In this episode I will be talking about about Electronic voice phenomena, commonly known as EVP for short – and sharing with you all examples of EVP that I, or my paranormal investigation team – Shadowlands Paranormal Investigations, have captured on some of our team investigations.
Ever since man was first able to comprehend death there have been constant questions about life after death and how people can communicate with those who have passed over. Humanity as a whole has long believed that it is possible to communicate with the dead, and many different attempts have been made over the centuries, such as with the Greek Oracles, or through séances, and mediums. But it wasn’t until the modern age of telephones and recorders that EVP really began. Until that stage there simply was not the means around for this to occur. So, let’s take a brief look at the development of Electronic Voice Phenomena…
A very brief history of EVP
In an interview with the October, 1920 issue of the American magazine – the famous inventor Thomas Edison said, quote: “I have been at work for some time building an apparatus to see if it is possible for personalities which have left this earth to communicate with us.” End quote. He felt that if our personality survived physical death, then it was only logical, or scientific reasoning to assume that the personality retained the memory or the intellect, and the knowledge we acquire whilst on this earth. That also if this were the case, then there ought to be some way of recording these personalities.
Edison, Marconi, and Tesla, who were the inventors and geniuses who lay the foundations upon which electronic communication has been based, spent the last years of their lives trying to develop devices for communicating with the afterlife.
Onwards to 1936 an American photographer, Attila von Szalay experimented with a phonograph record cutter in an attempt to capture spirit voices. He is supposed to had some success with this. Then, the late 1940’s Marcello Bacci from Italy, stated that he was able to pick up deceased voices on a vacuum tube radio1
Moving on to the 50’s there were two Catholic priests by the name of Fathers Ernetti and Gemelli. They were attempting to record Gregorian chants on a magnetophon, ( A magnetophon was the brand or model name of the pioneering reel-to-reel tape recorder). Apparently one of the wires on the machine kept breaking and frustrated Father Gemelli apparently verbally, asked his dead father to help. When the men were listening back to the recording later they were shocked to hear his father’s voice saying “Of course I shall help you. I’m always with you.” Following on from that, the men did further recordings, capturing other voices.
In 1959, a Swedish film producer by the name of Friedrich Juergenson, was recording bird songs. When he played it back he could clearly hear his mother’s voice speaking to him. From that discovery, he went onto record hundreds of such voices. He also wrote two books on the subject: Voices from the Universe and Radio Contact with the Dead. Jeurgenson’s work caught the attention of a psychologist by the name of Dr. Konstantin Raudive. Initially he was very skeptical of Jeurgenson’s claims and began his own experiments. As with Jeurgenson, he also recorded the voice of his deceased mother, calling him by the nick name she always used with him.
Fast forward to the late 70’s and early 80’s a couple by the name of George and Jeanett Meek teamed up with a psychic William O’neil and recorded hundreds of hours of EVP recordings using radio oscillators. Apparently they were able to capture some conversations with a Dr. George Jeffries Mueller a deceased university professor and a NASA Scientist.
In 2007 a gentleman by the name of Frank Sumption, gave an interview to Rosemary Ellen Guiley a paranormal researcher, for the TAPS paranormal magazine – Taps being an acronym for the Atlantic Paranormal Society, about how he had been inspired to create a device now know as Frank’s box, after being inspired by an article about EVP in the Popular Electronics Magazine. He states that his device is a simple method of ‘supplying raw’ audio that spirits or entities can use to form voices. This device works, using a specially modified radio that sweeps its tuning across a range of radio bands from AM, to FM, to shortwave. Sumption says that the sweep can be random, linear, or even done by hand. The theory behind this, is that the spirits can piece words and phrases together from all these broadcast channels to pass on messages.
These days they are more commonly called Ghost boxes – such as the ones used on pretty much all TV ghost investigation shows. This is an example of a Ghost box recording. I was asking if there were any spirit around who could alter the colours on the K2 meter, which is an instrument that lets us know when there’s anomalous activity around. I actually, did not expect this response.
