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Class A EVPs

Other Articles in this Series

Part 1EVP Classification: An Introduction

Part 2: Class C EVPs

Part 3: Class B EVPs

Part 5: AVP:  Audible Voice Phenomena

Coordinating Your First EVP Vigil


Thus far, we've covered some of the basics (and I do mean basics) of EVP classification, as well as some of the challenging issues that impede our accurate judgment of these anomalous voices and sounds.  Such issues are, by nature, the hallmarks of Class C and B EVPs, for they determine the sum and kind of one's doubts over their authenticity.  In pronouncing a piece of Class A EVP evidence, then, one is motivated, not so much by doubt, but rather by a freedom from doubt.  Decisiveness is a rare and precious commodity, like having a Rinsai experience--in which the perfect truth of something is visited upon you in a eureka moment of clarity and elegance. 

In fact, it's not uncommon for one to feel a sense of spiritual wonderment upon hearing a Class A EVP for the first time, particularly if you're actively involved in its capture.  No longer is our willing suspension of disbelief required; rather, we are inspired with a certitude that a voice from an other-dimension or other-reality has called to us.  It reminds us just how lonely and insecure we are in our own living but separate bodies.  We worry that death will at best be an isolation cell that keeps us from all and everything we loved about living.   We fear that the concept of "afterlife" is nothing but a trick of the sentient mind, or a neurosis resulting from the human condition, or a pipedream of our incorrigible egos.  We anxiously obsess in the probability that all our intellectual pursuits to discount death as a final nothing will be, finally, all for nothing.  And there, in the evidence, miraculously clear and distinct, like a clarion call, is that all-encompassing something:  a Class A EVP.

Besides spiritual wonder, Class A EVPs evoke within us a strong empathy.  Like Horton hearing that vulnerable little Whovillian and declaring him "friend," we feel a deep-seated responsibility to honor the life that, we believe, once spoke through that voice.  We feel this way about Class C and B EVPs as well, but a lingering degree of doubt prevents us from fully committing.  That Class A voice is a mighty yop begging us to acknowledge the spirit realm's forgotten:  the disempowered; the disenfranchised; the homeless and aimlessly lost; the hopeless and anxiously waiting.  If we dignify a Class A EVP with legitimacy, then we are suddenly very much responsible to the datum, the soul, and the realm in which it seems to exist.

And this is where things can go wonderfully right or so terribly wrong with designating a Class A EVP, because that legitimacy issues from a blend of two different sources:  faith and logic.  If these are not deployed in a proportionately balanced way, one may falter from being overly confident or overly skeptical--no gettin' around it.

To address the issue of faith first, let's say a woman claiming to be a Sweepstakes Claims Department representative has left a message on your answering machine; she's "delighted" to inform you that your name has been drawn for a substantial cash award, but she must talk to you in person to verify your identity, or the prize will go to someone else in forty-eight hours.  You chew your thumbnail for a few minutes and vacillate about whether to ignore the message out of distrust that anything so lucky could happen to you, or to give in to your prurient curiosity about the value of the cash prize.  You've never won anything before in your life, and you'd sure like to own a FLIR in your lifetime.  On the other hand, that Internet cash transfer dealy to divide up the unclaimed wealth of a deceased Nigerian prince--that didn't go down so well, did it.  Maybe this is the same kind of scam.  Do you call and risk being duped, or do you pass up the opportunity altogether?  What to do, Loretta?  The same is generally true of the dilemma to acknowledge a Class A EVP.  The risks involved if you're proved wrong are the damage to your investigative reputation and the queasy feeling of having misled others to believe in the proof of life after death.  My advice is to invest as much faith in a Class A EVP as you would in your ballot for an elected official:  neither trust fully all outward appearances, nor take at face value everything a politician says.  Instead, do your research!

Unlike Class C and B EVPs, whose uncertainty arises as a result of factors such as obscured sound quality and competing acoustic sources, the factors that will topple Class A EVPs from their pedestal are dubious investigative practices and unreliable recording methods.  Retracing Class A EVPs to their source should take you back to a scrupulous account of when, where, and how the EVP was recorded.  If there is ANY doubt whatsoever that deserves mention, it will be to your credit, not to your shame, to announce these when you post the EVP.  A simple caveat is expected with most Class A EVPs.  Remember, it's all about the odds of a piece of audible evidence being for real.  If you can give up on the idea of proving that life-after-death is for real, then you can get down to the real business of shoring up the theory instead of just reinforcing the guess.  A strong, clear, articulate EVP with no probable explanation is an excellent catch, and it's the best we can hope for, given what we don't yet know about the scientific side of this phenomenon.  If you put too much faith in the veracity of your EVP and do not acknowledge and accommodate its potential detractors, then you will seem to equivocate the truth, and this can only damage your credibility.  Substantiate your claim that an EVP is Class A by revealing your methodologies, your protocols, and your analytical criteria.  Delineate a list of plusses and minuses; show others you have come to your decision by way of a pragmatic debate and always invite further dialogue to continue that debate.

