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6 secrets no one tells you about recording audio for high quality transcripts

audio transcriptionTranscription is often a collaborative process. Now, what exactly do we mean by this?

Essentially, this means that the onus of producing high-quality transcripts lies with both the transcription provider and you, the client.

We all know that a seminal part of the transcription process is the audio quality itself. This means, at the end of the day, the audio quality is responsible for both the accuracy and turnaround time of high-quality transcripts.

So before you ask yourself “How do I get high-quality transcripts for my clips?” you need to first answer the following question:”How do I record high-quality audio for my transcripts?”

Don’t panic though: we’ve done the research for you. As transcription professionals who’ve worked with all kinds of audio files, we feel it’s imperative to share these 6 tips for recording audio clips for your transcription project.

How to record high-quality audio for your transcripts

Did you know that an hour of audio takes about 6-8 hours to be accurately transcribed? In fact, transcription time can increase if the audio quality is not up to the mark.

So, to make sure there are no hiccups the next time you submit your clip for transcription, let’s look at a few tips to record high-quality audio for your next transcription project.

Choose a proper recording environment

The recording environment may not always be under your control, especially if you’re recording a conversation outdoors, for example, in a restaurant. However, it’s imperative that you choose a stable recording environment to root out any issues with audio quality.

We’d like to stress on this point before we move on to the other tips because a stable recording environment goes a long way to contribute to the audio quality.

Essentially, background noise or sudden disruptions that distract speakers and muddle up the speech are some of the things that may hamper the audio quality. So, if you’re recording indoors, intimate people of the recording time frame and when recording outdoors, opt for a background noise free environment as much as possible.

Choose the right microphone

You may find yourself recording either one person or a group, and in such cases, choosing the right microphone is one of the most important factors for producing good quality audio clips. First, opt for an external microphone instead of an inbuilt one. Second, you need to make a concrete choice between unidirectional and omnidirectional microphones.

If your work demands one on one interviews (for example, witness testimonies), it may be better to opt for a unidirectional microphone that concentrates on audio input from a single direction. However, if your line of work requires you to routinely record lectures or business meetings, it may be worth investing in an omnidirectional microphone as these are fine-tuned to accurately capture audio input from multiple directions.

Keep a tab on the pace of speech

Poor audio feedback and background noise are not the only factors that can hamper the overall quality of an audio clip intended for transcription. To record high-quality audio clips for transcription, you also need to keep an eye out and mind the pace of speech.

Now, this is especially important if you’re recording multiple individuals or recording people who have a thick accent. This is because overlapping speech is hard to discern and the speaker may end up not being accurately identified in the transcript. Moreover, overlapping speech, especially when words are spoken quickly, can lead the transcriber to misinterpret what’s being said.

Similar problems can crop up when you’re interviewing and recording someone who has a thick accent and is speaking fast.

Record shorter clips

You may think this is redundant, but hear us out.

Recording shorter clips has a number of benefits. First, if one of the files become corrupt, you still have the rest of the audio with you. Moreover, if you need to re-record a certain portion for clarity or overall quality, it’s easier to pinpoint and go for a do-over.

Second, it’s more convenient to share files in parts with your transcription partner due to size limitations than sharing a single, large file in one go.

Third, fragmented clips significantly speed up the transcription process. Here’s how: multiple transcribers can work on each clip and the clips can then move on to the next stage of the transcription process, that is, proofreading and mandatory quality check.

Lastly, if the files are fragmented, you can also opt for batch deliveries so that you can initiate the review process and provide feedback to your professional transcription provider for the next clips.

Create trial recordings

Consider this: you record an entire testimony and then realize the audio is too faint to be transcribed.

Bummer right? You not only have to opt for a do-over but also figure out what went wrong in the first place. Creating trial recordings well in advance can help you root out such seminal issues that can crop up as bottlenecks and majorly disrupt your workflow.

Opt for a trial transcription  

Most professional transcription providers accept trial transcriptions to ensure that they’re a right fit for the client.

Now, a lot of thought needs to go into choosing a reliable transcription partner: you need to understand which traits make a professional transcription company stand out and ask the right questions to gauge whether they can deliver on your expectations.

And, when the conversation and the research is out of the way, what better way to determine whether they’re a right fit for you than opt for a trial transcription?

