Best ways to record clear quality audio

How to record audio for best quality transcription

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A lot of our clients struggle to record interviews with good audio quality, and perhaps this post can help them, which will in turn help to pay less for transcription and get more accurate transcripts.  Over the years we have had a range of clients, mainly:

  • Doctoral Candidates:  They usually record interviews to support their thesis and get more data for their dissertation/doctoral study.  Furthermore, academic transcription services make it easier for them to assess data faster and easier than listening to the audio files.
  • Podcasters:  They record weekly shows which are hosted on their websites or on YouTube.  And podcast transcription services makes it easier for them to add subtitles to their videos or expand their audience base by adding a transcript of each show as supporting material.
  • Companies:  Quarterly/Half-Yearly/Yearly earnings results are announced, and they need a transcript almost straight away.  Business transcription services facilitate that, so the earnings transcript can be put on the company website for everyone to consume.
  • Lawyers:  Legal firms often need quick turnaround of depositions or general interviews.  This helps them keep an accurate record of several recordings  made during the day.  Legal transcription services makes it easy for lawyers and law firms to maintain accurate records.
  • Medical Professionals:  The need for medical transcription in healthcare is so huge, that we could even make an entirely separate website for it.  There is huge demand.  It needs medical knowledge to accurately transcribe doctor notes and interviews.

How to record audio to get the best possible quality?

Recording your interviews digitally is always pretty much the best way to ensure that you’ll get the best possible recording quality.  Which in turn means 100% accurate transcripts.  Furthermore, it’s 2016, I would be surprised to find if anybody even makes analog recorders anymore.  Below are some tips that may help record better quality interviews:

  • Keep the microphone close to the mouth of the speaker.  Whether it’s you asking the questions or the interviewee answering.
  • Try to soundproof the room as much as possible.  Close all the windows and doors.  Public places like malls or cafeterias are always bad choices for recording your interviews.
  • If you have multiple speakers, try to ask questions individually to all of them to prevent overlapping conversation.
  • Use the best quality digital recorder or smartphone app.
  • Try to use an external microphone if need be.

If you are going to be recording interviews on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to invest in a digital recorder.  Below are some of the market leading digital recorders that we recommend.

Best Digital Recorders 2017

1. Sony ICD-UX533:

Price:  $83 on Amazon.

One of the best digital recorders on the market.  The Sony ICD-UX533 is the current favorite with podcasters and journalists.  Digital recorders have come down in price a lot in recent years.  This is amazing value for money.

  • 4 GB of available internal flash memory provides ample space for recording life’s important moments, up to 1,073 hours in fact.
  • Capture every nuance, distant or low volume, with great clarity via a 2-element stereo microphone array.
  • A built-in Memory Card Expansion Slot (microSD/M2) allows for additional recording.
  • Automatically adjusts recording levels for optimum results, or when necessary allows for manual control

2. Zoom H1

Price: $100 on Amazon

Zoom has been successful at making great digital recorders for the last decade.  The H1 has the best microphone in the business, and is great at picking up voices from far away.  Always a boon when you’re recording from a distance (hopefully not in a restaurant).  You can also get about 10 hours of battery life from a single AA battery, not so bad, especially if you buy one of those dirt cheap super-saver battery packs.

  • Stereo X/Y mic configuration captures perfect stereo images
  • Same frequency and SPL handling as popular Zoom H2
  • Records Broadcast WAV (BWF) at 96kHz/48kHz/44.1kHz at 16-bit or 24-bit
  • It can record MP3 from 48 to 320kbps for maximum recording time
  • Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port


record audio, Tascam DR-40

Price:  $170 on Amazon

This one can be a bit of splurge, as it’s a fair bit more expensive than the other two digital recorders on this list.  And that’s the only reason why it’s not number one.  In our opinion though, it’s worth it, especially if you will be recording interviews more often.  Below are some of its specs:

  • XLR / TRS balanced MIC/LINE inputs with phantom power and +4dbu line level input.
  • Switchable microphone position from X-Y to A-B.
  • 4-track recording – record the built-in microphones and mic inputs at the same time.
  • Dual recording captures a safety track to prevent distorted takes.
  • Up to 96Hz/24-bit resolution

How to record audio on a smartphone?

If recording interviews is a one-off event for you, perhaps a recorder app on your smartphone would be a better fit.  We’ve have covered best recording apps for different operating systems at length on our blog previously.  You can find them easily with a quick search.  Feeling too lazy to do that, are we?  Here, let us help you:

Best voice recording apps for iPhones and iPads in 2017

Best audio recording apps for Android 2017

Best voice recording apps for Windows Phone 2017

On top of this, you can record Skype calls using plenty of plugins and add-ons.  If your app or plugin has recorded the audio in a different format, there are many free online audio converters which will convert them to MP3 for you.  Google is your best friend.  And if that’s too much, simply upload your audio for transcription on our website, and we will do the rest.

Our pricing for online audio transcription

Upload your audio for transcription

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