“…this meter beside me light up. It’s got a green light on now, can you make the light got to red? – “Marianne!” – Woah you said my name! Hello!”
A gentleman by the name of Colin Smyth is credited with coining the term, ‘Electronic Voice Phenomena’ (EVP) as a more inclusive alternative to ‘Raudive Voices’, as the voices recorded by Raudive were referred to prior.
Pretty much since the 60’s EVP had begun to be accepted as a legitimate form of paranormal research, but it also remains pretty controversial especially with some paranormal researchers who are looking to find evidence that will support their research, or belief system. so they often try and find a meaning out of what could simply be random sounds or noises. This is particularly noticeable in the recording of EVP.
Part of the issue, is that the human mind is naturally inclined to project meaning onto otherwise random patterns or noises. Or to try and impose meaning on what can appear to be intelligent sounds. some of this is because the brain has a tendency to ‘fill in the gaps.” This is called Pareidolia, sometimes referred to as matrixing. Pareidolia can be visual as in seeing faces in random patterns, or it can be auditory. So, you have to be really careful with this sort of research. However, EVP today, is one of the most widely accepted methods of collecting evidence in paranormal research.
As portable tape recorders became available this was used as a tool by investigators replacing old technology, and ultimately, digital recorders replaced the old cassette tape and computer programs began to be utilized to process the recordings and using various filters background noises were able to be eliminated and specific frequencies could be isolated. This made it much easier to hear the spirit voices.
Some say that because spirit exist on a different dimensional plane than we do, it makes sense, to some, that they may communicate via different frequency range – which means that the recordings might need to be slowed down, or speed up in the editing process, to be able to make out the responses. I personally haven’t particularly found this to be the case.
How do you create EVP and what is it?
So that is a bit of the history of how EVP came about. How do you actually create an EVP and what precisely is it? To create an EVP what investigators do, is simply ask a series of questions – leaving a space of silence on the recording for any responses. After the EVP session is over, the investigators play the recording back and listen for any intelligent or relevant responses caught on the tape, that they did not hear at the time.
One of the theories about EVP is that the spirit doesn’t have enough energy to create voices that are audible to our ears. But, as they are energy themselves they can manipulate the tapes, or these days, digital devices, quite easily. Therefore, Electronic Voice Phenomena, is simply put, when human sounding voices are recorded via analogue (such as the old cassette recorders) or these days via mostly digital means, in radio station noise or on other electronic media, such as cell phones, TV’s, computers, iPads, or digital recorders and some even say it can be heard in the white noise created by fans and the like.
The voices are recorded – often quite accidentally and not only necessarily, when searching out evidence – as in the case of the interview I did with Hannah in our very first podcast on Shadow People. When I was interviewing Hannah, on playback I noticed an incredible amount of feedback and electronic noises that were simply not there when we were talking live – and as I was editing the interview I discovered the EVP amongst them, some were voices talking over the top of her and I, so I could not use that part of the interview as I couldn’t separate the two, and the voices over the top made the whole section unable to be understood. And in fact, you can hear in her interview how sort of tinny, parts of her audio sound. For patreon members, some of these EVP can be heard in the member’s section of our website.
EVP’s are never heard as audible voices, when they are recorded. They would then be called disembodied voices when they are heard audibly, and I will play you an example of a disembodied voice that we recorded at one of our investigations, later in this episode. It is only on play back that they are noticed. Some of these recordings are far easier to hear and understand than others, and they can absolutely be male or female, adult or child. They definitely vary in tone and emotion ad even in accent. Not only can they be voices, but they can also be laughs, whistling, chuckling, clicks, groans, moans, growls and animal noises. They can call the investigators by name, and speak directly to them also, as has happened to me on numerous occasions.
I’m going to play you a few EVP now, where my name has been called. Some are quiet and easier to hear with headphones on. I will repeat every EVP that is played in this episode 3 times so are able to make them out easier. Now these particular EVP are not Class A EVP, which are very clear and easy to discern. They are what would be regarded as Class B. I’ll go over the EVP classifications later in this podcast.
