the date, time of recording, location code and investigator initials. Even after years or several
investigations of the same site, you can always return to review the original recording, hearing the clip in
context. When all is done,make a special disc of "Best EVP" for that investigation for easy reference. We
literally have an entire cabinet full of discs collected from our many cases.
Years from now, someone invent a better way to listen. Who knows what a new device or program will reveal...
|Recording the Evidence
Port City Paranormal uses many methods to capture evidence. We take hundreds of still photos with digital cameras
to document the places we investigate. This gives us a permanent visual reference for everything. Human memory has
gaps but a pictorial history leaves nothing to the imagination. The same is true of all the video we record, all of which
has audio. **After investigations, we immediately download all data directly to disc and the originals are stored in our
archives. Only copies are used for editing, review, or presentations.
Audio is huge when it comes to an investigation. It gives us listening landmarks for everything. We know everything
that was said in relation to the events that took place. Our recordings provide permanent details of what actually
happened. Once we have all this compiled, we begin the search for evidence. Listening for the voices!
Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) is best described as a voices or sounds that are imprinted on a recording
device that we, as investigators, are unable to hear. EVP are an extraordinary form of evidence, but how an entity or
spirit is able to communicate using this technology, has so far defied explanation. Although we cannot be sure of their
origin, EVP are the most common source of evidence.
When it comes to audio recording, we have made some amazing progress through research and experience.
Magnetic tape was our first tool but we found unless an external microphone is used, the noises from the device were
also recorded. Moving the mic some distance away from the recorder prevented most mechanical sound interference.
Then we found the digital recorders. Digital systems were more portable, record longer (without tape), and they don’t
have moving parts to interfere with what you are trying to record. We first purchased a pair of Sony ICD recorders.
This type of recorder was great because you could continuously record over a full investigation with a relatively small
file, but a major drawback is they only record in MP3 format. MP3 compresses audio files digitally to reduce the file
size. MP3 uses psychoacoustics to remove what the program determines as unnecessary information. In other words,
it removes small bits of sound that the program believes to be beyond our ability to hear, or would not contribute to
the overall enjoyment of the recorded music. It takes a full sound recording, but only lets us hear what it decides we
should hear. This type of format is also known as lossy compression. Lossy compression may be good for music, but
does not work for recording EVP. We never want to lose anything.
So what is the solution? What we are looking for is an uncompressed, lossless recording format. A method of
recording that does not subtract content and reproduces the sound exactly as recorded. Most hand held digital
recorders use MP3, WAV, or Linear PCM formats. The WAV and PCM are uncompressed, and are the ones you
want to use. Most basic computers can use WAV files, or automatically convert PCM files to WAV files.
Now we run into another problem. Most voice recorders add bass tones to recordings to give it a richer tone. Music
and voices may sound better with additional bass, but the bass tends to mask other more subtle sounds. A huge
problem as some EVP may be in a higher range. Adding bass can also distort some aspects of speech making it even
more difficult to determine what has actually been said.
There are two solutions to this problem. One would be to purchase a more specialized studio recorder like an
Olympus LS-12, sold as a Linear PCM recorder for music.("Studio" refers to having "true sound".) As an alternative to
buying expensive equipment, a simple method is to manually lower, or completely remove the bass from the
recording as you listen.
The last thing I will mention is how you listen.
I recommend buying a good editing program. Slight alterations can be used to clarify sounds or voices. Find a
program that is easy for you, but just don’t do too much. Little tweaks are better. Over editing can destroy what you are
searching for. Many sound editing programs also allow you to clip segments where you think you may hear an EVP
and save it in a file. Not only can you get a second opinion, but it also saves time during listening panel reviews.
Enjoy the search for EVP. It is time consuming but very rewarding when you hear one. It takes about three hours of
review for every hour you record. Develop your own technique. Go back and forth over each segment, or run the full
audio several times before you do a complete review.
No matter how you do it, do it well!
|TIP: Always have recorders turned on when entering investigation site.
The entire investigation will be documented, and no EVP/ITC will be missed.
The theory is that spirits may have more energy to use at the beginning of vigil.
|From inception, Port City Paranormal eliminated the need for
a "Central Command" and the miles of video cable.
We travel light!
|To prevent tampering many experts suggest using polaroid
" Land-cameras" with self developing film.
|Copyright Port City Paranormal®
All Rights Reserved
Welcome to the Technical side of Paranormal Investigating.
Here at Port City Paranormal, we believe the best investigations are a
combination of both spiritual and scientific approaches.
To understand the human experience, our bodies are the best detectors, but
this evidence can be corroborated by scientific measurements of the
environment surrounding the phenomena
We continue to expand and modify our equipment and techniques to obtain
the highest quality data for our research.
By Doug Anderson
|If you have any questions about our
ParaTec, please email Doug at