Opting for trials does two very important things:

  1. You can get acquainted with their transcription workflow while they get to know your requirements better; and
  2. In case things don’t work out, you can embark on your journey to find a more suitable transcription partner without having made significant investments and commitments.

Final Thoughts

Recording high-quality audio for transcription doesn’t have to be a chore, but it certainly needs a bit of tinkering before you can send it off to a transcription company. So, it’s important to choose the right environment and microphone and it’s definitely worth investing a bit of time to create a few test recordings beforehand. After all, a good source goes a long way to guarantee an accurate transcript.

Is your recording process similar to what we’ve suggested? Let us know if you have any other tips for recording high-quality audio clips for transcription in the comments.


How to get high quality and accurate transcripts

transcriptionOn average, we speak about 150 to 170 words per minute, which, let’s just say, is hard to keep track of unless you have some serious note-taking skills. But the downside to only taking notes is that you’re not fully participating in a meeting, lecture, or interview.

This is why professionals across industries are opting to transcribe business meetings, lectures, witness interviews, depositions, and even e-learning videos and podcasts for a ready text reckoner. As a result, the transcription industry, a part of the speech recognition market, is estimated to grow three times between 2015 and 2022. And why not?

As a lawyer, you can choose to get your field notes transcribed by a reliable transcription company and spend the majority of your time building a stronger case. As a millennial entrepreneur, transcripts of your online videos can amp up your SEO and connect you to a larger user base.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s see how you can get high quality and accurate transcripts for your business.

Review audio quality

Like translation, where an unclear source can cause ambiguities in the target language output, transcription relies heavily on the quality of the source material. So, before you submit an audio (or video) clip for transcription, it’s important to review the audio quality.

Some aspects that may lead to unclear audio are background noise and overlapping conversation. An unclear recording can also be caused if the microphone is out of range, leading the captured audio to be muted and inaudible. So, if the recording environment is under your control (unless we’re talking transcripts of wiretaps), you can follow these tips to get pristine audio for your transcripts.

Record in a stable environment

Ideally, opt for recording in an environment with the least intrusion of background noise. Move away from a busy place like a street-view seat if you’re recording outdoors or alert others that a recording is in progress if you’re recording indoors. This way you rule out sudden and intrusive noises that can affect the quality of your recording.

Choose the right microphone

If your sphere of work revolves mostly around interviewing small groups of people or an individual (such as witness interviews), opt for a unidirectional microphone that can channel and record sound coming from one direction. However, if you’re planning to record something like a lecture or seminar, opt for an omnidirectional microphone.

Opt for a realistic turnaround time

Faster isn’t always better, especially if you’re talking about the outcome of a highly technical activity such as transcription. On average, 1 hour of audio takes about 6-8 hours to be accurately transcribed.

Besides, any reliable transcription company requires at least two experienced transcribers to check against the source and proofread the transcript as well as pass it through a third round of robust quality check to ensure >99% accuracy. Sure, an automatic transcript or speech recognition software can also provide a transcript, but the accuracy of the output would be in the ballpark of 60%-80%. Other factors that drive up transcription turnaround time are audio quality, technical jargon, verbatim transcription, or heavy accents. Moreover, with specialized transcription like legal or medical transcription, subject matter specialists also need to glance at the output to ensure complete accuracy.

Essentially, when you’re asking for a shorter than normal turnaround time, you’re asking your transcription providers to skip at least a couple of these steps, thereby compromising the quality of the output.

It’s important to know what you want

When you buy a new phone, we’re sure you do as much research as possible (including watching one too many drop-test videos) so that you’re not disappointed in the end.

For starters, if you want accurate and high-quality transcripts, you need to know what kind can help you be more productive. This means knowing whether you want a verbatim transcript or a general one, or whether you need time stamps on your transcript or you can do without them.

At the end of the day, this helps you nip potential expectation mismatch in the bud.

Choose the best transcription partner by asking the right questions

This also goes a long way to make sure you’re getting the most out of a paying service. After all, you’re opting for a technical service to make your life easier.

There are several things to consider before you zero-in on your perfect transcription partner, and for starters, you need to start asking them the right questions. For example, how do they ensure complete confidentiality during the transcription process, where do your files go once the transcript has been delivered to you, or whether they have subject matter specialists on board? Also, you may need to know how their transcription workflow works along with their typical turnaround time and pricing model.

