6 Recording Tips for Producing High-Quality Transcripts

The following post was written by Bobbi Jo K., aIncrediScribe located in Wisconsin. Bobbi Jo has been with Rev as a transcriptionist since February 2017. As a transcriptionist at IncrediScribe, I’m exposed to a wide variety of audio from customers. I can tell you from experience that not all files are created equal. Some files are obviously recorded in a professional sound studio where all speakers are clearly heard, while others sound like someone stood 20 feet from the recording device and talked with a mouth full of marbles. The latter example can make the job of a transcriptionist extremely difficult. Poor audio quality may lead to longer turnaround time for your transcript to be completed, as well as lower accuracy due to inaudible sections in your file.

The good news is, you can improve your audio recordings by following these simple tips:

1. Invest in quality recording equipment.

There’s no need to invest thousands of dollars in a sound studio, but spending $100-$200 in a recording device can make a world of difference, especially for verbatim transcription orders. A cell phone recorder can produce good audio, but the quality may degrade if you’re in a large room or have multiple speakers. Check out this top 10 list of portable audio recorders to see if one fits your needs and budget.

2. Speak clearly, loudly, and slowly.

Trying to transcribe an audio file that has speakers talking as fast as an auctioneer or someone quietly mumbling can be challenging. To help eliminate “inaudibles” and get your final transcript back more quickly, make sure speakers slow down, enunciate properly and project their voices. This is especially helpful for speakers with thick accents.

3. Don’t eat or chew gum while recording.

This one should be a no-brainer since the general rules of public speaking also apply to recording audio. Not only can chewing gum or eating make a person speak less clearly, but the noise from wrappers and packaging can be picked up by your recording device. If you’ve ever been on a conference call while someone on the other end was eating lunch or wadding up their trash, you’ll understand how distracting that can be.

4. Center the recording device.

If possible, try to keep the recorder in the center of the people that are speaking. If there is a speaker who’s voice doesn’t carry as well as others in the room, position the recorder a little closer to them. We often run across audio where one speaker is very clear and another can barely be heard without maxing out our computer’s volume. Since we typically wear headphones while transcribing audio, you can imagine the shock to our ears if we’ve turned up the volume for a quiet speaker and a loud speaker suddenly chimes in.

5. Avoid background conversations.

It’s human nature to start talking when we think of something to say, so “crosstalk” is likely to occur, especially in meetings. Background conversations and crosstalk can make it incredibly difficult for a transcriptionist to hear what the main speaker is saying. When conducting an interview or presenting at a conference, make sure everyone is aware that anything that is said will be captured on the recorder. This should help minimize people speaking over one another.

6. Do a test recording.

Simply record a short clip of audio and play it back to yourself or your group. If you can’t understand what’s being said or can’t hear a certain speaker, a transcriptionist won’t be able to either. If there are issues, make adjustments to the placement of your recording device or ask certain people to speak up. Once you have the optimal recording setup, you can move forward with the full recording.

What tips or tricks do you follow to record the best audio possible? Do you have a favorite recording device?