with emphasis on Electronic Voice Phenomena
by Tom and Lisa Butler, Revised November, 2015
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This is a brief overview of what is currently known about transcommunication with an emphasis on Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). It is written by Tom Butler and published by Association TransCommunication (ATransC). Please feel free to share this under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.
This explanation is written in terms of the Trans-survival Hypothesis.1 It depends on current parapsychological research (psi, psi-field and survival)2 and the accumulated evidence provided by the citizen scientists of the paranormal community.3
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Transcommunication can be defined as a trans-etheric influence that is intended to be communication; trans-etheric communication. The “trans-“ prefix denotes across the etheric-physical interface. Here, “etheric” is used to designate the nonphysical aspect of reality. Virtually all reported paranormal phenomena are thought to involve some form of trans-etheric influence. Not all trans-etheric influences are considered communication. Some, such as residual energy phenomena are thought to simply happen without regard to who is experiencing the event.
“Psi” denotes parapsychological phenomena which include ESP and mind-matter interaction; psi, psychic, and psychical are synonyms. For convenience, in ATransC literature, it is common to speak of physical space, psi space and etheric space where etheric space represents the greater reality. In the Trans-survival Hypothesis, mind, including memory visualization and intentionality, is considered a psi space phenomenon.
|Two examples of visual ITC produced recorded by the Socrates Circle by generating optical-frequency noise using a video feedback loop. Left is the profile of a person looking to your left. Right is the head of a dog looking slightly to your left.|
Ernst Senkowski4 coined the term, Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) to describe “ … meaningful anomalies including extraordinary voices, computer text, recorded images and images found on video displays suggestive of a continuance of life after death.” Note that After Death Communication (ADC) and mediumship should be considered subsets of transcommunication but are not necessarily ITC. (Because of common use in this field, terms with a “trans-“ prefix can be used without the hyphen.)
There are three theories commonly used to explain such paranormal experiences as anomalous voices and images in recording media, hauntings phenomena and mediumship. Always the first explanations that should be considered are those that involve only normal phenomena. These include mundane artifacts mistaken as paranormal, fraud and illusion. Of course, if any of these explain the report, then it is not considered transcommunication.
There is much that is not known about the physical world and known physical principles might eventually explain these phenomena. Assuming there is no known mundane explanation, the Super-psi Hypothesis2,27 would be considered. Super-psi proposes that these phenomena are caused by information that has been somehow recorded into a subtle-energy aspect of reality and which are able to be detected by our senses and instruments. In other words, these experiences are only memories or echoes of the past.
The Survival Hypothesis2 has been proposed for reported experiences that appear to be interactive communication. This hypothesis proposes that people are really an etheric personality entangled with a physical body for the purpose of a lifetime, and that when the body dies, the personality continues to exist in a nonphysical aspect of reality and is able to communicate back “into” the physical.
The ATransC has adopted a working version of the Survival Hypothesis referred to as the Trans-survival Hypothesis as the theory thought to best explain the evidence. The essay Implicit Cosmology provides an index to a series of essays for a thorough discussion of the subject.1
Speculation about EVP can be traced back to the 1920s. In a Scientific American5 interview, Thomas Edison was quizzed on his views regarding contacting the dead. Edison said that it might be “possible to construct an apparatus which will be so delicate that, if there are personalities in another existence or sphere who wish to get in touch with us in this existence or sphere, this apparatus will at least give them a better opportunity to express themselves than the tilting tables and raps and Ouija boards and mediums and the other crude methods now purported to be the only means of communication.” There is no indication that Edison designed or tried to construct such a device.6
Did Edison make a machine that could talk to the dead?
This seems to be another tall tale that Edison pulled on a reporter. In 1920 Edison told the reporter, B.F. Forbes, that he was working on a machine that could make contact with the spirits of the dead. Newspapers all over the world picked up this story. After a few years, Edison admitted that he had made the whole thing up. Today at Edison National Historic Site, we take care of over five million pages of documents. None of them mention such an experiment.
From: Edison National Historic Site, home.nps.gov/edis/faqs.htm.
In 1936, Attila von Szalay, A Californian, started capturing paranormal voices on phonograph records and then in the mid 1950s he was joined by Raymond Bayless. Together they acquired many evidential EVP on their new tape recorders and they published their findings in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.7
The person credited with bringing EVP to the public is Friedrich Jürgenson, a Russian-born Swedish film producer. In 1959, after recording birdsong on his tape recorder, Jürgenson heard on playback what appeared to be a human voice. Subsequent recordings contained a message which seemed to be coming from his dead mother.8
Konstantin Raudive is credited for learning about EVP as a student of Jürgenson and introducing EVP to the English-speaking world with the Colin Smythe publication of the English-language Breakthrough9
Colin Smyth is credited with coining the term, “Electronic Voice Phenomena” (EVP) as a more inclusive alternative to “Raudive Voices,” as the voices recorded by Raudive were referred to at the time.10
In 1982, Sarah Estep founded the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena. She continued to publish quarterly newsletters until 2000, at which time Tom and Lisa Butler assumed leadership. In 2010, the name of the organization was changed from
Electronic Voice Phenomena are formed in three very different ways, all of which are dependent on the availability of a relatively chaotic signal which has been shown in research to be influenced with psychokinesis.
Experience is showing that a microphone is only important to introduce additional noise if the noise generated internally by the recorder is not useful for voice formation.
A very high quality recorder produces very little internal noise but a low-quality recorder typically produces too much steady-state noise, which is not useful for EVP.
