Transcription: about recording quality
Transcription and translation how can you ensure the best for your business? Finding a good transcriptionist is one answer; however, effort to transcribe a tape, the overall quality of the transcript, and the cost of producing the transcript is dependent on the quality of the audio file or tape that is generated.
Reducing cost of transcription
By producing a good recording, you may be able to reduce the cost of your transcription, increase accuracy of transcription and reduce the number of “indiscernible” sections on your transcript. At Type-thing Services , we’ve compiled a list of transcription DOs and DON’Ts that may be of help.
Things to do
Things not to do
|Speak clearly. Speak at good level volume.
||Speak in a rushed or hurried voice or mumble. Speak quietly.
|Have people speak one at a time.
||Have people talk at once and interrupt each other frequently.
|For digital or tape recorders, record on fast speed or high quality setting. This makes a clearer recording but uses more memory or tape.
||Record on slow speed or low quality, which uses less memory or tape but makes a “muddier” sounding recording which takes longer to transcribe possibly resulting in transcription errors.
|Record in a quiet environment. Be aware of background noise from others, air conditioning, fans, music, and other sources.
||Record in an environment with lots of background noise like a restaurant, subway, near fans and vents, or place where others are talking or making noise.
|In groups of two or more, make sure each person can be heard equally well. Use recording system with multiple microphones in large groups to ensure you can hear each individual.
||In groups of two or more, allow some people to be heard well while others are barely audible or not audible at all.
|Use a microphone near the speaker. If the speaker will move around, use a wired or wireless lapel microphone.
||Use a stationary microphone and let the speaker move around, creating hard to hear sections on the dictation.
|Only have one microphone or recorder? If possible, have all persons speaking the same distance from the recorder. If that is not possible, place it nearest to the most important part of the conversation or point it in that direction.
||Place the microphone or recorder near the interviewer so that the recording barely captures the most important part – the interviewee.
|During question/answer sessions, have people come to a house microphone or bring a wireless microphone to them before they ask their question. Alternatively, have the person answering questions repeat the question so it is captured on the recorded audio.
||During question/answer sessions, take no measures to record the question. You’ll only obtain transcribed answers but be uncertain about the question asked.
|Use good quality equipment made for the number of people you are recording. Alternatively, if good equipment is not available, use multiple digital or tape recording devices around the room (we will have to listen to each to fill in gaps from the others).
||Use poorly maintained, low-quality equipment. Use equipment that was designed for recording one person to record a group of people.
|Keep recorder going (turned on and recording) well before people talk.
||Use the “auto-vox” feature that chops off the beginning of people’s sentences.
|In large groups, have each person state their name before talking if they need to be accurately identified. Alternatively, have a note taker make notes each time a person talks including their name and the first few words that they say. Provide agenda.
||Provide no records of a complex recording environment, making it difficult to separate out speakers or threads of conversation.
|Provide lists of speakers, agendas for meetings, and other references as available to us so that we can create better annotated, ordered transcripts from your audio.
||Provide nothing but the audio so that you have to edit the speaker identification and order of your transcripts.
|If saving files to MP3 files on your hand held recorder or computer, use the Constant Bit Rate (CBR) format rather than the Variable Bit Rate (VBR) format.
||Saving MP3 files with Variable Bit Rate (VBR) will not allow them to be transcribed directly because foot pedal backspacing does not work for transcriptionists. We will need to convert VBR MP3 files to CBR format.
Not all of these hints apply to every situation.
A single-person transcription rarely has any of these possible problems.
Sometimes you cannot avoid background noise or conversations where people interrupt and talk over one another.
A good transcriptionist can help some of these situations; however, they cannot perform miracles.
When you are recording important information, especially for group discussions, it pays to invest in a good conference microphone set and recording system.
Type-thing Services can work with you or the facility in which you will record your audio to make sure it is the best it can be for transcription.
Contact us for more help!
Editor’s Note: This page was originally published in October 2011 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness – May 12nd,2017