Ever been curious about the tools that many paranormal investigators use? Well below, we will go over the more common tools and why they are used. While this list is far from complete, as each person can also develop their own tools and techniques, that are unique to them personally or their group or team.
This list is in no specific order.
The Audio recorder is an excellent tool, and there are two common types, the digital recorder or the analog recorder.
Why do you need audio recorders?
Audio recorders are used to help take notes and can be handy to have one running on your person during an investigation, just in case you need to describe something or want to make notes. The advantage is that usually they can be hands free unlike a camera.
But the big reason to use audio recorders is to pick up EVP (electronic voice phenomenon). This is sounds that cannot be explained away as ambient or background noise, often words or phrases can be heard, sometimes it may be the sound of a door opening that didn’t open or a scream or growl. In general any sounds that are not able to be simple explained away initially fall into the EVP range until it can be investigated fully.
Which are better, digital or analog recorders?
Most modern paranormal investigators prefer a digital recorder, and often have several. The advantages of digital recorders, is they can be found relatively cheaply and are often quite small and have long battery lives and are usually rechargeable and have extended record times, often many hours.
So why use digital recorders? They are the wave of the future. Many have features to listen but not record until sound is captured, others are able to put a digital time stamp, offer special digital processors to help improve sound quality and distance, so they are useful tool for the typical investigator.
Analog recorders are such as a micro cassette recorder is often also used. Usually if this is the case they are used in tandem with digital device. Analog devices are often a bit heavier and bulkier, have a limited recording time compared to digital and since they have moving parts can sometimes skew audio data.
So why use Analog?? Analog is a good backup to digital and vice versa. If an area have had paranormal events previously, having more data is always better than less data and having data from different types of technology even better. Plus some people are just old school; there are even some people that use microphones running to an old reel to reel recorder.
Thermometers or temperature taking devices are very useful tools for the paranormal investigator. Being able to know ambient temperatures within an area that a paranormal event could or has occurred can be quite valuable from a data perspective. Did the temperature in the area change? If so how quickly did it change? How extreme was the change? Did the temperature go up or down? We may perceive a temperature change, but a thermometer verifies if what we perceive is accurate.
There are many types of temperature taking devices. The most common is the digital room thermometer; this is what you would see on your thermostat. The second most common is the analog or “mercury” thermometers. Usually put in indirect sunlight they give an accurate reading, but it’s not always easy to read or see. (Note that most thermometers of this nature no longer contain mercury). The next type is the mechanical thermometer. This is a device that has a coiled spring that expands and contracts to temperature changes. Normally if you have a thermometer that looks like a clock face, that is a mechanical thermometer. These are usually the most inaccurate.
The next is the probe style thermometer; again there are both digital and analog versions of this type of thermometer. This of this as the type of thermometer that would be used to take the temperature of cooking food or to test for a fever as they usually require direct contact to give a temperature reading. These are not commonly used in paranormal investigation, but it would not hurt to have a couple on hand just in case an opportunity arises that would be useful.
The final thermometer is the digital laser thermometer. These are the “gun like” devices that you point at a surface and press a button and get an instant reading. These are now quite affordable and are easy to use and very useful as they are compact, give an instant reading and the display is often backlit and easy to read.
So why would paranormal investigators need devices that take temperatures?
The big reason is that temperature shifts are very common paranormal events. Many times they can be explained away, but to be able to really know if something is natural or paranormal, you need data. And temperature data is good data to have. Is a room warmer or colder than normal? What was the temperate before, during and after an event? These things can help give a bigger picture of what may have happened for a particular event.
There are more types of camera than can be listed and we are sure that most users are familiar with many types so we will just touch quickly on a few types of camera.
The most common modern camera is the camera on your cell phone, the quality can vary greatly from phone to phone and some are better than others. The next most common is likely the laptop or pc web camera; again most people have these and while some work incredibly well, others not so much. You then have the traditional digital camera; usually capable of both still photos and video (like the options above). There are many types of camera in this category, from the small pin hole cameras to high end photography/videography cameras, to the standard “Go Pro” style devices that are now quite common. The analog camera, that uses film, while not as common are still often used, either in the traditional film you send off to be developed or in instant camera that do Polaroid style photos that develop instantly.
So why do you need cameras?
I think that the camera is the lifeblood of the paranormal investigator. It provides audio and visual reference to the investigation. It can record phenomenon and also allows the investigator to review time lines, and have documentation to help prove or disprove a paranormal event. The camera allows for evidence. Removing hear say and anecdotal accounts always helps an investigation, ideally all team members should have a camera mounted on their person and one of possibly higher quality to help record events. Key thing to note is that the cameras should all have an inferred or “night vision” setting to that it can pick up on ultraviolet light in dark areas.
Thermal images cameras or IR cameras are not common to every paranormal investigator, but if you are able to gain access to one, they can be a very useful. Thermal imaging cameras show a visual display of temperatures, where black is often very cold, shifting to blues then orange, red then white for very hot, and it does this while still maintaining the shape of the objects in the room. An example would be if you had a cool room and someone walked through the room, you would see a human shaped object moving through the room while showing a color spectrum to show the heat being given off.
So why get a thermal camera?
The idea behind having a thermal camera is that if you are moving through a space and have a camera, it can show if someone has recently walked through the space, if there is any objects in the space that are hotter or colder than the environment that is not able to be seen with the naked eye, and they help provide more documentation and data. There have been cases where what appeared to be human shaped objects move through a room and show up on the thermal imaging camera, but do not show up on normal cameras. So it can be a useful tool, but they still cost quite a bit of money, and the two major players are FLIR and FLUKE, but other brands do exist.
EMF Readers read the Electromagnetic frequency in an area. Most areas have electromagnetic interference in some form or fashion. With most electronic devices there are many types. Some can give a digital number as a display, others have a an arc of numbers and a needle like pointer that moves to a particular number depending on the reading, others simply display a light indicator that gives you an rough idea of the EMF level and last some will just give a tone and the tone gets more intense the more electromagnetic energy is in the area (not un-similar to how a metal detector will sound).
So why use EMF readers?
EMF readers are good to set up a control, a baseline and then actual data during the investigation. Use an EMF in area before you add any recording devices and before you setup equipment of any sort, get the control data, this way when you put in your equipment such as audio recorders, cameras, laser grids IR lights etc, you can then do another reading and take note of the variants. This allows that once the investigation is going, if you see additional spikes you can by already taking previous readings and know it was not your equipment that caused the spike in the electromagnetic field. (But recheck equipment to make sure they did not have a fault or some sort, which while rare has happened.)
The items above are the key things that are useful to an investigation, but there are so many other tools that you can use. You can use the power of the internet to find info about the area, use Google to get satellite images of the area which can help you track down obvious sources of strange phenomena (such as being a near an electrical substation). Also equipment like laptops and tablets to store and collate data can also be a huge help. Laser grids to make a visual grid in a room could be helpful, especially if you are trying to monitor small movements. IR/full spectrum lights allow your cameras that are using “night vision” to be able to see more and further and usually allow imagery to be a bit clearer. Other things such as bags, hard cases, cables, batteries, and of course good ole pen and paper are hard to beat.
So with all that being said, try things out, find what tools work with your style of investigating and enjoy!