Often in the course of our transcription projects we are presented with audio recordings that test even the best “ears” in the business. You want a perfect transcript – here are some tips.
The tech age has brought multiple advancements in the world of audio recording, with digital audio recording devices leading the way, however, not everyone or every place has this new technology. Here are some things that will help you work with what you have.
1) Free Your Environment From Extraneous Noise
Find an environment that is as free from extraneous noise as possible, e.g. no radio or TVs playing, ticking clocks, children in background, pets or clatter of any kind. Please be sure that the windows and doors are closed. Street noise, planes overhead, sirens, cars, all impact audio quality. All noises are recorded–not just those that are intended to be recorded.
2) Pre-test Your Recording Device
If an interview is being conducted, try to have a recording device that has an external mic and please test the equipment and recording levels before the actual interview. Have someone sit where the interviewer and interviewee will be and place the recording device exactly where it will be placed and TEST it to make sure the equipment is picking up the sound adequately. Don’t think you are getting a good test by picking up the mic and speaking into it. This isn’t a test. If it is a multiple person group this becomes an even bigger challenge. Be sure there are adequate microphones placed to hear all the participants evenly, so that some are not extremely loud and blaring in the transcriptionists’ ears and others are hardly heard.
3) Use Full-Size Cassette Tapes (if you’re still old-school)
If you are still using a cassette recorder, at least use a full size cassette tape (micro and mini sized tapes do not provide good sound quality). Make sure the tape runs for a few seconds before beginning to record, because the beginning of the recording can be cut off on the uptake. Don’t forget about flipping the tape if necessary and try to find a time convenient for this to take place or pause your conversation. If your machine has different speeds, don’t put it on long play in order to put all of the recording on one tape for convenience sake; your sound quality will suffer.
4) Speak Clearly
Once you have the equipment set and you are ready to begin, instruct the person(s) being recorded to speak clearly, not to mumble, speak under their breath or drop off the ends of sentences. Remind them during the recording if you notice that this is happening.
5) Watch Out for and Eliminate More Extraneous Noise
During the recording session keeping out noises that we would never suspect to be a problem is important. If at all possible try not to have lunch, beverages, popping soda cans, snack bags, side conversations or cross talking taking place during the recordings with sneezing, coughing and clearing throats included. All of these noises are captured on the recording and often block out important audio making it impossible to transcribe these sections.
These tips lead to incredible time savings for you and – Time Means Money – in business. It helps you get a better product from your transcriptionist every time. And of course, there is always the attention-free peace of mind that is attendant with accurate transcriptions that keeps you from having to back track and do double work on misquoted transcripts, which allows you to continue along your course of running your business.
Setting the groundwork with a top quality audio recording is the first step in obtaining a top quality transcript-and in the end, the benefits that a top quality transcript provides is really what it is all about.