Recording Guide

Introduction

The audio quality of the recording is the most important factor which affects the transcript accuracy. Good audio files require lesser time and effort to transcribe and therefore our system is designed to favor them. In comparison, poor audio files require around 3 to 4 times more effort. Therefore we charge additional for such files so that we can compensate our transcribers accordingly.

This guide provides recommendations for recording so that the additional charges can be avoided. A good recording setup will help you save a lot on the transcription costs and result in highly accurate transcripts.

General Recommendations

The following recommendations apply to all types of recordings.

Use smartphone apps to record

  • Smartphones are the best recording devices available today and we recommend using smartphones instead of digital/tape recorders. Smartphones have good microphones and provide built-in apps for recording.
  • The first 30 seconds should always contain silence so that it can be used as a noise profile while cleaning the file. We recommend Audacity for cleaning.
  • We recommend recording with at least two devices so that there is an alternate version available if required.
  • We recommend using a minimum of 128 kbit/s encoding sampling rate with a 16 bit depth.
  • Recordings should be done in an environment with least ambient noise. If ambient noise is unavoidable, then we recommend recording 30 seconds of silence at the beginning and using that to clean the recording afterwards.

In-person Recording

In-person recordings are recordings which are made with two or more participants who are in the same room or same place. The following are our recommendations

Use Audacity to clean up ambient noise.

  • The recorder should be kept equidistant from the participants. For group discussions or focus groups, the optimal arrangement for participants is a circle with the recording device kept at the center.
  • The recording device should be kept on a book or some other soft material which can absorb keyboard sounds or any other disturbances. Disturbances sometimes can obscure the speaker diction and should be kept avoided as much as possible.
  • For lectures/event recordings where only the main voice is required, edit the audio file afterwards and remove other voices. This will reduce the cost of the transcript as well.

Phone/Online Recordings

Phone recordings are interview/conversations over the phone which are recorded off-the-speaker. We recommend using a conferencing service to record phone calls and fall back on recording off-the-speaker. These recommendations also apply for internet phone calls such as Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx calls, etcetera.

Use an off-the-wire recording service whenever possible to record phone calls

  • The recording device should directed towards the speaker of the phone/computer.
  • Use high quality speakers, if possible external speakers connected to the phone/computer. Smartphones do not usually have good speakers and should be avoided. We recommend using it only as the recording device as they have good microphones.
  • If there is a detectable line noise (buzzing sound on the phone line), try disconnecting and calling again. Line noise is very hard to remove and disorienting for the transcribers.

Recommended Readings

We write extensively on our blog about how to record good quality files for transcription. The following are some relevant links.

There are other tutorials/videos available online and we recommend that you research about a good recording setup independently as well.

Free Consultation

We provide free consultation on this topic. Please feel free to contact us and set up a time for a call and we will be happy to suggest an ideal recording setup for your requirements.