The Science of EVP


Much of the research work I do involves the study and analysis of electronic voice phenomena (EVP). Mainly because I feel that this evidence presents the strongest case for the existence of paranormal activity. During my years of research, there has been a recurring discussion among the members of my field and that discussion deals with the process in which an “EVP” is created. In other words, what is actually happening in the environment to get that mysterious voice into the recorder, unheard?

During my filming of “14 Degrees” I interviewed many people on the subject and it seemed everyone had a different theory. Some believe the sound is imprinted directly on the media, some believe they are subconscious telepathic communications either created by the people in the room or the “spirits” themselves. Others believe it’s simply stray commercial or private radio waves affecting the recorder, or even hallucinations caused by Pareidolia or apophenia. Being a man of reason and science I couldn’t freely accept any of those responses for use in my research. There were too many flaws in each claim and it seemed each needed to be accepted with a certain amount of faith …and that’s not how I work.

I needed something repeatable that affected just about any recorder used, something that created a recording with perfect fidelity, but couldn’t be heard by anyone in the room. So I went through the process of elimination. EVP’s have been recorded for decades. They have been captured on multiple recording formats, reel to reel, cassette, and now digital. Having worked with electronics (and sound) for years, I knew that the process of recording sound on a digital recorder was much different than the oxide coated magnetic tape. So therefore it was very unlikely the phenomena would be affecting both types of media.

Then it occurred to me that the only part of a recorder that has changed little over the years (at least in principle) is the microphone. That is where I needed to look. There are three types of microphones used in recorders, dynamic microphones which use magnets and induction, Condenser microphones which use electrical charges and electret condenser microphones which use power, but react to changes in electric fields in the element.

I then needed to find some form of natural energy that would affect all three microphone types and still travel in complex waves like audio. The answer was simple… electro-magnetic energy. Electro-magnetic waves can travel in the exact same frequency ranges as our voice, but yet remain unheard by the human ear. It sounded perfect. All I needed to do now was see if they could affect the microphones in the way I wanted.

Having built guitars for many years I had a bunch of magnetic guitar pickups in my basement. I figured I would pump a sound source through it and see if I could pick up the sound on the microphones. It worked slightly, but only on the dynamic microphone. I noticed the sound wasn’t very loud so I figured I needed more power. I hooked up the pick up to a louder amplifier and tried again. This time I heard a louder sound on the dynamic microphone and a very slight sound on the electret microphone. I knew I was on the right track.

So now I examined the problem from an electronic engineer’s point of view. I knew that maximum power transfer occurs when input and output impedance match. The guitar pickup I was using was 7500 ohms and the output of the amp was only 8 ohms…quite a discrepancy. Therefore, I needed a wire coil that was 8ohms. Immediately the word “speaker” popped in my head, but I couldn’t use a full speaker since those were designed for “audio” and an audio response wasn’t what I needed. I needed just an electro-magnetic response. So I built two speaker voice coils. (Those are essentially the speaker without the paper cone and magnet.) It’s a specific amount of windings of coated copper wire around a cardboard tube. These windings will give the coil an 8 ohm impedance and a perfect power match for my amplifier.

When the coils were done I built a housing chassis and PVC tubing to hold the coils and run the wire to the amplifier. When all that was done it was time see if it would work. I plugged everything in and presto! Perfect fidelity of sound transfer though the air, unheard by the people in the room….just like an EVP. The device affected all three types of microphones. It was loudest on the dynamic mic, lower on the electret mic and lowest on the condenser. A scenario which matches the claims of EVP investigators in the field.

I now knew how these phenomena reached the recorder and could repeat it on demand. However, I also realized how much power was needed to accomplish this. I could only move the sound 5 or 6 inches with a 150 Watt amplifier. A 400 Watt Amp gave me a distance of about a foot to the mic.

Although I knew the physical method of these mysterious recordings, I still didn’t know the natural source of them in the field. It seems impossible for any man made source to be responsible for the thousands of recordings each year. The power consumption would be far too great. It is my hypothesis that the source of these voices are local and in the room with the recorder at the time of capture. This hypothesis agrees with my observations in the field, where one recorder would capture a fairly loud EVP and another recorder just several feet away, at the same time would not. This behavior to me is indeed paranormal and requires further research to better understand it.

I’m also inclined to think that this discovery may in some way tie into the many unexplained electromagnetic field spikes that occur during an investigation. Since the waves produced by the coils trigger an EMF spike as high at 20 mg and last only the length of the word or sound, my hypothesis is that perhaps unusual EMF spikes are simply uncaptured EVP communications. Of course further research is needed to better understand or verify this possibility.

The device I’ve created now plays a part in my field work where I conduct experiments using it as a communication device rather than a demonstration of principle. The idea here is simple. If alleged beings speak using complex waves of electro-magnetic frequencies, perhaps they can hear that way as well. Therefore I bring this device to the subject locations and attempt to communicate by speaking through it. Research is ongoing.



Trigger Objects

Sometimes in paranormal investigating, the use of trigger objects are thought to be useful. A trigger object is an object either owned by the deceased person in question or something of their time period. The theory is that it may illicit activity, communication or perhaps the trigger object may move. It is also referred to as the Singapore Theory. The theory is based on familiarization and if the spirits occupying the location are familiar with the object or music, etc – they will be more drawn to it and possibly become more “active”. The ultimate goal is that this process is so effective and stimulating – that the end result is an apparition.

We have brought an orange to an old Colonial house in Coventry CT both because the homeowners thought an orange they had in the house kept showing up in odd places and because an orange was a rarity, like a gift, back in the Colonial times.

We have used a family Bible, a toy ball, stuffed animals, an old Sanitarium bedsheet, we have played various period music, and tried many experiments using many trigger objects.

There are many ghost hunting techniques out there and we use a multitude of approaches custom-fit to each and every investigation.

Objects already found on the location of the paranormal investigation which the homeowner’s state have already moved on their own are  ideal trigger objects. Of course there is no guarantee, but it is one of the best situations to test the theory. Also ideal is if the object belonged to, or held some significance to the spirit when alive.

It is often thought that getting the personal item of the spirit that has been known to move in the past is the goal. Don’t limit yourself to just that. There may be other personal items on-site that belonged to the spirit when alive: jewelry, coins, clothes, books, furniture, toys (avoid battery, activated or computer chip toys that can react on their own and be incorrectly thought to react because of a spirit), photos, religious items, war memorabilia, etc.  Some theorize that metal objects (coins, jewelry etc) may store and conduct energy. I have never run across this – but there are many stories of movement of human vices like tobacco, drinks, cigars, pipes.

No one knows if the spirits are a residual haunting (they don’t know you are there, but they or their energy are caught in time) or if they are intelligent (they know you are there and can communicate).

When using trigger objects keep in mind the environment. Is it somewhere sturdy? Will it get bumped? Is the floor slanted so the ball will roll? Is there an open window, an air vent or draft? Put the trigger object on a piece of paper and draw an outline around it and videotape the entire process. You may think something moved but it hasn’t or maybe the homeowner’s unsocial pet bumped it while you were out of the room. We’ve used devices that detect a floor’s vibration to rule out various situations (nearby trains, construction, etc) that may cause slight movement.

There are many theories and they are largely operating on hypothetical principles about what “ghosts” are and how they can operate in our physical realm.  Whatever the case, all we can do is try to illicit activity in as controlled environment as possible and as scientifically as possible. Happy hunting and let me know what types of trigger objects you have used and what happened! I’d love to hear about it.