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Phone Hearing Systems and strange behavior ???  

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artshocx
(@artshocx)
New Member

OK so i have been working with audio and video files for over a decade. i have myself helped some of my clients record earnings meetings etc. and i know what is typical for many of these systems, but i can't say that all systems can't do what i suspect to be true for certain, without asking someone with more expertise on these systems. i probably will eventually have the make / model so i can look into the specs when discovery is filed, and most likely hire an audio forensics expert, but i want to make sure that my instinct are good on this, before i lay out the $$$.

the official transcript they filed seems to suggest that their microphone, in mid recording, without stopping the recording and redirecting the microphone's focus, using a second mic, etc., their microphone just decided to hop of the main line, follow one of the participants when they left the hearing call space and then magically snap back to the hearing in time for the hearing conclusion. when i first saw it, my instinct was and still is that they sliced something in there to cover something up, etc. and it really still is, because i am thinking there are no phone systems with recording capabilities that have microphone/s either that intelligent or that talented. however, i do not have experience with every system out there, so… i am hoping someone with broader experience than mine can help. i mean microphones in general just can't do that can they? they are simply input hardware, right? thanks in advance for the help.

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Posted : 24/09/2012 10:05 pm
jhup
 jhup
(@jhup)
Community Legend

Can you elucidate on what you mean by "their microphone just decided to hop of the main line, follow one of the participants when they left the hearing call space and then magically snap back to the hearing"?

You mean the microphone started midstream recording something else, then return back?

Not expert in conferencing systems, but - was there bluetooth, or wireless microphones involved?
What do you hear at the "hop of " and "snap back" points?
Who was the participant?
How far they went?
Did they have a cell phone with them?
What kind?
What radios were turned on (wifi, bluetooth, nearfield, etc)?
Are there any radio towers nearby?
Large transformers, that are used intermittently?
Construction?
Whole-building power-generation?

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Posted : 24/09/2012 10:53 pm
artshocx
(@artshocx)
New Member

Can you elucidate on what you mean by "their microphone just decided to hop of the main line, follow one of the participants when they left the hearing call space and then magically snap back to the hearing"?

You mean the microphone started midstream recording something else, then return back?

Not expert in conferencing systems, but - was there bluetooth, or wireless microphones involved?
What do you hear at the "hop of <sic>" and "snap back" points?
Who was the participant?
How far they went?
Did they have a cell phone with them?
What kind?
What radios were turned on (wifi, bluetooth, nearfield, etc)?
Are there any radio towers nearby?
Large transformers, that are used intermittently?
Construction?
Whole-building power-generation?

without discovery, i do not know exactly what sort of system was in use, but considering i do know where the hearing was held, in their main building, there would have been no need to use a cell phone. i assume that they would have used their main phone system and that the 4th line, my client's line, was the last called in and it was suddenly transferred out of the call and onto another part of their system. but that is neither here nor there i think. the main point is this…

can a microphone, in the middle of recording, change it's focus / position while actively recording? without user input?

personally i think that's the key, because the one audio file they sent me seems to have the transferred out line sliced over part of it, my client's line being transferred out of the call for instance - the sound is horrible and the dialing tones sound altered and distorted - whoever altered the recording was not a pro at all. AND yes there is a VERY audible change in room tone when the audio file returns to the hearing space.

as far as radio towers, power generation facilities, the rather large agency is in our downtown area and i do not believe that close to any of those sorts of things, so… but would probably have an environmental system that would possibly make some noise. the file quality is pretty distorted which i suspect might also have been generated. it's a long story on why i believe what i believe and i can't go into that, but it's why i suspect that forensics might be the way to go, so…

i'm just curious can a microphone do that, because i have never seen one that could you know? typically, you have to stop the recording, change the mic and restart and that creates a break in the audio file and will result in two files, not one, so… anyway, what do you think?

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Posted : 25/09/2012 1:09 am
jhup
 jhup
(@jhup)
Community Legend

The reason I was asking about if someone had a cell phone with them is the possibility that a bluetooth microphone somehow paired with an idle cell phone.

You are saying that during the call this individuals line switched to some other system, then switched back,

There could be a half dozen reasons I can think of. I do not think the glitch happened outside of the recording system - that is at the microphone, or trunk line, or client's telephone system, as it was recorded at the office - from what you describe.

I would guess a software glitch at the conference bridge system is much more likely than a microphone record something else . . .

A microphone is an "electromechanical" device. There is a mechanical element that gets impacted by the fluctuation of the air, which in turn is converted to electric signals. It has very little ability to pick up third party signal unless there is some interference which gets amplified. Take that a step further, it is even less likely the microphone can pick up an other telephone call.

If it was wireless microphone, I can see that the transmission gets overpowered, but again, just guessing.

