Analysis of Anomalous Audio- and Video-Recordings

presented before the "Society For Scientific Exploration" USA – June 1995
by Prof. Dr. Ernst Senkowski – Mainz – Germany

To prevent possible misunderstanding I shall circumscribe a few customary terms which in connection with the phenomena in question can only applied in a restricted sense. Experimenters in EVP like to speak about their "research", but with very few exceptions they have no professional background, they are neither able nor interested in scientific work and in experiments following established rules. Even a scientist finds such research hard or impossible to execute. His situation is like hunting shy animals by using traps with hopefully snap in the right moment. Another parallel could be a man looking for meteorites – the existence of which has been denied by eminent scientists not so long ago. What can this "experimenter" do? As there is always finite probability for a meteorite falling down just before his nose so please: sit down and wait or rummage around in the open air and perhaps stumble over it.

EVP and related phenomena happen spontaneously, at best one can try to provoke them. Exact predictions are not possible and their reproducibility is rather poor. My own work at best be termed as field-research, that is observing the conditions, collecting the material and trying to find common characteristics. In most instances the term "operator" is more correct than "experimenter".

All these difficulties are well known in Parapsychology. Together with cultural prejudice they apparently blocked any official research in our field until today.

Let me start by sketching a few early steps of a development the roots of which can be traced back at least to the beginning of our century.

In 1952 two roman catholic scientists in the University of Milano, Italy, were engaged in analysing music from a steel-wire-type recorder. Listening to the tape they were surprised to hear voices of unknown origin.

In our country similar spontaneous observations were published 1959 by Bayless in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.

A short time later Friedrich Juergenson in Sweden triggered the attempts of what finally amounted to a few thousand amateurs in a dozen countries by stating his conviction that the voices he observed were those of deceased humans.

With some nostalgia we read in Peter Bander’s "Voices from The Tapes" about another pioneer of EVP, Konstantin Raudive, March 27, 1971, was taken by David Ellis to Enfield for an experiment in the radio-frequency-screened laboratory of Belling and Lee Ltd. Mr. Ralph Lovelock, the electronics engineer and physicist, was there and Mr. Peter Hale, who was one of the five leading experts in electronic screen suppression in the West and certainly Britain’s far most expert.

After the experiment which had been significant to the experts Mr. Hale wrote a letter to Peter Bander from which he allowed him to quote to the press:

"From the results we obtained last Friday, something is happening which I cannot explain in normal physical terms."

Several months later Hale confirmed this opinion and added in a letter to Ellis:

"….I feel we have something which is not associated with normal radio transmission…."

Whereupon Ellis declared that the experiment was not convincing because the microphone in use could have picked up normal acoustic sound.

As far as I see, the well known German parapsychologist Hans Bender, former Prof. at the University of Freiburg, was the only official academic who for a short period observed Juergenson’s work. He found it interesting enough to publish the results in the "Zeitschrift fuer Parapsychologie und Grenzgebiete der Psychologie" in 1970. Bender wrote that the analysis by means of the visible-speech-method essentially contributed to objectify the audible signals and rendered the paranormal origin of some voice phenomena very probable.

My own interest in the voice phenomenon resulted from a controversial TV-discussion into which I had stepped accidentally in 1974. As an experimental physicist I wondered whether voices from No-Where could indeed appear on magnetic tapes. After several opposing statements I decided to find out by own tests. Unexpectedly I had to convince myself of these anomalies and was able to establish their characteristics during 1977. My publication in Bender’s "Zeitschrift" in 1979 must be considered as an independent confirmation of earlier results which at that time were completely unknown to me.

1982 I practically stopped my technical attempts to improve the quantity and quality of voices on tapes. The results showed irregularities which I was unable to get rid of. I continued to collect material from operators in different languages (German, English, Italian and French) and established personal contacts with the prominent operators.

One of the first I met in 1985 was Klaus Schreiber from Aachen, Germany, a very modest and simple man, who without technical background invented the elsewhere well known electronic-optical feedback-system. In the video-taped fluctuations he detected single frames showing images of persons.

Together with a small group of interested people and Vladimir Delavre, M.D., we founded a small "Society for Psychobiophysics" in 1990 to publish a semi annual journal. We are critically observing the development in the field, we try to encompass it in a wider frame and to elaborate some understanding of the underlaying processes.