Current understanding is that noise in the voice range–400 to 4,000 Hz–with many perturbations, such as small noise spikes, is useful for voice formation. The noise is needed for voice, but the perturbations are apparently useful to initiate the voice formation process.
The Panasonic RR-DR60 produces this kind of noise internally, but it is possible to produce it externally. One technique is to rapidly sweep a radio dial. The objective is to sweep the entire dial in under a second so that no whole words or even allophones can be detected. The objective is the resulting noise and not the “whole” sounds. This is not radio-sweep as used in ghost or spirit boxes. That technique sweeps the dial in two to four seconds and may produce whole words in the output file, thus producing many false positives.
Sounds from a common fan, running water or passing cars have been shown to be “dirty enough” to produce EVP.
Traditionally EVP formation has involved the transformation of available audio-frequency energy into voice. This transformation is thought to occur in the electronic equipment, specifically in an analog stage before or after the signal is digitized for storage.
The resulting signal is seen as a simulation of human voice which may closely mimic the physical voice of the person thought to be speaking. This includes nuances of voice indicating accent, age, sex and attitude. Analysis of the resulting voice often shows novel arrangement of formants (clusters of frequency grouped by octaves of the voice box frequency produced during passage through the mouth) and fragmented voice box frequencies (Formant 0).11
Prior to wide availability of personal computers, the static between radio stations was often used as background sound for transform EVP since radios were a readily available source of sound. Current Best Practices involve the use of noise, such as that produced by a fan. The use of any form of “live voice,” such as a possible voice from a radio broadcast, is strongly discouraged.
This is also known as “opportunistic EVP” because it is thought to require the availability of already formed voice fragments. It depends on a random process which is thought to be influenced by the communicating entity. In the application known as EVPmaker,12 a pre-recorded sound file containing voice is stored in a buffer with each buffer address containing a small segment of the original sound file. A random process is then used to randomly select output the contents of the buffer addresses. The resulting stream of randomly selected sound fragments is combined in an output sound file. Meaningful messages are sometimes found in that output stream. It is believed that the communicating personality’s intention to communicate might cause meaningful perturbations in the random process, thus selecting intended buffer addresses.
EVPmaker developer, Stefan Bion,12 has provided an input sound file on his website which contains speech fragments known as allophones which are generated by a speech synthesis program. In this application, if a word is present in the output, it must be formed by a chance arrangement of allophones or it must be the product of intended manipulation of the random process. The deciding factor is whether or not the utterance is meaningful for the circumstance. An example of this is at real-time, two-way conversations.
Environmental Control of Speech Synthesis
Some applications employ environmental energy sensors to control the operation of a speech synthesis process or to select addresses in a word or voice fragment buffer. It is believed that the communicating personality’s intention to communicate might cause meaningful perturbations in the environmental energy, thus selecting intended buffer addresses.
What is Probably Not EVP
Please review the online journal article, EVP Formation,13 for a more in-depth explanation about what is known about EVP today. An important part of that article is a discussion about characteristics commonly found in EVP. Based on those common characteristics, and the result of other studies, it is becoming evident that certain technologies (probably) do not produce EVP.
The most commonly used of these technologies is radio-sweep, which uses modified radios popularly known as “ghost boxes” or “spirit boxes.” The case study14 report is typical of the kind of study indicating it probably does not produce EVP. A Research Study into the Interpretation of EVP15 which is a 2013 study conducted by Parapsychologist Dr. Mark Leary, indicates that radio-sweep examples thought to be EVP are typically not correctly understood by a listening panel.
There are clearly instances in which the noise produced by rapidly sweeping* radio stations is used to produce transform EVP when the noise produced by the sweep is recorded. In this case, the radio-sweep process is really just a novel form of sound conditioning for the production of transform EVP when the sweep output is recorded. The radio sweep process may be beneficial as an aid to the operator’s intuitive understanding of the question; however resulting “EVP” appears to be more the practitioner’s storytelling to create meaning where none was intended.
*Most radio-sweep devices us a two to three seconds sweep. Sweeping at less than a second, certainly fast enough so that no understandable voice can be heard often produces an output sound that has all of the characteristics needed for transform EVP.
The following list is extracted from the book, There is No Death and There are No Dead, 16 with additions based on more current work. The characteristics will provide a sense of how EVP sounds and the nature of the phenomenal voices.
The first group of characteristics is specifically for transform EVP, which are thought to be formed by the transformation of audio frequency energy into a simulated voice.11
- EVP are distinctive: EVP have a distinctive character of cadence, pitch, frequency, volume and use of background sound. The voices have a distinctive sound to them that is difficult to describe. For instance, EVP messages often have an unusual speed of enunciation; the words seem to be spoken more quickly than normal human speech.
- A need for background sound sources: Research has shown that the voice in EVP is formed out of ambient sound energy.17 Because of these characteristics, it is standard practice to assure the availability of ambient sound for voice formation, even while isolating the recording device or process from uncontrolled ambient sounds, such as crowd noise.
- Frequency range: EVP are formed in available background sound. As such, if there is a high frequency component in the background sound, say caused by whistling wind, it is possible that the EVP will be of similar frequency range. If there are both higher frequency and lower frequency components in the background sound, it is possible to find EVP formed in both regions of the sound. In some instances, two different voices might overlap.
