A communication system for simultaneously transmitting data and audio signals via a conventional audio communications channel using perceptual coding techniques Is disclosed. In a preferred embodiment, a first artificial neural network (NN) at an encoder monitors an audio channel to detect "opportunities" to insert the data signal such that the inserted signals are masked by the audio signal, as defined by the "perceptual entropy envelope" of the audio signal. Under the control of the first NN a data signal containing, for example, an ID or serial number, is encoded as one or more whitened direct sequence spread spectrum signals and/or a narrowband FSK data signal and transmitted at the time, frequency and level determined by the first NN such that the data signal is masked by the audio signal. The audio signal is combined with the spread spectrum and/or the FSK data signal(s) to form a composite signal, which is transmitted to one or more receiving locations via the audio channel. A decoder at each of the receiving locations comprises preprocessing circuitry, receiver sync circuitry and FSK decoder circuitry, as well as a second NN, which NN uses pattern and signature recognition techniques to perform block decoding, bit deinterleaving and acquisition confirm functions to recover the encoded ID or serial number.