Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Things That Go Bump, Mad Science Edition: The Parabolic in the Cemetery #1

Speak into the clear plastic dish...

Today, I have something genuinely spooky to offer you. 

As you can probably guess from the image above, I took my newly-constructed parabolic microphone rig to a local cemetery. Not just any cemetery, either, but to the very same place I've captured EVP phenomena before.

Before we get to the sounds themselves, though, a few words of explanation are in order. What you see above is the dish, of course, and the electronics. The black box on the bottom is the power supply and volume control for the mic itself. Poised atop that is a small general-purpose audio amp I use for signal tracing and low-level amplification (it has a gain of around 50, I think). Perched precariously above that is the Zoom H1 field mic itself, which is recording via its auxiliary cable input, and not its stereo microphones.

Oh, and that bit of fuzz, peeking over the top? That's a windscreen, which is placed over the electret mic at the focal point of the dish. 

I built the dish to use the 3000X super-amp, but I found that amp's output is well in excess of what the Zoom expects, wants, or can tolerate. So I'll need to add an attenuator circuit to the big-gain amp before I can use it with the dish. Bummer, but the little general-purpose amp performed quite well this trip.

My 20 minute recording session netted a couple of interesting audio samples. As usual, I don't claim to know the source of these sounds. I'm not claiming they are ghosts. I'm not claiming they aren't. All I'm saying is that I get odd sounds -- some voices, some not -- when I go to St. Peters Cemetery in Oxford, and I don't get these same strange noises in my backyard or other such mundane locales. Make of that what you will.

Let's start out with the most impressive of the sounds, which occurs around the 13 minute mark on the full session recording.  The image below shows what the dish was pointed at.

It's facing a hill. Just out of frame is a vase of flowers which has fallen from a marker.

I'll put the clip in context. Thirteen minutes in, and I've moved the dish around a few times. It's facing up a hill. I wander off, spot a vase of fallen flowers, and note aloud I'm going to right them. Shortly after that, you'll hear, quite clearly, the sound of a music box (or perhaps wind chimes).

It plays for several seconds. I did NOT hear even a hint of any such thing during the recording.

Could it be an actual wind chime, the sound of which was carried on the wind?

Maybe, I suppose. But the dish is very directional. It's aimed at a hill on purpose. And it's quite loud.

You be the judge:

Music Box Sound Sample Click Here

The next sound occurred just before the 18 minute mark in the full recording. I'm explaining that the devices I carry can't do anyone any harm, and that they might be able to record faint voices. Just after that, there is a noise of some sort that over-rides my next statement about their voices being detected in the background. The image above depicts what the dish was aimed at.

Is this a voice? I can't tell. I can only say I didn't hear it, and since it comes across as even louder than my own voice for an instant, that's weird.

Might Be Able Sound Click Here

Here's the sound isolated. It still doesn't make any sense to me.

Might Be Able Clip Isolated Click Here

Finally, and I almost didn't include this one, a very faint voice, captured at the 11 minute mark. I have no idea what it's saying. I was walking around, with the dish facing as in the last image above.

You may have to crank this one way up.

Unintelligible Voice Click Here

If you'd like to listen to the entire unedited session, click below. Be warned; there's a three and a half minute period right after I say I'm switching to the parabolic that things are just a buzz because I forgot to switch on the mic pre-amp. Duh. I noticed and switched it on at the 5 minute mark. I've got to get a cheap label-maker so I can at least denote the ON and OFF positions of my switches.

I hope you enjoyed the chimes and the other weird sounds.Sometime soon I'll have to have a talk with the Oxford Police Department and see if they have any objections to me setting up my gear after dark. Anybody want to slap on a proton pack and join me?

Random Catfish Sunsets

No. No I did not eat this handsome fellow, who surfaced to gobble down an easy meal of fish-food in the lake behind a friend's house. That is a Mississippi catfish, long may he live and prosper.

And here is a sunset, taken over the same lake:

If you squint just right, you can see Bigfoot waving from the trees, and of course Nessie is lurking below the surface. 

Writing News

My news this week is much the same as it was last week. Still finishing the re-write on the new Mug and Meralda (less than a hundred pages to go, yay!). The new Markhat is still out for consideration with Samhain. 

I know I've asked before, but since The Five Faces just came out and many of you might have only recently finished it, I'll go ahead and beg abjectly once more for reviews. Seriously, if you liked it (even if you hated it), if you've got a second to drop by Amazon and leave me a few stars and a handful of words I'd really appreciate both. We live and die by rankings, and rankings are related to ratings. It's a sad old world, but it's the only one I've got.  Thanks!


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  3. I don't know, if this thing is able to pick up stuff - I kind of think you're getting either static or maybe radio like waves from a close station or people far away... I did listen, couldn't really ascertain if it were otherworldly or not, but I do like your passion!