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joejones
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Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

Hi folks,

My name is Joe. I am a self-employed man in the San Diego area who dabbles in the strange world of paranormal research in my spare time. In layman's terms, I'm a "Ghost Hunter."

Of the many areas of interest in this odd hobby, I concentrate my efforts on "EVP" or Electronic Voice Phenomenon. EVP is not normally heard with the human ear, but rather, it is captured in recordings, and only heard later on, when the recording is played back through a quality audio device, sometimes requiring computer enhancement of the EVP portion of sound. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that I am developing a technique for using EVP to assist law enforcement in solving cold cases.

Basically, questions that are asked by a researcher (such as myself) are answered by what is thought to be voices from "the other side." Those answers are heard when the recording is played back, and they are real.

It is thought by some, that if there was a way to monitor the recording being made such that the EVP could be heard by the researcher at the moment it is recorded, a pseudo "real-time" conversation could be achieved. The obvious problem is that EVP is normally VERY faint, while a researcher's voice is rather loud in comparison. To monitor a recording using headphones in the hopes of hearing "live" EVP, the volume in the headphones must be very high. Obviously this creates a problem as the researcher's voice would ALSO be recorded, and then BLASTED back into the headphones.

This is where the problem arises. If a single recorder is used, it will capture the voice of the researcher and the resulting EVP, if any. However, if that recording is played back through headphones AS the session is being recorded, the playback of the researcher's voice would be far too loud, or if the volume was adjusted for his voice, the EVP would be too faint to hear.

Thus far, I have been using digital and analog recording equipment, studio mics, and computers to extract the hidden sounds, but I am looking for some means of HEARING the EVP in "real time" without hearing my own voice in the headphones.

I know very little about multi-track recorders, but my question is, can a 4-track or 8-track reel-to-reel recorder be configured in such a way that a tape will capture the researcher's voice AND the EVP (perhaps on separate tracks), but only play back the EVP track at a high volume through headphones used to monitor the recording session? Perhaps a kill switch could remove the mic input to the EVP track while the question is being asked, allowing ONLY the potential EVP response to be recorded?

I have looked into the digital multi-track recorders at places like the Guitar Center, but for some unknown reason, EVP captured on analog media such as tape is much better in quality. This is why I am trying to use a tape recorder, and the small cassette machines, and the lower end "Mission Impossible" portable reel-to-reel machines cannot accomplish my goal.

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated. You can respond here, or send an email to joejones (at) ghostconnection.com

Thank you for your time.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

Joe, most of my knowledge of this pursuit comes from Art Bell and his stand ins on Coast to Coast. As I understand it the EVP is not as directional as a human voice. While the questioner's voice is coming from a particular location or portion of the room the EVP is less specific in location. If this is the case, I would try an experiment where the questioner uses a close mic'd system where the microphone sits very near the mouth and the feed from that mic is placed on one channel of a multichannel recorder. The EVP mic can be placed in a location opposite the questioner within the room or more desireable would be multiple mics might be placed around the room to capture an EVP that "seems" to originate in the upper right hand portion of the room, by the window, etc.

You must use a three head deck which allows monitoring off the play head in real time. Most cassettes are two head and you are not hearing the playback of the recorder, only the incoming feed. Using multiple EVP microphones in the room would allow each microphone to be more directional in its polar response pattern thereby rejecting most sound originating from the rear of the mic capsule.

Switch off the playback of the questioner's microphone and up the level of the EVP mic. Due to the nature of the room, the questioner's voice is not going to disapper from the EVP channel but will be diminished in level.

BillB
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

Correction - In layman's terms, you are a "Snipe Hunter".

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

My suggestion would be to get either the Tascam DV-RA 1000 with the Hard Drive, nothing less than an Apogee dual channel mic pre or the Grace units and look at, say, some Rode NT-1A mic that have a 5DB self noise.

You would now have a very low noise, hi-rez recording system that should be able to capture something if it is really there. The issue with mylar tape of any kind is a very high noise floor in the tape Hiss itself at about -55db.

The Tascam is capable of over -90 and with great mic pres and low noise mics you should have much better success at recording...what you think is a very quite running refrigerator. You will be quite surprise at what you will hear lerking in the background.

In one of JA's recording sessions he had to deal with a noisey AC unit on the roof of an adjoining building where he was recording. Such is the life of a recording engineer with great gear.

Who ever is doing the monitoring of these session should be using the AKG 701's, at least until something better comes along.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
EVP is not normally heard with the human ear, but rather, it is captured in recordings, and only heard later on, when the recording is played back through a quality audio device, sometimes requiring computer enhancement of the EVP portion of sound.


Quote:
My suggestion would be to get either the Tascam DV-RA 1000 with the Hard Drive

Jim - Is the Tascam unit capable of on-the-fly playback as with a three head machine? If not, I think it might miss the point of hearing the EVP response in real time.

bobedaone
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

Jim!!! Welcome back!

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
Jim!!! Welcome back!


+1!

