All About EVP: Talking with Ghosts Through White Noise

by JoHarrington

Have we hacked into Heaven? The proponents of Electronic Voice Phenomenon claim that we have done just that; and conversations with the dead are the result.

It is said that ghosts need energy to contact the living. Rooms become freezing or develop cold spots, because the spirit has converted the heat into the energy to manifest.

As technology has advanced, then this power can be gifted right to them. Phantom voices have been heard in the white noise of radios and televisions tuned away from a station. They have been discerned at the end of a telephone line.

More recently, paranormal investigators have developed bespoke equipment for conversations with the dead.

What is Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP)?

It is when the spoken voice is heard in places where it shouldn't be.

Those who say that they don't believe in Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) are missing the point.  This is an auditory thing that happens (or appears to happen) whenever there is white noise.

What is open to debate is WHY it occurs AND what causes it?

For some it's easily enough dismissed as snippets of radio broadcasts or static on the line.  It might even be nothing at all, but an audio version of pareidolia.  For others, it's much more than that. 

EVP is most often used in a paranormal context, which is why you get ridiculous statements like people saying that they don't believe in it.  No.  They don't believe that it's ghosts talking to them! Semantics. I know.

If every voice heard in this was gabbled and incoherent, then the field really would be wide open to personal interpretation.  But occasionally some have been recorded which are harder to explain without resource to the supernatural.

For example, the Galka family not only recognize the voice of their deceased daughter (or sister), but have held conversations with her.

That is no stray radio show.

Is This the Voice of a Ghost?

The equipment used is a ghost box, designed especially to create white noise through which the spirit may speak.

Books about EVP and Tech. for Paranormal Investigators

Buy these guides to delve more deeply into the world of ghost hunter geeks.

H4XX0ring Heaven and Hell

How some of the biggest names in pioneering communication were also deeply involved with the paranormal.

In 1920, Thomas Edison was interviewed by Scientific American magazine. As a man with a reputation for prolific patents and inventions, he was asked what he had next in mind.  The response may be quite startling.

'I have been thinking for some time of a machine or apparatus which could be operated by personalities who have passed on to another existence or sphere.' Edison told the reporter B.C. Forbes. 'I believe that if we are to make any real progress in psychic investigation, we must do it with scientific apparatus and in a scientific manner.'

He thought that some kind of telephonic system might be the way forward; and hypothesized that 'life was energy'.  Despite writing in his diary that he was working on the apparatus, he concluded that it was unsuccessful.

Edison wasn't the only famous name connected with such undertakings. 

It is intriguing to contemplate what Alexander Graham Bell was up to.  If Edison was pointing towards the telephone as the likely route for supernatural communication, then that shines a spotlight on Bell's frequent visits to séances.

Was he also working in this field?  Or was he content to use telephony merely to talk with the living?

Guglielmo Marconi is largely known for inventing long distant radio transmissions, the telegraph and devising Marconi's Law.  What most people don't realize is that none of this was his initial intention. 

What Marconi was trying to do was invent a device through which to speak with the dead.  Thus proving that some of our better moments come while side-tracked!  

During the course of his experiments, he recorded that he received some 'strange signals'.  But there was nothing definitive to say that he had made conclusive contact with the other side.  However, his involvement does destabilize the usual explanation for EVP, which is that the voices are stray radio shows.

There is also hearsay evidence that says that Nikola Tesla was interested in using electricity to facilitate conversations beyond the grave.  But this wasn't his main goal in life, if the stories are true, then nothing came of it.  He did purportedly also hear strange voices, through radio waves, for which he couldn't find an earthly origin.

(NB Much of the information here has come from John G Fuller's out of print book The Ghost of 29 Megacycles.  Go me for never chucking a book away!)

Books about Science and the Paranormal

Read these histories, studies and reports to discover more about how some scientists have continued investigations into communicating with the afterlife.

Breakthrough at Last? Enter the Raudive Voices

Dr Konstantīns Raudive used the laboratories at the University of Uppsala to test over 100k ghostly voices on his machine.

Many academics get extremely caught up in their work and Dr Konstantīns Raudive was no exception.

Holed up in a university laboratory, he was feverishly moving a reel-to-reel tape back and forth on their loops.  He would experiment with the insertion of various radio frequencies. Then he would listen to the white noise.  All of this over and over again for six years.

It was 1965 and Raudive had had to flee from his native Latvia. His country had been invaded by the Soviet Union and, as a practicing Catholic, he didn't fancy his chances there much.

An intelligent man, and a qualified psychologist, Raudive soon found work in Sweden. The University of Uppsala appears to have been very indulgent in allowing him lab time to pursue his interest in parapsychology. 