- Missing frequencies: Spectral analysis of EVP samples has shown that the fundamental frequencies of voice associated with the human voice box are sometimes missing. He describes the typical EVP as a “thickening” of the background noise to form the voice.17
- Precursor sounds: Sounds are often heard prior to an occurrence of EVP. Although these vary in nature, they tend to be within tenths of a second of a phrase and are a “popping” or “clicking” noise reminiscent of the “squelch” sound caused when the automatic gain control engages as the “push to talk” button is depressed on a Citizens Band radio.18
- EVP show evidence of being limited by available energy: Utterances tend to have about the same amount of audio power in their associated sound wave from one EVP sample to another. That is, a short EVP will tend to be louder than a long EVP. A very long phrase might be composed of two or more average-length phrases separated by minor pauses. Also, an utterance may trail off at the end, as if the energy is being depleted before the message is delivered. Again, this is as if the communicator is attempting to manage available power as “packets” of energy.19
- EVP are complete words or phrases: Message are typically one to two seconds in duration and are not truncated at the beginning or end. If EVP were radio interference, they would often begin in the middle of a word. EVP messages are usually complete thoughts, as well.19
- The voices in EVP are often recognizable: It is common for an EVP to contain the recognizable voice of the discarnate person thought to be speaking. It is also common for that entity to say something that was typical of what he or she would have said while in the physical. Their personality clearly remains intact even though the person no longer has a physical body.20
- EVP is found wherever the practitioner listens: This suggests that the source of audio noise is not a factor for EVP, so long as the audio energy is suitable for voice formation. In practice, the majority of techniques for recording EVP involve sound conditioning, rather than unique forms of psi detection. For instance, upscaling infrasound so that it can be heard by human ears or downscaling ultrasound, really constitute techniques of sound conditioning, and the resulting EVP is not evidence that the utterance was formed beyond human hearing, but that it was formed when the audio energy was made available to the recording process.
- EVP Are in a language the practitioner understands: Alexander MacRae has conducted experiments in a place that has no English language radio or television stations, yet resulting EVP were in English, which is his primary language. It is typical for the EVP, no matter where they are recorded, to be in a language that the practitioner understands. There have been exceptions to this which were apparently intended as a demonstration, but as a rule, EVP will be spoken in a language understood by the practitioner or an interested observer.19
This brings up an interesting point of speculation about psi-based communication. Mental mediums often report that they receive communication from nonphysical entities as images which they must interpret. These images are not just mental pictures. They are packets of information that are sufficiently complete for the receiver to fully understand their meaning. Robert Monroe21 referred to this form of information as “Thought Balls.”
- EVP are not ambient sound or broadcast programming: Studies have been conducted to determine if EVP are stray radio signals, ambient but unnoticed voices or other sounds. EVP were collected in an electrical, audio and radio frequency shielded room.22 In one study, a radio and a recorder were placed in a padded chamber which was then buried under ground. The recorder did not record radio programming but did record EVP, which were transformed from the noise produced by the radio.23
- Party line: Some EVP sound as if they are comments intended for someone other than the practitioner. This is much like momentarily listening in on a party line telephone call. It is not uncommon in both field and controlled recording situations to record comments that seem as if unseen people are discussing the practitioner’s actions in much the same way that you might discuss the activity of someone that you were watching.
- EVP are appropriate to the circumstances: There are numerous examples of EVP that are clearly direct responses to questions recorded just prior to the EVP phrase or to the circumstances. An example of an EVP being appropriate to a circumstance is an EVP recorded by Lisa Butler. The Butlers were asking a woman about the upstairs lighting and sound room for the Frank Sinatra Theater at the Cal-Neva Casino at Lake Tahoe, CA. They had heard that the heavy door to the room often shut for no apparent reason, scaring the crews setting up lights and sound systems for shows. The woman told them that she would never ever go up there. Lisa’s recorder was on while she thanked the woman for her assistance. On the recording, Lisa can be heard saying, “Thank you very much.” Underneath her voice, is a clearly heard paranormal voice saying, “Please don’t come.” However politely said, it seems obvious someone did not want to be disturbed.
- Precognitive responses: Answers to questions may be recorded prior to a question being asked, so that the answer, as a phenomenal message, is on the sound track followed by the practitioner asking the question. More research is required before making informed speculation about this observed characteristic, but the indication is that, while time may be meaningful to us, our time may well be irrelevant to a nonphysical entity. Alternatively, the entity may be sensing what the practitioner is about to ask as a mind-to-mind exchange following the “avatar model” as discussed in the Implicit Cosmology.1
- Vocalized questions elicit more EVP: There is evidence that the communicating entities are able to read our thoughts, as illustrated by the occasional EVP which clearly responds to a comment just seconds before the comment is expressed.19
- The “newness” effect: The practitioner’s excitement in trying a new detection device or recording technique may be the source of improved EVP collection. As the new approach becomes “normal operating procedure,” the improvements generally fade back to a more “normal” Quality and Quantity (QQ) of EVP collection. This suggests that it is important for the practitioner to maintain piqued interest during experiments. This is also one of the reasons it is speculated that the practitioner is an integral part of the recording circuit. The practitioner is apparently supplying the necessary psi energy to enable a nonphysical to physical transfer of energy.
- Effective devices unique to the practitioner: Exceptionally effective EVP and ITC collecting systems have been developed; however, these typically work well for the developer, but do not necessarily work as well for other practitioners. This paradox supports the belief that the practitioner is part of the recording circuit. It has also reinforced the concept that the communicating entity may be specific to the practitioner.
