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7 Audio Recording Tips

To ensure that we're able to produce a high quality transcript of your recording, whether that be for your interviews, focus groups, presentations or dictation, and keep the cost to a minimum a good quality recording is essential. The transcriptionist will then be able to clearly hear the dialogue or dictation and transcribe it accurately without any unnecessary surcharges.

The following tips will help you achieve a good quality recording:

  • First thing to do is familiarise yourself with your recording device. Check your settings to ensure the bitrate is suitable. A 64 Kbps setting is adequate for a one-on-one interview or dictation and results in a workable file size. If the bitrate is too low it will result in a tinny distorted recording, making it very difficult to transcribe.
  • Always keep in mind the suitability of your chosen venue for the recording. Train stations and cafes are not suitable – libraries and quiet offices are suitable, however, a take-away coffee from the cafe is advisable. The human ear is a remarkable instrument and can easily 'block' background and ambient noise so you can focus on what's important. However, no matter how advanced your recording device it will record everything with no discrimination. You would be amazed how a fan, air conditioner, background TV or traffic noise will override speech. It's advisable to do a test run to check if in doubt.
  • If you're recording an interview outdoors please keep in mind the ambient noise may override the voices. We will always do our utmost to garner as much as possible from these difficult interviews but trying to 'listen' through a cicada symphony takes time and therefore will attract a surcharge.
  • If you're dictating medical or legal letters or reports hold the recording device at least 15 cm away from your mouth. After a long day seeing patients or clients it's tempting to dictate resting the recorder on your chin, but this muffles and distorts the recording, making it extremely difficult for the transcriptionist to decipher your dictation.
  • When recording a focus group ensure that each participant is an equal distance to the recorder or microphone. A good tip is to seat everyone in a circle, or at a round table, rather than a rectangle one.  Placing the recorder on a book will diminish transcriptionist angst from the loud noise and reverberation caused by table banging.
  • Also, never under estimate the power of facilitation when recording a focus group.  A strong facilitator ensures that only one person speaks at a time, meaning that not only everyone has the opportunity to have their opinions heard, but the transcriptionist will be able to transcribe all the dialogue.  When there are little 'aside' comments or conversations, or people get excited and speak at the same, vital comments are lost in the 'din'.  A respectful and well facilitated focus group means a quality transcript can be produced and all the important data gleaned.
  • Check, 1, 2, 3, check .... Spending a few minutes to check the recording before commencing a dictation, interview or focus group may save you time and money in the long run.  If conducting a long focus group it is advisable to spend a couple of minutes part way through, perhaps at tea break, to check the recording and you are then able to make any adjustments before the discussion continues.

Following these basic guidelines will help you achieve a high quality recording and therefore receive a high quality transcript at the minimum cost.

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