I'm stating in a roundabout fashion that one needs to remain skeptical and document the evidence carefully.  However, hardboiled cynics vituperatively point out that any argument using EVP evidence to support conclusions about life after death beg the question, since one has to first accept the major premise that life after death is possible at all.  Novice investigators will sometimes permit such attacks to shake their faith, and turn their otherwise healthy skepticism into an unrelenting dogma that prevents them even from acknowledging the possibility that EVPs are voices of the dead.  This form of sophistry can be insidious.  Logic and critical thinking are indispensable to the pursuit of this wriggling truth for which we are all searching, and we should rightly put our faith in their power.  Remember, however, that EVPs are "paranormal phenomena" and that, once captured and replayed for others, represent only a record of that phenomenon.  We must not acquiesce to others' misperceptions of the evidence and our inherent purpose in capturing it, nor should we let them define the terms by which others will inevitably trivialize us.  Be not concerned with the rhetoric, nor be an apologist for paranormal research in general; trust that it is better to collect data and revise one's theory along the way than to collect no data and throw out the theory from the start.  Class A EVPs are a superior record of a phenomenon that, accounting for all likely sources (even the improbable ones), suggest something not normal.  Just as UFOs are unidentified objects awaiting identification, EVPs are paranormal phenomena awaiting normal explanations.  And no commitment to a spiritual dogma is required to acknowledge the inherent value of a Class A EVP as a superior datum.

However, a little faith in your own motivation to find Class A EVPs is a good thing.  After all, why deny to yourself that paranormal investigating is a spiritual pursuit.  (Honestly, I couldn't find a way to dodge that particular pun.  Sorry.)  However, it's another thing altogether to allow yourself to be overly confident in the science of a Class A EVP, or to become complacent with the results.  Class A EVP are not captured to entertain.  Rather, because of them, we as paranormal investigators are made even more responsible to the scientific method, and to check our facts.  Additionally, more than Class B and Class C anomalies, Class A EVPs force us to be more demanding of our results. They should make us want to take up the role of serious researcher, which requires we stay current on EVP theory and engage in carefully controlled experiments to recreate or anticipate the effects of EVP.  With harder evidence, the science can actually begin.  And, if you're sitting on evidence that hard, then it's time anyway to get off your ass and research it.  So, here are some practical considerations to make in your attempt to classify Class A EVPs.

Look Who's Really Talking: In an era where satellite communications might well be responsible for decimating the honeybee population worldwide (from which the toll on agriculture will be incalculably devastating), it's pretty clear that there is a lot we don't yet know about how much radio and microwave transmissions might factor into anomalous voice recordings.  It's true that, if radio transmissions were responsible for EVPs, we'd hear EVPs more often through our speakers, or we'd hear J-Lo singing more often in our EVPs.  However, try not to discount the possibility that the building materials, wiring, plumbing, or other infrastructural elements of a location are not potentially responsible for transmitting short-range telephonic communications:  in other words, walkie-talkies.  By this, I'm not implying that people are out to fool you into thinking you're capturing spirit communication.  (Though, naturally, we are on the lookout for it in our case investigations.)  However, listening for the tell-tale signs of walkie-talkie communication is just practical.  With Class A EVPs being so audible, listen carefully for push-to-talk (PTT) protocols like, "Copy" and "Over."  Probably the variety of EVP most suspect in this way is the spirit conversation:  two or more voices are exchanging responses in the unseen spirit realm, and the investigator is lucky enough to have eavesdropped on the conversation.  If the contents of the exchange can be discerned clearly and make identifiable references to the room and the activities and people within it, then there may be more to this EVP.  If not, however, it may be that you've stumbled into a pocket of telephonic crosstalk.

Quite recently, this very issue has come to the debate floor of the paranormal community by way of a device simplistically, but rather egomaniacaly, named Frank's Box by its creator, Frank Sumption of Colorado.  Sumption alleges that his Frank's Box virtually facilitates two-way telephone-like conversations (also called instrumental transcommunication) with the spirit realm by scanning AM/FM and low band frequencies, from which a noise matrix is created.  According to Sumption, this matrix is modulated by the spirits to form their messages--messages that range from one-word utterances to full-length sentences.  To date, the clearest and most impressive Class A EVPs to have been generated by Frank's Box have come from Frank's very own "Frank's Box," which has led many to be understandably suspicious. But, let's be frank about the box, shall we?  There are infinite ways to generate a noise matrix, including Charli Claypool's percolator.  (See "Class C EVPs.")  Plenty of demonstrations of Frank's Box can be found on the web, and schematics for building your own are readily available too.


