Transcriptionist’s Tips: Top Tips for Recording Better Audio Files
We’ve received our fair share of poor quality audio files over the years, and although we always do our best to ensure our work is completed to the highest standard, poor audio is a huge barrier to creating the superior quality audio transcriptions we produce here at McGowan Transcriptions.
A good quality audio file should be clear, with limited background noise and consistent volume throughout. To help you, (and us!), we’ve put together a list of our 5 top tips for recording better audio files.
Invest in good quality audio recording equipment
Poor quality recording equipment can make or break an audio file; regardless of intent, a poor quality recording device will negatively impact the quality, and maybe the price of the transcript you receive.
Built-in microphones on cameras and mobile phones just won’t cut it! Sounds from the device itself are often picked up during the recording, distorting the intended audio and potentially excluding important words/sounds. The single most important tip for recording better audio – invest in an external microphone!
Better equipment = Better Recording = Better Transcript.
Recordings of group discussions should always be recorded using an omnidirectional microphone, these devices record sound from all sides/directions of the microphone in equal gain; ensuring each participant is heard and their words transcribed accurately. A unidirectional microphone will only pick up sound from a specific side or direction of the microphone, and is suitable when recording one person or one source of sound.
Reduce background noise as much as possible
Background noise is one of the biggest issues we face with audio recordings at McGowan Transcriptions; passing traffic, office fans and ringing phones can greatly hinder a transcriptionist’s ability to produce an accurate transcript.
If you can’t lock yourself away in an empty room, the first step to recording better audio files is to remove any external sources of sound. Closing windows, moving any clocks and switching off air-conditioning units can greatly reduce background noise and improve the quality of your audio recordings.
Even after taking all of these recommended precautions, a good quality microphone will still pick up some ambient sounds. Breathing, chair shuffling and note-taking can all be amplified during recording and can make audio files near impossible to transcribe. Try not to breathe directly into the microphone and make sure you and any participants are comfortable before beginning the recording.
Top equipment and a quiet environment alone is not enough to produce superior quality audio recordings, the participants have a part to play too!
When recording an interview or group discussion, ask the participants to state their name; this will remove any confusion and aid the transcriptionist in recognising voices throughout the audio recording. If you have multiple participants, encourage them to speak in turn; and if they don’t, be sure to ask them to repeat themselves for clarity. If possible/appropriate try and speak as if you were delivering a speech; talk slowly and allow for pauses between statements; this will allow the transcriptionist to take in what was said and produce an accurate transcript first time.
Ensure the recording device is well placed
If you are recording a panel or group discussion, it is essential to ensure that the audio recording device is placed centrally to all those involved in the discussion; however it is also important to remember not all participants will have the same strength or projection of voice. If possible, speak to your participants beforehand; get to know their voice in terms of tone and projection and place your microphone accordingly. This will ensure quieter voices are not overpowered by louder participants and audio is recorded at an even volume.
Conduct a quality test
Once you’ve chosen your equipment, and you/ your participants are in place it’s time to record. Creating a test recording is a great way to ensure your audio files are up to scratch – if we can’t understand your audio recording – we can’t transcribe it! Using the recommended settings on your microphone or recording device will give you the best chance of recording transcription-quality audio files.
A short test recording will let you know if your recording device is correctly positioned and alert you to any environmental factors which could negatively impact the audio files. This will give you the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments to produce top quality audio recordings.
Following these top tips for recording better audio files is all well and good, but if you aren’t using the right transcription agency, you could still end up with subpar transcripts ! McGowan Transcriptions are the UK’s leading digital business transcription agency; providing high-quality, verbatim transcriptions to businesses for over 25 years. Our results speak for themselves, over our 25 year history our team of expert transcriptionists have transcribed 46 million minutes of material for over 23,300 happy customers worldwide.
For more information on our audio transcription services, click here.