Tape voices

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Tape voices - engl. referred to as electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) - are auditory events within acoustic recordings that can be interpreted as spoken sentences or sentence fragments and to which some people attach exceptional importance. Under scientific test conditions, no abnormalities could be reproduced which went beyond the effects of technical inadequacies of the recording devices.

So far it has not been clearly defined whether the actual phenomenon should be in the technical-physical (hypothesis: the occurrence of the sound on which the tape voices are based is inexplicable ) or purely in the informal (hypothesis: tape voices represent a kind of inexplicable information feedback ) area.

Especially followers of esoteric currents believe that this is how they communicate with the souls of the deceased or other entities. The physicist Ernst Senkowski (1922–2015) coined the term instrumental transcommunication for this . This is nothing other than a modern, secularized form of spiritism . Other advocates of tape voices only assume a process hitherto unknown to science and hope to gain further knowledge through more comprehensive methodological investigations.

Critics of this point of view counter that the occurrence of sound on sound carriers, in which vocal or vocal-like sounds can be perceived, can be explained from a technical point of view, depending on the recording method used (see technology ), with artifacts (electromagnetic immission , premagnetization, etc.) . In addition, simple perceptual illusions make a significant contribution to interpreting voices with meaningful content or even personally-appearing references in unclear acoustics (similar to pareidolia ). The assertion of inexplicable occurrences is therefore at least made carelessly or prematurely or even wrong.

In previous investigations, the results of which exclude technical artifacts and false perceptions, it is disputed whether they were carried out scientifically controlled; however, there is no doubt that they have not yet been reproduced under scientifically controlled conditions. A previously unknown effect in connection with tape voices is therefore generally considered to be unproven.


The term tape voices comes from a time when corresponding recordings were only made with tape recorders due to a lack of technical alternatives . This designation was retained, even if recordings that are supposed to contain such voices are now made with a wide variety of electronic devices (e.g. radio, television, computer) as well as with special PC programs and recording formats such as tapes, music and video cassettes can. The synonymous English term electronic voice phenomenon (EVP) , in German electronic voice phenomenon (ESP) is more articulated.


There are several approaches, the following are the most commonly used:

  • Recording in complete silence by a recording device with a connected microphone (microphone method)
  • Recording of one or more mostly foreign language broadcasts with or without a microphone (radio method)
  • Recording of a radio that is tuned to a frequency with no transmitter and therefore generates noise (“white noise”)
  • Recording of the product of a special computer program (e.g. EVPMaker) that previously randomly divided any audio file (* .wav) into small segments and reassembled it (speech synthesis method, phoneme synthesis method)

A combination of the recording techniques is possible. What all the methods have in common is that the evaluation and interpretation takes place after the recording, typically after repeated playback. The most relevant sections are then sought out, although no standardized procedure has become known. The selection of the relevant sections of the recording is left entirely to the experimenter and his abilities.

Possible technical causes

The following known technical causes are possible for the generation of voices or voice-like noises on audio tracks:


The term “tape voices ” goes back to the Swedish painter and opera singer Friedrich Juergenson , who made recordings of bird voices with his tape recorder in 1959 and after listening to the tapes several times believed he could hear voices in addition to the birds that addressed him personally (“Friedrich , you are being watched ”) and said things that only he himself could know. Since that experience, he has devoted himself entirely to researching this phenomenon. In 1967 he published his book Radiotelephone with the deceased (see web links) and made the term “Voices from the Hereafter” public.

Throughout his life, Jürgenson endeavored to have his discovery examined from a scientific point of view. To this end, he held discussions with radio technicians as well as with physicists and psychologists. For example, the Parapsychological Institute at the University of Freiburg, under the direction of Hans Bender, in collaboration with Jürgenson, had investigations carried out in 1964 and 1970 which confirmed the existence of the phenomenon in principle, but which were not continued because the results achieved met the strict requirements the analytical methods used were not sufficient.

The Latvian writer Konstantin Raudive (1909–1974) also dealt with tape voices for many years. In 1968 his book inaudible becomes audible . Like Jürgenson, Raudive endeavored to prove the phenomenon under scientifically controlled conditions. He achieved this with the microphone method in March 1971 by recording voices in a Faraday cage in the shielded laboratory of Belling & Lee Ltd / London. Skeptics doubt the informative value of these early studies because it is unclear whether suitable precautions have been taken to rule out influences. Ernst Senkowski (Mainz), Pastor Leo Schmid (Oeschgen / CH) and Ing.Seidl (Vienna) are or were further experimenters who dealt intensively with the phenomenon.

The Viennese physicist Johannes Hagel ( Zeitschrift für Anomalistik 1 + 2/2002 ) suspects, as a result of his experiments on the question of the system-preserving role of random processes in machine systems, that someone who records tape voices is connected to complex random processes in their immediate environment. These random processes would result in the creation of speech-like or speech-like, acoustic sequences, the meaning (referring statements) of which would correspond to an effect on the person making the recording. Hagel emphasizes that beyond this phenomenology there is still a great need for explanation, especially with regard to the mechanism of this acausal correlation .

Results that confirm the existence of tape voices have not yet been reproduced under scientifically controlled conditions.

The phenomenon in the cinema

Film and television contribute significantly to popularizing this topic. The phenomenon is often embellished with horror elements, which are supposed to provide shock effects for the viewer, but cannot be taken from the descriptions of the supposedly actually existing phenomenon. Voices from the beyond are part of Steven Spielberg's horror classic Poltergeist (1982) , for example . The phenomenon is also the basis of the horror thriller White Noise - Screams from the Beyond (2005) and its sequel White Noise 2 - The Light (2007). In the film The Sixth Sense , tape voices lead to the turning point of the plot.


  • Friedrich Juergenson: Radiotelephone with the deceased. Goldmann, Munich 1989, ISBN 3-442-11727-5 .
  • Ernst Knirschnig: The phenomenon of tape voices . Experience reports and insights from then until today. Liber Libri, Vienna 2001, ISBN 3-85481-023-7 .
  • Herbert Josef Spirik, Horst Rudolf Loos: News from the beyond. Ennsthaler, Steyr 1996, ISBN 3-85068-467-9 .
  • Ernst Senkowski: Instrumental transcommunication. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1989, ISBN 3-89501-254-8 .
  • Hildegard Schäfer: Bridge between this world and the hereafter. Theory and Practice of Transcommunication. Bauer, Freiburg 1989, ISBN 3-7626-0374-X .

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Archived copy ( Memento of the original from February 28, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.scientificexploration.org
  2. Pioneer of instrumental transcommunication research Dr. Ernst Senkowski passed away. Obituary on Grenzwissenschaft-aktuell.blogspot.de from April 28, 2015 (accessed April 28, 2015).