Whether you are recording dictation,Audio Recordings for Transcription – How To Get The Best Results Articles interviews, conferences, focus groups or meetings, it is important to know how to get the best quality recording, how to find a competent transcriptionist, and what sort of costs you are looking at.
The type of transcription depends on the type of recording equipment you have. You can record on to standard audiotape, micro or mini tapes, mini-disks and digital files, which the transcriptionist plays back on a computer. If you don’t already have recording equipment, bear in mind that while a mini tape Dictaphone, for instance, might be much cheaper then a fully functional digital conference recorder with several external microphones, the quality of the cheaper instrument makes it suitable only for basic dictation.
Some mini and micro tape recorders are powerful enough to be placed on a table between an interviewer and interviewee and pick up both voices, but we strongly recommend you carry out a test recording first to make sure. To record a focus group or conference you will need a good system of powerful microphones which will probably record into a video, digital audio or standard tape system. Digital systems are very variable and many are of good enough quality to record focus groups and conferences.
It is also worth bearing in mind that more and more transcribers alexisshv streaming at streamrecorder.io no longer offer tape transcription, as digital is becoming so much more popular, and it is easier to work with and better quality.
On average it takes four hours to transcribe one hour of recording, but this varies considerably. It might be closer to three hours for one person speaking into a Dictaphone but could well be at least six to eight hours for a large focus-group.
This is because we speak much faster than even the fastest typist can type. Also, the transcriptionist doesn’t just type what he or she hears – it has to make sense. Although your transcriptionist should only type what’s being said (unless specifically requested to edit), it’s not just a matter of the right words, but also the right punctuation and, of course, picking the correct homonym (e.g. there or their; two, to or too; pare, pear or pair; fair or fare; the list is almost endless).
You will also need to decide whether you want a ‘verbatim’ transcription with every um, er etc. transcribed and all interruptions etc. noted. This is necessary for some work, such as police transcription, but is completely pointless in, for example, conference transcription, as the important factors in the latter are readability as well as accuracy.
The time taken to transcribe a recording can vary according to a number of factors. These include: • Clarity of speech – Strong or varied accents slow down the transcription. • Clarity of recording – background hiss will make the speech more difficult to hear and therefore slow down the transcribing. Also, if a number of people are being recorded, the positioning and number of microphones can make an enormous difference to the quality of recording. • Background noise – a recording in a pub or café is likely to have significant background noise and deciphering the speech from the background noise can be difficult. • Number of people talking – everyone talks at a different rate and pitch, and with a different accent. Having to ‘tune in’ to a number of different people slows down the speed of transcription. • People also talk over each other and interrupt, and in order for the transcriptionist to transcribe two people talking over each other they will have to play back the section of recording several times to pick out the different voices. • Speed of speech – as already mentioned, some people speak faster than others. Clearly a fast speaker will take longer to transcribe, as they will fit more words in to an hour than a slower speaker. • Whether speaker speaks in coherent sentences – few people actually do speak in the same way as we write. There are usually multiple ‘ums and ers’ and people often speak in partial sentences. This can require the transcriber re-listening to a section several times to grasp the meaning and insert the relevant punctuation. • Whether you are seeking an exact transcription or a transcription ‘for meaning’. Our standard offering at Penguin Office Services is to transcribe word for word but to leave out ‘ums and ers’ and repeated meaningless phrases, such as ‘you know’, and ‘know what I mean?’ It is obviously quicker to leave out these parts, but we are happy to transcribe them if required. An example of when an exact transcription might be required is academic research interviews studying language use.