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Digital voice recorders: 5 Things you need to know

digital voice recorder

1 A digital audio recorder is better than a tape recorder

The digital audio recorder is used to collect Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVPs). A digital audio recorder is used like a tape recorder audio. However, you’ll find that a digital audio recorder is much more effective than an audio cassette for a number of key reasons:

  • The digital recorder can record for a longer period of time than a tape
  • They are better able to provide crystal-clear audio quality
  • Cassette recorders have moving parts, which create noise that can corrupt your findings
  • A digital recorder has more features than a recorder has to offer
  • Since there are no cassette tapes, digital voice recorders are oftentimes more compact and easier to travel with
  • It is easier to download audio files from a digital recorder to a computer to analyze the audio recordings
  • Digital audio is more organized than a tape. The digital recordings can be saved as files in folders on your computer instead of having a bunch of tapes around

2 Some digital voice recorders are only compatible with Windows computers

Many digital voice recorders are compatible with both Windows PC and Apple computers.  However, there are some that only work with either a Windows or an Apple computer.  When shopping for a digital recorder, it is important that you make sure that the recorder is compatible with your system.  Your recorder will come with instructions on how to connect your recorder to your computer and how to transfer files across devices.

3 The most common digital voice recorder types can be broken down into three categories.

  • Professional level digital voice recorders. These  professional-grade digital voice recorders are designed for audiophiles and ghost hunters that seek a feature-rich device that delivers the highest sound quality. As a result, these digital voice recorders are typically more expensive, costing several hundred dollars and up. The digital voice recorders that you find at this price point oftentimes have ‘extras’ such as attachable stands, more than one adjustable microphones, extra inputs to for external microphones and added software.
  • Mid-range digital voice recorders.  At this level, which ranges between $100 to $200, you can get a high-quality digital voice recorder that doesn’t have many of the added features of the professional level devices. Most mid-range digital voice recorders come with powerful microphones that deliver crisp sound.  Also, since they have fewer features, digital voice recorders at this level tend to be a little more user-friendly.
  • Cheap digital voice recorders. This range covers digital voice recorders that cost under $100. Here you can find much simpler but straightforward and very usable digital voice recorders.  These devices meet most of the core needs of the average ghost hunter who simply want to record some EVPs.  Digital voice recorders in this range tend to have few or even no extra features, lower recording quality and limited file format support. Most only have only an input for one microphone.

4 Cellphones make crappy digital voice recorders

Let’s face it, most smartphone microphones stink.  Sure, it’s fine for when you’re using it as a mic but they perform poorly when there is a lot of ambient noise like wind. The reality is that even the cheap digital recorders outperform smartphone audio. But there is hope. There are new products like the iRig MIC Cast, which is an pocket-sized, portable voice recording microphone.


5 Get a digital voice recorder with an omnichannel microphone

There are two basic types of microphones: unidirectional and omnichannel.  Unidirectional microphones only capture the sound that is right in front of them.  Omnichannel microphones pick up the sound that is all around them.  For this reason, most ghost hunters recommend using an omnichannel microphone – you’re more likely to capture sounds nearby and not in front of the mic.


Ghost Cellphone image courtesy of LazyCupcake

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What is an EVP?

Electronic Voice Phenomenon or Etheric Voice Phenomenon (EVP) is the recording of the voices of the dead through a device such as a cassette recorder or a digital recorders. However, people have also received EVP messages through phone and or answering machines! Sometimes white noise and static is provided for the the dead to manipulate and ‘speak’. Typically, these communications are not heard until the recording is played back.

Sarah Estep, founder of the AA-EVP has developed a three-level classification system for these recordings that takes into account the quality of the recording:

  • CLASS A: A Class A EVP is one that everyone can easily hear and agree upon. Headphones are not needed to decipher these communications as they are very clear and loud.
  • CLASS B: Class B is almost as good as a Class A EVP. You can hear all of the words but a few of them may be warped or inaudible.  This is the most common type caught.
  • CLASS C: This type is faint and hardest to hear. You likely need headphones to hear these EVPs. It may sound like a whisper and the words are difficult to make out. Sometimes the listeners disagree at first about what the words or phrases actually are saying.

History of EVP recordings

Thomas Alva Edison believed that an electronic device could be built to  communicate with people who had crossed over. He believed that if spirits could be captured on film, why not electronically. Edison announced in the October 1920 issue of Scientific American that he was working on such a device, but it was never completed. Edison  died in 1931 leaving behind no machine or blueprints.

evp recorder Edison quote

In the 1950’s, while recording a Gregorian chant on a magneto phone, Father Emetti (Catholic priest, scientist, physicist and philosopher), captured a voice responding to a question that he asked of his dead father. He was able to repeat this phenomena. The voice recorded even used a nickname only his father called him.  Father Emetti was disturbed by this, he would then seeked counsel of Pope Pius XII in Rome. The Pope assured him he had no reason to worry if the phenomena was in fact real. In 1965 Konstantin Raudive a professor of psychology. Began documenting words recorded on audiotapes. Between 1965 and 1974; he, with the help from a physicist and an electronics expert, made over 100,000 audiotapes under strict conditions. He published their findings in a book called “Breakthrough.”

