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Ghost Voices on Tape Explained

Karen Frazier
man holding a digital recorder

Many paranormal investigators believe they have captured ghost voices on tape. Also known as electronic voice phenomena or EVP, phantom or ghost voices on tape are explained as sound anomalies that may be evidence of a haunting at the location being investigated.

Explaining Ghost Voices on Tape: Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)

When investigators capture a ghost voice on tape or some other digital medium that wasn't audible during the recording session, the recorded voice is considered electronic voice phenomenon (only heard electronically). The acronym for electronic voice phenomenon is EVP, and it is a term that is commonly bandied about in paranormal investigation circles. There are several classifications of EVP.

Class A EVP

In a Class A EVP, the voice is very distinct and clear. In order to qualify as a Class A EVP, everyone who listens to the recording is able to understand exactly what the voice is saying. This type of EVP is the most rare and difficult to capture.

Class B EVP

Class B EVPs are captured more frequently than class A. Most people can hear the class B EVP, although there is often some disagreement about what it is saying.

Class C EVP

This type of EVP is usually the most commonly captured EVP. The voice is often heard in a very faint tone - or even a whisper. Class C EVPs can also be captured underneath a lot of background noise, which makes it difficult to distinguish what is being said. Sometimes these EVPs are completely unintelligible, but you know something is there. Other times these EVPs can be "cleaned up" through filtering and amplification to make them more audible.

Class R EVP

Some investigators use an R classification. This signifies that the EVP is meaningful only when played in reverse.

Disembodied Voices of Ghosts on Recording Explained

It is important to distinguish disembodied voices from electronic voice phenomena. A disembodied voice is one that is heard audibly at the time it is captured on a recording. Some disembodied voices are heard at the time of the recording but are not captured electronically. Others are heard audibly and captured electronically.

Theories Behind Ghost Voices on Tape

There are a number of theories about how investigators may capture what they believe to be ghost voices on tape. The following are just a few.


Psychokinesis (also called telekinesis) is the affecting of physical matter by using the power of the mind. Some parapsychologists believe that when a ghost voice is captured on a recording medium, it is done psychokinetically. This is because of the belief that ghosts are pure consciousness, and therefore have no vocal chords to affect sound waves. In order for a ghost voice to be heard, it must psychokinetically manipulate the physical recording medium.


In this theory, it is believed that the investigator, not the ghost, is making the recording. Once again, psychokinesis plays a role; however, in this case, it is the investigator's desire to get a response that causes the voice to be imprinted on tape.

Residual Energy

In this theory, it is believed that all of the past is stored as residual energy in a location. When a voice is captured on tape, it is merely the releasing of the stored energy.

Electronic Interference

This theory covers a lot of ground. For instance, what is captured as an EVP could be inaudible sound waves from a walkie talkie or a cell phone, or it could be radio transmissions coming through the atmosphere and making their way to an investigator's recorder.

Background Noise

Many believe EVPs are nothing more than a combination of background noises that have been distorted by whatever electronic medium is being used. For instance, a foot scuff can sound like a whisper, especially if there is electronic distortion of the recording media. EVPs captured outdoors are often the result of this type of background noise and distortion.

Tips for Recording Ghost Voices

There are some things you can try to improve the quality of your recordings.

  • If you are using a cassette tape, always use a clean, unopened one that hasn't had previous recordings made on it.
  • If you are using digital media, purchase the highest resolution model you can afford. A foot scuff may sound like a whisper on low resolution media, but the sound can be picked up for what it really is on high definition media.
Digital voice recorder
  • Make it a rule that no one can whisper during an EVP session. If someone does whisper, announce aloud, "John just whispered."
  • Announce other random noises aloud so these can be marked on the recording and not considered as an anomalous sound later. You'd be surprised by how many times someone's stomach growling has been perceived as an EVP. If this happens, announce it, saying, "A loud car went by," or "John's stomach just growled."
  • If you find an EVP on your recording, carefully log the exact circumstances under which the EVP was captured. After a few days, listen again to see if you can determine what actually made the sound.
  • Have multiple recorders running during an EVP session. That way, you can listen to each recording when you believe you have an EVP to determine if something else may have made the sound.
  • EVP can also be captured on video cameras, so review video footage for voices as well.

The Value of Ghost Voices

If you do capture ghost voices on your recording media, listen to see how clear it is and see if others agree with what you believe it says (don't tell them what you think it is saying; allow them to decide for themselves). Then, proceed with caution if you use it as evidence of the paranormal. Rule out all other logical explanations before you decide it was a ghost.

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Ghost Voices on Tape Explained