At first, it was merely an interest.  He had read a book by Friedrich Jürgenson entitled Rosterna fran Rymden ('Voices from Space'), which had fascinated him.

Amongst his many other jobs and hobbies, Jürgenson was a recording artist and a documentary film-maker.  As part of a project, he had set up a tape recorder to capture the sound of bird song. It was a peaceful location, just himself and the avian chorus all about him.

So it came as a bit of a surprise when he played the tape back and heard human voices on it.

By attempting to recreate the same conditions in various locations, Jürgenson was able to capture many more voices just like them.  However, he didn't assign a paranormal explanation to the phenomenon until he recorded one in the house in which he grew up.

It was his mother's voice and she had been dead for years.

What Raudive did, after meeting with Jürgenson, was to try and repeat this phenomenon under test conditions in a laboratory.  He too was reluctant to attribute it to ghosts, until he also heard a voice that he recognized.

Six years later, Raudive had over 100,000 snippets of what later would be called EVP recordings. They had been heard simultaneously by various people in the group (there were eventually over 400 people working on the project).

By documenting the frequencies in such a way, the academic world, then the popular press, were alerted to the field. 

Using Raudive's methodology, Professor Imants Barušs, at King's College University of Ontario, was able to reproduce these voices in 1997.  His experiments were described in the October 2001 edition of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, where they were open to peer review.

Barušs established that, while he could replicate what Raudive had done and heard, he found nothing that could be 'attributable to discarnate beings'.

Buy Breakthrough by Dr Konstantin Raudive

Only purchase this seminal text if you are a serious student of the paranormal. It is written by an academic FOR academics, therefore it can seem a little dry in places.
Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication With the Dead

This book is the documented result of 6 years' arduous research into an astounding scientific phenomenon, accidentally discovered in Sweden. In some ways, and for reasons not ye...

View on Amazon

Dr Raudive's Conclusions About EVP Voices

I'm being anachronistic in that title. They were called Raudive Voices at the time!

Dr Raudive did come to believe that he was hearing proper ghosts in the wires. 

His visitors spoke in a variety of languages, including Latvian, German, Swedish, French, English and Latin.  Fortunately for them, they had picked a clever man, who was fluent in most of them!

What they had to say was usually fragmentary and often cryptic. There was no indication that a conversation was taking place.  The Raudive Voices were decidedly one-way. However, there were plenty of witnesses, all hearing the same thing. 

Their number included Prof Hans Bender, a psychology and clinical psychology lecturer at Reichsuniversität Straßburg, who also had a long history of parapsychological investigations.

Raudive found that, with the right frequency and white noise introduced, his voices could be recorded using three methods:

  • Microphone Voices:  Despite the name, the microphone didn't actually factor. It could be removed from the machine without losing the voices in the static. This involved simply leaving a tape recorder running and listening back later.
  • Radio Voices:  This involved setting a radio to a frequency that had no station broadcasting on it. The voices would be discerned in the static.
  • Diode Voices: Very similar to the radio voices, but set up using a crystal set.

He concluded that there were certain rules in place, which dictated what the deceased could or couldn't say.  It also determined how they said it.

One of his major deductions was that the voices had to keep to a set rhythm, which sometimes upset the syntax of natural language.  It made them all sound like they were reading out a telegraph in a robotic tone!

The film White Noise borrowed heavily from Dr Raudive's work.

Trailer for White Noise (2005)

This movie sensationalized the whole field of EVP. While voices have been heard in such a way, only in Hollywood do they follow through with demonic manifestation!

Watch White Noise on DVD or Amazon Instant Video

Michael Keaton stars in this ghost story. If you buy the widescreen format, you get an instant viewing on Amazon thrown in free.
White Noise (Amazon Instant Video)

When architect Jonathan Rivers (Michael Keaton) loses his wife in a tragic accident, he turns to the shadowy, unnerving world of Electronic Voice Phenomenon - communication from beyond the grave.

View on Amazon

White Noise (Widescreen Edition)

Intense scarefest stars Michael Keaton as a grieving architect who is approached by a stranger claiming to have received messages from Keaton's dead wife through the white noise...

View on Amazon

Bill O'Neill and the Spiricom: Fact or Fraud?

His work with EVPs convinced John G Fuller. 'The Ghost of 29 Megacycles' was all about the Spiricom.

We would probably all be referring to Raudive Voices now, if it hadn't been for the intervention of William O'Neill.

