One of the most important tools in a paranormal investigator's war chest is an Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) recorder. While not all recorders operate the same way, they're all designed to pick up the voices and sounds that are considered paranormal or supernatural.
Types of Recorders
There are three basic types of recorders used to capture electronic voice phenomenon. Investigators choose their equipment based on the job it's being used for as well as their personal preferences.
Electronic Voice Phenomenon Recorder
The main tool that a paranormal investigator uses while attempting to communicate with ghosts or spirits is an EVP recorder. There are many versions available. Some are very simplistic and only record during the investigation, requiring an analysis once the investigation is over. There are others that allow investigators to listen to the recording live.
When using the recorder to listen live, the investigator can plug in headphones and/or an external speaker, depending on the features available. This capability can assist the investigator by allowing an immediate response and follow-up to an EVP that wasn't audible to the human ear. With live listening capabilities, opportunities to communicate with a spirit aren't missed.
This audio recorder is a mini version of the EVP recorder that attaches to the paranormal investigator's wrist. To use it, all the investigators have to do is hit record and begin their investigation.
The interfering noises that often accompany handheld EVP recorders caused by moving the recorder about or trying to find the controls is easily eliminated with wrist EVP recorders.
Some paranormal teams require each member wear wrist recorders. This gives backup and allows closer analysis to determine where the voice may have come from compared to where the team was at the time of the recording.
Spirit Box or Ghost Box
The first box of this type was called "spiricom" and was invented by George Meek and Bill O'Neil in 1979. They generated tonal sounds that they believed were the complete range of the adult male voice. O'Neil claimed that he was guided in the construction of the device by spirits that he communicated with psychically.
In 2002, the late Frank Sumption invented the "ghost box." The premise of this device was to use radio frequencies to create white noise that allows ghosts/spirits to vocalize. White noise is created through the use of frequencies that cover the entire audio range. The ghost box sweeps across the radio frequency to generate white noise. The spirits are then able to use the energy of those frequencies to create audio sounds and words that ride on the white noise.
A handy add-on for this type of recorder is a Faraday cage pouch that ensures what comes through the spirit box isn't just bits and pieces of an AM or FM station.
Spirits Manipulate Sound to Create EVPs
The most common theory that explains how a recording device can capture a disembodied voice states that the ghost manipulates the energy of the device to create something that sounds like a voice. Currently, there is no known way to prove this theory, or that what is being recorded is actually a ghost.
When using an EVP recorder, investigators differentiate the type of phenomena they capture. There are three classes of EVPs: Class A, B and C. These are graduated levels of clarity with Class A being the highest. EVPs can range from voices that are easily understood to those that sound as though they are saying something, but specific words aren't discernable.
Analyzing Recorded EVPs
Often, other equipment is needed to further analyze the voices, such as filtering software that can eliminate and/or separate some of the background noise and bring the voice to the foreground.
EVPs are usually very short and happen quickly. They aren't heard by the investigators at the time unless they are listening with a live recorder. Sometimes, the recording must be manually slowed down to understand what was said. While some EVPs are immediately recognizable, others may be open to interpretation, meaning not everyone will hear the same words. This is part of the problem when it comes to evaluating EVPs.
EVPs and Ghost Voices
The sounds and voices recorded during EVP sessions are attributed to ghosts or spirits of the dead. So far, it's the only known plausible explanation for the phenomena. Recorders continue to be the best tools to capture these mysterious disembodied voices and sounds.