Recording Guide


The audio quality of the recording is the most important factor which affects the transcript accuracy. Good audio files require less time and effort to transcribe. In comparison, high difficulty audio files can take up to four times more effort. This guide provides recommendations for recording so that the high difficulty level additional charge can be avoided. A good recording setup will help you save a lot on the transcription costs and result in highly accurate transcripts.

General Recommendations

Take care of the background noise: Yes, complete soundproofing is not possible. However, keep the background noise to the minimum. This includes anything from a noisy air conditioner to a creaky chair. Even your location matters. For instance, is there a school or a playground just beside your recording room? In short, you need to take a complete stock of the situation before you begin. You’ll want to find a room that’s quiet and has little to no ambient noise. If you can’t find a good spot, make sure you and any guests you may have, speak slower and enunciate.

Prepare the participants: One of the best ideas is to let the participants know what is expected. Tell them to speak slowly but clearly. Ask them to refrain from shuffling papers or talking among themselves. If someone starts coughing, sneezing or laughing, ask the others to wait for it to pass. Introduce each participant at the beginning of the interview.

Look where you place the microphone: If your interview involves many people, place the microphone at equal distant from all of them. For group discussions or focus groups, the optimal arrangement for participants is a circle with the recording device kept at the center. Moving it around is not a good idea as it will introduce a deafening sound, which will drown your words. The recording device should be placed on a book or some other soft material which can absorb keyboard sounds or any other disturbances.

Recording Device

Use your smartphone: You may be wondering if you should use your old digital or tape recorder or possibly your smartphone. If you have a smartphone, use it. Smartphones have great microphones on them that can outperform that of your old tape or digital recorder. If you are using your smartphone for your interview, session, etc. you’ll want to find a recording application. Most phones come equipped with a pre-installed recording app or you can search your app store for an app that fits your needs.

Record with two devices: so that there is an alternate version available if required.

The first 30 seconds should always contain silence: so that it can be used as a noise profile while cleaning the file.

Phone/Online Recordings

Use a conferencing service: to record phone calls and a backup recording from the speakers and an external recorder. These recommendations also apply for internet phone calls such as Skype, Google Hangouts, WebEx calls, etc.

Use external speakers: if possible external speakers connected to the phone/computer. Smartphones do not usually have good speakers and should be avoided. We recommend using it only as the recording device as they have good microphones.

Line noise: (buzzing sound on the phone line), try disconnecting and calling again. Line noise is very hard to remove and disorienting for the transcribers.

Do a sound check: to make sure that everything is coming in clear and get all problems fixed before your recording session.