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AES International Conference on Audio Forensics Finds “Signal in the Noise”

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) recently held its sixth International Conference on Audio Forensics from June 15-17, in Arlington, VA, offering an intensive look into the science and art of the audio forensics field. Through a host of special guest speakers on a variety of related topics, as well as research paper presentations and workshops, the conference, hosted by co-chairs Daniel Rappaport of Precision Solutions and Jeff M. Smith of the National Center for Media Forensics, offered attendees intimate knowledge of research related to the forensic application of speech/signal processing, acoustical analyses, audio authentication, and the examination of methodologies and best practices.

The conference featured workshops, seminars and technology demonstrations covering a broad variety of topics including acoustic analysis of environments, gunshot analysis, speech intelligibility in airplane voice recorders, digital audio authentication and more. Attendees were able to participate in events and exhibits from platinum sponsor CEDAR, as well as other additional conference sponsors Audionamix and iZotope. The conference schedule also included social events and the opportunity to take a Potomac riverboat tour of Washington, DC. Additionally, CEDAR Audio awarded the Best Paper award to the research paper “Increasing the Temporal Resolution of ENF Analysis via Harmonic Distortion” by Luca Cuccovillo and Patrick Aichroth of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology in Ilmenau, Germany.

“Audio forensics is of vital importance in criminal and accident investigations and other areas, and this conference presented the very latest methodologies and best practices in the field for authenticating and interpreting audio evidence,” said Smith. “Forensics is one of the fastest growing fields of audio science, with new applications and technologies being developed and reexamined every day, as evidenced by our growing number of attendees at each successive AES forensics conference.”

Keynote speaker and former veteran police officer Dale Sutherland kicked off the event with his remarkable account about Operation Manic Enterprises, a yearlong undercover sting operation that recovered $7.2 million in illegal drugs and resulted in 70 arrests by placing audio and video surveillance inside a Washington, DC house that was outfitted to look like a professional recording studio. With the cooperation of several law enforcement agencies, hundreds of hours of meetings and deals were recorded inside the “studio,” which led to cracking the case.

Among the other topics presented by industry experts were reverberation-based tampering in audio recordings, speech intelligibility in cockpit voice recorders, forensic analysis of Apple iOS audio files recorded with the Voice Memos app, signal analysis of pistol vs. revolver gunshot acoustics, microphone “fingerprinting” and many others.

“Thanks to the extremely positive comments we received from attendees, who gave high marks to the technical depth, diversity and expertise of the program, we’ve already proposed a 2019 AES Forensics Conference in Porto, Portugal,” concluded Smith.

For complete information on the 2017 International Conference on Audio Forensics, including downloadable papers and documents, visit www.aes.org/conferences/2017/forensics/.

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