Keep communication open

Professional transcription providers are great at creating a detailed project brief the first time round. However, additional queries regarding your project may crop up when the transcription is underway. A great way to ensure you receive an accurate transcript, in the end, is to keep communication open and free. This makes it easier for your transcription company to reach out to you and get their doubts clarified instead of winging it, breaching the deadline, or delivering an inaccurate transcript.


6 characteristics that make a professional transcription provider stand out

audio transcriptionTranscription is one of the fastest growing businesses in the speech recognition industry. Naturally, everyone’s trying to jump on board with claims of being the best transcription partner you could possibly have.

Now, most professional transcription providers only focus on three things: accuracy, price, and turnaround time. But is that all you need from an efficient LSP?

So let’s find out which characteristics make a professional transcription provider stand out (in fact this could make hiring a transcription partner way easier for you).

Diverse areas of expertise

Most major industries are opening up to integrating transcription into their workflow. While general transcription requirements (such as transcribing a business meeting) can be fulfilled by a transcriber who doesn’t specialize in a niche, an efficient transcription provider must employ subject matter experts to fulfill the niche requirements of technical industries like legal and medical.

Essentially, a professional transcription company makes sure that they’re equipped to deliver what they’re promising to their clients.

Ready to answer all your questions

A professional transcription provider understands that as a new customer you may have a lot of questions before you hire a transcription partner. For example, you may need to know what their typical turnaround time is or pricing model looks like. Or you may even have a workflow-related question.

Unsure which questions you need to ask before hiring a transcription partner? Check out this post!

They prioritize confidentiality

As a business entity, you may be working with vendors all the time. However, when you’re reaching out to a transcription company, you’re sharing your most confidential and often proprietary information to be transcribed. So, you deserve to partner up with someone who values the ethics of the industry as well as cares about the security of your documents.

At iScribed, we ensure complete confidentiality of client information by encrypting all client interactions on our website using an SSL certificate. This means that any information that you share with us, both personal and project-related, stays right where it should. Moreover, all our employees sign an NDA and are trained in security protocols so that your information remains confidential.

Employs expert native transcribers

You know what’s the most challenging part of producing accurate transcriptions? Technical jargon and being able to accurately understand the accents and inflections in a voice or video clip.

We guess you would agree that an inaccurate transcript could turn out to be a liability rather than an asset. For example, if you produce an inaccurate transcript of a recording in court, it could affect the entire outcome of the hearing. In fact, this could lead to irreversible damage such as an innocent individual being convicted or a guilty person walking away without consequences.

So, it’s important that a professional transcription company employ native transcribers in the languages they specialize in.

Flexible about file formats

Technology is evolving at a dizzying pace and this means that the number of devices with recording abilities is also increasing. Currently, the number of audio formats are quite high, ranging from digital to dictation formats, including uncompressed lossless audio formats, proprietary file formats, open file formats.

This also implies that those in the transcription industry must be flexible enough to upgrade their services and systems regularly to cater to their client’s evolving needs.

They have a great quality assurance system

Most efficient transcription companies believe quality control goes beyond a quick proofread before a deliverable is shared with a client. To maintain consistent quality, a professional transcription company ensures that an effective quality assurance system is implemented so that a transcript is rechecked at least once against the source clip before being sent across.

At iScribed, we aim for >99% accuracy and have a robust quality assurance system that not only irons out any inaccuracies in the transcript but also gets to the root cause of any quality-related client dissatisfaction to prevent recurrence.

Final thoughts

While competitive pricing, accuracy, and speed are import factors in the industry, they shouldn’t be the only things you look at when hiring a transcription partner. A professional transcription company takes their growth and client satisfaction seriously, and you’ll definitely see this reflected in how open they are about their workflow and of course in testimonials from previous clients.


Can closed captions and transcripts actually help students?

closed captionsWhen we think of closed captions and transcripts, a few things come to mind: they need to be included because they’re a legal requirement and that they can be treated as peripheral aids to your video content.

But apart from compliance and business-growth-related benefits, transcripts play an important part in how your educational videos are accepted, perceived, and comprehended.