Consistency of Class A Quality: For the same reason that EVPs occur with inconstant quality, one should not necessarily expect a Class A EVP to remain Class A quality from start to finish.  Especially in longer instances, the pattern seems to be that Class A quality occurs in shorter, unpredictable bursts of vocal clarity.  (It's better for them to be voices than whispers, but take what you can get.)  For that reason, you should be prepared to label some parts of your audio clip "Class A," but other parts as "Class B" or even "Class C."  This does not diminish the importance of the sound clip.  If parts are loud and clear enough for you and others to form a consensus about what it says and what gender or age the voice is, there's no denying its worth.  However, be careful not to ignore potential evidence for the sake of showcasing only the Class A portions of the audio.  Quite often, taken together, all of the evidence in its inconstant quality will create impressive results.  You may have to extrapolate some of the quieter parts--and, of course, offer a disclaimer with the evidence--but if it feeds into a broader context that makes sense for the case and its background, then all of it should stay together.  This, however, can present a problem when attempting to filter and adjust the sound of the EVP.   You won't want to ruin the impression made by the Class A portion of the audio clip by over-enhancing the Class C parts.  As suggested in "Introduction to EVP Classifications," accompanying the EVP with a waveform showing where the anomalous voices are and in what classification strength they can be heard will relieve you of the burden of having to fiddle unduly with filters while keeping the integrity of the original audio clip.


Can I Have a Word With You?: In the article on Class B EVPs, I stated that the content and detail of these anomalous audio clips should contain enough detail to add to the claims of the case or corroborate the history of the venue.  With Class A EVPs, it's no different.  With the volume and clarity of the anomalous speech no longer an issue, one wants to listen and not just hear.  Unfortunately, investigators too often use a roster of questions designed to solicit "Yes" or "No" answers only.  Never mind it's a little like playing the Ouija board without swinging the pendulum over the letters.  More importantly, this technique increases the likelihood that these short denials or affirmations are matrixed noise.  Additionally, the risk of the investigator manipulating the interrogation is scandalously bad.  The use of K-II meters is an apt illustration of the problem.  This controversial do-hickey is now standard equipment in PPI's arsenal, under the priviso that more data always makes for better science.  It's an adapted EMF detector calibrated to be more sensitive to electromagnetic field disturbances in close proximity and used by investigators to encourage spirits to make their presence known by triggering a series of lights responsive to the detected EMFs.  Not only are they suspected to be hypersensitive to everything from the investigator's subconscious desire for the little lights to work to cell phone data boards activated by incoming calls, they work more often than not in the same way one or two knocks signal yes/no responses.  They have a funky visual appeal, and hobbyists readily glom onto them so as to "look the part," yet the K-II meter's authenticity and reliability continue to be hotly contested.  One-word EVP responses are not dissimilar.  Regardless if they're Class A, yes/no responses go little distance to providing the kind of detail that can be cross-checked against the history and background of the case.  In some cases, they can be.  In the case where clients heard tapping in their garage, wireless audio picked up a very loud, very clear and distinct EVP during a time when it was verified that no others were present or near, and no internal source (such as an intercom or radio) could be responsible.  The single-word EVP was of an adult female clearly calling out, "Chess."  It was good enough to be classified Class A, but it's quirky randomness bumped it down to a Class B.  None of the clients had talked about playing chess, and no chessboards were in evidence in the house.  At the reveal, however, the Client's mouth fell open in a gasp:  "Chess" is the nickname they use in the house for their daughter, Cheslyn--a fact undisclosed until the reveal but suddenly significant enough to corroborate claims made by the daughter that a woman sometimes calls her name.  Hence, we restored its classification to "A." (This EVP is provided below.)


R.S.V.P.: Such a Class A EVP is a rare windfall, owing to its unique circumstances: in the first place, it was not solicited, and then only after the fact was it found to be very relevant to the case.  It's far more common that one-word EVPs are too fast, too slurred, and too affected by accents and intonations (as they are in living speech) to be winners.  One of the simplest and easiest ways, then, to uphold more reliable Class A EVPs is to insist that, except in rare cases, they be contextual responses to your questions.  Creating beforehand a specific roster of questions that draw from the background of the case will more effectively put EVP communication to good work when it does occur.  Clearly worded questions that ask for more than yes/no or true/false answers will encourage active communication.  By eschewing the seemingly random one-word responses, or at least classifying them as Class B EVP, investigators can showcase an evidence set of intelligent, contextual responses that will discount the possibility of coincidence or random transmission.  It may seem a lot to ask when you've got that EVP you can hear from across the room, and it's obviously saying, "Petunia," for no apparent reason.  However, once again, sacrifices of this sort will boil off any evidence too easily contested and leave behind something much purer, truer and more credible for research.

