EVP or Not? My Observations

Sound Wave
Sound Wave

I have listened to many EVP’s captured from all over the US and the World and one thing that continues to show up in many EVP’s is low bit-rate or low quality recordings that are highly processed and filtered. Many real EVP’s will produce themselves in the background white noise, more or less they will ride on this noise and require very little processing if none.

One of the problems I hear often is for whatever reason, maybe to get more background noise or to allow more recording time on limited memory models is that the individual will reduce the recording bit-rate and quality so low that the recorded sound starts to take on a garbled Sci-Fi effect. Add processing and you have an audio recording that has morphed into something that may sound like a creature from the black lagoon when in fact it may be just someone entering a room talking, shuffling a few items and then leaving.

If you take a voice recorder and lower the bit-rate to the lowest quality, add a squeaking door and a few voices to the mix you can get a rather interesting effect when the audio is in the background. Low bit-rate recordings introduce way too many digital artifacts which tend to distort the background sounds and produce these types of effects. You are better off using a cheaper recorder with less shielding that has an average Signal-to-Noise Ratio and keep the bit-rate or quality on its highest setting. This will produce a decent quality white noise and allow you to hear real EVP’s much better with little or no processing.

More on bit-rate and compression

Most modern day digital voice recorders are very simple, they consist of a condenser microphone(s) audio processing circuits, memory chip and a power and data interface. Most all standard voice recorders will use some form of audio compression such as MP3 or WMA (Windows Media Audio). Each of these types of audio compression formats are lossy algorithms which mean that during recording the process will remove unwanted bits that are not needed for standard voice playback. For example, if I were recording a conversation in the room the compression algorithm would remove frequencies above and below a certain threshold that would result in a much smaller file than if I left all frequencies in the recording.

During playback, the process will attempt to rebuild or recreate these empty areas based on data stored from the compressed audio file. In the attempt, the audio will exhibit digital artifacts and noise from the compression algorithm. Depending on the amount of compression the playback audio may suffer considerable integrity which make destroy any EVP that may be present. It may also distort background voices from people present to the point of not being able to proper identify these correctly.

Device’s such as digital voice recorders can be a great tool if you understand a few basic rules, and they are:

  • Don’t use a high end portable recorder such as a Tascam or other pro studio recorder model, these are engineered to mask out unwanted EMF and are shielded so well that capturing EVP’s may be very difficult. If you are trying to capture sound in a room or area then these will give you superior quality with no compression.
  • Do use an average quality recorder such as a standard digital voice recorder. These usually range from about $30 to $60 bucks. These recorders tend to have minimal shielding but do allow a decent high quality bit rate recording. These recorders will produce a very clean white noise background and will also give you crisp voice recording and good EVP’s. Always calculate the memory based on the highest quality record mode for the time needed.
  • Do not handle the voice recorder while recording more than you have to. Holding a digital voice recorder during recording can produce quite a bit of unwanted noise that can mask an EVP not to mention be hard on the ears when listening. Try and find a solid soft surface such as a table with paper or cloth to help reduce the vibrations. If that is not available then look for the best location to set the recorder down or attach a small felt strip to the bottonm to allow for vibration damping.
  • When starting each EVP session, announce the time, people present and the area or room you are in so this can later be referenced during review. Also, remember to stop the recorder and start a new file each location you visit.
  • When dictating to a digital voice recorder, there is no need to place the unit near your lips. Most voice recorders are very sensitive and will pick your voice  just about anywhere in the room or if your sitting near the voice recorder.
  • Do not use VOX or Voice Activated Voice Recording, this will many times give undesirable results such as partial EVP’s and other recorded sounds.
  • When conducting an EVP session, inform all members in the area or room to not whisper. Depending on the circumstances a whisper can be heard later as a potential EVP. Speak in a normal but quiet voice. This will be unmistakable during the review.
  • Make sure that any sounds you or your team members make in the room such as breathing heavy, stomach sounds, bumping an object or anything else that may be questionable later during review is noted on audio during the session.
  • When asking questions during an EVP session, allow several minutes in between each question for a response. Try to be very quiet after each question by breathing low, not moving and etc. This will help you get a better EVP if there is a response.
  • If sounds or strange occurrences happen in the area or room during an EVP session then note them on audio with the time and place of anomaly.

These are some of my observations and recommendations when it comes to recording and conducting a good EVP session. I find it best to just use common sense when trying to capture an EVP and using the right tools and procedures can greatly improve your chances. Good luck and good hunting…

Eric Haney

About admin 44 Articles
I am the Founder & Lead Investigator for MFPS. My experience with paranormal investigation and research go as far back as the early 80's. I currently hold a position as an Electronics Engineer and Systems Programmer for a large national audio/visual company.
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  1. Hi,

    could you clarify this point?

    “Don’t use a high end portable recorder such as a Tascam or other pro studio recorder model, these are engineered to mask out unwanted EMF and are shielded so well that capturing EVP’s may be very difficult. If you are trying to capture sound in a room or area then these will give you superior quality with no compression.”

    The first sentence is clear to me but the last one sounds like an endorsement despite the disadvantage of the shielding? Also I find it impossible to get a digital voice recorder that doesn’t use MP3/WMA or some other compression without getting a more expensive one that’s probably shielded too well at the same time, do you have any specific model recommendations?

    Best regards, Claus

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