EVP Recorders are one of the most common tools in the Ghost Hunters kit, also some of the most prone to interference. So rather than just having 1 recorder, we went for 3, and a professional sound recording kit. We have the philosophy that if we’re going to EVP lets makes sure we do not get false positives due to problems with the recorder. So recording on 3-4 separate devices from different manufacturers will enable us to remove interference.
What is EVP
EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomena is capturing of ghost voices and paranormal sounds on some form of recording device. Though this is not an exact science and is prone to unscrupulous people faking it, it can work as evidence in conjunction with EMF readers, night vision cameras and other devices. One of the biggest issues we have found with EVP recorders is handling noise when handholding them.
There is much debate on to how this exactly voices are captures, or even if it is real.
We would say in isolation it is not strong enough evidence due to the many technical problems with these devices. There are two main schools of thought, the first being the entity interferes or controls the device at an electronic component level. The other school is that there is actual audible sound or other waves that the audio recorder picks up. Which one it requires much more scientific exploration that is way too much for this time.
On many occasions, the voices picked up are distorted and open to something like Audio Pareidolia. Which is why the ParaDocs Team will not make suggestions to the rest of the team until they have all heard. If there is a consensus then we will take it as accurate, if we cannot decide then we will call it random noise.
Our EVP Recorders
Each recorder has its advantages, and each is a very different price. So, in some situations where there is a chance the recorder will get damaged, we will use the Saimpu. Where we want sensitivity we will use the Olympus DS-30. For camera-top, we have the Zoom F1. Then when it comes to our Webisodes, we will use all three recordings for the duration of the investigation.
Probably the best of our three EVP recorders. It has a multitude of settings and most important we can take off all noise reduction and automatic gain control. Then we will not be boosting noise and getting false positives. With this recorder, we are using the Rode Video Micro, as it is directional and way better than the mic that was supplied with it. You can tell by the recordings below it is crisp and clear with little noise, and it can pick up my voice when I am 2 rooms away. We recommend Rode Video Micro if you can attach an external mic to your EVP recorder, it will be a big jump from any inbuilt mic.
The Olympus DS-30 will be our workhorse recorder used most of the time while we or investigating. It is quick and easy to use and we can plug in a set of good headphones to listen closely without interference. The claimed run time is 32 hours, we have yet to test this, but I am sure we will one day. The only disadvantage is it records in WMA format which is not widely used.
You can hear by the recordings there is not much noise from within the system, so it is great for picking up quiet details. We used the Dictaphone setting, there are two other settings for quieter sound sources. However, these other modes will introduce noise into the recording which is hard to remove without digital artefacts.
Pricewise, these can get expensive as they are no longer manufactured but readily available on auction sites. So, if you keep your eyes peeled you can pick one up cheaply and grab yourself the Rode Video Micro.
This is the cheapest of our EVP recorders, it is not the best as your options are limited. The frequency response of the mic is tuned to the human voice so not the full range. You are going to lose the low and high frequencies, this should not be a problem. It has an inbuilt battery so once you have drained it you are left needing a USB battery pack for power. But hey it was cheap.
When we want an EVP Recorder in a damp place. If there is a high chance we will damage or drop this one. We not losing £100s if the Saimpu dies. It is at least light and easy to use though it is a little slow when changing modes. Not as sensitive as the Olympus DS-30 setup but useful for certain situations.
As we mention it is cheap and essentially disposable. You can pick these up on Amazon and are always in sales. If you just want something you can shove in your pocket and not have to worry about damage, then this is a good choice.
This is a step up in quality, or at least you would think so from Zoom. Not the worst of our three EVP recorders. It is, however, prone to interference from mobile phones, so you need to make sure your phones are off. It is a good recorder as you can pop it on your camera, and it comes with suspension so you can run around and not get to much handling noise.
As a camera top EVP Recorder, the Zoom F1, it is not too bad, though the lower end Shotgun mic it comes with is not great, it has a lot of system noise that comes through as hiss. The main advantage is you can get other Pods for it with different mics on. The modular design lends itself to ghost hunting if you can get the other mic. We have the EXH-6 dual XLR pod for it we can attach professional microphones to it with less hiss and better frequency ranges. The only disadvantage is the EXH-6 does not supply phantom power so you would need another box to use the higher end microphones. It can be powered by a USB battery bank which is great, and it’s the only of our EVP Recorders that have removable storage.
Price-wise, it’s not the cheapest, but adaptability wise it’s a good choice. However, avoid the cheaper shotgun mic unless you want to remove a lot of hiss afterwards. If you already have dynamic XLR mics, then Zoom F1 and the EXH-6 are a good choice.
EVP Recorder Tests
We tested our recorders for interference, from some of the more common devices you might find on a ghost hunt. For us, it is our two-way radios and mobile phones. Phones should be switched off unless someone is going off alone. The main part of the test is to put the recorders in an extreme situation that would induce interference.
After turning all the sound off on the phone and the volume of the radio to zero, we hit record on all the EVP recorders. After the introduction, Gabriel headed upstairs and closed the door of the computer room so he would not be picked up. Gabriel used the radio 3 times saying a short test message and none of our EVP recorders picked that up. Next was 3 text messages to the phone, sadly the Zoom F1 suffered badly from this. The other two recorders ignored the text messages, though there could be some internal filtering for that. The last part was the phone call, the Zoom F1 suffered the most again with a digital pop when the call starts and ends. This tells us to make sure all phones are off when not needed.
The surprising result of this test was the sensitivity of the Olympus DS-30 with the Rode Video Micro. If you listen closely you can pick my voice up and the sound of Gabriel in the distance. He was upstairs behind a closed door with lots of soft furnishings in the way.
All three audio files are below so you can have a listen to them and see what you think. If you use good headphones you will be able to tell the differences in the microphones:
3 Radio Tests: 53s
3 Text Message: 1m36s
Phone Call Start: 2m10s
Phone Call End: 2m30s
The Equipment We Use:
- Olympus DS-30 Dictaphone [link]
- Saimpu Dictaphone [link]
- Rode Video Micro [link]
- Desktop Mic Stand [link]
- Motorola TLKR T80 Extreme two-way radio [link]
- Zoom F1-SP/UK Field Recorder Plus Shotgun Mic Pack [link]
- SanDisk Extreme 32 GB microSDHC Memory Card [link]
- Zoom Carrying Bag for F1-SP (CBF-1SP) [link]
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