I love history. Ironically, nothing brings the past more to life for me than an old cemetery or graveyard. The markers, the designs and symbols etched in stone, offer clues about a person’s life and death in memorials placed by those who loved them. Or, in some cases, I imagine headstones are anchors to keep some bastards and monsters down in the ground. Of course, I especially appreciate a good ghost story associated with graves. So when Connor and I were en route to the Scott County Heritage Center & Museum on 10/30/2021 for an investigation, it allowed us a brief stop by the Bridgewater Cemetery.
The Bridgewater Cemetery, also known as the Owens-Bridgewater Cemetery, is a small hilltop cemetery that likely began as family burial grounds in the early 1800s, and includes the grave of Samuel Bridgewater (1827), who immigrated from England and served as a Revolutionary War private siding with George Washington. This cemetery has its share of ghost lore. My favorite is that of the grave of the “guardian of the grounds,” said to glow after midnight; the guardian chases away would-be violators who are unwelcome in the cemetery.
With this being a short visit, Connor and I did a quick walk around and noted some of the more interesting graves. Sadly, as with many rural cemeteries, we found evidence of pathetic vandalism. I had in my pocket two pieces of ITC equipment: my Panabox spirit box and the ever-coveted, despised, mystifying and controversial Panasonic DR60.
Wait, did I say DR60? THE PANASONIC RR-DR60? The most electrifying piece of EVP machine ever created???? The $3000 plastic shitty hockey puck that Zak Bagans has used to dupe the entire world? The iconic device utilized by the EVP experts, the Constantinos???? That one??? It’s confusing — so many conflicting opinions regarding the devices we choose to utilize in our investigative kits. Various pieces of equipment instantly polarize people. I try never to give my thoughts on specific types of tech. I won’t do it merely because I don’t want to be divisive on this blog — except for stupid-shit SLS cameras. And there I go… See? We all have opinions. My disdain for the SLS camera comes from experience. I owned one. I experimented with it. I think they’re turds — mostly. But I’ll get back to that in a second. Let’s take a quick look at the DR60 and have an honest conversation about this device.
First, the pros:
1. Looks great in my hand.
Now the cons:
1. Sounds like shit.
I’m not done. The proponents of this device testify that it’s the best EVP recorder on the planet. And I kind of sort of fall into this with one massive caveat, and that is, it’s one the best when you’re in contact with a discarnate entity. Other than that, it is a false-positive EVP machine — at times. And it can be used in a disingenuous way — even inadvertently. Let’s go through the legitimate concerns you should know, and I’ll also refute a few of the criticisms as I go.
1. It has a very low sampling rate, which produces a very muffled and growly recording. So true.
2. The voice activation feature may introduce noise caused by an internal glitch in the integrated circuit board which can trigger a recording. This can cause the infamous flaw of the DR60 that often gets misconstrued as the angry old man’s voice or demonic screaming (especially if the sensitivity is set too high). I cannot tell you how many ghost hunters have shit themselves when they hear this flaw of the recorder. So many folks have posted these recordings as EVP. I’ve even made the mistake of not fully understanding this fault.
3. There’s also no great way to transfer the audio to be analyzed. So no digital output (USB) — it is a hassle.
4. In reviewing your sessions, the voice activation mode can make the context of your recordings very confusing.
If you believe you can get a Class A EVP with this device, good luck. I’ve used one for years and have only recorded a handful. Most of the time, they are just not going to be that precise. But if you are indeed in contact with an entity, it is possible. So how do you know when a DR60 is working for you versus against you? Here are a few tips.
1. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. If your session produces nothing but guttural screams, it’s highly probable it’s not an EVP — it’s the recorder screwing up. I’d recommend lowering the sensitivity. Most legit EVPS from the DR60 are whispery and seem embedded in the white noise, and you distinctly hear the faint vocalizations of words. One of the reasons people do not like this recorder is one reason I like it — the craptastic microphone has a minimal range. So, on the one hand, you do not need to worry about the interstate three miles over causing audio contamination, but on the other hand, you need to keep it dead-still in your hand or keep it set down. Anything that produces noise near the device can prompt the voice activation and create an audio artifact you might confuse for an EVP (much like the internal glitch issue). So you have to be very honest and discerning when reviewing. The best way to cross-reference your audio is —
2. Always run a high-quality recorder alongside your DR60 and preferably capture your session on video too. This is ultimately the best way to validate a possible EVP from this device. Because of the technical constraints, these recorders are liars. Don’t get duped.
My optimism for this device is due primarily to the number of sessions I’ve conducted with it that have produced NO EVPS. As a matter of fact, many of my sessions don’t even produce the “angry old man yelling about his hemorrhoids” internal flaw. So it’s not always in misfire mode in spite of what the Paranormal Naysayers Gospel Choir sings. And I’m also a proponent of the theory of white noise possibly helping give ghosts, which technically shouldn’t have vocal cords, extra phonic material to manipulate for constructing speech. The DR60 has a very analog sound versus the super clean sounds of modern recording equipment. I do like to experiment with both. I’ve caught simultaneous EVPS with each device. I think the DR60 excels in this aspect. My theory is the flaws and limitations of the Panasonic RR-DR60 are the very things that make it a fantastic recorder when everything comes together — entity, corroborated data, etcetera. Maybe even the glitch helps with communication? Who knows? And what if I told you that an audio engineer friend, who is also an ITC researcher, took a DR-60, disconnected the device’s microphone, and still recorded EVPS with it? Well, that happened. This completely undermines the argument that Panasonic’s “EVPS” are solely getting manufactured by the voice activation mode triggering a recording due to its inner functions. Interesting, right? I believe whatever happens with this recorder regarding EVP is happening with internal manipulation. It seems it’s much more like an ITC device versus a regular EVP recorder. That damned microphone seems inconsequential for EVP as well as source of the detrimental flaw of this device.
3. Use corroborative data to reaffirm your EVP capture. Because of the issues with this recorder, the recording it produces has a wobbly leg to stand on when presented as an anomalous response. Back to what I said about this recorder at its best (like all devices) when in the presence of a discarnate intelligence. Since we cannot validate a ghostly intellect, by capturing the validity of the experience, the event becomes more compelling — especially when you have other devices that log data and are triggered at the exact moment you’ve caught an EVP on the DR60. Like your TriField meter spikes, your REM Pod chimes, your goth tech-gal Betty Elvira II gets levitated upside down on camera, and your Tascam captures an EVP, but so does your Panasonic RR-DR60. See? We can’t prove what happened there. We documented fucking high strangeness and a weird voice — but we can’t prove what caused it. We’re just calling it a ghost. So when you review that moment on your DR60, and you get a Class B EVP that sounds like “I’m Satan’s twisted sister,” it makes it harder to dismiss as just the internal old performance of a flawed recorder. But alas, the real scientific community will never accept an EVP from this device due to its design defects. Sadly, that’s the stone-cold fact.
So if they’re such a hassle, why use one? My advice is, if you’re not going to be cautious, don’t bother. Or, if you do present EVPS with it, state/show what you did or didn’t do to help verify them. Just like the video below — it’s pretty relaxed. It’s two guys walking around a cemetery testing out a couple of ITC gizmos — not a diligent or thorough investigation to prove anything by any means. But there were a couple of exciting moments that might be EVPS, but they don’t cosmically add up to squat — it’s just fun. If you take this field and yourself too seriously, you’ll probably get your answers about life after death faster by just going ahead and taking your dirt nap. Not that I’m suggesting it or insinuating anything dark, I’m just sarcastically telling you best wishes.
