Audio Recording Tips
Five Tips for Recording Clear, Quality Audio
Recording your interviews, focus groups, panel discussions or webinars is as easy as hitting the record button. If you want to create transcripts, though, you want the best quality recordings. That means you’ll want to put some thought into your setup before you start recording.
The five strategies below will give you an idea of the best conditions and practices to use when recording your audio file. A little bit of preparation can mean the difference between a clear, crisp recording and an inaudible, hard-to-decipher mess.
For the best audio recording, follow these audio recording tips.
1. Record in a Quiet, Controlled Environment
Coffee shops and restaurants are ideal places to meet for a conversation, but not if you plan to record that conversation. You might be able to ignore the clatter of dishes or murmurs from nearby tables, but your recording device probably won’t.
Even if the voices you want to record are noticeably louder than everything else, any background noise can leap to the foreground unexpectedly. And even the best-trained public speakers on Earth occasionally drop their voices, trail off, or move away from the microphone. That’s when the background noise of a fork on a nearby plate can take center stage, obscuring the content that’s important in your recording.
For the best results, record your audio in a closed, quiet room, and be sure to keep any background noise to an absolute minimum. Also, never underestimate the volume of an air conditioner or an open door or window. You likely won’t even notice these interferences in real life, but your microphone certainly will.
2. Don’t Scribble or Type Near the Microphone
It’s understandable if you’d like to take notes during your interview, but scribbling or typing is louder than you think. The click-clack of fingers typing on a keyboard, or the swishing of a pen scribbling shorthand notes, or even the shuffling of the paper on which you’re writing, can easily drown out any sound that’s further away from the microphone – especially the voices you’re trying to record in the first place. If you prefer to take notes while recording, make sure to do it as far away from the mic as possible.
3. Minimize Crosstalk in Larger Groups
A conversation recorded on audio or video needs to follow the same rules as an in-person conversation– one speaker at a time. When two or more people are talking at the same time, audible comprehension will plummet. If you’ve never experienced this, try listening to two different speeches at once – the odds are that you won’t understand very much being said in either one of them.
Even the world’s best transcriptionists can’t understand a group of people all talking at once, which sometimes happens when a large group is meeting. When recording larger groups, it’s best to emphasize to your participants that only one person should speak at a time. Even the United States Senate – the world’s greatest deliberative body – has to enforce its rules about who has the floor to speak. You don’t necessarily need to run your focus group with all the deliberative rules of government, but a few steps in that direction will certainly help increase the clarity of your recording.
4. Check Your Sound Levels before You Start
This isn’t always possible, but if you can test the volume before you start recording, you might just save yourself a headache. Testing beforehand minimizes the chance that your carefully planned interviews or focus groups are so quiet that they’re drowned out by something as innocuous as standard electronic interference (a quiet hiss occurs in many digital audio recordings, but it is usually a non-issue if everything else is set up correctly).
5. Listen to Your Audio Files Before Sending Them
Professional transcriptionists have a few tricks up their sleeves to improve audio quality, such as light audio editing and replaying hard-to-decipher portions. However, these tricks can only improve things to a point. If you’ve recorded an interview across the street from an active construction site, your interview is going to be difficult to understand, and the resulting transcript could potentially be riddled with blank spaces as a result.
The best general rule is to give your files a quick listen before you send them to be transcribed. Can you understand the audio clearly? If you have trouble understanding your recording, then a transcriptionist, even a seasoned professional, is going to have the same trouble.
There’s a reason audio content is recorded in an isolated sound booth. We can’t all book one of these booths, but with a little bit of planning and careful setup, you can avoid many of the most common recording mistakes and produce a clear, crisp audio file.
Now that you know what it takes to produce high-quality audio recordings, trust Verbal Ink to deliver a high-quality transcript. Click here for more details.