Good to see you post again, Jim.

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
Jim - Is the Tascam unit capable of on-the-fly playback as with a three head machine? If not, I think it might miss the point of hearing the EVP response in real time.


Yes. One can choose to monitor what is being recorded in real time.

59mga
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:

Quote:
Jim!!! Welcome back!


+1!

Good to see you post again, Jim.

+2!! Please stay for a while.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

The Tascam has a front panel conrollable headphone out. If you needed multiple outs you could look at the affordable Presonus unit for $99 that would expand the one Tascam out to four individually controllable headphone outs. Of course there are other better quality headphone amps like the Musical fidelity, but... It's your money so you decide.

There are other numerous options with many firewire mic pres with up to 8 channels of mic pre if you wanted to use a laptop, use DicsWelder and do 24/96 files. You would have to find a remote location due to the fan noise of the lap top.

Just be careful as I watched Ghost Busters and saw what happens when you cross the streams or store too many spirits in a single space!

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

In addition to the front headphone jack, the DV-RA1000 has XLR and single-ended outputs which can be made active during recording for monitoring purposes.

This unit appears to be overkill however and it is somewhat heavy to lug around. Plus, you need to also carry a mic pre. I would think that a good portable unit (rather than transportable) would be a better choice.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

I do not see how it is overkill...if this is a true scientific experiment, especially in light of all the video gear that is often carried to this sites on occasion. I also have seen where once they go off site they review and study what they find, or heard, and that reviewing any thing less than Hi-rez would be less than a full effort. I would hardly think that A Tascam DV-RA 1000, the small Apogee mini MP, 2 Rode NT 1As, 2-100ft+ runs of bal mic cable, and a pair of AKG 701 is "too much to carry". If he just wants to listen live then ditch the Tascam and take the output of the Apogee Mini MP into a good headphone amp.

BillB
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

"...for some unknown reason, EVP captured on analog media such as tape is much better in quality.", says the ghosthunter.

Which is more likely?
1. There are sound waves in the air, created by dead people, that cannot be heard by ears but are captured on tape which are magically heard later by the same ears?
OR
2. There are faint, barely discernible sounds in the background of audio recordings? And that these are likely due to electrical noise, tape hiss, and other normal sources of faint background noise?

Man is the pattern-seeking animal.

bifcake
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

You know, I wasn't even going to touch this. I was sitting quietly, observing. I wish DUP was here. He would have recommended magic cables, wires and the 100k turntable to help record the supernatural. I find it ironic that the pseudo-science of supernatural meets the pseudo-science of high end audio. Could be a match made in heaven (literally).

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
I do not see how it is overkill...


I have too much experience lugging recording equipment around.

Morever, he doesn't need the connectivity that the Tascam provides and also doesn't need the added complexity of outboard mic pres. There are excellent quality portable recorders that one can put in a jacket pocket that will do the job, especially at the ~$2,000 he would need to spend for the Tascam and a modest separate mic pre. The portables have built-in mic pre, phantom power, headphone outs, etc.

I own the Tascam and it is great, but it isn't for every recording purpose.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
EVP is not normally heard with the human ear, but rather, it is captured in recordings, and only heard later on, when the recording is played back through a quality audio device, sometimes requiring computer enhancement of the EVP portion of sound.


Quote:
There are excellent quality portable recorders that one can put in a jacket pocket that will do the job,

This is the key, IMO. The EVP's are not heard as readily on the input side and require real time off the tape playback monitoring. Not many portables afford this feature.

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:

Quote:
There are excellent quality portable recorders that one can put in a jacket pocket that will do the job,


This is the key, IMO. The EVP's are not heard as readily on the input side and require real time off the tape playback monitoring. Not many portables afford this feature.


Most, if not all, portable recorders offer real time monitoring while recording.

Even the lowly Zoom H2 ($200 street) offers monitoring while recording. (For that matter it is switchable, allowing monitoring at all times - even before recording is engaged.)

The latest generation of portable digital recorders are quite amazing.

However, I don't believe any digital recording device provides monitoring of the recorded signal itself in real time.

My understanding is that in digital systems we are monitoring what is in the process of being recorded, not what has just been recorded. As a practical matter the two are exactly the same however, unless the system does not play back accurately what it has digitally stored.

Another thing that remains an issue - regardless of recording technology - is how to provide sufficient gain to the EVP while not ruining one's hearing while speaking.

Even a highly directional mic is going to pick up enough spoken voice to result in a loud signal once enough gain is applied to allow the EVP to be heard.

A brickwall limiter would do the job, but this is adding more complexity once again.

We may be a bit off track however. If EVP sounds are more readily captured in analog, our discussion of digital recording is almost moot.

bobedaone
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

I almost posted a DUP-esque rant last night about the usefulness of snake oil cables in this instance. I decided against it before, but what the heck, I'll humor you.

ya don't need $100k tt, miswired zander. i bet mikey fremer can hear evp, he got beyond mortal abilitys. no clock radio flea-watt tube amplifiers, too much distortion and noise, can't hear teh EVP - ya need WATTS if ya want your EVP to have SLAM and sound REAL - WATTS, move teh air, Legacy moves air - best in the world. if ya can't play teh evp LOUD, it ain't real, it ain't a ghost. get some paranormal cables, pure ghost dielectric, that's why they cost so much

RGibran
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

YO, ERIC.