Let me ask you this. What has evidence from any haunted investigation using any device ever proven conclusively that anything we explore is real? Is there any evidence that isn’t subjective on some level? Every tool we use has some limitation or flaw, or we construe what’s behind its performance. Every bit of our tech/evidence is susceptible to some level of debunking, and we speculate our findings in a narrative that suits our agendas. You can capture an unexplained voice on the most sophisticated recorder in a professional sound booth that says, “I’m a ghost!” It still doesn’t prove that you documented the voice of an actual ghost. When it comes down to it, we don’t know what a spirit even is. We’ve made up ghosts or what their existence might mean. We can’t indeed prove what we can’t define. It was just a voice — an unaccounted-for voice — electronic voice phenomena — a weird moment — weird moments happen. So many of us have had strange experiences. We have documented some peculiar things, but the only people we can genuinely convince that our interpretations of the phenomena are a real possibility is ourselves.
For all the DR60 critics out there, they’re 100% within their rights to criticize the DR60. But they’re also 100% full of shit to discard it as a tool for EVPS when no device gives concrete empirically indisputable results. Same with me and the loathsome SLS camera. If we were investigating together and you whipped one out, I’d internally groan. Still, given that we cannot define the parameters of the paranormal, prove its existence, nor say what or how the supernatural might choose to interact or manipulate devices or communicate with us, I’d be open to the potential of your SLS maybe capturing something incredible. Who am I to say what the paranormal can or cannot do?
I believe everything you can say about this recorder is true to an extent — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Are DR60s worth 3K? Nope! But they are scarce, so… Are they worth all the criticism? Probably, but keep the critics’ opinions in perspective. If the DR60 fault-finders are like most of us running around in the dark like cats chasing lasers claiming to hunt spectral hopes and dreams, their toys are probably similar to yours, but they’ll fly their banner of “more scientific.” I’ll say let’s strive for “more better” because, beyond that, our current approaches aren’t even close to achieving a scientific method. So you’d need to blaze a new path for it to be a game-changer because if what you’re doing is reminiscent of what everyone is doing, you’re doing what everyone else is doing. I know some people are genuinely trying different things with a healthy perspective, and I applaud them. Innovations in the field are exciting too. But I guarantee most of the cynical pseudo-scientific crowd probably still adheres to techniques that aren’t rational, and their beliefs wrapped all smug in their black t-shirts impact that. Maybe they have faith in psychic mediums, or they believe 3 a.m. is the prime dead-time to communicate with spirits, or they talk to flashlights, or they are afraid of Ouija Boards — there is a ton of woo to unpack there. But they’ll tell you with authority what recorder to use? If we started a spectrum for paranormal researchers, hopefully, between cynical and silly, we could find great people capable of checking their egos while having an honest and open dialogue about this hobby. People cherry-pick, like anything else, what they choose to accept or dismiss concerning spiritualism and logic regarding the supernatural. Much like religion and politics. I think if the paranormal was a sandwich, it’s a peanut butter assumption and superstition jelly spread on What-The-Fuck-Wonder Bread. Maybe we should all chug a big glass of milk after taking a bite?
— Evel Ogilville
Bridgewater Cemetery Also known as Owens/Owens-Bridgewater Cemetery. County Road 400 S. Lexington Township, Indiana
Small hilltop cemetery likely began as family burial grounds in the early 1800s, including Samuel Bridgewater (1827), who immigrated from England as a Revolutionary War private who sided with George Washington
Civil War-era burials
A popular legend is that graves located outside of gates were those of enslaved people; the oak tree is said to be “Death Tree” used for hangings. Lore has been disputed as a myth as graves were present on grounds before the gate that was later constructed, so they were not buried outside. Family plots also extended into the area later used for parking.
Paranormal Claims Common paranormal reports of growling sounds, similar to a dog, toward the back; white, often riderless horse said to chase out visitors. Another man on horseback, sometimes headless, reported.
Grave of “guardian of grounds” said to glow after midnight, chasing away would-be violators; man (night watchman or in white hat) also said to appear in spectral form.
Also glowing balls of light and small, bright red eyes in the woods toward the back of the grounds. Electronics and cars reported to fail in the area. Temperature inside cemetery grounds said to be noticeably cooler than that outside gates.