Nothing is more stressful than receiving poorly recorded audio to transcribe. You just know that try as you might, you are going to struggle to give your client the quality transcript you usually return. Therefore, I urge clients to look at the following, and for transcriptionists to distribute the following general recording tips to clients.
• Ask participants not to speak simultaneously. If possible ensure that each person has a microphone to speak into. One recorder placed in the middle of the table is not sufficient.
• Mikes should be placed close to the speaker and pointed at him or her. If there is only one mike and one respondent, point the microphone towards the interviewee as it will be of less consequence to lose what the interviewer is saying than the interviewee. Spell out difficult names or references.
• Ask each speaker to introduce him or herself clearly at the beginning and spell out their name.
• Send a list of commonly used jargon or names to us. Agendas and notes help greatly with transcribing conferences. If the interviewer has used a list of standard questions, please send that along too. If you’re concerned about the quality of the recording, ask the interviewer to repeat what the respondent has said.
• Try to minimize background noise. Some common sources of background noise include: Traffic, construction and other street noise Noise from other rooms or hallways through open doors. Machinery running in the background TV sets and radios. People making noise in the background. Pets or other animals. Clocks that chime. Doors shutting or slamming. Coughs, sneezes, etc.
• Try to minimize people leaving or entering during the event, but if they must ask them to do so quietly and to not bang the door.
• Conduct a thorough sound check before the event.
• If possible, encourage speakers to make some verbal reference to things they may be indicating visually.
• Although we accept recordings in most formats, we prefer mp3 as this format is standard, works on most digital playback software, and does not usually require conversion.