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Audio Recording and Transcription Tips

Audio Recording & Transcription Tips
Recording Dos’ & Don’ts

A good, clear recording results in accurate and fast transcription.
Less transcription time = less cost.

Do… Use a Desktop Recorder

Use a recorder that will support one or more external microphones

Use an external microphone
(Most built-in microphones are of poor quality with limited control over volume levels. A microphone will pick up sound from the nearest source, which, in the case of built-in microphones, is the recording equipment itself)

Use a ‘Conference Mixer’ when using more than one microphone when recording group discussions, focus groups, etc.

Place the microphone near the interviewee/speaker

Remind the interviewee/speaker to speak clearly into the microphone

Turn off the ‘voice activation’ feature on your recorder, if present

Make a test recording

Ask each speaker to introduce him/herself clearly

Moderate the interview/meeting by allowing only one person to speak at a time

Do set the speed control to fast. Recording at slow speed reduces recording quality and adds ‘hiss’

Don’t… Be tempted to use a hand-held/personal recorder/dictation device

Use micro or mini cassettes, if at all possible (they are designed for use as a’ personal’ dictation device only)

Record at slow speed

Record in a noisy environment:-

  • don’t… rustle paper near the microphone
  • use glasses, bottles, coffee/tea cups and saucers near the microphone
  • place the microphone near air conditioning units, overhead projectors, laptops, open windows (traffic noise), a noisy corridor or even the recorder itself

(The human ear filters out extraneous and unwanted noise, the
microphone does not; it will record EVERYTHING indiscriminately)

Assume because you are recording 'digitally', good recording conditions (above) don't apply. 'Digital' does not mean that extraneous noise is filtered, or that an external microphone is not required.

Transcription Time Ratio to 1 hour Recording

The professional industry standard allows ONE hour to transcribe 15 minutes of clearly recorded speech.

Therefore, it takes a MINIMUM of 4 hours to transcribe a one hour tape, and it can take as much as 6 or 8 hours depending on the quality of the recording. However, transcription can take much longer for focus groups, meetings, seminars and conferences with multiple participants - perhaps as much as 8 or 10 hours for one hour of recorded tape or a bad quality, unclear recording (See ‘Dos’ above).

  Mini-disc recorders produce a very good quality recording (if used with an external microphone), but manufacturers haven't issued a transcription kit for mini-discs - yet! Therefore, mini-discs need to be rerecorded onto either digital audio files or standard tapes before transcribed in the normal way. Most transcribers can offer this conversion service for clients.
Further information on File types and associated software

The above information has been put together by some of our members and is published here for your help and advice. To find a transcriptionist, please click here

The co-founders would like to thank the following for all their efforts:

Anne Carroll (AC Business Support) for researching and putting the following document together.

Additional material by Irene Boston (IB Transcription Services), Anne Gerrish (Penguin Office Services), and Diane Jones (PA Services Direct)

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