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Best Practices for Your Recordings

Good transcription begins with a good recording. The following are four helpful tips for improving the quality of your recordings and, in turn, the final quality of your transcripts.
  • Audio recording tips
  • Place the recording device or microphone as close to the speaker as possible

    • For presentations, record directly off the microphone.
    • If you have an A/V technician, the presentation will usually be recorded for you.
    • For interviews, place the recording device closer to the person being interviewed than the person asking questions.
    • For a discussion group or panel discussion, use an “omnidirectional” microphone.
  • Keep background noise to a minimum

    • Make your recording in quiet surroundings.
    • Restaurants are not usually a suitable location.
    • Noise of cars, other people, coughs and the rustling of papers usually overpower you and your subject, even in a small group.
    • For a better sound, place a lapel microphone on your speaker’s clothing, 10-15 cm from the mouth.
    • Limit overlapping conversations as much as possible by asking participants to take turns to speak.
  • Test your recording set up

    • With the wide assortment of recording tools available, whether for professional meetings or in daily life, creating and sharing your recordings keeps getting easier. The few following steps will help ensure that your recordings are intelligible:
    • Test your recording system before using it. Speak at a normal conversational sound level as you move about the meeting space at different distances from the microphone; this will help you determine your microphone’s actual capabilities.
    • Remember that background noise can interfere with your recordings. An open window to a busy street or the sound of an air conditioner can significantly impair the final quality of your sound recording.
    • Adjust your recording to the appropriate compression and sampling rate. To save an audio file in the most compressed format possible without sacrificing sound quality, we recommend a 64kbps bit rate and a sampling frequency of 22,050 for mp3 recordings.
  • Facilitate the recording process

    • Ask all participants to state and spell their name at the start of the recording to ensure that speakers are correctly identified in the written transcript.
    • For groups of more than three people, it can be very difficult to properly identify the speaker. If you want the transcriber to put a name on a voice, speakers must identify themselves when they speak. Otherwise, a speaker identification system (for example, a time-code management system device) will have to be added to the recording system.
    • Whenever possible, provide a terminology document. Any PowerPoint presentation document containing specific industry termes and acronyms will be very useful in the transcription process.
    • Ask participants to move close to the microphone when they speak, to avoid talking at the same time as others and to articulate their words clearly. Speaking for recording purposes demands much more attention than normal conversation.