Role of Audio Engineering Expert Witnesses in Forensic Audio

One of the most common legal battles that recording companies get involved with is music piracy. To help solve these cases, a sound engineer may not be enough, so the court may summon a forensic audio expert.

What is Forensic Audio? Mix Engineer

Forensic audio, in general, is audio service for legal applications. To be more specific, it applies audio engineering skills to analyze, clarify, edit, enhance and detect sounds recorded into various types of media. As with music recording, forensic audio today does not need huge space-consuming equipment anymore. Everything in the world is becoming digital, and forensics seems to be going the same direction.

Importance of Forensic Audio and Audio Engineering Specialists

While the term “forensic audio” may seem boring, it may be way cooler than you think. Think of the Watergate incident. A section of the noise in one of the seized recordings appeared to be electric network frequency interference which was alleged to be masking the original audio material. Some of the world’s finest engineering experts were brought in to help in the investigation of the Watergate tape recordings, though the original content of that section has never been recovered.

Forensic audio is also applied in transcriptions, authenticating recorded audio and providing expert witness testimony. Audio engineering experts are sometimes called to be witnesses in a trial. These audio experts are able to unravel a whole scope of evidence from just a few seconds of recording. You may have seen them at work on TV when they try to analyze bits and pieces of recorded audio material by playing a section over and over again.

Forensic audio specialist often find it a challenge to deal with noisy, muffled incoherent recordings, but a lot of times, they contain major evidence for criminal trials. The smallest, almost unidentifiable sounds on a tape can have significant meaning. Experts’ ears are trained to identify signals from these audio bits. They can possibly identify a person’s location at a certain time just from the environmental background sounds. The speed in which a tape plays or records may also vary depending on the power supply used, whether it was an AC adaptor or some batteries. In these cases, one can make assumptions on whether the recording was done near an outlet or in some remote location. Even the distinct sound of pressing the “record” button can mean something. It is the duty of the audio engineering expert to extract these evidences to be an effective witness in a trial.

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