An Audio Engineer makes various contributions to many styles of projects, performance pieces and products. Roles that an audio engineer can contribute to include: studio and live Recording, Live Performance, Broadcasting, Film and Television, Acoustics and/or Forensics. The engineer must uphold to technical, creative and interpersonal skill sets in order to maintain professional and reputable image.
Well known audio engineers include Russell Williams II (known for sound design in film production), Young Guru ( 2011 Grammy Award nominee for his work on “Empire State of Mind” by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys), Bill Porter (best known for work with Elvis Presley, Chet Atkins) and Quincy Jones (producing Michael Jackson’s albums “Off The Wall” 1979, “Thriller” 1982 “Bad” 1987) (Mix Online 2007). Contrary to these engineer’s roles, forensic audio engineering is cosmetically worse than its original source, it has been altered to enhance what is being said, not cosmetically edited to sound greater as a whole, such as in the music industry. Sound On Sound 2010)
“Audio Forensics refers to engineering and scientific analysis, evaluation and presentation of audio and acoustic evidence in a judicial inquiry normally leading towards a presentation in court. ” (Audio Engineering Society, 2011) Many famous criminal law cases have been solved due to the audio enhancing of a forensic audio engineer’s behalf. Audio recordings are used to make a real-time , eyewitness backing evidence and are made to be used so that investigators can visualise the exact moment in time, in which a crime had occurred.
Some cases would not be able to be solved without an forensic audio engineers expertise. These include Bruce Koenig, who has analysed the audio from the assassination of JFK, the 35th President of the United States of America in 1963, also enhancing and authenticating tapes used in the John Gotti trials. Koenig’s work also includes: authentication of recordings including: the identification and classification of non-voice signals, voice intelligibility enhancement, spectral aural comparison between voice samples, duplication of unique and specialised audio and video formats and repair of broken or damaged media.
While his work is mostly audio, Koenig works with video and image analysis — the duplication and separation of unique and specialised audio and video formats, video imaging tracking, stabilisation, identification of image characteristics and general video image enhancement. (Lex Visio legal Experts and Services, 2016) Further highly commended forensic audio engineers and their cases include Alan French enhancing audio recordings that had been used to convict serial killer Colin Ireland.
A team of six technical experts who each authenticated recordings from America’s 37th President, Richard Nixon and the ‘watergate’ scandal of 1973. During these investigations there was found to be a re-recorded section of 18. 5 minutes on the recording device, experts finding it had been re recorded as electric network frequency interference (Sound On Sound 2010). Forensic specialists Koenig and Douglas Lacey helped to authenticate cockpit voice recordings of United Airlines Flight 93 that plummeted into an empty field in Pennsylvania due to the September 11 hijacking attacks (history, 2010).
Forensic audio engineers are not only part of the vast range of publicised cases, the engineers are drawn to multiple hierarchy of cases that has surveillance audio and visual or discreetly recorded conversations — that are usually recorded with a lapel microphone, hidden and made in less than ideal circumstances, underneath layers of clothing this is then the forensic audio engineers role to rid of the muffled sounds and maintaining the enhancement of faint conversation to clear reputable audio.
The forensic engineer must follow technical skill sets to be proficient towards identifying what is unusual about recorded audio. Attention to technical detail is used to validate information given within a recording. Engineers assess waveforms, speech levels and voice changes in order to make voice identification, that is generally used when more than one person is relevant in a recording.
Signal flow can also be analysed and decoded, due to it being the major indication that edits have been made to a recording, this is commonly assessed when there is belief of prior tampering of evidence before given to and forensic engineer. “[ A forensic audio engineer] aids the investigators in piecing together the facts of a case. Audio from a recorded 911 phone call, for instance, can provide key information—not only from the words of the caller, but from sounds in the background. Can the assailant be heard in the distance?
How many parties are audible on the tape? ” (National Forensic Science Technology Centre. 2009) Audio engineers uphold to technical, interpersonal and creative skill, however when providing evidence in a court of law, there is no use of creative based editing, the finished product must obtain to have each of the same elements of the original audio recorded, with as minimal as possible disruption to the audio. although the evidence can be heard in the court of with and without the engineers presence, Interpersonal skills are undamental for forensic audio engineer as maintaining a professional and reliable code of conduct is necessary when giving factual evidence testimony in a courtroom.
Currently the majority of evidence used in a court of law is digital based. Recordings are usually sourced from stand-alone drives and computers. Much of the audio and visual media is collected to and/or sourced from SD (secure digital) cards and transferable media devices. Rarely are Analog systems used as they are — due to the current technological revolution – becoming a thing of the past. Although this is said to be the truth, many are still in current use.
Sound On Sound 2010). A large amount of analogue devices use magnetic tape, it is essential for the forensic engineer to be well educated in the analogue device in use, as each re-run of the tape causes degrading of the images and audio. Documenting everything said is critical, as one wrong push of a button can completely obliterate evidence on the recording. A digital recording for future listening of a tape a digital copy is paramount to preserve its original sample as evidence. Concluding, the audio engineer and the forensic audio engineer have to uphold responsibilities and balance between technical creative and interpersonal skill sets.
The audio engineer up holds and is able to be creative in a project, performance or product, however the forensic engineer must follow and sustain technical based work, to allow a product to be used as evidence in a court of law. the forensic audio engineer obtains evidence that it key in an investigation and aids the court of law in reaching a verdict. recordings are taken under less than ideal situations and is the engineers role to enhance unclear and muffled audio into what can be played as potential evidence in the court of law.