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Getting Started with Investigating

Author: John Rixon/Monday, August 2, 2021/Categories: Articles, Equipment

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Getting Started

To get started, all you need are some basic pieces of gear. We will cover these pieces in more detail later.

  1. An Investigation Log
  2. Audio Recorder
  3. Camera
  4. EMF Meter
  5. Camcorder
  6. Temperature Sensor

The first 3 items should be considered a necessity and the remaining items as optional.


Paranormal investigation isn't about having the most expensive tools, it's about having the right tools for the job.

There will always be the temptation to buy an expensive piece of gear, and if you or your group can afford it, then by all means go for it. But before you do I suggest careful consideration of your purchase. Is it a need or a want?

Do you really need the equipment in your investigations, or do you just want it for your investigations? If it is a need, and you can afford it then you should proceed with your purchase. But on the other hand, if it is a want, then carefully consider the pros and cons of making the purchase.

Does the equipment provide significant gains in your investigations? How well has it been reviewed by others? If it doesn't provide any real gains or it hasn't been well reviewed or reviewed at all, hold off on the purchase. Also keep in mind the complexity of the equipment. Most of the time you will be in very dark conditions so the equipment should be easy to use in that situation.

Remember that the best tool in the investigator toolbox is the investigator themselves.


Audio Recorders

Audio recorders are used to capture audio evidence most commonly referred to as an EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomenon. The type and brand of audio recorders to use is mainly up to your budget and personal preference. Just remember that the device needs to be easy to use in dark conditions and you can get the files easily off the device.

Audio recorders come in 2 different styles, Digital and Tape. Which one you use is very much up to personal preference.

Digital Recorders

Most investigators use digital recorders because of their compact size, ease of use and better sound quality. Some digital recorders are capable of recording in different formats and sampling rates.

Examples of digital recorders.

Tape Recorders

Tape recorders use a magnetic tape to store data on and some believe this tape is more sensitive to the paranormal. They have limited recording time based on the tape and pick up sounds internal to the recording device.


EVP Classifications

EVPs are generally classified in one of the 3 following categories.

  • Class A: These are clearly heard and understood and are usually in response to a question that was just asked. They are not always heard by investigators in the same location.
  • Class B: These are the most common. Most people can hear the voice over a speaker, but the content may not be clearly understood.
  • Class C:  These are hard to understand and may need headphones to hear. Usually, one or two words can be made out but for the most part they are unintelligible.


Temperature Sensors

Temperature sensors are also an important piece of gear. These are used to document unexplained temperature changes in an area. It is believed that spirits absorb ambient heat for energy to manifest themselves. It is recommended to use both an ambient sensor and a gun style sensor. Many ambient sensors also include relative humidity, all data should be collected for later analysis.


Investigation Log

An investigation log is the most important piece of gear for an investigation. It is the historical representation of any events and evidence that was collected. It is recommended that the standard log format is used by all investigators for consistency. We use both an investigator log and a team lead log. Links to these files will be provided below. It is recommended that events are placed in the log as soon as possible and evidence should be reviewed as soon as possible. If possible, reviewing evidence can be done at the site and logged while it is still fresh in the minds of each of the investigators. I highly recommend that investigators fill out their log individually and not as a group. Each investigator’s experiences are personal and when logs are filled out as a group there tends to be a mingling of the investigator’s individual experiences.

investigation report template - investigator.doc
investigation report template - team lead.doc



Collecting video evidence is what all investigators strive for. And to this end there is also lots of video equipment to try and accomplish this goal. Many manufacturers support IR right off the shelf. Several paranormal shops on the internet also offer modified equipment that are full spectrum, which allows it to see in a broader spectrum of the light range that is not typically visible to the human eye. Once again, let your personal preference and budget dictate your choice of equipment. When purchasing from a paranormal store online, do the research to make sure the seller is reputable and that there have been no problems reported with it.

An important piece of gear to go with the camcorder is a good IR light. Many camcorders do not have one or have very weak IR light. It is always best to pick up extra lights that can be mounted either to the camera or mounted to a rig that hooks up to the camera’s tripod connector.


Still Cameras

Still cameras are often overlooked in favor of camcorders. But remember that each piece of gear has its place. Cameras tend to have much higher resolution than camcorders and sometimes can reveal evidence not picked up by video recording. Just as with audio recorders the type of camera is a personal choice. Some people prefer film cameras and others want cameras that have been modified for IR or full spectrum. Some investigators also use IR trap cameras to try and capture evidence based on motion detection. Again, these are all things that are based on personal preference and budget.


EMF Meter

There is no shortage of EMF meters available, from KII's to Mel meters and everything in between. Once again, what you use should be dictated by personal preference and budget. We personally look for meters that can give an audible and visual alarm. Meters also come in analog or digital format.

These are examples EMF meters we have in our inventory. From left to right: an E.L.F. Zone EMF detector, this gives you 3 levels of reading and can be useful in interactive situations. The next is an inexpensive EMF meter from China and costs about $12. Next is the Ghost Meter. These have an analog meter up to 5 milligauss but have both a visual and audible alarm. We utilize a lot of these, especially in static positions where a camera can monitor them.  

EMF meters are used during an investigation to detect anomalous energy signatures. It is believed that this energy is generated by the spirits and usually can be tracked with EMF meters as it moves through an area. Before an investigation starts the investigation, area should be base-lined with EMF meters to establish a value that can be compared to during the investigation. Sometimes during the baseline process an area will be discovered with high levels of EMF. It is advisable to determine the source of the high EMF and report it the client if it is something that needs to be repaired. Sometimes a situation will be found where power going through the walls will cause high EMF in a room. This is typically referred to as a fear cage. High levels of EMF can adversely affect a person. Effects can be from hallucinations to causing paranoia.



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