It appears that an eighth grade high school drop-out and spirit medium from America was much more trustworthy than a staid academic from Latvia.  At least in terms of public perception, press coverage and an up-dating of the paranormal lexicon!

From the 1980s, we can talk with impunity about EVP in ghost hunting.  The writer John G Fuller seems to have tapped into the zeitgeist, when he dismissed Raudive Voices.  He wrote, 'I had listened to a short tape of them, and found them to be rather unconvincing.'

On the other hand, he wrote a whole book about O'Neill!

There was a much more sensational story here.  Bill O'Neill was a spirit medium by trade, but he was also a bit of a recluse, living halfway up a Pennsylvanian mountain.  His great passion was electronics and he tinkered away creating his very own machine with which to converse with ghosts.

The story of the Spiricom's construction was also interesting.  As a psychic, O'Neill could already have discussions with people beyond the grave.  Two of whom, Dr Mueller and Dr Nick, had given him the blueprint for his device.

It was highly successful.  The clearly audible conversations here were ALL in American English.  None of this multilingual rubbish.  Moreover, they were two-way.  With O'Neill at the helm, anyone could ask a question and get a response.

Unfortunately, it only worked with O'Neill present. 

His associate and publicist, the businessman George Meek, believed that O'Neill's psychic energy was a necessary ingredient in making the Spiricom work. Which is why it died a death along with its inventor.

Nevertheless, a lot of Spiricom machines were sold by Meek; and a lot of books shifted by Fuller. 

George Meek Presents the Spiricom

The audio is all Meek, but the visual images have been added by mrevprecorder. This YouTube user appears skeptical about O'Neill and Meek's credibility.

Do You Find Bill O'Neill and the Spiricom to be Convincing Evidence of Ghostly Communication?

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EVP in Modern Paranormal Investigation

Today, discerning the voices of the deceased is a staple of ghost-hunting. It has been featured on many TV shows and the technology got better.

After the blaze of publicity engendered by Meek and Fuller, EVP became a far more accepted phenomenon amongst paranormal investigators.

One of the more immediate reactions was the foundation, in 1982, of American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena.  Its Maryland founder Sarah Estep views her not-for-profit organization as a way to collect the evidence, offer training in the procedures and explore every related avenue.

Over the years, it's grown into a huge, international concern, with members in twenty countries; and changed its name to Association TransCommunication.  If you want to know more about EVP, its website is a good place to begin.

The Holy Grail has always been a combination of Raudive's methodology and the two-way conversations espoused by O'Neill's Spiricom. 

The Ghost Box, developed by Frank Sumption in 2002, seems to have cracked it.  The latest model is marketed as the P-SB7 Spirit Box, though many enthusiasts refer to it simply as 'Frank's Box'.

In addition, the Mel Meter, created by Gary Galka, is another ghost-hunting favorite.

Ghost Box: P-SB7 Spirit Box Clips

Buy a P-SB7 Spirit Box

This is seen as one of the better EVP recorders on the market.
P-SB7 Spirit Box ITC Research Device FM ONLY

The P-SB7 is a miniature sized Spirit Box the size of a iPhone 5 about - but thicker. The P-SB7 has been widely used in various paranormal TV Shows with remarkable results. Zack...

View on Amazon

P-SB7 Spirit Box ITC Research Device

The New 2011 Model P-SB7 is a mini size Spirit Box the size of an MP3 player. The P-SB7 made its premier debut on Ghost Adventures "LIVE" show from the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic A...

View on Amazon

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Updated: 09/12/2014, JoHarrington
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SusanM on 10/09/2012


JoHarrington on 10/09/2012

I remember the olden days, when education was free...

SusanM on 10/09/2012

Yup vicious cycle - dominant theories get the research funding usually - so they remain as dominant theories

JoHarrington on 10/09/2012

Which is really sad, when you think about it. Largest money gets the research.

SusanM on 10/09/2012

Very true Jo. Funding is hard enough to get for mainstream research let alone things that fall outside it.

JoHarrington on 10/09/2012

I'm glad that you liked it. I think that there was such a pioneering spirit and quest for knowledge at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. People sought out knowledge for knowledge sake. These days they do it only where they can get the funding.

Mira on 10/09/2012

Wow. Nice article, Jo! Very interesting. And it's amazing how at the end of the 19th century, then at the turn of the century, and then a little after that, paranormal stuff was almost mainstream! Now the Zeitgeist has changed, even though we know of more "weird" stuff. SusanM's story, for one, is pretty amazing.

JoHarrington on 10/05/2012


SusanM on 10/05/2012


JoHarrington on 10/05/2012

Yes, it most certainly is. Thank you for sharing.

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