EVP - What does it mean and how do I capture one?

5th December 2016. Reading Time: 14 minutes General, Paranormal Investigation, Stuff paranormal investigators need to know, EVP. 4862 page views. 4 comments.

You hear the term EVP thrown around a lot but what does it mean and how can I catch one?

Table of Contents

Anyone with an interest in the paranormal has probably come across the term EVP before. Probably one of the most common and well known techniques used by paranormal investigators and made famous by pretty much all of the paranormal tv shows. For anyone that is starting out in the paranormal field, the first question they usually have is what equipment do I need to get started? To do a paranormal investigation, you don’t need all of the fancy equipment. Sure the bells and whistles are fun and colourful and there are some really great tools that can be used to take readings, however unless you want to invest a couple of thousand dollars to build a decent kit (that is being generous) all you need to get started is a device to record EVPs.

So what is EVP all about?

What IS EVP?

  • EVP Stands for Electronic Voice Phenomena
  • Sounds that are detected on an audio recording which is interpreted to be spirit voices
  • Sounds that are not heard by the human ear, yet appear on an audio recording

I'm not going to get too technical here but the human ear can hear between 20-20000 Hz. A lot of recording devices record outside this range. Some going as low as 7hz and as high as 50000hz and maybe even a wider spectrum. It is thought that this is why the devices pick up voices that our ears cannot hear. It is worth noting that EVPs are also captured within the spectrum a human ear can hear yet we still don’t see to hear it. I guess this is why it is considered a phenomenon! There are a lot of different theories surrounding EVP. Skeptics claim it is just a form of audible pareidolia where the brain is trying to make sense of something and you think you hear a word when in fact it is just some form of background noise. Some believe it is a spirit intelligently communicating with us. Other theories include time shifts where energy is captured and recorded within the walls of a building and by making noise you are releasing this energy and it is captured on your recording. I have even heard people say they think we are communicating with an alternate dimension or even with people from the future. As with all aspects of the paranormal, we have to have an open mind. I cannot tell you for sure what it is that we are picking up on the recorders. In my own personal experience, I believe I have caught some intelligent responses that were direct answers to my questions. I do also believe there is merit in the theory that energy is stored and released as I have captured evidence that seems to back this up. Develop your own opinion by getting out there and gaining your evidence. At the end of the day, your beliefs are your own.

So now that you have a basic understanding of what an EVP is, how do you go about capturing one?

How can I capture an EVP

  • Get yourself a digital recorder
  • Find a quiet spot in a place that is reported to have paranormal activity
  • Press record
  • Ask your questions and leave at least a 10-second silence to allow the spirit to answer your question
  • If there is more than one person, do not talk over one another
  • If there is an outside noise or someone coughs etc, tag it on the audio
  • Try not to move around and make unnecessary noise

Digital recorders can range from $30 on eBay to really expensive fancy ones that go for $100s. You can also use your mobile phone to record an EVP. What you MUST keep in mind is that mobile phones interfere with almost every piece of paranormal equipment so if you are investigating with a group, make sure you have their permission to use your phone. If you are on your own, make sure you aren’t using any other pieces of equipment because you can’t rely on the results. If you are going to use your phone, concentrate solely on your EVP session. Video cameras can also pick up EVPs. Basically, any device that records audio can potentially pick them up. When you are recording your EVP sessions, please do not do this at home. When you open up that line of communication, you are inviting the other side to communicate with you in your home. Sometimes, they like to hang around and you can’t necessarily pick and choose if you get a nice spirit or a cranky one. I can’t tell you how many emails or messages my group receives from people who are wanting help or advice about suspected hauntings in their own home which all stem from them trying to do EVP sessions at home. Just don’t do it. Keep your home as your private sanctuary. I know a lot of investigators think ‘I would love to live in a haunted house’. Trust me you don’t, especially if you have little kids at home like me. I like to keep that side of things away from my house. I mean who wants to sleep with someone standing at the end of your bed? Not me, been there done that. Try a local cemetery, a park, or even a place like a gaol or an old homestead that is open to the public during the day. You can usually find a quiet spot and do a quick 5 minute EVP session. Sometimes that it all it takes. Just remember to be well aware of your surroundings and tag your audio with anything that may contaminate your recording (such as people talking etc) so you are not confused when you play it back. It could be something like ‘car driving past’, ‘footsteps in the hallway is Sarah walking’, ‘Glenn just coughed’. You get the point.

