Every now and then I look through the summary of the search engine terms that bring people to The Big Séance. The list is huge, but in some way or another, several people have been searching for EVP instructions, and some have asked various questions about capturing EVP.
There are many many ways of recording for and capturing EVP. For decades, people all over the world have successfully recorded spirit voices in their own individual way. There are basic techniques, and there are techniques that are rather complicated, some requiring more equipment and more explanation. There are also wonderful techniques that due to times changing and new technology, are just outdated.
My experiences with EVP began as a paranormal investigator, but more recently it comes from research and conducting frequent EVP experiments in my home. EVP sessions during a paranormal investigation are typically a different ballgame all together.
Rather than writing a blanket “how to” post, I want to make it clear that this is simply me sharing how I typically go about recording for EVP for experiments in my own home.
My technique for recording EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)
Finding a location
Find a location that is both quiet and comfortable. In my opinion, good vibes help. You want a location where you are familiar with your surroundings. Do certain noises or creaks happen at certain times? The central air kicking in, the fridge, the ice maker, be familiar with it all. For example, at my home there is a bathroom near my typical recording location. I’ve learned that after anyone takes a shower or uses a lot of hot water, the water lines will pop and make loud thud sounds in the wall off and on for 10 or 20 minutes.
Ideally, you will want to record when you are alone in the house/location. If someone is in the home with you and cooperating with your session, be sure to document their location and the fact that they are there, just in case confusion pops up later and you don’t remember. With certain sensitive recorders, someone speaking softly or making noise several rooms away or on a different floor will seem incredibly close, even if you don’t hear it with your own ears.
You’ll want to pick a time of day where the neighborhood (if that is an issue for you) is at its quietest. This is perhaps why many people choose to record in the evenings.
Either in your recording or in a log of your session, document specific equipment you’re using (if it’s out of the ordinary). Document anything you may be trying or changing as far as technique goes. Also, as mentioned above, document anything odd in your surroundings for a session. Is the ceiling fan on? Is your husband downstairs reading the paper? Are there roofers across the street? Is there thunder and lightning outside? Also, (and this is important and comes from personal experience) is the dog in the room? Sometimes my dog is with me and other times not. When listening back later it may be important to know.
Recorders and their placement
Now days I think it is safe to say that most researchers and investigators use digital recorders, but if you go digital, definitely look for USB capabilities. There are several brands and models that are very easy to use and upload to your computer for listening and analysis. I use the Sony ICD PX-820, the Sony ICD PX-720 (those specific models probably aren’t made anymore), and the Tascam DR-07 with an external Tascam microphone.
In my opinion, it is important to use two recorders at the same time for sessions. These recorders should be different models or brands. Let me explain why I do this.
One of my recorders (the Tascam) is a little fancier and a little more expensive than the others. I also tend to use a pretty good external microphone with it. The other recorders are more basic and simple and most of the time I just use the internal microphone with those. I almost never capture EVP with the better recorder, and that’s okay. Because of how well it records and how sensitive it is, muffled or unclear sounds from the environment picked up in another recorder will most likely be more obvious when I listen to the recording from the better recorder. Many times I’ll hear something that sounds like it is crawling up from the depths of hell. I’ll replay it thirty times trying to figure out if it is saying “Let’s get Keller” or “We’re hiding in the cellar”, etc. But then when I listen to the other recorder it is clear that it was just my wheezing intake of breath or my stomach processing my last meal. Because of its history of not recording EVP, and because analysis of EVP recordings consumes so much time, I’ve gotten to the point I don’t even go through the entire recording from the better recorder unless I have to. Sometimes I’ll just compare the flagged moments from the other recorder.
Many paranormal investigators or EVP researchers will tell you that EVP are not often recorded in multiple recorders at one time. This isn’t always the case, but it seems to be the case with my research, anyway. If I’ve recorded a mysterious sound that I can’t identify, or if I am having trouble deciding if something is paranormal in nature, I listen for the same moment in both recordings. If I hear something or a voice out-of-place in one recorder, but not in the other, I’m more likely to believe it is truly paranormal and possibly an EVP.
Place your recorders near you, but far enough away where you won’t hear your every breath… but definitely keep the recorders in the same room as you. I like to put my recorders on opposite sides of me or in different spots in the room. You may decide to keep both of your recorders close to each other. I have never heard of a reason why putting both recorders next to each other would be a mistake, and there may be some experimental situations where having them right next to each other would be important.
Sometimes I choose to use headphones with one of my recorders as I'm conducting the session. It gives you a better chance of having a real-time two-way conversation. It also allows you to make mental notes of places where you think you may have heard something. A downside to this would be that using the headphones will most likely amplify sounds from the environment, sometimes making things more dramatic than they really are. Also, if knocks or other sounds are heard, you won't always know what direction they came from when headphones are worn.