- EVP can be thoughts of living people: Two experiments appear to show that at least some EVP might be initiated by living people who were sleeping or perhaps only distracted at the time. In these prearranged experiments between a practitioner and a sleeping person, questions were clearly answered by a communicating entity, and the answers are appropriate for the sleeping person. This fact of EVP suggests the possibility that EVP can become an important tool for consciousness research. For instance, is it possible that a patient in a coma might initiate an EVP when requested?25
- Understanding EVP may be like learning a new language: As discussed in the EVP Online Listening trials report, people with little or no experience listening to EVP will typically correctly report words in Class A transform EVP on average of 20% to 25% of the time. In contrast, an experienced practitioner should correctly understand close to 100% of Class A utterances.26 This number drops to 0% to 5% for studies of radio-sweep (Spirit Box, Frank Box, Ghost Box); 0% if single-syllable utterances are omitted.14, 15
The existence of EVP is not realistically contested. Any reasonably capable person with a device capable of recording audio can expect to eventually record an understandable utterance that cannot be explained with known science. The same can be said for some forms of visual ITC. A workable protocol for recording EVP can be found in the Techniques section of ATransC.org (Also below in Recording for EVP). The real questions are what or who is causing them (if appropriate) and how they are caused.
It will be helpful if you understand the three dominant models used to explain the nature of reality. (There is a detailed discussion of these hypotheses in the Trans-survival Hypothesis essay.
This is the mainstream science view and what is taught in school.
- All that exists is the physical universe.
- The universe has evolved from a singularity into what it is today.
- Life has evolved on earth from a primordial soup into what it is today.
- Mind has evolved as a product of brain which is a product of evolution.
- Memory is an artifact of mind.
- When the brain dies, mind and memory cease to exist.
- People have five senses: smell, sight, hearing touch and taste.
This is the parapsychological view in which psi functioning is normal. There is a convergence in thought between the mainstream and parapsychology as physical and psychology research increasingly agrees with the existence of something like psi and a psi field. This view is known as the Super-psi Hypothesis when extreme instances of psi functioning must be considered.
- All that exists is the physical universe.
- The universe may have evolved from a singularity into what it is today.
- A subtle energy (psi) field permeates all of physical reality.
- Life has evolved on earth from a primordial soup into what it is today.
- Mind exists in the psi field and continues beyond death of the brain as differentiated, residual energy.
- Brain is a transmitter/receiver for mind.
- Thought, memory and emotions are retained in the psi field.
- People have five senses that are informed by impressions from the psi field.
This is an alternative view that has evolved out of etheric studies. It is not accepted by mainstream science and only conditionally by parapsychology.
- There is a greater reality of which the physical universe is an aspect.
- The psi field is an aspect of a greater reality.
- The greater reality is composed of etheric energy with a spectrum of characteristics (aspects) of which psi is one.
- Mind with its thoughts, memories and emotions has evolved in the greater reality and continues to exist beyond death of the brain.
- For a lifetime, mind and brain are entangled to produce a physical-etheric link.
- During a lifetime, mind is expressed as consciousness and an etheric personality (unconscious).
- People have five senses that are informed by impressions from the psi field by way of personality to conscious self.1
Probably the most obvious explanation is that the voices are recordings of stray radio signals. Inexpensive portable electronic equipment designed to handle audio signals able to detect and record stray radio signals under certain conditions. This is not normally a problem, but it is possible and should be considered when evaluating possible EVP.
The proliferation of digital technology is making it less likely that radio signals might be mistaken as EVP. AM radio is about the last signal source that a voice recorder can detect so that the broadcast information can be understood. If the signal is in a digital format, it must be converted to analog to be understood and equipment not intended to decode the message will not. Digital signaling directs information to a specific address and if the even digital recorders do not have that kind of capability. If you wish to assure yourself that EVP are not radio signals, consider the article: Eliminating Radio Frequency Contamination for EVP23
It is usually the near zero level of the recorded signal that becomes contaminated by stray radio signals, and the normally inaudible contamination can become audible with amplification.
Simple content analysis of EVP is usually sufficient to establish that the utterance in question is unlikely to be crosstalk or unnoticed voices from people in the room. Assuming the practitioner is not attempting to provide “scientific” evidence, it is usually adequate to note whether or not the utterances are complete statements, if they are appropriate to the circumstances and if they are understandable. If they were stray radio or television signals, they would contain the telltale signs of commercial broadcast, they would often be partial statements and they would usually be nonsensical, considering the circumstance. Until you have gained confidence in the validity of EVP you record, it is important to ask friends to be your listening panel. The draft best practice, “EVP Listening Panel,” will help.29
It is also a best practice to use a second audio recording process as a control for situations that might have unnoticed voices in the room or stray radio. Please review “Control Recorder for EVP.” The need for background sound in transform EVP makes it less likely that a higher quality recorder will pick up an EVP. This makes the use of a video recorder to make a visual record of fieldwork an excellent technique for making a control recording of the session.
This is an important possible explanation for any form of phenomena involving unexpected sounds, images or events. Modern technology is capable of producing a wide variety of unexpected results (mundane or technology artifacts). A person can easily mistake an artifact as phenomenal unless the person is an expert in the use of that technology. For instance, when used in an automatic mode, and with a flash, modern cameras often keep the shutter open much longer than the user realizes. A characteristic of film and digital image detectors referred to as “latency” will cause a moving camera to image a bright light, such as a streetlight or the camera flash reflected from a bright object in the scene, much quicker than a poorly illuminated background. This can result in a “ghostly” streak of light in a photograph while the background scene seems to indicate that the camera never moved.
The point is that such photographic artifacts are mundane, yet they are often offered as evidence of ghosts. In the same way, sounds in an audio recording can be made by very mundane influences but yet sound very phenomenal. For instance, it is common for a person to take a breath of air just before speaking, and the sound of that breath can be mistaken as something phenomenal when a person is examining every little sound in the recording.
All aspects of etheric studies are plagued by what is generally termed “the lack of critical thinking” amongst people seeking to experience these phenomena. In view of the complexity of the involved technologies, this is a natural result, especially when the very large population of paranormalists is considered.