The extraordinary audio-visual material which has been documented during the last decades can be analysed under quite different aspects. Careful observation seems to show that the anomalous behaviour of electronic devices is connected with the operators. If this is true we are confronted with psychophysical processes or man and machine interactions, and we cannot expect a deeper insight by treating only the technical side of the problem.

One of the most frequent features of the extraordinary voices and images is their poor signal-to-noise ratio (S:N) leading to considerable difficulties of decoding. It is crucial to understand the general reaction of a receiving system to a disturbed signal.

In a simplified model the receiver has a noisy internal structure N (REC), an input signal S (IN), accompanied by noise N (IN), is somehow mixed in the receiver with N (REC) and the final output may considerably differ from the original input and depending on S (IN) / N (IN) and the properties of the receiver.

There is a number of often non-linear parameters influencing the process which leads from the reception of an unknown signal to its final interpretation or understanding. these parameters have been extensively researched in psycho-acoustics and psycho-linguistics.

Table 1

[ S (IN)  +  N (IN) ]  +  N (REC)   =>

[ S (IN)  +  N (IN)    +  N (REC) ]

  (OUT)    equals not     (IN)

If in our case the "receiver" is a complex human being listening to a tape with noisy and/or distorted audible or visible signals it is inevitable that conscious and unconscious personal convictions, expectations, focus of attention, experience and practice co-determine the interpretation.

EV operators using a sensitive microphone together with a normal recording system find that most signals are either below o just equal to a rather homogenous background noise. Signals well above noise level are rare exceptions.

If an acoustic background is added f.i. a mix of foreign languages from a radio-receiver – thereby trying to enhance the probability and quality of the expected paranormals – then these are overlaid or interspersed by the normal transmissions.

Table 2 shows how the interpretability of signals depends upon the signal to noise ratio S/N in three ranges.

For S/N < 1 – left – fantasy, illusion and even hallucination are involved. The personal interpretation is purely subjective, in some sense not real and cannot be confirmed by other listeners.

For S/N around 1 we enter a "gray area" with uncertain boundaries in which a limited intersubjective agreement on the interpretation is possible. And the voices can be considered as partly real. In both cases wishful thinking and expectation play an important role.

Table 2

S / N  <  1 S / N  ~  1 S / N  »  1



Gray Area with

Floating Boundaries



Wishful Thinking and Expectation

Wishful Thinking and Expectation




Not to be

"Not real"

Partly Confirmed

"Not real"  =>  "Real"



To the right with high S/N values we are able to unequivocally confirm the objective reality of the signals by independent subjective control and technical analysis.

A vast amount of research for telecommunication applications led to engineering standards in which the understandability of voices and the reliability of voice communication under simple disturbed conditions has been defined as function of S/N-values. Because it is impossible to predetermine the countless types and combinations of disturbing noise such standards could not be established to cover all practical cases. One has to rely on the sensitivity and selectivity of the trained human psycho acoustic system.

After all it may be asked whether there are genuine paranormal voices at all. Indeed many sceptics like to deny their existence overestimating the left side of our table. Our own positive answer is based on a sufficient number of voices to the right.

A message coming loud and clear from the loud-speaker of my short wave receiver. It was immediately understood by all 4 persons in the room and taped via a microphone reel-to-reel-recorder combination. It happened on the late evening of Febr. 1, 1977. Three sentences referred to a special situation of a related family living in Berlin. The correlated events were confirmed in a telephone call during the following day.

Even an English speaking person should be able to understand this voice crying out: "Here is Berlin". The oscilloscope clearly showed the signal well above the noise level.

Dear colleagues – I guess some of you find this hard to swallow – but sorry – I see no way out: one single white crow proves that not all crows are black and we are sure about many more white crows! It is unjustified to devalue them as artefacts or anecdotal, so we feel entitled to continue by listening a few characteristics of these voices which were detected in similar or identical forms by different operators:

Preferably faster than normal speech, in a few instances extremely slow, hollow sounding, echoing or jittering, volume and intonation follow unusual time functions f.i. starting high and falling off, or starting low and going high, non glottal speech, characterised by missing fundamental frequencies has been determined by an official analysis in the University of Torino, Italy. Many operators documented rhythmic or robotic non-human sounding speech. Altered and shortened grammar and syntax. Outmoded terms and neologisms result in sort of compressed speech. Polyglot phrases have been observed. The meaning of metaphorical and symbolic contents often remains difficult to establish.

