How to get accurate transcription

bullseye, accurate transcription

Accurate Transcription or “Bulls-eye”, very few times do we get to say that phrase in our day-to-day.  Why?  Because it’s quite difficult to achieve perfection in everything we do.  However, if we strive for perfection every time, if we aim for the moon every time, we may fall on a palm tree at least?  I don’t know what is better, being careless or being a perfectionist?  I have bad case of OCD, so I will choose the latter, but to be honest, if we do certain things properly, we can save time, money, energy, and boost our productivity tenfold.  One such topic we’re going to cover today is tweaks you can make to get accurate transcription through a transcription service every time.

1. Audio Quality – Record cleanly

If life gives you lemons, make a lemonade.  But if life gives you 2 tons of scrap metal, can you still make a lemonade?  No.  Same applies in transcription.  I know what you’re thinking, I better start making sense real soon.  You see, if you choose to record your interview while Maggie is yelling at her husband in the background, accuracy of the transcript falls rapidly.  Transcription accuracy is always hugely dependent on audio quality.  If you have a non-native English speaker in the interview on top of bad audio quality, that’s like cow dung on top of a mud cake. (I don’t know how else to safely use the cherry on top reference in a negative way).

recording for accurate transcription

Now, by “recording cleanly”, we don’t mean to wipe your recorder with an antibacterial wipe, but to make sure there is as less background noise in the recording as possible.  By rule of thumb, do not record your interviews in a restaurant, a public bench next to a busy road, a school playground, a music festival or in a movie theater while watching Jurassic Park, it’s just not worth it.  You will end up paying double to the transcription service, and it will also take extra time, and accuracy will suffer.

2. Audio file format

No need to record straight to MP3.  MP3 is a lossy format, which means it reduces audio quality.  If your recorder records in WAV, that’s fine.  These days we have gigabit internet speeds, and it will get faster still, so you can wait a few extra minutes uploading the file, while you play Solitaire, to make sure you upload the best quality audio possible, and get the most accurate transcript in return.  We accept any and all audio file formats.  If you have large videos for transcription or subtitling, we accept those too.

3. Speak closer to the microphone

It doesn’t help if you’re in Chicago and your microphone is in Cambodia.  What we mean is it helps to speak as close to the microphone as possible, or else the mic will pick up children shrieking, a cat meowing, police sirens and everything else BUT your interviewee speaking about your topic.  When you ask the questions, bring the mic close to your mouth, and then put it back close to the participant’s mouth if possible.  If that hurts your arm (should have done bicep curls at the gym), put the recorder in the middle of the table, and try to have very less background noise around if possible.  It should still pick up your voices.

4. Use a good quality recorder

This needn’t be said.  All new smartphones these days have decent quality microphones, and the apps are getting better too.  If you’re a professional journalist or need to take interviews on a regular to semi-regular basis, it wouldn’t hurt to invest in a good quality digital sound recorder.  We will cover that topic on our blog soon, so do stay tuned.

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Ashish Sebastian
Digital Marketing Manager, Entrepreneur
Quality Analyst, Web Designer, App Developer
Blogger, Formula 1 fan, Simulation Racer

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