Recent study is indicating that the expectations of the practitioner or witnesses can have an influence on how sound is experienced. In the Phantom Voices study,31 nearly half of the participants have reported hearing some form of voice in two audio files that are clearly marked as only containing noise and no voice. A clever practitioner might describe simple noise as voice and provide an explanation as to how those voices are meaningful, and distressingly, witnesses will too often agree. This characteristic of EVP is still being studied, but what is clear is that all of us must be very careful to manage expectations and cultural influences. EVP is objective evidence and that means that other people can hear the same thing without coaching. The inverse of this is also true. Concepts such as “inattentional blindness” and “incredulity blindness” suggest that people who have a strong disbelief in things paranormal are less likely to be able to experience EVP.
EVP are not necessarily initiated by a discarnate personality. As shown in the Life Field Complex diagram discussed in Personality-Centric Perspective essay, a person (etheric personality entangled with a human in an avatar relationship) is required for trans-etheric influences. As such, the question becomes which personality expressed the initial intention.
Once the “normal” explanations have been asked and answered, there remains the possibility that the voices are paranormal but that they are caused by a physical person. It is here that the argument changes from “Is EVP real” to “Who is talking?”
A number of experiments have been conducted that did indicate it is possible to record the thoughts of people known to be still in the physical.25 Current thinking is that the conscious aspect of a person is what survives physical death, and when a still living person is in some way disassociated from the physical body, his or her conscious self is much the same as the etheric communicator. In other words, it is predicted that the thoughts of a living person should be able to be recorded in EVP.
While many of the observed characteristics of EVP could be explained as thoughts of the living, on occasion, a person will record the voice of a person, say “John,” who is later shown to be the discarnate son of a person who had not yet joined the Association, but that in subsequent conversations, John’s voice is recognized saying the sort of things John would have said while in the flesh. It is this sort of evidence that reminds us that EVP are a complex group of phenomena and no single explanation is likely to be found.
The Psi Hypothesis33 proposes that the mind is a product of the brain and the information being accessed via EVP and the other forms of apparent etheric-to-physical influences are either caused by the practitioner or some other physical agent, or a form of residual energy described by physicist David Bohm and neurophysiologist Karl Pribram as a field of energy that underlies all of reality.34 This field of energy is thought to have three characteristics that might account for the observed etheric-to-physical phenomena. It is thought to behave according to quantum principles, especially that of entanglement which shows that, once objects have become associated at a quantum level, influencing one object will have a similar influence on the other, even though it may be very far away in distance and in time.
The second characteristic is that this field exhibits the character of nonlocality, meaning that information in it is equally available from any place in the field. This characteristic is required to explain such phenomena as a remote viewer accessing information that is miles away and a medium supposedly getting information from discarnate entities (the psi explanation is that the medium is finding the information in someone’s memory).
The third characteristic of this field is that it is formed of the residual energy of consciousness, and therefore contains all that was ever known, thought and experienced. It is this residual energy that provides the psychically gathered information. An alternative version of this is that if the information is in someone’s memory, then it is accessible to others, at least subconsciously.
The following information is intended to provide a technique which is most likely to produce results. This is for transform EVP based on the material provided by ATransC in the Techniques section of this website. Please also consider the best practices which are drafted in the Best Practices Plenum
Types of Recording Sessions
These instructions are for transform EVP not using live voice as an input file.
A characteristic of the psi field known as auric energy or bioenergy is thought to accumulate in any frequently occupied place, and especially in places in which strong emotions or frequent deep meditation occurs. As such, find a “special” recording area for your sessions in which you will not be bothered and in which you can control the noise. In field recording, it is difficult to control environmental conditions or supply background sound, but in known “haunted” locations, the energy helpful for contact may already be present.
Any device capable of recording voice frequency sound.37 A computer is recommended and a way to transfer audio from the recording device to a computer. The computer should be equipped with an audio management program, such as the open source, Audacity.38
Digital voice recorders are recommended for transform EVP. Less expensive models produce more internal noise which is useful for voice formation. High quality units will probably require added background noise. A computer can also be used, but will probably require added noise.
Remembering that the voice in transform EVP is apparently formed out of available audio-frequency noise, as a general rule, quieter recorders (less internal noise) will require more background, room noise. (See the sidebar: Background Noise) This means that, if you are using a second recorder as a control, using a higher-quality device will tend to assure the EVP will only be produced in the less expensive device.
Entities will speak at any time of day or night. In the beginning, however, it is advisable to record at a regular time and place. By doing this, the entities learn when there will be an opportunity for contact and your expectation of the upcoming session helps focus your attention on the process. Try to find a place that will be quiet and free of interruptions. Background sounds are okay, but it is important to be aware of these so that they can be distinguished from the EVP during analysis.
Background Sound Source
As previously noted, sounds in the environment are apparently used to help form the words. Most recording situations have some background sounds, but it may be necessary to add noise with something like a fan or running water. Some people use foreign language radio, crowd babble or audio tapes, but ATransC discourages the use of radio static or human speech (live voice) of any form. Be inventive. In controlled conditions, it is also possible to use high-quality recorders, because you can supply sound. (Always consider how sounds in the environment might seem like EVP in a recording.)
Begin with meditation and a short prayer to ask for only those intending the highest good and an invitation to friends on the other side to participate. This is not a religious function. The conscious expression of intent helps to set your expectations and sets bounds for your communicators. Even if you do not accept the hypothesis that EVP are initiated by discarnate beings, whoever or whatever is initiating the messages, setting intention helps the process. It is best to recording when personal energy is the highest.