Besides a great number of corresponding subjective reports some peculiarities of the voices have been analysed statistically. A first project was carried out by Dr. Carlo Trajna in Firenze, Italy. On a basis of 24.000 words from four different operators he determined the relative frequency of extraordinary passages depending on their length counted in syllables. The resulting distribution curve shows a distinct maximum around five syllables per passage. My own evaluation with taped material from other operators and my own agreed with Trajna’s findings. Another independent confirmation came from Alexander McRae, Scotland, a former NASA communications specialist, who determined a respective maximum around 1,6 sec/passage in good agreement with 5 syllables. McRae considered this time-"packaging" a clear sign of the improbability of such passages and experimentally rejected the hypothesis that complete structures of this kind could result as stochastic cut-outs from normal sentences.

To describe the fact that the voices prefer short words with few syllables Trajna invented the term "Psychophonic Style". He compared 24.000 words taken from normal writings of four authors with the just mentioned 24.000 words. The reduction o the number of syllables per word amounted to 20%. A value which was confirmed by myself. Trajna moreover stated that the respective differences between the normal writings of the four authors were greater than those between their voice material. the effects are apparently independent from the special language. they were at least observed in Italian, German and English.

It is interesting to remark that the number of syllables per word increased during the 80ies. In the material which I compared it reached a final value 2 of normal German speech.

In my introductions I mentioned that a few thousand people are trying to tape voices. Their experiences in total – even if interpretations remain doubtful in many cases – suggest that EVP is a common low-level phenomenon.

Under the aspect of communication with whom-so-ever the voice phenomena of this type are quite unsatisfactory. Although there are many convincing examples of voices reasonably answering a question of the operator the whole process remains clumsy and time-consuming. Most taping procedures start by recording a few minutes, followed by listening to the record in replay, trying to detect and possibly understand a presumably paranormal passage and then eventually asking a new question without finding another answer.

From the very beginning of my tests it was clear that only a system suitable for fluent two-way communication would overcome these difficulties. The first step of this development requested directly understandable voices perhaps coming from the loud-speaker of a radio-receiver or a special system. The event "Hier ist Berlin" showed the possibility.

At that time I did not know that a group of operators in Grosseto, Italy, headed by Marcello Bacci, had already effected the two-way contacts I had dreamt of only many yeas later. In 1986 I visited them and took active part in this type of two-way communication. A female sounding voice answered my questions in German language unknown t the Italian operators. It was Dr. Trajna who coined the term "Direct Electroacoustic Voices". Meanwhile I met a handful successful operators in four countries and witnessed the activities of four of them.

I am used to objections:

Isn’t this a basis by far too small for serious considerations? Perhaps. Yes – but the critics are like town people used to see little sparrows. Then a traveller reports that with good luck he observed the impressive condor spreading his wings 10 feet wide high up in the South American Mountains. But the people don’t believe him, at the same time they shrink from leaving their town with the sparrows and are afraid to climb up and stay long enough to see the condor with their own eyes.

Excuse my silly sounding question: Who of you has ever seen a flying fish?

There are many facts supporting the genuineness of these anomalies and some remarkable properties of the direct electroacoustic voices have been evaluated.

During several one way messages the speech is considerably accelerated. We now three examples from two operators. In spite of rather great differences in the basic material we observe about 50 % more syllables per unit time at the end of the message as compared with the beginning. Paranormal speech can be realized in form of single clearly spaced syllables apparently formed with considerable effort.

Some messages are accompanied by complex tone signals of unknown origin and unknown significance. Their structures are continuously fluctuating in phases, frequencies and amplitudes. Often a lower frequency component is superposed by oscillations of higher frequencies.

I should like to add a few remarks on the paranormal images. I shortly mentioned Klaus Schreiber who introduced the feed-back loop and searched for single extras frame by frame. Many of these images were of bad quality, blurred, with low contrast and like many voices on tape wide open to subjective interpretations. In such noisy example it is hopeless to decide between free interpretation of chaotic forms and an eventually paranormal image.

Other pictures are outstanding. There is f.i. an example which can be compared with a photograph of Dr. Alois Wiesinger, a former Austrian abbot, unknown to Schreiber at the time of manifestation.

Several operators in Italy, Switzerland, England, France, Germany, Spain and last but not least in your country used or still use the feed-back method with more or less comparable results.

The general development of paranormal images can be paralleled with that of the voices.

