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Focus Group Audio Recording: Tips for Getting Excellent Quality

Tuesday 06 June 2017 |
Annette Pike
Focus Group Audio Recording

So, what does it take to hear every member of the focus group loud and clear in the recording? You can rely on the following tips to make the most of the situation.

Choose a Recording Method that Corresponds to the Size of the Group

Recording three people is one thing. Creating a clear and crisp audio file of a group that has four or more participants is a completely different ball game.

The number of microphones and recorders will be dependent on the size of the group. You can’t just place a single small recorder in one end of the table and expect to hear everything loud and clear.

If you don’t have the technical knowledge or the equipment required to ensure the quality of the audio, you may want to consider a consultation with professionals in the field, otherwise, you risk losing some important information due to poor quality of the audio file.

Do a Video Record for Analysis Purposes

This tip doesn’t focus on audio quality per se but it can still be quite beneficial.

One of the biggest obstacles that transcription service providers run into is identifying the different voices of participants in the focus group. If you’re using amateur equipment to make the record or if you have a bigger focus group, the situation will become even more challenging.

It’s a good idea to do a video record during the group session. You don’t need a good camera, even a smartphone will do. After all, the video will be required solely for analysis or identification purposes. When a transcription professional is doubting the quality or the audibility of the sound file, they could refer to the video and get some additional information. It’s definitely better to be safe and a simple video clip will give you that safety.

Check for Hidden Sources of Noise

Background noise can be your biggest nemesis when it comes to recording a focus group. Once you choose a room, you'll need to check it for hidden sources of noise before the session takes place. Chances are that you’ll identify potential noisy items that you’ve never even considered previously.

Air conditioning or a room fan can easily destroy your audio files. The human ear adapts to those sounds and you don’t even take them in consideration. When you’re attempting to record multiple voices, however, this ambient noise can ruin your efforts regardless of the audio equipment quality.

A few other potential sources of background noise to consider include a refrigerator or a coffee machine in the meeting room, a copier, a printer and even an open window. To identify background noises, you may want to create an audio recording before the focus group comes together. Chances are that you’ll hear many sounds that can be taken out of the equation effortlessly.

Use Microphones

Even if a small facilitated focus group is meeting, it would be a good idea to use a microphone for the purpose of amplifying voices.

When a small focus group is doing the discussion, you’ll need a single microphone that’s placed in the centre of the table. There are many pieces of audio equipment out there, some of them even developed for use by amateurs. Such mics will be sufficient to amplify voices and get a better audio quality.

If you have a larger focus group, you should have at least two microphones placed on either side of the table. Such a setup is typically recommended for focus groups of eight to 10 people.

Are Walls Standing in the Way?

A recording studio has walls that absorb the sound waves. Office walls and cubicles – not so much!

There are simple things you can do for the purpose of ensuring audio quality in such an environment. Adding curtains and tapestry to the walls will give you a good effect. Some people even have portable recording studios that are easy to set up.

A portable sound booth for the placement of the mike may also be a good idea. These are available for purchase but unless you fear a massive echo, there’s no need to go this far. An experienced transcription service provider will be capable of giving you a good outcome when you manage to take background noise out and you use a good microphone.

Remember that you’re not making a sound file for a Hollywood movie’s soundtrack. You simply need clarity and crispness. Choosing the right room and doing a brief focus group instruction prior to the start of the session will usually be sufficient to get the desired results.

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