You have heard the scary messages through voice recorders in the popular paranormal TV shows. An angry spirit voice threatens the investigator with a terrifying “get out!” Sometimes, you might hear names or words in the flow of static noise. But are the recordings real? Can ghostly voices be caught on tape?
Ghostly voices caught on audio recordings (electronic voice phenomena) have not been proven by science. Most EVP recordings need alternations to be heard and can quickly be challenged. A small percentage of EVP recordings is hard to debunk as they were recorded in a controlled environment.
Most EVP recordings in paranormal investigations need alternations to be heard as they are very faint or fragmented. Due to this, EVPs are not scientifically proven to come from ghosts. EVPs are challenged by science as natural causes might cause them – it is easy to hear things you want to hear in a flood of white noise.
If you want to learn how to record an EVP, please read my article How to Record an EVP: Step-by-Step Guide.
Are EVPs real?
EVP recordings of ghostly voices, or electronic voice phenomena, are not scientifically proven. Most of the recordings are faint and hard to hear through the white noise. It might just be a natural transmission of sound picked up.
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that investigators intentionally trick or fool you. I believe the human mind is mighty. The brain has a way of filling out voids with meaning. This is why we might be prone to see paranormal things where there are non. It is our brain filling out gaps in the flood of information thrown at it every millisecond.
The power of suggestion
When we talk about EVPs, we have to keep an open mind. The human imagination might play us a trick. As we search for words or meanings to a haunting, we might hear words where there are non. If the researcher, when playing the recording, says what the audience should be hearing, the power of suggestion kicks in. As paranormal investigators, we search for proof, making it harder to stay objective.
With this said, there are recordings with clear words that can’t be explained. There are different theories about what the recordings are. Some say they are human voices and not ghostly. Maybe the apparatus are picking up radio waves or natural sounds that we don’t hear?
Troy Tayor writes about this phenomenon in his famous book The Ghost Hunter’s Guidebook (affiliate link). He says that EVP recordings are almost impossible to prove. When a non-believer or debunker challenges an EVP, it is impossible to say that recordings are not due to natural interference. We don’t fully understand what we are recording and the limits of the apparatus at this time.
During an investigation, Taylor recorded a creepy EVP with a ghostly “hello.” When thoroughly investigated, it might have been a team member’s upset stomach. The audio recorder was very sensitive and had picked up on the bowel movements.
With this said, I don’t think that natural transmissions cause every EVP. Some recordings can’t be explained. But, as we don’t fully understand what we are recording and the limitations of the recorders, we can’t for sure say they are supernatural. With time and further research, we will understand the phenomena better and, hopefully, be able to debunk or prove it finally.
I think that it is great that we continue to record EVPs. In this way, we learn how to use it and when we register something that can’t be challenged. We need to know how the apparatus works and how ghosts manifest through sound (if they have the capability of doing so).
EVP as proof of the paranormal
EVPs are hard to verify as paranormal proof as they can be easily debunked. This is because we don’t fully understand the phenomena and apparatus. We don’t have a scientific backup of what a recorder can catch and don’t know the mechanics of disembodied voices.
To use EVPs as proof of the paranormal, we need to conduct the recordings in a controlled environment and carefully and thoroughly examine every possible way that a recording might have a natural origin. How this is done is still a mystery. But until then, it is hard to rely solely on EVP recordings. I always recommend using several instruments to capture paranormal evidence.
Natural causes to words in EVPs
We don’t fully understand EVPs and how audio recorders work. In some cases, EVPs have been debunked as interference from radios, baby monitors, bowel movements, sounds from the investigators, and the power of suggestion.
- Radio transmissions
- Sounds from the investigators
- Sounds from animals
- “Smart functions” as auto settings and filters
- Sounds from handheld devices
What to think about when recording EVPs
As so many factors can pollute an EVP, it is essential to eliminate as many causes of errors as possible. Please avoid handheld recorders as they might pick up micro sounds from your hand or clothing. It is always best to use a microphone that is not connected to the recorder. Place the recorder where it will not be subjected to movements from feet or movements.
Never compress the recording, as information might be added or lost. According to Troy Talor, it might be that ghostly voices are recorded through the magnet in the recorder. This is why we don’t hear the voice ourselves.
Tips and guidelines when recording an EVP
When recording EVPs, it is essential to make sure you can use them as evidence. Imagine the feeling of catching a great EVP and having it debunked just because you didn’t cross-reference your recording with other gadgets and tools.
My recommendation is never solely to use EVP recordings. Record the EVP apparatus with the help of a video recorder, digital thermometer, and EMF meters, and be at least two persons in the room.
- Place the EVP recorder in the most haunted area.
- Move the external microphone away from the recorder (at least 3 feet)
- Place a video recorder facing the broad view of the room
- Place a video recorder facing the EVP recorder for cross-reference later on
- Place a digital clock near the recorder – make sure it is caught on video (silent)
- Place a thermometer close to the recorder that is seen on video (silent mode)
- Place an EMF meter close to the recorder – make sure it is caught on video (quiet mode)
- Ask questions very slowly and far apart
- Ask yes or no questions (or questions that need very few words to answer)
- Make verbal notes of any sounds directly when recording
- Never say what people should be “hearing” when playing back the recording
- Check the video for causes of the sound if you catch an EVP
If you want to check out my recommended EVP recorder and headphones, you find them here.