Lastly, when it comes time to press record, starting both recorders at the same time (or close) will be very helpful when comparing time stamps during analysis.
Some advice for your session to save you time and frustration later
Many paranormal investigators are familiar with what is sometimes called “tagging” while investigating or during an EVP session. Tagging helps to eliminate the possibility of claiming an investigator’s sneezing or a stomach growl is an EVP or paranormal. Depending on how quiet and stable my environment is, sometimes I have to tag a lot. Use familiar language or some kind of quick and easy code that you can say aloud while recording. Common tags that I end up using are “Meril” (for any noise the dog might be creating), “shifting” (if I have to shift in my chair or scratch my nose), “noise outside the window”, “stomach”, etc.
The EVP Session
Sometimes before a session I will choose to do a quick meditation or prayer. This is certainly not required. There is a debate among some EVP researchers regarding whether praying or asking for protection prevents them from recording EVP. On many occasions my meditation is a prayer or a request for help in sending or inviting willing spirits to help me with my recording and research. This is somewhat controversial, however. Sometimes I do all of this and sometimes I don’t, but I try to document when I have and haven’t in case I notice correlations. Sometimes I record the meditation/prayer and sometimes I choose to not start the recording until after. Sometimes before a session I’ll simply play relaxation or meditation music lightly in the background to help me chill out. I think it is important to be in a good place or frame of mind when practicing any form of spirit communication.
Once I start recording I allow for at least 30 seconds of silence since many times EVP are captured as soon as the recording starts.
Often the first thing that comes out of my mouth is another verbal request for either protection or for help with inviting willing spirits to help me out. Then, unless documented somewhere else, I’ll quickly state the date and time, describe the equipment and where it is placed, and anything unusual in my surroundings.
Then after more silence I’ll begin asking some basic questions. I feel it is important in EVP recording to treat those who may be joining us from the other side with absolute respect. I also feel that questioning spirits like they’re in court or being interrogated is insulting and unnecessary. Another pet peeve of mine is when people speak as if they are automatically smarter than a spirit because they happen to be alive. Don’t assume they want or need your help. Don’t assume they’re miserable. After all, most of the time you won’t really know who you’re communicating with (sometimes scary) and for all we know our talkative visitors could be beings that have crossed over and simply here for a visit. Too many investigators assume that whoever they are communicating with must be “earthbound” or troubled and in need of help. (But if I’m ever asked for help, I’ll certainly do my best.)
Unless I know who I’m speaking to, most of the time I try to spark conversation by asking the same usual questions, followed by whatever happens to be on my mind that day. Make sure you allow plenty of time (20 to 30 seconds) in between questions. Also, if you have a complicated or deep question in mind, consider breaking it up into smaller chunks.
Some of the questions I start out with.
- Hello. Is there anyone with me today?
- Please tell me your name?
- Have you visited me before?
- How many spirits are with me today?
- Do I know you? Are you a friend or family member?
- Are there any messages you’d like to pass on today?
I don’t always instigate it, but often I get spirits who like to let me know of their presence by knocks or “rapping”. And the investigator in me would LOVE to be touched or to witness physical objects being moved, so sometimes at the end of a session I’ll ask for some kind of validation through a noise or knock or the moving of an object. I’ve never witnessed any cool physical phenomena like this, but I know that when I get two or three loud knocks or raps when I ask for it, I’m way more likely to be confident about any EVP captured in that session. It’s also a really cool experience to document when it happens.
Before ending a session I always give any spirits present the opportunity to give me any feedback or suggestions to make my research more successful. Then finally I thank them for their energy and presence and invite them to return for future sessions.
I think my sessions are longer than most people prefer. A typical session for me is 15 to 20 minutes. Just remember that depending on how thorough you are during the analysis of your audio recordings, it will take at the very least twice as long to listen and analyze as it took to record. Some of my more complicated and longer sessions can take a day or more to get through.
Often I will allot a few minutes of my EVP sessions for using a background noise source such as “white noise” or “pink noise” (pink is my preference). This is also somewhat controversial, but many believe that this may help entities to communicate. Also, I will sometimes use a “spirit box” (sometimes referred to as a “ghost box” or “Frank’s box”) or any device that will help me practice the “radio sweep” method, which is an example of “opportunistic EVP”.
I have to give some credit to the following researchers/authors who have influenced me: the late Sarah Estep, one of the great EVP pioneers; Tom and Lisa Butler, directors of Association TransCommunication; and Randall Keller, a wise and experienced researcher who has been a great mentor. A lot of what I know and the “how to” came directly from them in one way or another.
More later on the analysis of your audio and what to do when you actually think you’ve captured an EVP! For right now this post is long enough.