Once you have recorded your EVPS, it is time to take your recorder, upload your audio and review it.

How do I review EVP?

  • Invest in a good pair of earphones
  • Download sound editing software. Audacity or Wavepad is a great free program for MAC or PC
  • Choose a time to sit down when you can be uninterrupted and there is little background noise
  • Timestamp any abnormalities you think maybe an EVP
  • Get a second or even third opinion. Do not tell them what you think it says

Reviewing is long and can be boring but can also be really exciting. A lot of investigators go straight from an all-night investigation to the computer to review the hours of audio. When you think you may of caught something while it is exciting, this is where the investigator side of you needs to come out. Firstly you need to rule out any possible contamination (that is why it is important you tag your audio so you don’t have to rely so much on your memory.) It is important to be in the mood so that your attention span is there and if you are like me and have little noisy boys running around the house, you can’t do any sort of EVP review until they are well and truly asleep in bed. (Even then the odd ‘Mummy I'm scared of a shoe on the floor in my room I can’t sleep’ is very possible). Another fun thing to do which is also super important is to send the audio off to someone else for an opinion. It can be a great bonding exercise to swap potential EVPs with other investigators. It can also be a great learning for you as well particularly if the person you are swapping with is more experienced than you are. Their opinion and feedback can be really valuable. It is what I used to do when I first started. I would spend all night every night on Skype swapping potential EVP’s that I possibly caught on my recent investigation. It was a step towards developing relationships as friends and investigators and the team eventually formed after that. It is also great to get a second opinion because you want them to validate what you think you are hearing. In order to do this, it is really important that you don’t tell them what you think you hear. Once you tell them, you are planting that seed in their head and their brain is going to tell them that is what they are hearing. If they come back and tell you the same thing you think you are hearing and you haven’t told them in advance, it just gives more credit to your potential EVP.

Sometimes, an EVP may need some enhancement. There are a few things that you can do.

How to edit an EVP

  • If required, remove the background noise to make the EVP clearer
  • Amplify the sound so the EVP can be heard more clearly
  • If you need to do more advanced work such as slowing the audio down etc, it probably is not an EVP worth pursuing

This again can be a heated topic depending on what your belief with EVP is. There is no documented right or wrong answer, it is what you believe. Some people like to review EVP’s backward or feel there are messages embedded within white noise and do all sorts of things to manipulate the audio file to get what sounds like a word. In my personal opinion and this is my own opinion if you need to do too much to an EVP, I don’t feel it is worth it. Besides maybe removing some background noise and amplifying the sound I wouldn’t be doing anything else to it and even then if a really good EVP presents itself, you won't have to do any of this. I also personally feel it is harder to submit a file to the paranormal community as proof of the existence of spirits when the file in question has been edited in any way. Skeptics can rip that apart in seconds because it has been manipulated. Once you do any sort of editing, you are changing the file. I also believe that you can do too much editing to an EVP and what once sounded like a potential EVP becomes a muddled mess.

EVPs are separated into different classes and you often hear investigators get excited and say ‘This is a Class A EVP’. So what are the classes and why are they important?

EVP Classes

  • CLASS A: This type of EVP is loud, clear, and of very high quality. The voice is easily understandable and does not need enhancement or amplification
  • CLASS B: Most common type of EVP. Often needs some sort of enhancement or amplification to be understood. The voice may not be clear enough to be understood or there may be disagreement as to what it says.
  • CLASS C: Lowest quality EVP. Even with enhancement and amplification, it may not be enough to make the voice audible or clear. There may even be a debate whether or not an EVP is actually present

These days unless it is a really good Class B or a Class A, I don’t give it the time of day. Again personal opinion but I can tell you the Class A’s are out there. They are rare but they are out there. So what do you do when you think you have found a really good EVP?

What do I do now I have caught an EVP?