It may help to make an “appointment” with the intended communicator the day before, during prayer or meditation. Some people also provide feedback before the session so that the communicators will know what worked in the last experiment. It is not necessary to record in the dark.
Begin by stating your intention for communication and then say that you are turning on the recorder. The communicators will often come through as soon as the recorder is turned on and these beginning messages may be the loudest, so it is a good idea to turn on the recorder and wait a few seconds before speaking.
Vocalize your comments during an EVP session. Questions should be recorded, and a period of time between each comment should be left for the communicators to respond–about ten seconds. At the end, ask if they have something to say and leave time for them to respond.
In transform EVP, the voice is usually not heard until playback. Practitioners report that the voices tend to become stronger and clearer as the entities gain in experience, but at first the voices may speak in whispers. Voices may not be recorded in every session and it may take several sessions to discover the first voice. Hearing the voices is a learned ability. It might take thirty minutes to examine a three or four minute recording. Experienced practitioners learn to use the waveform as a clue as to where an utterance might be. The “Betty’s in there” waveform shown above will give you an idea of what to look for.
Think of EVP as a form of communication. The attitude held by experienced practitioners is that the communicators will leave their message wherever they think someone will listen. It is a good practice to expect to find the voices where normal human voice would be found. It is not a good practice to amplify a nearly flat-line waveform to see if speech is present because enough amplification to make it clearly audible may well amplify radio-frequency contamination.
Most EVP are difficult to understand. Using a classification system helps you have a sense of the quality of your examples, and helps to set the expectations of your listeners. The classical system is the Class A, B and C ranking; however, the ATransC is testing a slightly expanded system36 intended to also include visual forms of ITC. It is explained in the article: “Classifying Phenomena.” It has been posted there so that you will have the opportunity to tell us if you like it and/or how you would like to see it changed.
In the modified system:
Type 1: Transformed physical media; not always present
Type 2: Always present; often as a persistent artifact
The Classes are as before, but described in more generic terms:
Class A: Evident without explanation
Class B: May require directions
Class C: May be vaguely experienced; mostly obscured by noise
Class B or C voices may have one or two clearly understood words. Loud does not equal Class A. Transform EVP are considered Type 1, Class A, B or C:
Keeping a recording log is helpful for tracking your progress. If you do keep a written log, it is a good practice to record the date, time and circumstances of the recording. If there are multiple recordings in the recorder, then it is always important to speak your location and to note ambient voices, and such, at the beginning of each recording. When you find an EVP that is clear enough to keep, note the date and time and seconds into the recording in your log. Also not the words thought to be spoken and perhaps any significance … where you doing something the entity commented on? Be sure to label and save the audio file so that they can be found at a later time. Practitioners report that they feel weather may affect results, but this has not been well studied.
Keeping a well-organized storage system and notes will be very helpful to you when you have many recordings, or want to revisit an old one and need to know when and where it was recorded. Experience has shown that keeping everything is just unreasonable. Unless the message has special significance, it is a good practice to discard all but the clearest examples. Depend on the help of friends acting as your listening panel. If they do not hear what you hear, discard the recording. It is just too easy to fool yourself.
The objective for most EVP experimenters is to achieve real-time, two-way communication with a loved one on the other side. If you pursue that line of investigation, it is important to remember that EVP are thought to be formed in a single analog stage of the electronic equipment. This may be in the output stage of an audio player used to supply background sound (if one is used) or in the input stage of the recorder used to collect the EVP.
(It is possible the transform might occur in the air, but that would look more like direct voice, to which current theories do not necessarily apply.)
If you are listing to the output of a recorder while it is recording, be mindful as to where there are additional analog stages. For instance, is the EVP formed in the amplifier for the speaker you listen to and not fed into the analog-to-digital converter for storage?
We would love to hear from you if you learn anything about this process.
Digital voice recorders are recommended for EVP experiments. Today, all sound tracks—digital or analog—should be listened to in a computer and with a headset. Unlike tape recorders, the built-in microphone is usually satisfactory for EVP. There is a selection guide in the Techniques section of atransc.org.37 The section includes a setup guide for Audacity, which is an effective audio management program that can be downloaded at no cost.38
Always use headphones when listening to the recording in a computer. The earmuff style that completely covers the ear is best, but also good are the soft rubber ear buds that are inserted into the channel of the ear.
Assuming a digital recorder is used, the voice is digitized right after it is limited to the required signal strength coming from the input amplifier. If it is necessary to record the sound file into the computer via an audio cable, the signal is turned back into analog, and then digitized again by the computer. There is little or no evidence that an EVP will be changed while in a digital format, but it is possible for change or even new utterance while transferring in the analog phase.
It is possible to reasonably reproduce the average human voice with a sample rate of 8,000 KHz, so it is recommended that the audio file be saved into the computer at 11025 KHz sample rate, 16 bit word file. Mono or stereo is a personal choice. Once the audio file is in the computer, it should be saved as a *.wav file for storage and editing.
Current best practice for sharing an EVP example on the Internet is to convert the file to mono, *.mp3 format, but using editing tools on mp3 is discouraged if it is for research. A 200 kb audio file can be reduced to around 15 Kb when converted from a *.wav file to an *.mps file. This makes it easy for sharing files via the Internet.
It is also best practice to provide a raw clip of the EVP, along with a bit of your voice for reference, if possible, followed by a short silence and then the whole clip again with any editing you may have done. Explain what you have done so that your listener will know what to expect.
Finally, ten decibels or so of amplification, perhaps a little noise reduction and high-end filtering is about all that should be done to a sound track to make the utterance more easily understood. It is possible to change the meaning of an EVP with over processing, and the general rule is to discard the EVP if it cannot be understood with only slight enhancement, and certainly discard nonsensical utterances.
