Useful tips

Useful tips

We thought it would be helpful to assist our clients by writing some useful tips from buying the right digital recorder to essential recording techniques, in order to get the most out of our transcription service.

If you have any useful information concerning the transcription process from recording your interviews to uploading files or anything else useful to do with transcription services, please do let us know via our contact page and we’ll share it with everyone on this page.

Buying a suitable voice recorder…

Digital recorder - transcription services

Firstly we recommend that you buy a digital recorder and not a tape recorder.

There are many advantages to digital; there is no need to buy tapes, audio quality is far clearer, you can transfer the audio files directly over to your computer with a USB cable and some of the top end recorders use SD cards so you have unlimited storage.

We then need to be looking at whether we should buy a mono or stereo digital recorder.

For dictations, interviews and focus groups we recommend mono recorders, there is no real advantage on buying a stereo device for this type of work.

The advantages of mono over stereo are: smaller file sizes – stereo files are double the size, meaning that transferring your audio file over to your computer will take longer and uploading your files to us will take longer too. Also, mono recorders are usually cheaper.

How much should you be spending? Well this is 2014 and to buy a good quality mono recorder which connects up to your computer you are looking at £50 for an Olympus or a Sony device.

Anything cheaper is unlikely to connect to your computer via USB which isn’t particularly practical.

When you start going up to the £80 mark then you have the convenience of SD cards so you can have the luxury of virtually unlimited capacity.

Spending over £100 then you are going into the domain of Stereo which is not necessary for the reasons stated earlier.

We have not provided a list of digital recorders because technology changes all of the time, however, please see below a list of the main manufacturers:

Olympus

Sony

Phillips

Other types of voice recorder…

recording for transcription services

In the first “useful tips” message we discussed buying the right digital recorder but stand alone recorders are not the only devices that can be used for recording your interviews.

We also recommend that you use your smartphone or tablet.

The advantage of using these is that you don’t need to buy a separate recorder as most of them come with some sort of recording software pre-installed. You can also buy additional software recorders for your smartphone or tablet online.

Most of them are good quality and reliable as well as having the advantage that they connect directly to your computer via USB meaning that you can copy your audio files over to your computer so you can upload them to us easily.

We do strongly advise you to ensure that your phone or tablet is in “flight mode” before you start recording to prevent any interruptions.

Recording an interview…

interview transcription services

We thought we would share a few tips to make your recordings sound as good as possible.

Firstly, use a digital recorder, Smartphone or tablet as explained in our previous “useful tips”.

Check your batteries – always use new batteries or charge the recorder.

Try and do the interview in a quiet environment, ideally in a small room – large rooms or halls can make the audio less clear.

Avoid bars, restaurants, being outside in the street and other noisy environments – background noise is a typist’s worst nightmare and can lead to a less accurate transcript.

Where possible, sit opposite your interviewee with a table between you and place the recorder equidistant from you both.

Although most recorders use Omni-directional microphones (meaning that they pick up sound from all directions), you’ll notice microphone holes in the recorder so try and point them at both participants.

If possible do NOT hold the recorder or conceal it in a pocket or a bag – this severely reduces the audio quality to a point where it could be useless for transcription purposes.

If you do have to hold the recorder keep as still as possible.

If you think that one of you has a quieter voice, then place the recorder slightly closer to that person.

Ensure that the person being interviewed is aware of the fact and avoid interrupting them.

If you do have to record the interview in a noisy environment try and get the recorder as close as possible to the voices that you want to record but avoid distortion. So don’t get too close!

Distorted audio is impossible to rectify, making it useless for transcription purposes.

I would recommend that you do a short test and have a listen to check whether the recording device is working correctly and check the audio quality.

Recording a focus group…

Use a digital recorder, Smartphone or tablet as describes previously.

Check your batteries – always use new batteries or charge the recorder. You really do not want to lose that vital recording

Try and record the focus group in a quiet environment, ideally in a fairly small room – large rooms or halls can make the audio less clear

Ask the group to sit in a semi circle and place the recorder on a table in the middle of the group

If you are recording several small groups at the same time with different recorders on each table try and separate the groups as far away as possible – ideally place a portable office partition between the tables.

If possible do not hold the recorder and ensure that documents etc are not accidentally placed on top of it this severely reduces the audio quality to a point where it could be useless for transcription purposes

If you do have to hold the recorder keep as still as possible

If you think that someone in the group has a quieter voice, then ask that person to sit slightly closer to the recorder and speak up

Ask the group to speak one at a time and avoid interrupting each other

If you do have to record the focus group in a noisy environment try and get the recorder as close as possible to the voices that you want to record – therefore make a smaller semi circle, also get the recorder as close as possible to the voices that you want to record but avoid distortion. So don’t get too close!

Distorted audio is impossible to rectify, making it useless for transcription purposes.

I would recommend that you do a short test and have a listen to check whether the recording device is working correctly and check the audio quality.

Recording a dictation…

Recording a dictation - transcription services

Use a digital recorder, Smartphone or tablet as explained in our previous videos.

Check your batteries – always use new batteries or charge the recorder.

Try and do the recording in a quiet environment, ideally in a small room – large rooms or halls can make the audio less clear.

Avoid bars, restaurants, being outside in the street and other noisy environments – back ground noise is a typist’s worst nightmare and can lead to a less accurate transcript.

Although most recorders use Omni-directional microphones (meaning that they pick up sound from all directions), you’ll notice microphone holes in the recorder (usually the top) so try and point them at you.

If possible do NOT hold the recorder or conceal it in a pocket or a bag – this severely reduces the audio quality to a point where it could be useless for transcription purposes.

If you do have to hold the recorder keep as still as possible and hold it about 30-40 cms away from you – not too close otherwise the recording may become distorted.

At all costs avoid distortion – distorted audio is impossible to rectify, making it useless for transcription purposes.

Speak clearly and not too quickly – remember that someone is going to have to type out your recording!

I would recommend that you do a short test and have a listen to check whether the recording device is working correctly and check the audio quality.

Recording a conference…

Recording a conference - transcription services

This is a large topic so we are just going share a few tips with you to assist you with recording a conference

For a conference we would recommend hiring a professional recording company who can provide you with all of the required equipment and will give you a CD, DVD or audio file at the end of the day.

If this is not possible then you will need to buy or hire the following:

a multi channel mixer

a lapel microphone for each speaker or

a unidirectional microphone at the front of the conference hall – where one person would be speaking at a time. If more than one person is speaking at the same time then you would need multiple microphones

a digital recorder if not two, so one can be a backup

a couple of hand held radio microphones to hand around during the Q&A session at the end of the speech

all of the relevant cabling

headphones for monitoring

The equipment would cost in the region of £1000 – £1500 to hire and you would need someone to monitor the recording levels and well as one or two people handing out the roaming hand held microphones during the Q&A session.

It is important that the chairperson organises the day carefully and ensures that there is only one person speaking at a time, especially during the Q&A.

Recording a telephone conversation or Skype call…

Mobile phones:

With all of the applications pre installed on today’s smart phones you would expect to be able to simply press a button and record your telephone conversations. Unfortunately it is not quite that simple. Luckily many developers have produced applications in order to do this so my advice would be to download an app and try recording a call to a friend first before recording that important interview.

Once you have completed a test call sync your smart phone to your computer and actually listen to the recording. It must be very clear for us to transcribe it. If it is not clear you may need to change the settings or try a different application.

Skype:

Skype is not packaged with recording functionality so the only way to record a Skype call is to search for a third party supplier and install a program to your computer. I would read several reviews before downloading any software or ask a colleague or friend to recommend one.