  • Note down what the EVP says
  • Is it a direct answer to your question?
  • Can you match it back with historical data?
  • Use it as a tool to help you gain more information in your next session
  • Try to use EVP sessions as a way to put together the pieces of a puzzle and learn the story of the spirit you have been communicating with

If you are going to go public with your EVP on social media, be prepared to have it ripped apart. Regardless of how good you think it may be, there are so many different opinions on EVP and some people don’t believe in them at all. It ends up turning what may be a great capture to you into a big argument and it ends up tainting the whole thing. I guess ask yourself why are you putting it up on social media? Is it because you want likes or is it that you want proper feedback from your peers. If it is the latter you can absolutely seek opinions from your peers but again be prepared to have it debunked. Don’t block and ban someone that is giving you legitimate feedback that could be true just because you don’t like what they are saying. I haven’t put an EVP up on social media for about 2 years. The reason is that it just isn’t worth it and more importantly I haven’t actually caught anything that is so amazing that I can 100% say for sure that it is an EVP and here is my proof. My advice is don’t worry about posting it up on social media because that shouldn’t be why you are doing EVP sessions. Why are you doing EVP sessions? To get answers. Use the answers you are getting in an EVP session to help you. I like to use EVP’s like they are an interview. I am trying to find out the stories of the spirits I am communicating with. Use the answers to help you build your questions for the next time you are going back. Put together the pieces of the puzzle and make your investigation worthwhile. Did you get a name? Match it back to historical data – this can be really rewarding and exciting. It can help you gather more information about the person you may be communicating with and can help you put together your next set of questions to fill in the gaps of what history has already told you.

You don’t even have to wait until the end of the investigation to review your EVP. If you are at a location and it is a once-off kind of deal there are a couple of things you can do. Depending on your line of questioning, there may not be much point of asking questions and getting the answer a few days later when you review it if you can’t follow it up so you also have to be smart about your questions. Live listening is something that can also help you. It involves plugging headphones directly into your recorder. You will hear what the recorder is recording so if there is a potential EVP you should be able to hear it. You are getting your answer on the spot and you can ask more questions accordingly. You can also do what we call EVP burst sessions where you do a quick 2 – 3 minute recording and play it back straight away through a speaker to see if there are any answers. Of course, unless it is a Class A or a good Class B you won’t be able to make it out but it is very possible they can come through. Again though always be aware of your surroundings Remember noise can travel in the right conditions.

There is so much you can do with EVP and you can start getting really technical especially on the review side but this should give you a basic start to conducting your own EVP sessions. It is one of the easiest, cheapest ways to get started as a paranormal investigator. Start making a list of questions you can ask. Some people take to it very naturally while others need a cheat sheet of questions. I even go blank sometimes and I have done hundreds of sessions but I have my little catalog of goto questions to get me started. Practice makes perfect and if you don’t get anything the first time, keep trying. You might do a lot of sessions before you capture anything. It is all part of the investigating journey. Keep a database of your EVPs and don’t be afraid to debunk your work. It can be disheartening to find out that what you thought was a kickass EVP was really someone across the room whispering but it is the debunking and rational thinking that makes you a better investigator. Eventually, you might find that one that you can’t explain.

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  • Joseph Kapusta 5 years ago

    Just my humble opinion but I'd like to add to 'not go cheap' on your digital recorder. There is so much more that goes into the science of sound & recording methods but keeping the discussion limited to a simple recorder, it would be important to note some suggested minimum standards that greatly increase the quality of recordings; to name a few minimums: 96kbps or greater sample rate, 24-bit sampling & finally, non-lossy recording format (PCM), i.e. WAV, not MP3 (CELP) or similar.

  • Benjamin 7 years ago

    Hello I moved in to a new apartment. My self my wife and my 8 year old son kept hearing voices mostly a little girls voice asking for her mom I decided to record with my phone one night and a little girls voice said hi!... Then I did 2 or 3 more recordings and received answers almost every time I asked a question, a direct answer.. I've never really done recordings and actually I'm just wondering is this real because I'm a skeptic I have an interest but at the same time I'm a realist is this really happening...

    • Living Life In Full Spectrum 7 years ago

      Hi Benjamin, without investigating the house, I can't give you an explanation as to if it is something that is paranormal or not. If it is something you would like to explore further, I suggest you contact your local paranormal group who may be able to come in and give you some answers. Quite often there is a rational explanation, however there are times when we can't explain it. If you are based in Australia, I am happy to recommend someone for you.

      • Jeremy B 5 years ago

        I had something similar happen. It turned out it was neighbors and I was hearing them through the wall; whether it was them or their tv. Unfortunately apartments aren't the best unless you know that they are completely abandoned. There are many factors that come into play in how sound can echo off walls and even be bounced from outside from street level. I use a voice recording program set at high sensitivity (dragon naturally speaking) and it occasionally puts words on a document on my screen so that i don't have to go through hours of recordings. I leave it on at night when it's completely silent except for the air conditioning. The results have been staggering.