All About Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP)

Recording Voices From Beyond

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Mankind has long believed that it's possible to communicate with the dead. Attempts to do so have been made over the centuries through oracles, séances, mediums, and psychics. Today, with a variety of electronic equipment at our disposal, there might be an easier, more effective way to converse with the spirit world. And whether or not the results are actual communication with the dead—or something else—the results seem very real.

What Is EVP?

Electronic voice phenomena, more commonly known as EVP, is a mysterious event in which human-sounding voices from an unknown source can be heard on recorded data from audio tape, radio station noise, and other electronic media. EVPs have been captured on audiotape more than any other media but the mysterious voices aren't present at the time of recording. It's only when the tape is played back—sometimes with the application of amplification and noise filtering—that the voices can be heard.

One fascinating aspect of EVP is that the voices sometimes respond directly to the people making the recording. For example, the researchers ask a question to which the voice will answer or comment. Again, this response is not heard until later when the tape is played back.

EVP recordings vary by gender (men and women), age (adults and children), tone emotion, and even language. Some are more easily heard and understood than others. Most EVPs consist of single words, phrases, or short sentences, although sometimes, they are made up of grunts, groans, growling, or other vocal expressions.

The quality of EVP also varies. Some are difficult to distinguish, with meanings that are open to interpretation. Some EVP, however, are quite clear and easy to understand. EVP often has an electronic or mechanical character to it, although sometimes, it can be very natural sounding.

Fast Facts: Rating EVP Quality

The quality of EVP is categorized by researchers as follows:

  • Class A: Easily understood by almost anyone with little or no dispute. These are also usually the loudest EVPs.
  • Class B: Usually characterized by warping of the voice in certain syllables. Lower in volume or more distant sounding than Class A. Class B is the most common type of EVP.
  • Class C: Characterized by excessive warping. They are the lowest in volume (often whispering) and are the hardest to understand.


Where Do the Voices on EVP Come From?

That, of course, is the mystery. No one knows. Some popular theories are:

  • They are voices of the dead. This is why many researchers go to cemeteries seeking EVPs (often with great success). In this context, the phenomenon is sometimes called instrumental transcommunication or ITC.
  • They are from another dimension. It's theorized that there may be many dimensions of existence, and somehow beings from some other dimension are able to speak and communicate with ours via ECP. A pertinent question, however, is how do they know English and other languages of our dimension?
  • They come from the researchers' own subconscious. It's been suggested that somehow the researchers' thoughts are projected onto the tape.
  • The voices are angelic or demonic in origin.
  • It's a hoax. Skeptics assert that there is nothing to EVP at all—that the "voices" are either faked, random noise interpreted as voices, real voices already on the tape, or voices picked up from radio, cell phone, or other sources.

The Origins of EVP: A Short History

  • Thomas Edison: While it may not be common knowledge, in the 1920s Thomas Edison tried to invent a device capable of communicating with the dead. At the time, Edison wrote: "If our personality survives, then it is strictly logical or scientific to assume that it retains memory, intellect, other faculties, and knowledge that we acquire on this Earth. Therefore … if we can evolve an instrument so delicate as to be affected by our personality as it survives in the next life, such an instrument, when made available, ought to record something." Edison never succeeded with the invention, obviously, but it seems he did believe that it might be possible to capture disembodied voices with a recording device.
  • Reverend Drayton Thomas: In the early 1940s, while investigating the abilities of Gladys Osborne Leonard, a well-known medium of her day, Reverend Drayton Thomas claimed to have captured disembodied voices on tape. He later identified one of the voices as his father's.
  • Attila von Szalay and Raymond Bayless: According to various accounts, American photographer Attila von Szalay's began his attempts to capture spirit voices using a 78-RPM Pack-Bell record-cutter and player either in the late 1930s or early 1940s. While Szalay's early efforts were not very successful, he continued his experiments, teaming up with psychologist Raymond Bayless in the early 1950s using a device that Bayless had devised and constructed with much better results.
  • Marcello Bacci: Near the close of the 1940s, Marcello Bacci of Grosseto, Italy claimed to be able to pick up voices of the deceased on a vacuum tube radio.
  • Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli: In 1952, Two Catholic priests, Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli, inadvertently picked up EVP while recording Gregorian chants on a reel-to-reel tape recorder called a Magnétophone. When the wire on the machine kept breaking, Father Gemelli looked to heavens and asked his dead father for help. To the shock of both men, his father's voice was later heard on the recording saying, "Of course I shall help you. I'm always with you." Further experiments confirmed the phenomenon.
  • Friedrich Juergenson: In 1959, Swedish film producer Friedrich Juergenson was recording bird songs. On playback, he could discern his mother's voice saying in German, "Friedrich, you are being watched. Friedel, my little Friedel, can you hear me?" His subsequent recording of hundreds of such voices would earn him the title "the Father of EVP." He wrote two books on the subject: "Voices from the Universe" and "Radio Contact with the Dead."
  • Dr. Konstantin Raudive: Juergenson's work came to the attention of a Latvian psychologist named Dr. Konstantin Raudive in the 1960s. At first skeptical, Raudive began his own experiments in 1967. He too recorded the voice of his deceased mother saying, "Kostulit, this is your mother." (Kostulit was the boyhood name she always called him.) He recorded thousands of EVP voices.
  • George and Jeanette Meek: Spiritual researchers George and Jeanette Meek joined forces with psychic William O'Neil and recorded hundreds of hours of EVP recordings using radio oscillators in the 1970s and ’80s. They were allegedly able to capture conversations with the spirit of Dr. George Jeffries Mueller, a university professor and NASA scientist who passed away in 1967.

EVP continues to be experimented with by a number of individuals, organizations, and ghost research societies.