Saturday, December 1, 2012

EVP Tips and Tricks



With a new year fast approaching, I've been trying to gain a better understanding of my readership, and what kind of things YOU want to read at Theresa's Haunted History!  Since there are a lot of investigators, plus a lot of people INTERESTED in paranormal investigation that visit, I'd like to start sprinkling in more investigation information, starting with the basics and working my way up.

To get started, I'd like to share some tried and true tips and tricks for getting the most out of your EVP sessions!

EVP stands for electronic voice phenomena, and refers to the act of capturing voices on a voice recorder that aren't heard with the human ear at the time  (if the voice is heard aloud, whether or not its captured on a recorder, we call it a disembodied voice).  There are many, many theories as to how and why this is possible.  There are an equal number of theories as to what the best type of recorder to use is---digital or analog, followed by what make and model.  This information will be discussed in a later blog, but for now, I've compiled a baker's dozen +2, of my most useful tips and tricks when it comes to capturing and analyzing EVPs! 

1. Choose a "type" of EVP session.  There are three major subcategories when it comes to types of EVP sessions, and each one can be utilized to some extent, based on your needs and projected goals.  The first is simply a Passive EVP session.  In passive sessions, the recorder is simply left to run, usually in an empty, yet controlled, room.  You don't actually ASK any questions, but rather, leave the recorder to simply run and see what it picks up.  This type is usually reserved for people wanting to find out what goes on in a room when no one is there, making any sounds heard (given they are paranormal and not of a natural explanation) residual in nature.  This is also an ideal strategy for those who believe that actively asking an entity questions gives them the go-ahead to make contact with YOU, even at times and locations outside of the EVP session.  If your recorder has a function that allows it to only record when a voice/noise is picked up (voice activation), experiment with it on that setting so that you're not having to listen to hours and hours of nothing.

Obviously, the next type of session is the Active session, where the investigator actively asks questions of the suspected entity, hoping for a response.  The bulk of tips following will concentrate on the ACTIVE session.  Lastly, I simply have a category called "other."  This last category is simply letting the recorder run while you're talking, taking a break, interviewing a client, or setting up/breaking down.  Having a recorder running during an interview is a great way to go back and double check information that you might have missed in your notes.  It has an added benefit, because sometimes an entity likes to chime in when certain subjects are being discussed...namely, themselves, lol.  That's also why we like to run the recorder while we're just chatting--you never know when an entity will want to make itself heard, and many of our very best EVPs were captured under these circumstances.

2. Once you decide what type of session you'll be performing, you'll want to find a place to do it.  Wherever you choose to do the session, make sure you are on camera at all times!  I cannot stress how important it is for everyone involved in the session to have his/her face fully on camera at all times.  This cuts down on a huge false positive of an investigator making a noise and not remembering it later on.  You can also tell if the investigators present seem to react to overly loud noises or not, ruling out natural causes. This simple step does huge things to improve your integrity in a field where so little is constant.

3. I always find it polite to introduce myself to any entities that may be present.  Let them know who you are, and why you're here...and how your equipment will let them communicate with you. 

4. When doing an EVP, my main goal is to find out who the entity is, even if we already have a suspect, why they are still here, and if there is anything we can do to help them.  However, to add integrity and have a possible chance at historic documentation, we do need to find out WHO the entity is, and the best way to do so is to ask a variety of questions in a variety of ways.  Redunancy is key--ask for name, surname, family members, birthdate, current president, occupation, etc.  Be creative.

5. Along those same lines, tailor questions to fit your suspected entity.  Even if you just have a time period in mind, you can really tailor questions that would be appropriate of that era to maximize your results.  We do a lot of Civil War era buildings, so we like to ask about "current events" from that time period, and discuss what side that person supported.  In addition, watch your tone of voice depending on who you suspect the entity to be.  For example, you'd not only ask different questions, but you'd talk in a completely different tone and vocabulary to a child than you would a general.  It also doesn't hurt to pick up a few key phrases in different languages that are, or were at one time, prevalent in your area of investigation.

