Guest post by the Banshee
If you are very careful to know your equipment and conduct your sessions, the ultimate step of a paranormal investigation is analysis. Many ‘hunters’ listen back to recordings on site; while this can be useful in directing a session, be sure to go back and analyze later anyway.
While I realize that not everyone can use a professional audio or video software like ProTools or FinalCut Pro, these are the gold standard for digitizing audio and video. Be sure to read the manual and any online forums for the sound or video programs you use to see what kind of quirks they might have, and what their limitations might be.
Your biggest friend in audio analysis is the visual of the sound wave. You can use this to isolate your sounds, highlight questionable areas and listen more carefully – but be sure to do this to a copy of your audio and not the original! You will want the original as reference in your analysis.
If your software has a pitch shift function, highlight anything that might seem paranormal and try shifting the pitch up or down – better software will have the option to time correct as well, try both. Remember that if you adjust the levels of recording up or down, you might be grabbing stray noise and amplifying it, so best to try and analyze at the original levels as long as you can.
If you think you have something really good, bring it to someone with better software or more audio experience than you and see what they say before you make a decision about it being paranormal or not. There are lots of us in the scene who do this for fellow investigators, and I for one will tell you flat out if I have questions about a recording. Accept critique without taking it personally: it is the evidence and not you as a researcher at stake here, so understand that debunkers serve a wonderful purpose, and playing your audio for knowledgeable skeptics will make you a better researcher.
Finally, for this installment of audio Paranormal Geekery, all audio evidence is easier to verify or debunk if you have redundancy. I personally like to have 3 recorders going at all times – one video and two audio devices (preferably one analog and one digital). The video can help you verify if a sound you think is paranormal is actually a distortion of something normal – like blinds blowing in a breeze or a fellow researcher adjusting their clothes or shifting their weight on an uneven floor.
Multiple audio recorders picking up the same evidence CAN mean that it is atmospheric, or it can mean you really got something especially if one is digital and one is analog! But in general more evidence is always better to work with. Using one recorder left in the space as a “control” and other recorders used for the EVP session can also help you pinpoint where sounds are being imprinted and where they are not – this is great if the person asking the questions gets responses into their recorders, while others do not.
Lastly, always trust your instincts in a potentially paranormal location. Your body is an amazing detector of potential weirdness from the “other side,” but only if you know how to distinguish your own nerves and fears as background noise. Nothing but experience can do that, as well as good preparation for any research. Know what you might be up against, and if something feels really negative, DON’T press record – just get out. No evidence is worth opening channels to things you might not be able to handle, and any EVP session does just that – opens channels – but with YOU as a being, and not your technology.
Remember that your recorders won’t be dealing with potential attachments, you will, so keep your wits about you out there and let’s keep our research safe above all. Great evidence benefits everyone, so share as widely as you can and accept feedback on it, both positive and negative. This will make us all better researchers (like peer review in science), and help us go on and generate what we are all looking for – clearer communication and more solid evidence that cannot (yet) be explained by physics.
Isn’t that what it is all about?
Next time: Video Evidence that Astonishes: FLIR, IR and UV!