Best Practices For Accurate Transcriptions
To get accurate transcription results in a timely, economical fashion, there are several best practices that you can follow at the recording time. At Glyph, we grasp that not all organizations have the same resources at their disposal, but even with limitations, there are several things you can do to ensure you get exceptional transcription results!
Reduce Background Noise
Background noise is the main cause for concern when it comes to transcribing an audio or video file. Of course, it’s almost impossible to eliminate all sounds that aren’t the voices whose speech you want to transcribe, some of these sounds can simply be paper rustling, coughing, or heavy breathing. However, keep in mind that these sounds can become magnified in your recording and may result in a significant loss in the sound quality of the speech – possibly making it difficult to achieve accurate transcription results. One way to keep background noises to a minimum is simply to communicate a set of guidelines or rules to all participants before recording. Ensure that everyone speaks clearly, takes their time, enunciate their words, and try their best to avoid producing problematic background noise.
Proper Equipment and Use
When recording takes place outdoors there are a variety of sounds you can’t control. Wind, for instance, can cause the recording to become muffled or even incomprehensible for transcription. To avoid this effect, it is best to use a windscreen that is suited for your circumstances. Windscreens are widely available and affordable products that shield and protect your microphone to reduce unwanted noise as well as to aid in capturing higher quality output.
When there is more than one speaker in a recording, it can be difficult to identify and differentiate between multiple voices without a visual aid, even to the trained ear. To ensure the highest quality output, it’s best to provide each speaker with a microphone. By using more than one microphone, you will not only capture the speaker’s voice more clearly but you will also have the option to record multiple audio tracks that can be correlated to each speaker. By capturing and providing multiple audio files to your transcriptionist, you can substantially improve your transcription accuracy and turnaround time.
Utilize a Mixer
If the resources are available, we highly recommend setting up your microphone(s) to go through a mixer to record audio files directly to a computer. Using a mixer ensures that less extraneous noise is captured and the recording is of the highest quality. Using a mixer also provides you with a means to adjust each speaker’s volume, thus further enhancing the clarity of the recording.
A recording pen is an affordable device commonly used to record lectures, depositions, or interviews. Be mindful that some of these devices may produce low-quality output and create the hazard of inaccurate transcription results. To ensure better outcomes with these devices, include a beat of silence, a gap of about one second, between each speaker and be sure each speaker passes the device carefully. Speakers should take care to hold the device close enough to capture their speech clearly.
Continuous Recording Sessions
Utilize a Spoken Indicator for Reference
If you are planning a continuous recording session, it can be helpful to the transcriptionist to include an indicator to mark when the transcription should start and when it should end. It’s not uncommon for continuous recordings to be interspersed with casual discussions or interruptions for which transcription is either unnecessary or unwanted. You can save time and money by designating a person to indicate the start and stop of the segments of the recording to be transcribed. We recommend using the words “cut” and “resume”. If you choose not to use an indicator, or you don’t have one handy, we highly recommend stopping the recording during off-the-record discussions. Ultimately, shorter multiple files are faster to process than long single files and usually result in a more rapid, better quality transcription turnaround.
Multilingual Speakers and Simultaneous Interpretation
One of the most common types of projects our clients entrust Glyph to transcribe involves multilingual speakers. In this scenario, there is an interpreter present who interprets roughly simultaneously with what the speaker is saying in another language. This arrangement often results in an overlay of different speakers speaking at the same time and can result in difficulties separating the speech during transcription. To avoid this problem, we suggest allowing a gap of time of about one beat between the native speaker and the interpreter. This provides more clarity to the transcriptionist about who is speaking and ensures the most accurate transcription results.
In cases where simultaneous interpretation is required, i.e., an interpreter interprets as a native speaker speaks, it is best practice to provide each speaker, including the interpreter, with a lavalier microphone, also known as a lapel mic, clip mic or personal mic. Using a separate microphone for each speaker helps ensure that the interpreter and each speaker are recorded with the best possible output. It will also provide the option to generate separate audio tracks for each participant. Separate audio tracks can significantly enhance transcription accuracy and produce faster turnaround, as discussed earlier.
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