Audio quality is known as the backbone for being able to achieve accurate transcription. Basically, with poor audio quality, the transcription could result in certain errors or other inaudible sections. This may then decrease the final precision and accuracy of the final transcription. In the end, files with poor audio quality would be hard to transcribe and may result in the transcriptionist spending more time and resources and even losing more potential money.
There are a few things that a transcriptionist can do to improve the total audio quality with limited resources needed. While getting a transcription tool to transcribe the needed audio would be the preferred action, this can be done later on.
Here are 10 ways to immediately improve the audio quality:
1. Pay attention to room acoustics
It’s very important to remember that a large but empty room would actually produce echoes which would then decrease the final audio quality.
2. Proper microphone location
It is important to make sure that the locations of the microphones around the room are placed strategically in order to ensure that all of the relevant words spoken are captured properly on the recording. This, of course, is if the transcriptionist has control of getting the audio.
3. Microphone near the speaker
For those transcriptionists that have the option of adjusting the microphone location, the preferred location is directly below the speaker's mouth. If this can’t be done, it is also possible to put the microphone on the side of the speaker’s mouth.
4. Check the recording device
Sometimes, faulty audio quality is due to poor audio recording equipment. Trying out the equipment before using it is very important in order to understand the microphone’s placement, volume, quality, distance, and etc.
5. Background noise or overlapping conversation
When there are a number of speakers involved in the audio or video recording, it is important to make sure that each of them speaks one by one. Most of the time, the problems with transcription happen when people are talking at the same time because the transcript has to be in a logical narrative.
6. Speaker introduction
Making the speakers or participants introduce themselves during the beginning of the said recording is very important in order to ensure that all of the speakers can be properly identified when making the transcription. This would also make things easier when using a transcription tool in order to get an automated transcription.
7. Repeat questions or important statements
Repeating certain questions or repeating important statements is very important, especially when the audio recording is not clear or is quite faulty. Sometimes, the audio is not clear or the speaker’s statement is not clear. It is in such cases when they may be asked to repeat what they said.
8. Consistent environment
When making recordings again, it is important to remember how the audio was recorded the first time. Recreating the setups is also very important as well as using the same equipment. However, when using newer equipment, again, it is very important to test it first before officially using it.
9. Using M4A file format
This is the ideal format in order to produce high-quality sound files but still remaining relatively small in terms of file size. WAV is also another audio recording format to use. It is important not to always use the MP3 file format since the audio quality isn’t too good in comparison to an M4A format or a WAV format.
10. Monitor volumes
When recording, check every once in a while for the ideal “green zone” and make sure not to go too high or too low. Extremes do have a negative effect on the said audio quality. Make it a habit of watching the audio recording equipment every once in a while.
Tools for improving audio quality
While the methods mentioned above can be done only when the transcriptionist has the power over the recording or can instruct the one recording to do as mentioned, sometimes, the transcriptionist is left with just an audio or video file with faulty audio quality. This would then be incredibly complicated and hard to transcribe if not for a tool or two that could make the transcription job easier.
1. Audio limiter
This would allow the transcriptionist to compress noise just into a particular decibel range to make sure that the audio is neither too loud nor too soft. Some good audio editing software already includes audio limiters which could make things easier for the transcriptionist.
2. Sound editor
There are a lot of things that can be done with a sound editor like reducing the background noise, taking out the echo, adjusting the audio’s pitch, providing some volume boost, and a lot more. Basically, for a professional transcriptionist, this would be very important.
Transcription tool for automated transcription
Once the audio quality is improved, the transcriptionist can then use a transcription tool in order to get an automated transcription and thus save the trouble of having to transcribe every word one by one. This is one of the most tiring parts of a transcriptionist’s career. Due to this, the transcriptionist can then focus on only the faulty audio quality parts.
Without having to do every single word one by one, the transcriptionist can then focus on the faulty parts of the audio quality. Isolating the hard parts from the good parts is key to saving time when making a transcription since the good parts or easy parts can be done with an automated transcription tool. Instead of having to do everything from the start, despite the faulty audio, the transcriptionist can then focus on the hard or faulty parts with poor audio quality. Having to transcribe faulty audio while having to do everything else could be very time-consuming, complicated, and also very tiring. This is why using the right transcription tool is also very important.
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