You need to get all the details how this whole setup went down, from PBX, the microphone, the actual conference terminal the microphone is tied to, the conference bridge service and software, and what phone your client used - from end to end. Then, start to eliminate each one…

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Posted : 25/09/2012 3:04 am
artshocx
(@artshocx)
New Member

I fear that I have not explained well LOL. There was no sound interference, my client's line was actually transferred out of the hearing call and into another part of their phone system and she corroborates this event. The audio file also seems to suggest a line transfer, as you hear the tones, clicks and ringing sounds that seem consistent with that scenario. You then hear the brief and confused conversation between her and the inbound caller she intercepted and then supposedly they hang up and the audio file returns to the hearing space where the judge neatly wraps up the hearing and disconnects the call.

It is my belief, based on my experience with these systems and my understanding of how these systems work and why, is that this didn't happen, because it would be technologically impossible or at the very least not a feature found or needed on the average legal hearing phone recording system. Phone hearings are legal proceedings and the audio file serves as an official record of the hearing. Consequently, it is created in a certain way for a reason… the judge starts the recording device, conducts the hearing and then stops the recording device when the hearing is over. In the absence of any other human interaction, the microphone starts recording when prompted and records until stopped - simple as that. This one, long continuous audio file is the product of that recording. Any breaks, silent sections, interruptions to the recording would harm the integrity of the record. Consequently, the microphones and recording devices attached or built into these systems cannot do anything too fancy - they don't need to and you wouldn't want them to either.

Which is why, I suspect that some other audio taken from the inbound part of the system, to which my client was transferred, and possibly inserted over this section of the audio record and not terribly well I might add. The person who sliced and diced this file was a hack, so while it fools most of the people who hear it, my client has confirmed that the tones, clicks, pacing and rings leading into the interception sound all wrong and I can attest that there is a lot of distortion, the tone sounds seem rushed and tinny. I have other reasons for suspecting file alteration, but I won’t go into them here.

A microphone, any microphone, is just a piece of hardware with a physical location and therefore limitations on movement and range. The main line is typically the one used by the initiator of the hearing call, the judge, and establishes the hearing space, into which the judge must call each of the hearing participants and on which the audio recording device is focused for the length of the hearing. Anything, within this space will get recorded; any line transferred out of the hearing would be cutoff and end up out of range. Does that make more sense? I hope?

It is more about what is or isn't possible given the common limitations of the hardware itself. I have never heard of a recording device capable of this anywhere, much less on one of these systems, BUT I don't know enough to say for sure. I am seeking someone with broader experience to confirm if I am right. Or not. Any suggestions? Thanks.

The reason I was asking about if someone had a cell phone with them is the possibility that a bluetooth microphone somehow paired with an idle cell phone.

You are saying that during the call this individuals line switched to some other system, then switched back,

There could be a half dozen reasons I can think of. I do not think the glitch happened outside of the recording system - that is at the microphone, or trunk line, or client's telephone system, as it was recorded at the office - from what you describe.

I would guess a software glitch at the conference bridge system is much more likely than a microphone record something else . . .

A microphone is an "electromechanical" device. There is a mechanical element that gets impacted by the fluctuation of the air, which in turn is converted to electric signals. It has very little ability to pick up third party signal unless there is some interference which gets amplified. Take that a step further, it is even less likely the microphone can pick up an other telephone call.

If it was wireless microphone, I can see that the transmission gets overpowered, but again, just guessing.

You need to get all the details how this whole setup went down, from PBX, the microphone, the actual conference terminal the microphone is tied to, the conference bridge service and software, and what phone your client used - from end to end. Then, start to eliminate each one…

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Posted : 25/09/2012 7:08 pm
jhup
 jhup
(@jhup)
Community Legend

Who was recording the call? The PBX your client was calling into, or the PBX?

Either way, why do you not think a software glitch in the PBX or conference service could transfer a call from one port to an other?

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Posted : 25/09/2012 7:17 pm
artshocx
(@artshocx)
New Member

Who was recording the call? The PBX your client was calling into, or the PBX?

Either way, why do you not think a software glitch in the PBX or conference service could transfer a call from one port to an other?

wow i feel like i am speaking Greek LOL. but this is good practice because i will have to do a better job of explaining this, so… you really are helping me figure out how to explain this effectively )

forget about why or how the call was transferred or who was calling who, none of those things are important. my question is about the hearing's audio file placed into evidence and its content, which includes

- the judge starts the recording, judge calls the other participants, including my client, to bring them into the hearing space, presumably inside the PBX somewhere, wherever that is, etc. (do not yet have system specs)
- and you hear the entire uninterrupted hearing up until my client's line is transferred out
- following that you hear tones, clicks and ringing mostly consistent with a line being transferred
- and then, audio of my clinet's line outside of the hearing space, presumably elsewhere in the PBX until she hangs up
- after my client hangs up, there is some room tone, etc., but you seem to hear again the audio back in the hearing space where the judge concludes the hearing, ends the call and stops the recording

i want to know IF a microphone actively recording a hearing is able to, without user action, instruction, programming, etc., decide to leave the hearing space and return seemingly at will? i suspect the answer is no. however, if it can i am interested in how this could happen. and then i am hoping to find someone who might know for sure? does that make more sense? thanks.