A listening technique is to select a few syllables of a possible utterance and then play it over and over to allow your mind to look for familiar sounds. People are trained to recognize common arrangements of sound as words, but EVP are often formed from odd arrangements of sound, depending on what is supplied, and the usual cues are often missing. A very loud, well-spoken phrase could still be difficult to make out for a person not accustomed to hearing EVP.
In every case, try to use a listening panel.29
Be sure to set up a method of saving your recordings in your computer that will allow you to easily locate examples. A good practice is to save the raw recording session in a dated folder and then also save clips containing the EVP in the same folder. Field recordings are saved under the name of the location and the date. It is helpful to keep a separate folder for your Class A examples for easy retrieval for demonstration to friends.
What You Need to Know
The following observations will help you gain a perspective of the scope of this study:
The degree of clarity between conscious self and etheric personality is referred to as lucidity. Thinking there is a clear connection, when in fact, there is hardly any at all is referred to as hyperlucidity. This seems to most often occur when a person works alone or does not accept input from others. It is usually seen as a complex of behavior including delusion, argumentative interaction with those who do not support the delusion and rejection of the opinion of subject-matter specialists.
A series of online listening studies showed that the average ATransC website visitor participating in the study could correctly identify only 25% of the words in the Class A EVP examples. (See the study here) Most experienced practitioners have learned not to expect a person who is unaccustomed to hearing EVP to correctly understand examples. This is especially true if the person is skeptical to begin with. The message to all of us is that, even though the example may be very clear and obvious to us, it is unrealistic to attempt to show an example to the police or a grieving person.
Of course, it is possible to guide a person into hearing what we say is in the recording. But by every rational measure, “teaching a person to hear what we say is in the recording is considered “leading.” People, especially people who are grieving the loss of a love done, are simply too easily guided into hearing what is not there.
Before attempting to share an example with untrained witnesses, ATransC recommends that the example be passed by a listening panel without prompting. Only if the majority of a listening panel is able to hear what is believed to be in the example, is the example ready for untrained ears. Doing this helps to protect the practitioner from accusations of taking advantage of people.
A common concern is whether or not it is possible to attract a discarnate entity (ghost) and later be bothered by it. People are realistically concerned that they might “bring one home.” In fact, we have no verified record of anyone being harmed by their communicators. Any harm that has been reported has been due to the practitioner’s overreaction to imagined danger.
There is a potential problem for people who are fearful of the unknown, as their imagination can create circumstances which might be dangerous for them. If you are very fearful of the unknown, if you are inclined to do what you imagine you have been instructed to do or if you have a history of mental illness, it is advisable that you avoid working with any form of transcommunication.
This is along the same line of thought as the safety issue mentioned above. People new to these phenomena and those who have not educated themselves in the state of the art are prone to a syndrome sometimes referred to as hyperlucidity. (The clarity of awareness between a person’s conscious self and core personality in the etheric is referred to as lucidity.) Hyperlucidity is marked by the tendency to find phenomena everywhere despite considerable testimony to the contrary by peers.
(Formally the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena or AA-EVP)
The Association TransCommunication is a 501 (c)(3) USA nonprofit organization. It is chartered as a publicly supported educational and research organization. The primary means of public education is the atransc.org website, now containing over 400 pages of articles, research and study reports, personal stories, examples, theory and references. ATransC has conducted studies and funded research such as:
EVPmaker with Allophones: Where are We Now?
EVP Online Listening Trials Report
Information Gathering Using EVPmaker with Allophone
Monroe Hemi-Sync Study
Perception of Visual ITC Images
Radio Sweep: A case Study
A Research Study into the Interpretation of EVP
Other research reported in the ATransC Online Journal:
Current studies waiting for funding and examples:
Important ATransC initiative:
Collective: a wiki intended to support the development of best practices
Idea Exchange: The discussion board is maintained for people to ask questions and share ideas.
Citizendium: The Butlers have worked to establish a paranormal section in this online alternative to Wikipedia. Your participation is invited. See: en.citizendium.org/wiki/CZ:Paranormal_Subgroup
Implicit Cosmology: Tom Butler has translated lessons learned by way of ATransC members and emerging understanding of survival into a model of reality intended to help further research in this field. Please take time to review the work at ethericstudies.org. Also consider supporting the Association through the purchase of the book: Your Immortal Self: Exploring the Mindful Way by Tom Butler.
You are part of this community
The ATransC depends on public support to continue. Your donations will help assure that the research continues, but your participation is even more needed. This is a time in which all things paranormal are contracting while the skeptical community is thriving. By every measure, the paranormal community, including parapsychology and the study of ITC is fading away. If you think this work is important, then it is important that you become active and help reverse the tide.
- Butler, Tom (2015), “Implicit Cosmology,” Etheric Studies, Cosmology Series, ethericstudies.org/implicit-cosmology/
- Parapsychology Association, parapsych.org
- Online Journal, Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/journal/
- Senkowski, Earnst (1995), Instrumental Transcommunication, Frankfurt/Main: R. G. Fischer, Verlag. (English translation by Heidemarie Hallmann: worlditc.org – link to Books).
- Scientific American, Scientific American, Inc. New York, NY, sciam.com.
- Wagner, Stephen (2009), “Edison and the Ghost Machine,” About.com Paranormal Phenomena, about.com/od/ghostaudiovideo/a/edison-ghost-machine.htm.
- Rogo, D Scott and Bayless, Raymond, Phone Calls From The Dead, Prentice-Hall, Inc., New Jersey, 1979.