From the 1970s until present day, Marcello Baci of Italy has been conducting Instrumental Trans-communication Voice (ITC) research in his laboratory. His ITC experiments, he uses Direct Radio Voice Method (DRV). This method obtains abnormal communications directly through the speakers of radios. These voices seem to acknowledge listeners by name, also respond to questions, and at times providing important information.

Precautions when recording an EVP

Recording EVPs is not for everyone.  Keep these precautions in mind when tryint to capture an EVP

  • It is very important to have a positive attitude when recording. Remember, positive will attract positive.
  • Always protect yourself when recording. Imagine that you are surrounded by for example: a bubble, spiral, etc whatever you feel most comfortable with. Make sure your intent is good.
  • You should say a power of protection, aloud, before you start recording. Here is an example “I surround myself with the white light of protection, only the highest spirits with good intent may contact or enter my aura.”
  • Do not accept any unfriendly, vulgar or threatening EVP. If you receive a negative EVP, delete this message and tell them, aloud, that you will not tolerate messages of this kind. Tell them that you will only speak with spirits who have good intent.
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SB11 Spirit Box: must-have ghost hunting equipment

SB11 Spirit Box

A few years ago, DAS Distribution unveiled the SB7 Spirit Box, a compact Spirit Box designed to help non-physical entities communicate through electronic devices with people like us. The SB7 is quite possibly the best-know if not most popular spirit box used by ghost hunters and paranormal enthusists to generate EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena).

The SB7 Spirit Box is manufactured by Pro-Measure, a division of DAS Distribution. If you’re not familiar with them, DAS Distribution is a much-respected company founded by Gary Galk that has been a pioneer in the field of ghost hunting equipment since 2006. Several years later, we’re here, welcoming the next generation SB into the world, the SB11 Spirit Box.

And, wow, is it a beauty!

The SB11 Spirit Box ITC Device is said to be the most advanced “Spirit Box” on the market. Released during Fall of 2014 this premium ghost hunting device is full of a lot of appealing features.

So how does it measure up?  Let’s find out…

SB11 Spirit Box has advanced sweep

The SB11 Spirit Box comes with two internal radio channels, which each work independently.  You can either sweep a single channel, or sweep both simultaneously. Sweeping both does eat up a bit more battery life, but creates more opportunity for the spirit box to produce EVPs.

You can scan either AM or FM frequency band, scanning either forwards or backwards. You can also select you sweep rate.  The SB11 Spirit Box offers a 50-350ms sweep rate of 50ms to 350ms for AM and 50 thru 300 for FM. This is an improvement over the SB7 Spirit Box, which began at 76 MHz.

SB11 Spirit Box audio quality

The SB11 Spirit Box comes with two internal speakers that deliver higher quality audio than what we’ve heard from other spirit boxes.  The speakers can also be turned up loud, which makes it much easier to hear whispered words, names or sentences or other messages.  An external set of speakers is not needed as with other spirit boxes. However, you may still want to get the Altec Lansing Orbit external speakers, which are a bit better and are commonly used by ghost hunters.

Another great device feature is the mute button, which is found on the side of the SB11 Spirit Box. This mute button lets you momentarily shut off the sound while you’re asking a question.

SB11 Spirit Box’s red LED flashlight is great for night-time use

While spirit boxes are sometimes used during daylight hours, the reality is that they’re most often used at night. With this in mind, the SB11 Spirit Box was designed to also house a handy high intensity red LED flashlight.  The red LED light can reach up to 50 feet in the dark and won’t decrease your night vision as much as other wavelengths of light.  Not to mention that, by having the flashlight built into the SB11 Spirit Box, you have one less piece of equipment to take with you on your ghost hunt expedition.

SB11 Spirit Box’s temperature monitor helps validate a ghost event

The SB11 Spirit Box comes with an ambient temperature meter that detects hot and cold spots of +5/-5 degrees, which are oftentimes associated with spiritual energy. The Ambient Temperature Meter detects and uses red and blue LED lights and ascending or descending tones to indicate changes to colder or warmer temperature. This is great for confirming a temperature change when a suspected ghost voice is picked up. Note that the red LED flashlight can’t be used simultaneously with the temperature monitor.

SB11 Spirit Box does a ‘stand-up job’

Wait, there’s more! The SB11 Spirit Box also comes with a very helpful built-in tilt stand so that you can prop up your device during an EVP session.

Power source for the SB11 Spirit Box

This device uses 9V batteries. How long the battery lasts depends on a variety of factors such as if you’re running both radio channels at the same time and, of course, if some nearby spirit decides to drain the battery itself.

SB11 Spirit Box Sturdiness

The SB11 Spirit Box’s hard casing is very sturdy and it would take a lot to damage it. So if you’re startled by a spirit and fling the device out of your hand, don’t worry, it should easily survive the drop to the floor!

SB11 Spirit Box Pricing and Availability

The SB11 Spirit Box will available in black, black and black (a little joke there).  The price is under $160.  Meanwhile, the SB7 Spirit Box, which has fewer features, is available for under $75.

SB11 Spirit Box Tips

Make sure you always record with video or/and a voice recorder when you use the SB11 Spirit Box so that you can go back and analyze the suspected spirit voice further. When new features are developed, you can purchase an upgrade to the SB11 Spirit Box without having to buy a new device. And remember to pack extra batteries!

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