Closed captions and transcripts are great for students with known disorders

And we’re not just talking about students and viewers with hearing disabilities. You need to know when you’re choosing to accurately caption your e-learning videos, you’re making learning easier and accessible for many communities with known disorders.

Holistic takeaways for students with dyslexia

According to this report, 1 in 8 student in the US has dyslexia. Dyslexia, a neurodevelopmental disorder, is characterized by slow and inaccurate word recognition. Since captions and transcripts are basically your video expressed in the written form, you may think the practice is counterintuitive. Moreover, the overall goal of reading is to comprehend the reading material.

So how do captions and transcripts help students with dyslexia?

Video material is great for engaging students with dyslexia, but note-taking can be hard from a video. So, captions and especially transcripts serve as great tools and learning aids for such students because they can simultaneously refer to the video and the transcript and retain much more at the end of it.

Help students with autism comprehend e-learning videos better

Prevalence of autism in U.S. children has increased 6%-15% between 2002 and 2010 and more than 3.5 million Americans are on the autism spectrum.

Both children and adults on the autism spectrum have difficulty engaging in complex conversations, part taking in activities in noisy environments, and comprehending social cues and emotions. So boosting learning comprehension through e-learning videos alone still leaves a huge gap for retention and understanding in such cases  – in fact, 35% of young adults on the autism spectrum in the US do not participate in the labor force and have not pursued post graduate education because learning is still not as inclusive as it should be.

Captions and transcripts help students on the autism spectrum comprehend e-learning videos better as they can turn off the sound and refer to the written materials instead for better understanding.

Students with down syndrome heavily rely on captions and transcripts

E-learning videos are great for breaking down complex concepts. However, students with Down syndrome often have poor auditory retention capabilities. This makes closed captions and transcripts a great aid for understanding such educational materials better.

Helping students learn better beyond disabilities

According to a nation-wide study (with 2124 participating students across 15 private and public universities)  conducted by Oregon State University, captions and transcripts definitely go a long way to help comprehend e-learning videos better.

According to the study, 98.6% students claimed captions are helpful for learning better and that they used video transcripts as learning aids 85% of the time.

Here’s how closed captions and transcripts boost e-learning video comprehension and help students learn better.

Accuracy

Students may not catch a technical word or names correctly while watching a video. Captions and transcripts can remedy this by spelling out accurate technical terms and names and help students learn and retain accurate content.

Comprehension

Closed captions and transcripts are complementary to the higher level of engagement and ease of learning enabled by e-learning videos. Students can benefit from the easy breakdown and visualization of complex concepts and refer to transcripts and captions for better understanding.

Retention

Videos with closed captions and transcripts help in better retention as students can both watch as well as read at their own pace, helping them approach the content in a manner that makes them comfortable.

There are challenges (but also workarounds)

Overhauling an established system comes with its own set of challenges, but in this case, there are definite workarounds. Let’s see what they are.

Caption placement can be distracting

Some survey respondents (32%) claimed that captions can be distracting as they blocked a part of the visuals.

Essentially, this means that such captions were not compliant to FCC and ADA regulations for closed captioning, which specifically outlines font and placement details to root out distractions due to captions in e-learning videos.

Transcripts and captions include incorrect information

Incorrect closed captions in e-learning videos along with errors in an accompanying transcript can do more harm than good.

Now, this a testament to the fact that a lot of institutes and private e-learning video producers are resorting to automatic captioning, which can only provide accuracy levels of 60%-80%. In such cases, partnering with a reliable transcription company can be a prudent business decision.

At iScribed, we ensure 99% accuracy in our captions and transcripts, along with a rigorous quality assurance process that makes captioning your videos easy, streamlined, and accurate.

Captions and transcripts cause more cognitive overload

Several students cited cognitive overload as a factor when watching e-learning videos with closed captions. However, 41% of them claimed that it was momentary, and a significant advantage of closed captions is that they can be turned them off at any point if students don’t want to use them as a learning aid.

Captions and transcripts are the best next step in holistic education

The challenges of including closed captions and transcripts are minor compared to how much students benefit from their usage. Benefits that go beyond compliance and speculation, we’d say.

Are you looking for a trusted transcription and captioning partner to make the video production process easy for you? Let’s talk.