- Jürgenson, Friedrich, Voice Transmissions with the Deceased, (German to English Translation, T. Wingert & G. Wynne, 2001) Friedrich Jürgenson Foundation, Sweden (Original work published 1964) atransc.org/books-itc/
- Raudive, Konstantin, Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead, New York: Taplinger, 1971. First published by Colin Smythe, Ltd. and still available at colin-smythe.com.
- Butler, (2000), private conversations with Colin Smythe. colinsmythe.co.uk/authors/voices/voices.htm.
- Presi, Paolo, Italian ITC researcher with the Interdisciplinary Laboratory For Biopsychocybernetics Research (Il Laboratorio), Bologna, Italy. [Defunct]
- Bion, Stefan (2008), EVPmaker, tonbandstimmen.de/evpmaker/index_e.htm.
- Butler, Tom (2008), “The Formation of EVP,” Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/evp-formation/.
- Butler, Tom, “Radio-Sweep: A Case Study,” Association TransCommunication, 2009, atransc.org/radiosweep-study1/.
- Leary, Mark (2013) “A Research Study into the Interpretation of EVP,” Winter 2013 ATransC NewsJournal, atransc.org/radio-sweep_study2/
- Butler, Tom, Butler, Lisa (2003), There is No Death and There are No Dead, AA-EVP Publishing, atransc.org/books-atransc/, ISBN: 0-9727493-0-6.
- Gullà, Daniele (2004), “Computer–Based Analysis of Supposed Paranormal Voice: The Question of Anomalies Detected and Speaker Identification” atransc.org/gulla-voice-analysis/.
- Butler, Lisa (2002), “Precursor Sounds in Physical Phenomena,” Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/precursor-sounds/.
- MacRae, Alexander (2000), The Mystery of the Voices, Self-published CD, Portree Skye, Scotland.
- Copeland, Martha (2005), I’m Still Here, AA-EVP publishing, atransc.org/books-atransc/, ISBN-13: 978-0972749312.
- Monroe Institute, 62 Roberts Mountain Road, Faber, Virginia 22938, monroeinstitute.org.
- MacRae, Alexander (2005), “Report of an Anomalous Speech Products Experiment Inside a Double Screened Room,” as printed in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Volume 69, 2005, spr.ac.uk/page/online-library.
- Bill Weisensale, “Eliminating Radio Frequency Contamination for EVP,” Spirit Voices, Issue 3, 1981 archive, atransc.org/eliminating-rf-contamination/.
- Butler, Tom (2010), “Comparing Personality-Body Models,” Etheric Studies, ethericstudies.org/comparing-personality-body-models/.
- Butler, Lisa (2002), “Recording Thoughts of the Living,” Association TransCommunication, 2001, atransc.org/recording-thoughts-of-living/.
- Butler, Tom (2008), “EVP Online Listening Trials,” Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/evp-online-listening-trials/.
- Braude, Stephen E. 1992, “Survival or Super-psi?,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 127-144, scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_06_2_braude.pdf.
- Butler, Tom (2013), “The Energy Profile of Transform EVP,” Association. TransCommunication, atransc.org/evp-formation/.
- Butler, Tom (2013), Witness Panel, ATransC Collective, atransc.org/bp/Witness_Panel.
- Butler, Tom (2007), ““Control Recorder for EVP,” ATransC Collective, atransc.org/bp/Control_recorder_for_EVP.
- Butler, Tom (2012), “Phantom Voices,” Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/phantom-voices/.
- Braude, Stephen E. (1992), “Survival or Super-psi?” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 6, No. 2, pp. 127-144, 1992, scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_06_2_braude.pdf.
- Talbot, Michael (1991), The Holographic Universe, Harper Perennial, NY, NY.
- Butler, Tom (2014), “Mindfulness,” Etheric Studies, ethericstudies.org/mindfulness/
- The Collective (2013), “Classification,” Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/bp/Classification.
- Butler, Tom ( ), “Selecting an Audio Recorder,” Association TransCommunication, atransc.org/selecting-audio-recorder/.
- Audacity Audio Management Program, audacity, audacity.sourceforge.net/.
A Note about Wikipedia
The Wikipedia entries for frontier subjects such as EVP change as passing editors contribute corrections and different points of view. Since the skeptical editors have driven off most of the people who are knowledgeable about frontier subjects, paranormal articles frequently have many errors and are written with terminology designed to cast doubt on the subject, rather than to simply inform. Versions of articles with these errors have been copied onto other websites, which perpetuates the spreading of misinformation.
It is now official policy in Wikipedia to not allow what are referred to as “fringe” references, such as the peer-reviewed Journals published by the Parapsychological Association, Society for Psychical Research and Society for Scientific Exploration. All are considered pseudoscience and it is not even okay to propose considering them. Thom Butler was banned from editing the Rupert Sheldrake biography article based on the pseudoscience arbitration case which found in favor of the skeptical position.
Concerns with Wikipedia
Concerns with Wikipedia was written to explain why this it is important to everyone involved with frontier subjects to work for balance in Wikipedia articles. It offers suggestions for moderating Wikipedia’s negative influence.
March 2014 Update: Since Wikipedia has taken such a hard-line stance against all things paranormal as a matter of policy, the only rational response is to seek alternative means of explaining the reality of these phenomena. Please consider becoming an editor with Citizendium, an alternative wiki that has a policy of at least considering subject-matter expertise and is will allow well-considered references from the paranormal journals.
You are encouraged to put this logo on your website. The more links from other websites to Concerns with Wikipedia, the better chance there is that the public education article will be read.