Interview Transcriptions

Interview transcription services

Suggested Recording Equipment

Poor quality recordings take longer to transcribe and inevitably lead to more inaudible words in the final transcript.  Poor quality recordings can also cost you more money to get transcribed.  It is therefore, important to check your equipment carefully to make sure that the recordings are of good audibility.  Remember to do this using earphones as this is how a transcriber will listen to the audio and it can sound very different than listening on loud speaker.

Turn off voice activation.

Turn off mobile phones.  When a mobile phone searches for network coverage it interferes with recording equipment and can obscure voices.

Audio Quality

The recording process used to make analogue recordings using cassette tape introduces noise, particularly tape hiss.  Noise can drown out softly spoken words and makes transcription of normal speech difficult and tiring.  Digital recorders generally have a much higher signal to noise ratio.  Less noise reduces a risk of lost data and results in faster, less expensive and more accurate transcription.

Note that audio quality also depends on using a suitable external microphone or microphones properly positioned near speakers in an environment with low levels of ambient noise.

Interview Guide

Practice using the equipment

  • Before you interview, get comfortable with your equipment.  Record yourself.  Find a friend and do a mock interview.  A few things to remember:
  • Your transcriber will wear earphones.  Wear earphones when listening to your recording.  Your earphones are your "ears" for the interview; they tell you exactly what you'll hear on your finished recording.  Use them to adjust the microphone position so the sound is as clear as possible.  If you hear anything weird - such as "humming" or "clicks" - stop recording and figure out the problem
  • Be careful of mic noise.  The low rumbling sound you might hear when you move the mic in your hands is known as "mic handling noise".  You can avoid this by using a light touch and not shifting around too much.  If you must move the mic, make sure to wait until your subject has finished speaking
  • Choose a quiet interview location
  • A carpeted living room or bedroom makes for warm, intimate recordings.  Avoid large, empty rooms and stay away from kitchens, which have a lot of reflective surfaces and appliance noise.
  • Rooms are full of all sorts of sounds that you normally don't notice but that can wreak havoc on your recording.  Close the door, unplug the phone, turn off mobiles, make sure your chairs don't creak, turn off anything that is making a noise: ticking clocks, buzzing fluorescent lights, air conditioners, fans etc.
  • Test the equipment
  • Set up your equipment as early as possible and make sure you're comfortable with it.  This way you'll be able to focus on the person you are interviewing and not the equipment.  Before you begin your interview, record your subject talking for a few seconds to make sure everything is working.
  • Begin the conversation
  • Begin your interview with warm-up questions or small talk to help put your subject at ease.  Start each tape with an ID, having the subject state his or her name and the date ie, "Hi, my name is Sharon.  The date is 4 April, 2008."  Repeat this at the start of any new tapes.
  • Don't make noise when your subject is talking.  Don't say, "uh huh", or interrrupt when something interesting or important is being said.  Instead, use visual cues like nodding your head.

Interview Checklist

  • Before you begin your interview
  • Find the quietest place possible to record.
  • Turn off or move away from noisy appliances like clocks, mobile phones, TV's and refrigerators.
  • Make sure you and your interviewee are comfortable.
  • Do a test recording.  If anything sounds strange, stop and figure out what the problem is before starting the interview.

NB: Calls made to the landline number 0333 900 1390 are free from any inclusive landline and mobile minutes.

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