Audio Pariedolia is a subject I find fascinating, but something I think gets easily dismissed as a possible answer for phantom noises and voices. Audio Pariedolia works much the same way as the visual version.
The definition of Pareidolia (Pair-eye-dough-lee-ya) is – the phenomenon that causes the human brain to perceive random stimulation as significant. You hear a random noise, it could in reality be anything (whistles, a motor, wind, etc) your brain attempts to make sense of it. To do this it goes into it’s stored database of recognizable sounds and picks the one that matches most closely then tells your ears “This is what you are hearing”.
How does it do this? There are a couple of theorized reasons. One is that it picks the first most common recognizable sound in it’s databank. One theory is that this is why hearing your own name seemingly out of thin air is fairly common. You have been hearing your own name your whole life so it stands to reason that this is what your brain would pick for any unrecognizable sound that even remotely resembles it.
Another theory is that the power of suggestion plays a big part in it. An example of this is : Someone plays a clip of what they say is an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) that they have captured. You listen to it and hear nothing but random noise. Then they tell you ( either verbally in person or in written form if you are watching a video of it) what it is they believe they hear. You listen to it again and “Bingo” you hear exactly what they heard. Why didn’t you hear it the first time? Power of suggestion?
Now I know some people are going to immediately say “This is a bunch of baloney and psychobabble. I know what I heard” In searching for information I found a couple of experiments to test the power of suggestion theory. Give them a read and try the experiments. You may just change your mind and start questioning if hearing really is believing.
In this first article the experiment is in the last paragraph before the “Notes” section.
Here is another one to try if you have the equipment necessary.
I am not saying this is the absolute, definitive answer to every instance of unexplained noises, but it should give us pause to think and consider that sometimes random noises are just that.