HEADS UP!

DUP HAS STOLEN YOUR ID!

RG

Jan Vigne
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
We may be a bit off track however. If EVP sounds are more readily captured in analog, our discussion of digital recording is almost moot.

My understanding of all this is analog does the best job and the response is heard on playback even when it is all but absent on the incoming signal.


Quote:
Even a highly directional mic is going to pick up enough spoken voice to result in a loud signal once enough gain is applied to allow the EVP to be heard.


Quote:
Perhaps a kill switch could remove the mic input to the EVP track while the question is being asked, allowing ONLY the potential EVP response to be recorded?

Sounds reasonable. Combine that with a separate track for the questioner captured with a close in microphone and low gain for that channel and it is probably the beginning of the answer.

Jim Tavegia
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

You are not the only one who lugs gear around on this forum than I know of. If he wanted Hi Rez no $200 piece is going to do that. If it did JA's rig would look quite different than it does right now.

I guess this moves the Oppo 980 into Class A Stereophile! As I said he doesn't need the Tascam if he just wants to listen...away from the environment being monitored. We must not spook the ghosts!

I am not beating this horse to death. It was these kinds of discussions that had me leave the last time. I should have learned. Dup or no Dup!

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
You are not the only one who lugs gear around on this forum than I know of. If he wanted Hi Rez no $200 piece is going to do that. If it did JA's rig would look quite different than it does right now.


No one is suggesting the use of equipment less than that which is needed for the job. This is what we are exploring. But there is no use in lugging around more than what one needs.

There are portable units capable of astounding fidelity. Of course, the best of these cost more than $200.00.


Quote:
I am not beating this horse to death. It was these kinds of discussions that had me leave the last time. I should have learned. Dup or no Dup!


Gosh Jim, breathe . . .

No one is attacking you. You tossed up an idea, others have also. Ideas are fair game for discussion. Others have no fear of questioning my ideas - nor should they.

We are now thinking the various ways of meeting the OP's needs. It is an interesting problem.

bifcake
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

Does anyone see the irony of trying to find a high-fi recorder/player to be able to faithfully record stuff that doesn't exist?

bobedaone
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

While the "ghost versus not ghost" point may be up for debate, if it's audible, then it exists.

BillB
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
While the "ghost versus not ghost" point may be up for debate, if it's audible, then it exists.

If a faint noise exists on the recording, then yes a faint noise exists.
The next question is, does the existence of faint noise mean that dead people are leaving messages for audio hobbyists?
And that dead people can manipulate physical properties in this world but apparently ONLY via tape hiss and static on analog tape recorders?

Jan Vigne
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:

Does anyone see the irony of trying to find a high-fi recorder/player to be able to faithfully record stuff that doesn't exist?

No. We weren't asked to find "irony" in the situation. Or to decide whether ghosts exist. We were asked the best way to record in a particular situation. That's all. There's no need to make fun of any of this. If you can't contribute, then don't ridicule.

tomjtx
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:

Quote:

Does anyone see the irony of trying to find a high-fi recorder/player to be able to faithfully record stuff that doesn't exist?

No. We weren't asked to find "irony" in the situation. Or to decide whether ghosts exist. We were asked the best way to record in a particular situation. That's all. There's no need to make fun of any of this. If you can't contribute, then don't ridicule.

gee, your such a tolerant guy, Jan.
Alex's post re irony has just as much place as anything you post.
At least he has a sense of humor.

tomjtx
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question


Quote:
I almost posted a DUP-esque rant last night about the usefulness of snake oil cables in this instance. I decided against it before, but what the heck, I'll humor you.

ya don't need $100k tt, miswired zander. i bet mikey fremer can hear evp, he got beyond mortal abilitys. no clock radio flea-watt tube amplifiers, too much distortion and noise, can't hear teh EVP - ya need WATTS if ya want your EVP to have SLAM and sound REAL - WATTS, move teh air, Legacy moves air - best in the world. if ya can't play teh evp LOUD, it ain't real, it ain't a ghost. get some paranormal cables, pure ghost dielectric, that's why they cost so much

beautiful, Erik, thanks for keeping teh DUP spirit alive

Jeff Wong
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

If the questions were prerecorded, perhaps some method of cancellation could be applied to that portion (inverted signal using an op amp circuit or a + - wiring scheme) in real or close to real time?

Elk
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Re: Reel-to-Reel multi-track question

Great idea, Jeff. I imagine that a lot of what is asked is determined ahead of time.

I have also thought of using a switchable pad of maybe 40dB or so between the headphone jack and headphones - but you would need to physically switch it in and out so your ears don't get fried.

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