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Ed Primeau works with FBI on the S. Jerome Bronson case

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

FBIIn 1986, Franklin-based Judge S. Jerome Bronson was arrested for accepting a $20,000 bribe.  Once arrested, he was released by Ingham County Circuit Judge Thomas Brown, and subsequently ended his own life.

Judge James N. Canham acted as a middleman, and exposed Bronson by wearing a hidden microphone when presenting Bronson with the $20,000.

This is one of the first cases I ever worked on as an audio forensic expert. Back then, there were no digital means of voice analysis.  Software programs to enhance audio quality, create digital duplicates, and make edits did not exist. The original recording was presented to me on Reel-to-Reel and created on a NAGRA tape recorder.  This was entirely analog sound, so to analyze the recording, I was limited to a physical rack of outboard gear such as equalizers, compressors and limiters to get the job done. Once I had made enhancements, a direct copy of the enhanced recording had to be presented on reel-to-reel.  Nothing was automatic; everything was manual.

Below is a news article from The Argus Press about Bronson’s suicide. It’s simply amazing how far technology has come in my 29+ years of audio analysis, and how far it could possibly go!

photo credit: J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building via photopin (license)

Authentication of New JFK Audio recordings from Air Force One

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

John F KennedyI have been asked by an anonymous organization to authenticate the air traffic recordings from Air Force One originally recorded on November 22, 1963. The recordings were released to the public January of this year.

This organization wants to know as much about the recordings as possible from a forensic perspective. One of the questions being asked is, “Are the recordings authentic?”
When an audio forensic expert is asked to review and authenticate any audio recording, it is best practice to always begin the investigation with an unbiased perspective. One of the first activities is to listen completely to the recordings, noting any anomalies or other significant observations.

The second step is to view the sound wave formation and visually inspect the wave for any abnormal electronic characteristics like reverse polarity or a variance in noise floor. A complete description of the recordings and their history can be viewed below and is exact from Wikimedia.

Description from Wikimedia:

The Raab Collection has donated an original audio tape recording to the National Archives that includes taped conversations on President Kennedy’s official airplane, “Air Force One”, during its flight following his assassination on November 22, 1963. The conversations were between pilots and other individuals on the flight and various individuals in Washington DC on the flight back from Dallas to Andrews Air Force Base. It is two hours and 22 minutes long.

The Raab Collection recently discovered two ¼” open reel audio tapes containing identical excerpts from the Air Force One flight on Nov. 22, 1963 among the papers and other memorabilia of Army General Chester “Ted” Clifton, Jr.. General Clifton served as senior military aide to President John F. Kennedy, and had received the tapes from the White House Communications Agency (WHCA). The original audio tape recording is described as “Radio Traffic involving AF-1 in flight from Dallas, Texas to Andrews AFB on November 22, 1963”.

The conversations were captured by the WHCA, which routed all phone calls and radio traffic. The tape also includes communication between the WHCA and a second aircraft of the Presidential fleet, known as 86972 (by its tail number), which was en route to Tokyo at the time of the assassination with members of the President’s cabinet.

The recording includes references to new code names and incidents. Among them are a private conversation by head of the Secret Service Jerry Behn about the disposition of the President’s body; an expanded conversation about how to remove the body from the plane and where to take it; an urgent effort by an aide to Air Force Chief of Staff Curtis LeMay to reach General Clifton; and attempts to locate various Congressmen from Texas.

The National Archives Lyndon Johnson Presidential Library has a different version of the recording, and is approximately 40 minutes shorter.

[audio:http://WWW.AUDIOFORENSICEXPERT.COM/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/GPO-NARA-JFK-ASSASSINATION-AUDIO-1_clarified.mp3|titles=PO-NARA-JFK-ASSASSINATION-AUDIO-1] [audio:http://WWW.AUDIOFORENSICEXPERT.COM/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/GPO-NARA-JFK-ASSASSINATION-AUDIO-2_clarified.mp3|titles=PO-NARA-JFK-ASSASSINATION-AUDIO-2]

photo credit: John F Kennedy man on the moon via photopin (license)

Ed Primeau Audio Interview on The People Speak

Friday, April 6th, 2012
Audio Forensic Expert Ed PrimeauThe shooting of Trayvon Martin took place on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was an unarmed, 17-year-old African American male who was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a man of mixed ethnicity (Peruvian and white American). Martin was walking from a convenience store to the home of his father’s girlfriend when Zimmerman, a community watch coordinator, began following Martin and called the Sanford Police Department to say he witnessed suspicious behavior. Soon afterward, there was a confrontation that ended when Zimmerman fatally shot Martin. Zimmerman described the shooting to the police who arrived on the scene as self-defense. Responding officers handcuffed Zimmerman and took him into custody but they did not formally arrest him, saying that they did not find evidence to contradict his assertion of self-defense. The lead homicide investigator was not convinced by Zimmerman’s account and wanted to charge him with manslaughter, but the state attorney’s office said there was insufficient evidence for a conviction. Both Martin and Zimmerman made phone calls during the incident, some of which were recorded.
[audio: http://WWW.AUDIOFORENSICEXPERT.COM/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Ed-Primeau-on-The-People-Speak.mp3]

http://www.thepeoplespeakradio.net/?s=ed+primeau

It’s Not About the Money

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

professional headphonesI am one of those rare people who can say I love what I do for a living. As an audio forensic expert, I have all types of different opportunities during my work day. No two forensic cases are the same although many do involve similar tools and resources.

The other day I received a call from a police department in need of some audio restoration services. I am appreciative of the diversity of clients I have including law enforcement as well as defendants. I used the same tools and scientific procedures to restore their audio to a satisfactory audible level so certain components of the recording that could not previously be heard now could with careful listening skills (which I also helped them understand.

When you have an audio recording that is difficult to hear, try playing the recording back on several different types of systems, speakers and headphones. For example, I often have my best result with ear buds. More often than not I use recording studio grade professional speakers to do most of my forensic work. When I am having trouble hearing a barely audible section of speech, I listen to that section on several different monitors (another word for headphones and speakers).

Just yesterday I received a call, similar to many other calls I get on a weekly basis, to restore a 911 recording. The question the client had was how many voices do I hear in the background and can I increase their volume? It’s impossible to raise the volume of a softer voice when another voice is nearly screaming. However, in between the louder wording, I was able to detect other voices that were clear from being covered up by the louder voice. So I created a sub file of the background voices and was able to hear about 40% better than before I applied my principles of sound restoration for 911 calls.

Then there are those times when people gasp at my fee but really need the help. I base every client on an individual basis and determine if I should pro bono my fees and help them. On average I do 4 pro bono cases a year. One characteristic of a pro bono client is if I feel there may have been evidence that was altered intentionally to convict them. Believe it or not, this does happen. The problem is that only one out of one hundred such calls have a case. The other ninety nine are clutching for straws.

No, I did not write this post to brag but rather express how grateful I am for my talent skill and ability as an audio forensic expert. It did not come easy and I did spend many years gaining experience and testifying. My hope is that I have many years ahead of me where I can continue to learn and grow and become even better at my craft.

 

 photo credit: Sony Headphones via photopin (license)




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