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Paranormal Evidence: Are EVPs as Sketchy as Orbs?

What’s the best EVP you ever heard? Were you instantly convinced it was a disembodied voice from someone deceased?

I don’t remember the first EVP I ever heard. I wish I did. I wish I remembered who had captured it, where it came from, and what it said. I do remember being impressed (and unnerved) by it though.

I’ve always kind of liked the idea of EVPs. I like thinking there’s a way for the voices of ghosts to be heard.

However, I’ve always been skeptical about them too. Not as skeptical as I am of orbs, but still leery. Mainly because 95% of the time I can’t make out what others think the EVPs are saying.

I can hear something’s different about the sound patterns being played back, but I often struggle to heard the word or words others claim they discern.

THE MONSTERQUEST GHOST EPISODE

Last month I was in heaven with all the spooky, paranormal fare on some of my favorite cable stations, such as H2, Bio, and SyFy. It was on one of these channels that I caught a MonsterQuest rerun of the episode about ghosts.

The thing I really like about the MonsterQuest episodes, no matter what topic they examine, are the sources and experts they pull in. In this ghost episode, MonsterQuest didn’t just include paranormal investigators or psychics. Among their sources was a voice recognition expert they asked to review findings gathered from a team MQ had assembled to investigate the Lizzie Borden house.

The voice recognition guy was skeptical of EVPs. He felt most were not voices of the dead and were likely radio transmissions being picked up or cases of auditory pareidolia.

I’ve always been a bit inclined to believe there’s an explanation for most EVPs. I’ve heard a couple “Get out” ones that were pretty clear and convincing, but for the most part I’m not inclined to be impressed by them since I rarely can clearly hear them.

And then there’s another thing that’s always nagged at me, but until I watched that MonsterQuest episode I couldn’t put my finger on it.

THE TROUBLESOME STATEMENT

One of the paranormal investigators on the show said he prefers to use cheap digital recorders to catch EVPs because the more expensive ones filter too much out.

I think I would want the filters. That way you know what you’re hearing was really caught as opposed to what your mind is interpreting, right?

Maybe not. All of this reminded me of another post I wrote when a reader sought advice on voice recorders. A friend of mine, and a great investigator, Steve Fernino, left a message about the best equipment to get for trying to capture EVPs. Steve is also a DJ and has a lot of audio experience. I appreciated his insight.

Especially because he explained how, yes, you can get a “false positive” EVP very easily…using cheap equipment.(Although, you don’t have to use expensive equipment either. It’s more about using the right type of equipment.)

Forget about what filters it has. The format can alter the audio. Here’s part of what Steve had to say:

While most people use them, do NOT use any recorder that records ONLY in mp3, wma, or any other compressed audio format. This alters the audio you capture “after the fact” causing you to hear things that were NOT originally captured by the recorder in the first place.

How? Because file compression of audio uses “matrixing” as a tool! “Matrixing” is the name given to the way the human brain sometimes fools the eyes or ears into seeing or hearing something that isn’t really there. In order to shrink the file size when using date compressed audio (like mp3 or wma) parts of the audio are removed and it is up to our brains to piece the missing information together using clues from what is left to come up with what it was supposed to sound like. Obviously for investigators or enthusiasts who need to determine if they are “matrixing”, recording using formats that employ matrixing as a tool should be avoided like the plague!

Instead, you need to find a recorder that records in what is known as a lossless format. The most common is wav or PCM (which is a type of wav). If it can record in 24 bit wav as opposed to 16 bit wav that is an advantage as well….

… if you need to increase the gain of a recording to pull up a very soft sound you will add distortion which will “color” the audio file and induce noise that was never captured in the original recording. In 16 bit that can be very damaging, with 24 bit it has way less of an effect….

Anything that alters the original audio (like file compression, distortion etc) adds it to the recording after the fact and is often the cause for false positives in evps. By eliminating these things, you know that you have a better chance that something you captured may be the general article and nothing manufactured by the process.

EVPS ARE…

How do you feel about EVPs? Have you heard, or perhaps captured, some really clear ones?

Or are EVPs like orbs? (Which I believe are 99.9% of the time able to be explained as something natural, like dust, bugs or refractions of light, etc.)

For me, the jury is still out. Again, I’ve heard a couple very convincing sounding EVPs, but I do also wonder if it’s my brain playing tricks on me or perhaps the audio being manipulated (whether unintentionally or otherwise).

THE BENEFITS OF BEING A SKEPTIC

I think it’s good to remain skeptical, though. I’m inclined to believe in the paranormal based on experiences I’ve had throughout my life.

However, I also like to question what I believe because it makes me search for other possible answers, which may lead to a different way of thinking about or trying something.

And that’s what research is all about in the end. Trial and error. Making assumptions, testing them, trying to recreate results.

That’s why I’m such a fan of paranormal investigators. I believe if they keep at it, one day someone is going to catch foolproof evidence of…what exactly I don’t know. Ghosts, perhaps. Maybe something more. Like an answer to our souls. There’s no telling. There’s just more searching and discovery.

And jaunting. That’s my contribution to all this. I like to seek out places where the paranormal activity is reported to happen and see what transpires.

3 Comments

  • EVP authenticity depends entirely on who is gathering the evidence and who is discerning it. Orbs that are seen on photographs (not videos) should be considered ‘anomalies’…there is no way to evaluate unless examination is done by a competent psychic skilled in image divinity. EVP evaluation should be conducted in a specific manner. Raw audio is always best, adjusted only for volume and background noise…but in most cases, modification is performed to the point that the EVP is nothing more than a facsimile or babbling garbage left to anyone’s interpretation.

  • Hi Lon! THANK YOU so much for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts on EVPs AND orbs. I very much appreciate you sharing your advice for analyzing them. Once again this is proof why I respect you so much. ;)

  • I feel that authenticity also stems from the fact that many investigators are not really professionals well-versed in the technology they use. An audio analyst or audio production specialist in their day-to-day life would have a completely different understanding of the audio recorders, what was recorded and how it was captured versus someone who picked up a voice recorder and wandered out to a haunted location and hit record. Just as analysis of that recording is more credible if the analyst has a professional background in it than say, a hardware store clerk. Which is more acceptable for a skeptic or scientist? This is why the monsterquest people took that tactic.

    The reason they wanted the cheapo recorders is because of frequency filtering. A large majority of EVPs are captured under the 40hz threshold, in the infrasound range, below human hearing. Most higher end voice recorders (not field recorders) feature high frequency filters to eliminate that range. Designers feel that office workers do not need to hear those ranges. There is a huge distinction between Field Recorders and Voice Recorders and amusingly not that much of a difference in price. So the short-hand for those who do not know about the differences is to simply buy cheap because they do not know better. More on EVPs on our blog http://bit.ly/QMpUzg

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