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Posted : 25/09/2012 9:07 pm
athulin
(@athulin)
Community Legend

i want to know IF a microphone actively recording a hearing is able to, without user action, instruction, programming, etc., decide to leave the hearing space and return seemingly at will?

What you describe – at least as far as I understand it – is not entirely uncommon in phone conference systems (and similar services) that are under some load one participant gets switched somewhere else. I've ended up in a totally different conference myself a number of times.

I don't know about recording, though – but any recording tap must be connected somewhere – either on one user's audio streams, or at some notional 'hub' in which all users are considered to be connected. It won't 'leave' … but the audio streams it is connected to may be shunted around– which would makes the record 'leave' the original session.

You need to find a tech expert on the equipment actually used, and the services involved in the kind of setup you describe – and perhaps also someone who knows about user or customer complaints related to this particular kind of service.

It could be something as simple as the service being dimensioned for, say, 7 users/callers, but in this case there was one additional. The extra user/caller could experience odd system behaviour, particularly if the system was under some load.

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Posted : 25/09/2012 9:54 pm
jhup
 jhup
(@jhup)
Community Legend

I can do Greek, even some Koine if pressed.

Why are you stuck on the microphone? Were you tasked with "find out if the microphone was meddled with" or "find out why there are odd seconds not part of the conference call on the recording"?

As athulin suggests, and I have stated before, it is very unlikely this has anything to do with the microphone. You are thinking too narrowly.

If this PBX (or, gasp! a key system) and recording system is owned and maintained by the courts, I would not be surprised if it is miss-configured, overloaded, outdated and has a slight left limp.

Dig into the details of the switch and the recorder - whatever they are.

To answer your question - not likely. A microphone by itself will not switch an inbound call to an other line. It has know knowledge of the call, what it is attached to, as a matter of fact, it doesn't even know it exists.

wow i feel like i am speaking Greek LOL. but this is good practice because i will have to do a better job of explaining this, so… you really are helping me figure out how to explain this effectively )

forget about why or how the call was transferred or who was calling who, none of those things are important. my question is about the hearing's audio file placed into evidence and its content, which includes

- the judge starts the recording, judge calls the other participants, including my client, to bring them into the hearing space, presumably inside the PBX somewhere, wherever that is, etc. (do not yet have system specs)
- and you hear the entire uninterrupted hearing up until my client's line is transferred out
- following that you hear tones, clicks and ringing mostly consistent with a line being transferred
- and then, audio of my clinet's line outside of the hearing space, presumably elsewhere in the PBX until she hangs up
- after my client hangs up, there is some room tone, etc., but you seem to hear again the audio back in the hearing space where the judge concludes the hearing, ends the call and stops the recording

i want to know IF a microphone actively recording a hearing is able to, without user action, instruction, programming, etc., decide to leave the hearing space and return seemingly at will? i suspect the answer is no. however, if it can i am interested in how this could happen. and then i am hoping to find someone who might know for sure? does that make more sense? thanks.

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Posted : 26/09/2012 12:54 am
jaclaz
(@jaclaz)
Community Legend

The main line is typically the one used by the initiator of the hearing call, the judge, and establishes the hearing space, into which the judge must call each of the hearing participants and on which the audio recording device is focused for the length of the hearing. Anything, within this space will get recorded; any line transferred out of the hearing would be cutoff and end up out of range. Does that make more sense? I hope?

Just to notify how I completely failed to understand what actually happened (facts as reported by the customer), let alone the technical part you attempted to detail.

This could well mean that I am gettig older (which is true) but there is the possibility that you might need to improve your skills in exposing them.

What is a "hearing space" in plain English?
A room?

What I understood is the following
1) a judge made a session as a "phone hearing" i.e. participants were not physically present in the same room as the judge was but they were called by phone and a conference system/hands free kind of apparatus was used
2) these "phone hearings" are recorded
which prompts for questions
HOW EXACTLY?
Was it a recording device connected to the PBX, to the conference system/hands free apparatus or was it a common "room" recorder/microphone?
If you prefer, does the recording apparatus record what is said in the room and what comes out of the conference system/hands free set loudspeaker or does it record whatever sound goes through the telephone line?
HOW EXACTLY does the recording device work?
Which media does it record on? (cassette tape/hard disk/SD card/whatever)
Is the recording "analogic" or "digital"?

Without answers to these questions, IMHO every hypothesys (and the contrary of them all) are good.

jaclaz

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Posted : 26/09/2012 2:03 am
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