International covert audio specialist Phil Manchester is renowned worldwide for his high level of effectiveness. He restores audio for some of the most high-profile investigations in his native U.K. and elsewhere and approaches his work with the dedication and creativity of a master artist. He also relies on plugins from Waves Audio.
“Waves plugins are my primary palette of tools and have been since 2000. They are absolutely crucial to my work,” he notes. “Coming from a background using Waves plugins for music and mix engineering, I took that passion and applied it to my professional life in audio forensics, with wonderful results.
“I have been fortunate to use almost every form of restoration software and hardware available, including specifically-designed law enforcement equipment and commercially-supplied professional audio tools used by all of the major agencies.
“Waves processing provides the tools to do the job every time, especially when it matters most. In forensics, the quality of the material is often so poor that we really need to go the extra mile to be able to provide critical intelligence and evidence, and I have been proud to be able to restore recordings, with the help of Waves, that others could not.”
It is no surprise that Manchester prefers to dive into the material in detail.
He notes, “Many tools on the market today are designed for quick-and-easy, one-button fixes. Those are fine for certain situations and, for this type of approach, Waves OneKnob plugins are my clear favorite.
“But in my opinion, forensics really is best suited by more detailed methods, and at the highest levels of covert investigation, I need the most precise levels of control available. Waves processing allows for precise application with a limitless number of possible outcomes.
“Since we are trying to obtain accurate evidence, that level of fine-tuning makes all the difference in the world. Creativity can be a significant part of it too; strict uses of application-driven tools are often not the best way to obtain intelligence, and a little bit of imagination can go a long way. For instance, I have even used plugins that were designed for guitars to isolate the conversation of interest.”
Manchester sees the use of Waves tools by forensics investigators as a growing trend in the coming years. “These plugins and methods will have a huge impact on how investigators approach their craft. For too long, audio forensics has been about racks and racks of equipment in laboratories. And law enforcement might tend to lag behind on certain developments – most police officers still record to tape, for instance.
“But the fact is now, with the power of a modern laptop, I can perform restoration that will exceed that of the most expensive laboratory systems, and it is only a matter of time before this type of investigation is the norm.”
His use of Waves tools has been so revolutionary that last year, Waves and Manchester released a dedicated plugin bundle for law enforcement agencies. The Phil Manchester / Waves Audio Forensics Package contains nine audio plugins chosen especially for their precision in covert audio investigation: W43 Noise Reduction Plugin, X-Noise, X-Crackle, X-Hum, X-Click, C1 Compressor/Expander, Q10 Paragraphic Equalizer, PAZ Frequency Analyzer and L1 Ultramaximizer.
He sums up why he prefers Waves tools over anything else: “For ease of use, consistency in application, processing speed, clutter-free intuitive interfaces, precision and control, Waves simply cannot be outdone.”
The Phil Manchester / Waves Audio Forensics Package is now available at a special price of $399.00, a savings of $300 off the MSRP.