6. I strongly encourage anyone new to this field to NEVER provoke an entity, or challenge it...and even to the veterans, use only with extreme caution and with full understanding and permission from the property owner.  Provoking is often extremely rude, and not necessary to elicit a response.  In extreme cases, it can be dangerous.  An irate entity may make its feelings known to you, but more than likely, it'll wait until you're gone, and take it out on the owner or occupant.  The misuse or overuse of provoking is unprofessional and makes this field look bad.

7. Allow ample time in between your questions.  When I first started investigating, the recommended allotted time between EVP questions was 30 seconds.  I've always found this to be overly tedious and not neccessary.  About 5-10 seconds is ample, as most true EVPs are only a word or two long.

8. Don't forget your voice tags!  If you hear a dog bark, say "dog barking" aloud, and also write it down!  Any noise you hear, make sure to note it so that there's no confusion later.  Coughing, whispering, sneezing, tummy noises, outdoor traffic, animal noises, etc. can sound grossly different through a recorder's microphone, so make note of it and you won't be confused.  Further, make sure you speak in a loud, clear voice and never whisper...whispering sounds too ambiguous on a recorder and may be mistaken as an EVP.

9. When starting the analysis phase, don't get burned out.  Get a good set of headphones, and only listen to your recordings in chunks.  You shouldn't listen for more than 15-20 minutes at a time.  Take a short break, then listen to another chunk.  This cuts down on aural fatigue, which can lead to hearing things that aren't there.

10. ALWAYS save a copy of the ORIGINAL file...one that hasn't been amplified or altered in any way. 

11. Don't over analyze.  If you do too much to "clean up" and amplify a recording, you're opening yourself up to audio-pareidolia.  If you can't understand what the EVP says without anything but some minimal work, then there's a good chance its not a true EVP.   Save it for research purposes, but don't get upset when others question its integrity.  And as an added bonus, since you don't really need to do too much to an EVP, you're not going to need expensive software starting out.  Audacity and other such free programs do a great job for beginning EVP work.

12. When letting others hear a possible EVP for the first time, don't tell them what YOU hear.  Let them decide first, then discuss, else you run the risk of false positives caused by the power of suggestion.  Along the lines of this step, you might want to have a full understanding of the ABC class system used to denote the clarity of EVP recordings.  I'll add a link below for more information.

13. Listen for "pop-clicks." EVP research has shown that many true EVPs will follow a noise that sounds like a pop or a click.  It is theorized that this noise is the entity breaking the sound barrier into our dimension.  If you hear a pop or a click, take a closer look at the segement immediately following.

14. While conducting an EVP session, don't be afraid to use other pieces of equipment, such as a Mel Meter, K-II, thermometer, or other type of EMF meter.  By sync'ing audio with your video that you have running, you can tell if any EVP is accompanied by a change in temperature, EMF, etc.  One piece of evidence is great, but having a back-up, supporting event is even better!  Similarly, many people like to have more than one voice recorder running in the same area.  Some models just pick up different frequencies better, and by some theories, an entity may simply choose a recorder to "imprint" a voice on, so its interesting to compare results.

15. And last but not least...don't try this at home!  I always advise people to never conduct EVP sessions at their own homes, whether or not they think they have paranormal activity or not...if you do think you have activity, keep a journal and call in a reputable team.

There are several reasons why I never recommend someone doing this in their own home.  For starters, it causes unneccessary fear.  Most are just not emotionally ready to handle hearing an ethereal voice in their home.  To some, this may even be unfounded, if a layperson misinterprets a non-EVP as an EVP.  Further, I have seen people actually get addicted to EVP work.  If they aren't analyzing EVP, they're running recorders, 24/7 until it becomes unhealthy and life-consuming.  Associating this activity with something that can be done at home just leads one more quickly to this downward spiral...so don't do it!

This entry is much longer than I intended it to be, so I'm gonna stop there, but please check out the links below, and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please let me know!  I will be addressing further EVP issues in the future, so if you have a recommendation, I'd love to hear it!  Take care, and happy hunting!

HPIR's Best EVPs

EVP ABC Classification System

Association TransCommunication ( formerly AA-EVP)

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