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HOME STUDIO:
Ghostly Voice Appears In Playback
Of New VO Recording - What Is It??

By Mike Elmore
Voice Actor

Ghost in the machine. A reference / topic that has been considered over the decades by notables such as Sting, Gilbert Ryle ...and now Mike Elmore (one of these things is not like the others).

OK, so maybe this wasn't a ghost.

I have never been one to fear or even really give much thought to even the IDEA of ghosts. Until now.

PARTY TALK

If asked at a party, "Mike - do you believe in ghosts?" I suppose my answer would have been, "Neutral. I really don't know."

I don't construct a belief system in anything unless I have had the opportunity to either experience it first hand or spend some time REALLY delving into it, studying it and participating in deep discussions about it."

GHOSTLY EXPERIENCE

Today, my answer would strike similarities, but with an addition.

That would be a quick mention of an experience I had recently while recording in my soundproof booth in my nearly soundproof home studio.

It's a space void of any other human at that moment. Just me and my studio buddy / quiet hound, JJ.

EASY, FEW STUMBLES ...

I was recording a training module for AT&T. It was about a 10-minute piece.

I ran through it with relative ease and very few stumbles.

Feeling confident, I left the booth and walked into the control room.

With my editing hat on I cranked up the monitors and hit "Play."

WOOPS - WHAT'S THAT?

About 2.3 seconds into my playback I heard something weird. A second voice blurting something out in the background. Take a listen:



My first thought was that there MUST be another track open here in my Pro Tools edit window from a previous session that I didn't clear (which, looking back, is impossible because I never SAVE CHANGES when I close a session unless I am producing something).

So I scrolled up and I scrolled down.

WAY up and WAY down and found nothing.

ANOTHER VOICE

I listened to it again and determined that it was / is without a doubt a secondary voice.

Based on the proximity to the microphone, I quickly realized that my initial thought of there being an old pickup line / track still in the mix was absurd.

The second voice sounds like it is standing 15 feet or more behind the mic, and maybe even facing the opposite direction.

Hear it again:



IN THE ROOM

It recites only two words and doesn't make an appearance anywhere else in the 10 + minute file following.

I don't use cheap mic cables so the idea of RF interference is almost completely ruled out. Plus, that is easy to identify.

THIS sounds like someone in the same room with me!

FORENSICS AUDIO

I told my friend and Forensics Audio expert Katy Kavanaugh (who is also a fantastic and respected studio engineer in Seattle) about it, and she asked me to send it over.

She asked me to record the same two words that were interrupted by this "voice" AGAIN and match the original. I did that.

She was able to use that file to meter and register all the frequencies of my voice. She then used a tool with these readings on the original file to remove my voice ALMOST completely.

NASTY GHOST

The consensus after the processing is that the words are umm .adult in nature and could be one of two things; either:
  • F_ _ _ _ _ _ Dead, or
  • F_ _ _ _ _ _ Dic_.
These are not words or phrases that I use when I throw a studio fit. My go-to freak out seems to be "DAMNIT!" with an occasional, accompanying fist pound to the console. But never the F bomb.

MYSTERY CONTINUES

So as it stands now I have no clue where this second voice came from.

I have considered every single possibility. I have had discussions with several people, including colleagues and audio experts, and am still just as bewildered as I was the first time I heard it.

If someone were to ask me today, "Do you believe in ghosts?" my answer would remain the same as above.

But I think I would have to lead into the words of the answer - with a thoughtful chin scratch.

ABOUT MIKE ...

Mike Elmore is a 24-year voice over artist and broadcasting veteran. He can be heard as the radio promo voice for Discovery Channel's Myth Busters as well as radio and Internet pitches for Proactiv, 24 Hour Fitness, Taco Bell, HBO and more. Mike also boasts an impressive list of now full time VO'ers who have coached and trained with him, and is available to newcomers with questions.

Email: Info@MikeElmoreTalks.com
Web: www.MikeElmoreTalks.com

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Comments (5)
Kathleen
1/5/2012 at 2:15 PM
Nothing mysterious here! My techie broadcaster husband says this is called "rectifying" and that poor connections/poor connectors can pick up intermittent radio waves from a variety of radio sources. Could have been as simple as a repair guy outside on his walkie talkie bleeding in to your system.
Michelle
12/26/2011 at 12:34 PM
SCARY! After reading this, I was thinking about it a lot and getting creeped out. I went downstairs and my dryer buzzer went off and I just about jumped out of my skin! LOL!
Brian Amador
12/23/2011 at 9:56 AM
Wow, this is fascinating! It will be interesting to see if this phenomenon happens again. Whoever the voice belongs to, he's not a happy camper. I wonder if there are any clues related to the location of your studio: previous residents, etc.?
Darla
12/23/2011 at 8:45 AM
At first I thought this article was going to have someone saying "Ho,Ho,Ho" or some sort of seasons' greetings. Instead, this is sort of creepy.

I have experienced something similar. I sent off a recording to a publisher and received an e-mail asking me to take the ringing telephone sound out of the mix. I ALWAY unplug my phones when I am recording. Very strange.
robin mccane
12/23/2011 at 3:07 AM
Wow....I have always thought like you, Mike, but you can definitely hear clearly the f word.

After my grandparents passed away one week apart, we had experiences that we could not explain and am still not sure what I believe, but it was certainly something.
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