This first EVP was taken at the Park Island cemetery in Napier, in 2017. You can hear me telling a team member to write down a recording that they had just observed, where the temperature had dropped by a couple of degrees and also at the same time, our K2 meter which records anomalous electrical activity was going off. By going off, I mean, the lights were flashing from nothing, to red – which was the highest it could. At the same time team members were picking up these bits of activity, this gentleman spoke up called my name and said a few words.
This second EVP was recorded in the old Napier Cemetery on the Hill by the hospital, again in 2017. I have a particular fondness for this old cemetery. It is the original cemetery for Napier and is sited right opposite the Nurses home where I lived in when I was doing my nurses training at the hospital. I would go and visit the cemetery often and wander around the headstones and sit and enjoy the peace and quietness, and beauty of the place. I hadn’t been back to this cemetery for some years when this recording was taken. You can hear us walking and wind blowing in the background of this one.
This previous two EVP were taken during team training investigation for new members. This third EVP was taken during an actual team investigation of the old Tavistock Hotel, now called Breakers in Waipukurau, in Central Hawkes Bay. This hotel was easily the most active, haunted place my team has ever investigated. With both intelligent and aware spirit being present In this particular EVP you can hear a woman calling me by name and asking for help, followed immediately by Scotty, who was a team member at that stage. This one is particularly faint, and easier to hear with headphones on, not helped by Scotty walking around as you can hear.
Quite often EVP are only a word or two, especially when they are responsive to questions asked, however, on the odd occasion you will get whole sentences, and even conversations between two or more, voices on the recording. Sometimes, as my investigation group Shadowlands Paranormal investigations got, during our investigation of the old Tavistock hotel, you can get what appear to be residual conversations of events that happened on that site many years previously. In this particular recording, you will hear me talking at the beginning of the recording. Then you will hear a female voice, followed by two different male voices, and you can hear the clinking of glasses.
I’ve never been able to figure out why, but very often as with those voices you’ve just heard, sometimes the EVP has a very metallic sound to it, and sometimes it can sound like it’s coming from underwater, it has a really muffled tone to it. But that previous recording in particular, was quite metallic sounding, as you would have heard for yourself. Which makes it actually, sort of indistinct and hard to understand what they are saying.
Sometimes, very often actually, other noises are heard on EVPs like, grunts, growling, or other animal sounds. As in this particular recording from our first Tavistock hotel investigation. I personally have been doing EVP recordings for over 20 years and this is the very first time I have heard a distinct animal sound, apart from grunting or growling. Actually, when I was initially reviewing this audio, I thought it was my own cat calling to get my attention, and I kept getting annoyed and putting my laptop down to see where he was and what he wanted – before I finally twigged that hang on a minute it’s actually on the recording. Another interesting thing about this recording, is that this was taken when we as a team were doing our initial walk-though doing base-line recordings. There were five others, besides myself on this walk-through, because we always do the baseline recordings as a team.
A baseline recording is when you go around the area, checking for electrical sources which could account for spikes in the K2 meters which record electrical activity – so that when you are actually doing your investigation, then you can disregard any K2 spikes in those areas as being from the electrical sources already mapped out. BUT, if it spikes where there was nothing on your baseline sweep, then that is a good indication that you are getting anomalous activity in that area.
As I was saying there were five others besides myself in this room, which was in a room at the back of the kitchen area. We all had handheld recorders. Scottie’s recorder was the only one in the room that picked up the sound of this cat meowing for attention. So that is one of the reasons that we know this was an EVP and not a living cat in the alley behind the building, or more of us would have recorded the cat on our recorders then simply Scottie. The first voices you are going to hear are Karla and James, with me in the background. We had just walked into the room and there was a noticeable drop in the temperature, as recorded on our electronic thermometer, and felt by us all, but James verbalises what we are all feeling and then we get the meow.
