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How to Get High Quality Audio Recordings

There are important steps you can take to ensure you capture your audio at source at the highest possible quality for best possible transcript production.

We know your data is important, and by following some simple guidelines, you can maximise your audio quality from the outset so we can get the most from your audio recording.

Here are the steps you can take which can significantly reduce instances of inaudible audio appearing on your final transcripts. Some of these may seem obvious, but they are mistakes commonly made, day in and day out, and can significantly impact on the quality of your audio.

Some of the most obvious steps, such as switching mobile phones off and avoiding cross talk or background chat will go a long way to help you and location is everything. Choosing a quiet space is paramount. It may seem like a good idea to carry out your interview in a coffee shop, but this will severely impact upon the quality of your audio.

Whilst anyone can record audio on nearly any technological device, these guidelines will help to ensure you achieve the highest quality recording without incurring any loss of data.

No matter which technology you use to capture your audio, the most important thing you can do is do is a sound test. Record a short clip of yourself talking, at conversational volume, and do this from where your interviewer or moderator is sitting, as well as from the seats of your respondent(s). By carrying out a test in advance, you can ensure everyone can be clearly heard and understood from all areas of the room.

You are also checking that your recording settings are optimum and that there is no loss of quality in feedback, echoes or distortion arising from input levels set too high or too low.

If you are unable to capture sound in an optimum way, you may need to consider switching devices, or if you're not already using an external microphone that is fit for purpose, you should definitely invest in one.

We have delivered transcripts in the past without any inaudible areas marked and this is the most important step you can take to ensure a highest quality recording for your important data. 

The amount of data that has been lost due to air conditioners automatically powering up part way through interviews is astronomical. It happens regularly and more often than not will result in loss of data for clients. Air conditioners may sound like background noise to the human ear, but to a recording device, the sound can completely overshadow anything that is being said.

The best practice tip is to get the room to the required temperature before your recording starts and leave it. 

As with the air-conditioning, opening a window part-way through a recorded meeting can result in sounds of birds, alarms, car horns and sirens completely eclipsing the important information you are trying to capture.

Again, the best practice tip is to get the room to the required temperature before your recording starts and leave it. 

Any actions and activity around your recording device can be picked up and you may be surprised to hear that simple actions, such as shuffling notes and papers, picking up pens, typing on laptops, putting down coffee cups, and tapping on the table are not only picked up by recorders, but are often much louder on a recording than the dialogue going on at the same time.

Set as much as possible up before you start your interview and you can even go so far as to make respondents aware of these sound recording issues.

The best practise tip is to keep any unnecessary activity to a minimum.

For those new to interviewing, just be aware that your own voice can override what is being said on a recording. Avoid the temptation to say ‘yes’, ‘yeah’, ‘mmm-hmm’ and ‘okay’ as you encourage your speaker(s) to continue.

Instead, use non-verbal prompts such as nodding and smiling, which won’t cut out any dialogue from your recording, or try the journalistic technique, using the silent probe to encourage speakers to continue talking and make sure your respondent has definitely finished speaking before you begin your next line of questioning.

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