Sunday, May 1, 2011

EVPs: Disembodied Voices, Recording Ghosts

EVP: Electronic voice phenomena. This is when a voice shows up on a recording device that was not heard by those nearby. These can be explained by many means:

Holding the recording device and shifting in the hand
Moving about the room while recording device in hand
Sounds not tagged (announced) by those in the room, such as stomach growls, coughs.
Sounds in the room ignored by others such as a furnace groaning
Created by a paranormal source

Disembodied voice: This is a voice heard by the people in the room as if someone spoke to them. Occupants will gasp and and ask “what was that?” This will also show up on recording devices, as it is audible within the room as any other noise is. The source of this could be:

Something in the room that no one paid attention to such as a cat
Someone outside being heard through vents or windows
Something paranormal in nature

Basics about the recording process:
A microphone works like a human ear. Sound waves travel through the air and are picked up by the human ear and the membranes inside vibrate and change the pressure inside the ear. A microphone has a diaphragm that vibrates like the inner ear and that vibration creates electrical signals that mimic the fluctuations of the original sound.


Analog devices require magnetic tape. You know, the old fashioned cassettes, reel-to-reel and 8-track. A magnetic tape has three basic components: a fine metal oxide powder, a binder and the backing. The powder is iron oxide, or some related material, such as chromium dioxide. The binder glues the metal powder to the backing in a thin, uniform layer. These strips of tape pass at an even rate of speed through heads. The heads are small, specialized electromagnets. Electric currents pass through them, creating magnetic fields that read or write patterns on the passing tape. Electronic circuits connected to the heads convert these signals into into sound data.

Digital recording devices work by capturing sound waves by a microphone, which transmits the vibrations of its diaphragm (much like our ear drum) to an electrical wave. This signal is then sent down an audio cable into a recording device or computer sound card. Analog audio must be converted before it can be recorded as digital sound. In many cases, this is accomplished by a computer sound card, though stand-alone digital recorders perform the same process. When the electrical signal from the microphone is received by the card or recorder, hardware converters change the analog signal to digital code that can be read by a computer. The converter takes extremely rapid "snapshots" of the changes in electric wave patterns (between 16,000 and 96,000 per second) and outputs a code that allows a computer to mimic the original sound pressures. The more snapshots a converter takes per second, the more accurate the digital copy will be.

In the process of sifting through all this information, EVP specialists are dealing with so many variables, it is mind-blowing. Imagine what the amateur trying to capture a voice is up against? EVP versus disembodied voice? Sounds created by the paranormal versus something/someone in the room? Digital or analog? Yikes!

Here's our dilemma when dealing with EVPs: A true EVP is not heard by our ears, so we can assume it is either:

a. Out of the range of human hearing.
b. Not made with sound waves (thus we do not hear them), but are directly imprinted on the medium in which case it would be doing it at the electrical level of the recording scenario and not the vibrating level.
c. Creates some type of vibrations at the point of the microphone to pass through the diaphragm, but not far enough away our ears pick them up. Have you ever cupped your hands around your ears to make them larger and then face something that is making sound, like a television? You can see how critical being able to capture those sound waves is.

Let's look now at the quality of EVPs. They are popularly placed in 3 main classes:
Class A: Obvious language anyone can understand without prompting, hearing the same thing.
Class B: Obvious language, although different people may hear different words.
Class C: Noise, not necessarily language.

EVPs often are a word or a few words in a row, but not consistent. What does this tell us about the process? That, however it is created, it is not easy to sustain or we would have marvelous full conversations. Knowing this, the process must be fleeting and concentrated. But, if these “voices” are not sounding audibly for us, then they must be making a shortcut right to the device. There might be an advantage to analog magnetic tape in that you have medium (iron oxide) that could easily receive electrical impulses and record sound more directly than a digital device.

Potential tests:
What if we set up a sensitive EMF meter near a voice recorder? Would we have the possibility of lining up a spike in electrical activity and syncing it with a recorded EVP to see if a burst of electrical near the device created a recording at that moment?

What if we set up a sound wave detector near the device to see if sound waves are the form in which audio is getting imprinted in the device?

What if we try disconnecting the microphone to see if it is even a part of the process of recording an EVP?

One thing I am big about is coming up with ways to track paranormal activity like one would track an animal in the forest to learn its habits, its lifestyle and where it keeps its home. We can make a lot of determinations in the field if we isolate the element in which EVPs are recorded and then we can learn to detect better when one is about to be laid down and even possibly how to "feed" the phenomena enough of its necessary energy to make for longer contacts.

There is yet another area of EVP to be explored and that is the human/psychic factor. Are we imprinting on devices? As a psychic, I would like to try some experiments in this. If we can have bursts of energy to create poltergeist-like activities, then why not be able to create electrical impulses that could affect recording devices? Just look at what solar flares can do to the earth and our electronics and now imagine a person near a device with a burst of energy...

Lots to think about in the field. And, we're still babes in the woods, barely past the "stone age" of turn-of-the-century spiritualists. Still, the strides we've made bode well for the future generations.

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