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Audio Recording Tips for Transcription

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Sterling Transcription's experienced typists are able to cater to all audio formats, including cassette tapes, CDs, DVDs, and all digital formats.

Visit our contact page to find out where to post your tapes and CDs, or email us to find out more.

Before the recording, ensure that you have the correct recording device for your requirements. If you're still using a cassette tape recorder, we would strongly recommend upgrading to a digital recording device, and can advise on products which best suit your particular needs. 

Sterling Transcription recommends high quality Olympus digital recorders for recording interviews and focus groups. 


Tips on recording interviews and focus groups 

Before Recording

1. Ensure that you have the recorder on the highest quality setting: For example, on an Olympus recorder, use standard play (SP) or high quality (HQ) mode. 

2. Ensure that you are recording in a suitable audio format: Some recorders allow you to record in different formats such as .ds2, .dss, or .wma. Sterling Transcription finds that .wma is the best format for recording in.

3. Find a suitable location to conduct the interview once you have organised your recorder: Try to avoid places with a lot of background noise, whether that is general chatter in a public place, a radio in the office, or even a loud air conditioner. Background noise obscures much more than what you would expect.

Before pressing record, learn where the pause button is - very useful for any unexpected interruptions!

4. Phone interviews can be recorded using speaker phone: This is preferable to a plug in device, which often has variable audio quality for different speakers. Take care not to place the recorder too close to the speaker.

During Recording

1. Ensure the recorder is equidistant from participants and not too close to yourself: If anything, it can be slightly further away from you, as it is the interviewees' responses that are most important. Once the recorder is in place, avoid moving it.

For speaker identification, ask speakers to say their name each time they speak, as speaker identification from audio alone is not always possible. If speaker identification is important to you, it is useful for someone present to keep a log of speakers.

2. Encourage participants to speak one at a time: If any laughter or side comments begin during the recording, wait for quiet before asking your next question: laughter in particular obscures all other speech.

3. Small ambient noises can obscure speech: Remind speakers to avoid rustling paper or drumming their fingers on the table. Use non-verbal gestures to let speakers know you are listening.

4. Don't hesitate to repeat key sentences for clarity: Also, it's a good idea to have a spare battery on hand, just in case! Alternatively, use a power adapter for your recorder if a power outlet is nearby (recorders and adapters are available from Sterling Transcription).