Listen for yourself… Also EVP can be, and often is, recorded in other languages – or you can hear distinct and different accents in the voices recorded, such as this voice from the Tavistock hotel. In this recording you can hear team members talking and laughing in the background, and the voice comes in at the very end of the recording. It is very clear, and he says “Kit carried me!” If you listen closely you can hear a tinge of a British or Scottish accent. What is interesting about this site, is that the hotel was removed from it’s original site and placed where it currently stands. Which actually, was also the site of land war battles in the early history of New Zealand. So, we feel that this recording is a soldier, saying that he was carried from the battlefield.
Classes of EVP
As I mentioned earlier, there are classifications of EVP. Firstly, we have the best of all EVP recordings, these are called Class A. The “Kit carried me!” recording you just heard would be considered to be a Class A recording.
Musical break: That’s rather a haunting tune, called Bittersweet, by Poddington Bear. Licensed under Creative Commons, 2019. For more information, be sure and check out my podcast website – walkingtheshadowlands.com .
Class A recordings are easily understood by almost anyone, with little or no dispute on what is said. They are not always necessarily the loudest of recordings – but the clarity of them is undisputed. Class A EVP are also considered to be the rarest, but having said that we tend to get a large number of Class A EVP on our team investigations. And inadvertently actually, when I am recording any voice over work.
These are some of my favourite Class A recordings – In them you can hear the accents of the spirit talking and some are actually conversations between spirit. In this first class A EVP you can hear team members talking in the background and then you can hear a cheeky sounding child’s voice over top of them saying hello. This was taken from the first Tavistock hotel investigation.
This second class A EVP was again recorded at the Tavistock hotel. Karla and Tip were by themselves in the underground storage area of the hotel, which had about 6 inches of water in the basement. It was winter, and it was very cold. You can hear Tip speaking followed by a very British sounding male then Karla at the end. The chap sounds as though he is right by the voice recorder. These next two EVP are two of my very favourites. Both are from the Tavistock – In the first you can hear staff members of the Tavistock, who elected to do the investigation with us, talking. Then you can hear a small boy saying “What is that for? Then I respond with oh look he’s got a little table here.
This Class A EVP is also an example of two spirits having a conversation… I was sitting on a bed in one of the hotel rooms and all of a sudden the temperature in the room dropped markedly. I felt as though someone had put their arms around me, from behind me, and was giving me a hug. I verbalize what I am feeling, and you can hear the electronic thermometer going off. Then you hear a woman saying “Is that you?” And you can hear a man, whispering to the woman, very softly, saying “That’s me at back of her.” Then you hear me again saying “Shaky cold!” Because, it was so bone-chillingly cold, it was making my body shake.
This last Class A EVP was taken during the investigation of a public business. The owner did not wish for the business to be identified, as it is very well known and utilized by a large percentage of the small town it was based in. In this recording you can hear me talking at the beginning to Nathan. I was explaining to him that often times, more negative entities have this very noticeable odour about them. That is something they cannot disguise. A dubious female staff member then says “Oh. Ok.” Followed at the very end, by a male spirit agreeing with what I had just said.
The next class of EVP are called Class B. These usually have warping of the voice in certain syllables, or even an odd metallic sound to the voice, or a distance. Generally, these are more distant sounding than class A and often the volume has to be increased to aid hearing. This is the most common type of EVP that is captured. In this section I’m going to present you with three examples.
The first Class B EVP example is from the Napier cemetery, when we were doing the training investigation. One of the trainees was kidding around and joking about where all the ghosts were. He was just covering his nervousness. Then we get a temperature drop on the thermometer. The K2 meter shows activity and we capture this male voice. I absolutely love this one. It is an older sounding male, but he sounds both a little peeved at the trainee’s attitude, a little bit, and also shows his sense of humour at the same time.
This second EVP is from the same investigation. In this recording you can hear the distance sound of the voice, and also the tinny quality. She was trying to encourage some of the team members to go to where she was in the cemetery. Also, you can hear the footsteps of one of the members walking in the Autumn leaves.