Probably the first direct faces on TV-receivers tuned to a free channel have been witnessed in Italy already in 1978. They had been predicted by voices on tapes and showed deceased relations of the operators so that normal terrestrian origin must be excluded.

The number of operators which got images directly on TV is yet smaller as for direct electroacoustic voices. Only three o them are personally known to me. With one or two exceptions the images are in black and white, mostly standing still for a few tenths of a second up to a minute duration and sometimes accompanied by direct voices. In a small number of cases the paranormal image falls in after a few black frames – reminding of the blackies at Ted Serios.

Before closing let me touch two more points: the first concerns the role of the operator in the realization of the anomalous phenomena. If we are confronted with psychophysical interactions or – more general – with correlations in separte informational systems – then we should be able to compare our own results with those of researchers in "consciousness and reality". Three important statements of the PEAR-Group (Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research) seem to confirm our experiences.

  1. The existence of operator-depending signatures in weak-psychokinesis experiments and the comparison of their results with different systems suggested that individual faculties are the primary variables in the experiments, whereas the special type of the technical device is less important. That agrees with our experiences: low level results are obtained by practically everybody with enough motivation and patience, whereas peak results like high quality direct voices or clear images on TV-screens are achieved by operators who are specially gifted – say strongly psychic – and/or those who started like everybody else in the field but did not play around but took pains through many hours, weeks and months to improve their results by trying again and again.

  2. In the quantum metaphor established by Jahn and Dunne the informational ineraction between operator and machine (or between humans) is understood as a complex "tuning" process and resonance of the consciousness- and matter-wave-functions in which a great number of psychological and technical degrees of freedom is involved.
    In our field we like to say that the operator should be "married" with his device, and we have information stating that the sensitivity of the device for extraordinary phenomena may even be raised permanently by psychic influence.

  3. PEAR stated that an analytical state of consciousness of the operator seems to reduce or inhibit his faculties. Preference is on the meditative side. Observation of excellent EVP operators in action suggests that they bring themselves into the Alpha-brain-wave-state – or change over to even lower frequencies.

There is a striking example in which a German operator succeeded in blocking the audio-output of an FM-radio receiver. A few minutes before the morning news he was seated nearly motionless sideways of the receiver. He concentrated and told the receiver to reduce the volume to zero. After this had happened he took a deep breath and uttered "I knew I could do it" and then addressed the receiver: "Now you can grow louder and louder" and it obeyed like a nice dog.

In my analysis of anomalous audio- and video-recordings I had to reduce a vast complex of irregular or extraordinary phenomena which have been documented during the last decades and I barely touched the contents of the voices and images, but with respect to our session on "Topics in Survival Research" it seems appropriate to declare that thousands of these voices in a dozen countries under ever changing conditions through 4 decades repeat that they, the so-called death, are pretty alive outside our spacetime-system the irrefutable fact that so-called drop-in communicators supply correct data unknown to the living operator demands a reasonable explanation of the strange selectivity of the information gained by the operator if he should be the only active part.

Anybody here or elsewhere can take all this for granted and draw her or his personal and/or scientific conclusions. He can reject even the possibility of paranormal effects and he may question the existence of live after death. All this is not at all paranormal but quite normal.

Please remember my first table: the output depends not only on the incoming signal but essentially on the internal structure of the receiver and – it must be added – his faculties of adaptation.

In the meantime it is our good right to ponder about all sorts of anomalies, about their scientific and human significance and their eventual future development including paranormal voices and images. It might be necessary to once more ask the old question "How we come to know what we believe we know about the world" and try to answer it in the frame of a new epistemology as f.i. recently proposed by Willis Harman and his co-workers from the Institute of Noetic Sciences.

Let me close with the last example:

In the morning of October 13, last year, Adolf Homes felt "drawn" to his equipment. he set the TV on a free channel, turned it on and pointed his camcorder onto the screen. In the very moment of switching to record the face of a man appeared on the screen and stood still for 24 seconds. It was correctly video-typed and apparently showed the pioneer of EVP Friedrich Juergenson. The date blended in by the camcorder electronics is not correct. I do not tell you that the picture showed Mr. Juergenson in his "heavenly" state. Instead I am convinced that it was a projection from No-where ito Now-where through a chain of transformations finally appearing on the TV-screen as the last link.

Whatever the significance we should not forget that analysis must not be the last word in our research. Synthesis and integration seem more important in the long run.

Thank you!

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