Poor recording quality hinders the transcription process

This is an issue that we, as transcription professionals, encounter often on a daily basis.  When a Project Manager or Administrator downloads the influx of sound files that arrive, how often do you find the recording quality is poor or very poor?  How do you deal with poor recording quality?

We provide guidelines to our clients to combat poor recording quality.  With digital devices being commonly used, recording quality should technically increase.  This is very often not the case, with lots of background noise being picked up, and it only requires a modicum of thought when an interviewer is planning their project.

Some Dos and Don’ts:

A common bugbear is what we class as the ‘tunnel effect’, where speakers are not close enough to the microphone.  Often external microphones will not be used, therefore relying on the inbuilt microphones in the digital devices to pick up what is being said.  These devices are very convenient, allowing them to be slipped into a handbag or pocket, but the inbuilt microphones are certainly not adequate for recording interviews or discussions, and certainly not group discussions.  They are only meant to be used for hand to mouth dictation, i.e. Dear Sir…

Floating microphones are another imperative piece of equipment that should be used for events such as conferences, seminars and workshops, where there are large groups of people.  Often question and answer sessions are carried out, and it is impossible to capture what someone says at the back of a room with a small digital device.  We advise our clients to utilise the services of an AV company, therefore their event will be captured professionally.  After all, they have usually spent months preparing for and arranging the event, it makes sense to have it captured appropriately.

All in a Day’s Work:

As transcription professionals it is our skill, patience and perseverance that enables us to deliver accurate documents when poor recordings are produced.  Clients need to realise how much extra time can be spent incessantly replaying words and sentences to try and accurately hear what someone is saying when poor recording quality is present.

Here at Alphabet we utilise software and equipment that assists us with poorly recorded sound files.  Good quality headphones definitely help, along with hi-tech speakers to give our ears a rest from a screaming child, barking dog, a loud TV, or even a crowing cockerel.  We have experienced it all, with one interview being conducted in a lavatory!  Not ideal, as you can imagine, but part of a busy transcription company’s working week.

How do you deal with ‘poor recording’ quality?  Share your experiences of this common problem.

If you would like to discover how Alphabet can assist you or your organisation in the transcription process, please telephone: 01707 260027.