In a way, the classification system for EVPs misrepresents the motivation to pursue EVP evidence.  Say, you've spent the entire third grade improving your Spelling grade from a "C" to an "A."  Good for you and your self-esteem.  The goal of EVP classification, however, is not to self-actuate.  Or, rather, at least it shouldn't be for those of us involved in organized paranormal investigating.  To make the classification process about the collecting relegates the whole business to a hobby.  Rather, we want Class A EVPs to contribute to a Class A case, in which excellent evidence corroborates a compelling claim of a haunt.  Proof positive will probably never be forthcoming in our lifetime (no joke intended), but hypotheses as big as ours are very rarely proved; they are merely upheld by the strength of the circumstantial evidence.  And that, in my honest opinion, is a truer calling to the field of paranormal investigating.

In the next article, as an extension of this lesson, I'll discuss a classification of audio anomaly frequently misidentified as EVP:  the Auditory Voice Phenomenon, or AVP.  Meanwhile, here are some samples of Class A EVP to leave you scratching your head and, I hope, will either motivate you to find out more about what might cause them or inspire you to want to capture more of them, yourself.  (Others will be added once they are obtained.  These are merely the strongest audio clips from my own collection during my time with PPI.)

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Suspiciously Good


Billy go


Don't go

 

In a haunted theatre converted from an old railway depot, the costume and makeup rooms are in a decommissioned Amtrak railcar (not original to the depot).  The theatre has a typical intercom system that permits coordination of live performances on stage, and the railcar was no exception.  We could not prove that these disturbingly clear EVP were not a result somehow of that intercom system, or that the entire railcar, itself, was not somehow conducting (forgive this unforgivable pun) radio transmissions.  The phenomenon occurred so frequently in the evening's evidence that we had to be, not just cautious, but outright suspicious.  Evidence this clear just doesn't occur this regularly, much as we'd like it to.

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Single-Word Responses

 

Chess!


Reiterating the story told above, this single-word EVP spoken by a mysterious woman in the darkness of an empty garage was initially dismissed as a random firing.  Maybe a ghost was wickering for a slice of chess pie in that second refrigerator in the garage, or perhaps she was searching for Charo and got lost on the way the Xavier Cugat's house?  Nope.  At the reveal, the client was visibly disturbed by this EVP and told us this was their nickname for the eleven-year-old daughter, a complete surprise that made this relatively unimportant capture suddenly Class A significant.  Checkmate!

Capiche?


Same garage, same investigation where "Chess" was captured, this case had a penchant for pithy and significant one-word responses:  the previous owners of the property, including the surrounding houses, were Italian immigrants.  Nice, clear foreign voice rising above the din of the investigators' voices, and undeniably relevant given the obscure Italian references in the case background!

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Contextual Communication

 

I smell something bad!

 

During our second investigation to a paranormally active home in Big Bear, California, the alpine ridge nearby was ablaze in wildfires being fought by volunteer fighters from all over the country.  Ironically, the case history prominently features a tragic fire that claimed the lives of three children.  The smoky smell of burning timberline was pervasive for our entire weekend stay, but especially on the first night.  We caught this very clear whisper in the first hour of the investigation.  Can the spirit realm actually smell, or is it a residual memory of the house fire that occurred fifteen years earlier?

 

Need matches (original)


Need matches (amplified)

 

I was interested in EVP analysis well before joining PPI, but this was the first Class A EVP that came as a complete package for me and had me really hooked.  It is a lengthier one than most because it contains a chain of EVPs, all from the same young woman or girl.  The clips presented here are not even complete; the full audio clip lasts about ninety seconds, during which time timid and quiet murmurs occur and more boisterous utterances seem to interrupt themselves and repeat.  For that reason, this clip represents all three EVP classifications. In fact, the money-shot, the Class A vocalization ". . . need matches," is really the second half of a sentence that begins as a Class C anomaly, for the entire phrases states, "To light the fire, you need matches."

The audio was recorded on a laptop situated on the floor in front of an unused, but functional, fireplace.  One of our investigators on DVR monitoring duty enters a room looking for another investigator who has stepped outside. In fact, the whereabouts of all other investigators and occupants have been carefully accounted for, and no one else was in the room at this time.  The strongest segments seem to happen right after a nearby truck horn wakes the dead, but just as intriguing is what the voice says as the investigator walks back to his post, which raises the issue once again of our responsibility to the voices who reach out to us in the dark.

 

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