This last Class B EVP was taken during a private investigation of the old Odeon Theatre in Napier, in 2006. It has since been demolished and a department store stands on the site. This was not an investigation I would likely have taken my team onto, as there was some very nasty entities that resided in that building. In fact, in this particular EVP you can hear the sarcasm in the woman’s voice, and also in this EVP you can hear how tinny it sounds, as well as the previous one.
The final class of EVP are Class C – These EVP are the most indistinct, lowest in volume, often whispering that is hard to make out what is being said, and there is often excessive warping and deformation of the words. As in this example, also from the Odeon theatre investigation. I think one example of a Class C EVP is sufficient for you to get the idea of what we’ve been referring to. I’d love to hear your take on what these EVP say so please feel free to write in and let me know what you think they say. You can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the source of EVP?
You’ve heard a few EVP, you have a bit of a background of how they came about. Now we come to the question what precisely is the source of EVP’s? There are many theories as to the source of EVP. The primary theory, is that these are the voices of people who have died. Another, is that these voices are from a different dimension.
Some scientists who study quantum physics postulate, that there are many different dimensions that surround us – think of our dimension as being like an onion skin that has multiple layers, with the other dimensions all wrapped around our layer. People who have died, simply exist in another dimension – after all, we are all basic energy and one of the first laws of physics is that nothing dies it simply changes states, and perhaps vibrates at a different rate than we do… And that, some of the beings who inhabit these other dimensions are able to speak and communicate using this method.
There is another school of thought that these EVP are from the researcher’s own sub-consciousness. That somehow the researchers own thoughts are projected onto the recorder. Others, dependent on their religious persuasion believe that these voices are either angelic or demonic in origin. However, skeptics believe that there is nothing to EVP and the the voices captures are either a hoax, some random noise being misinterpreted as voices, real voices already on the recorder (generally in the days before digital recording – which was actually a very valid point at that stage of the EVP journey, when people used tapes), or as voices picked up from radio waves, walkie-talkies, cell phones, police scanner etc.
Skeptics also say that expectation plays an important role in making people believe they are hearing voices within random noise. According to the psychologist James Alcock what people hear in EVP recordings can best be explained by Apophenia, cross-modulation or expectation and wishful thinking. Alcock, concluded EVPs are the products of hope and expectation, and these claims wither away under the light of scientific scrutiny. Apophenia is related to but distinct from Pareidolia which we discussed earlier in this episode. Apophenia, is defined as the spontaneous finding of connections or meaning in things which are random, unconnected or meaningless and has been put forward as a possible explanation for EVP.
Whilst I am most certainly not discounting the skeptical and scientific perspectives of EVP, and absolutely many EVP I have heard put out by various investigation groups certainly could fall into those categories, it does not explain a large majority of this phenomena. It certainly does not explain spirit having conversations with each other as these EVP show. These next EVP were taken at the Tavistock hotel again, but on a second visit. The second visit we went to do an investigation there with a documentary film crew. We were invited to film with them for this documentary they were making that was just shown on New Zealand TV just recently, called “Following Twain.”
Now the first two EVPs were taken as I was actually by myself, going to the toilet. I had a microphone pack on my back, so it was like a little square box tucked into my trousers. And in this first EVP you can hear three distinct spirit. They sound a bit like children. The first one says “What’s in back of her?” – referring to the microphone pack. The second voice, I can’t quite make out what they say, and the third voice says “Go with this one.” Or similar. So, I’ll leave it up to you to decide what you hear yourself. The second EVP is in the same toilets and you can hear me moving around, opening doors, and getting myself organized to use the toilet. And, you can hear the whispering, but you can’t quite make out what is being said.
So have a listen and tell me what you think. So now I am going to play you a couple of disembodied voices. So these were spirit voices that were audibly heard by team members. This first disembodied voice was recorded at the private business that was mentioned earlier in this episode. And you can hear James respond as he hears the voice, it’s very, very loud. This last disembodied voice was caught in the Napier Cemetery during the team’s first training session. In it you can hear Karla asking somebody to help me down a particularly steep slope and you can hear me saying “No, I’m ok.” Then you can hear a voice. It’s not very clear, or very audible. And then you can hear Karla and Helen responding to it.