How can I improve the audio quality of my recordings?

It is in the interests of both Digital Transcripts and the client to deal with recordings of the highest possible quality. Producing a good quality, clearly audible recording is vital in keeping your costs down and ensuring your transcription is of excellent quality.

Digital recordings will always produce a clearer recording than any analogue format such as standard audio tapes, mini tapes or micro cassettes. The use of a cheap recorder is a false economy as the additional transcription costs involved, far outweigh any savings made on the equipment.

Using an external microphone

If the in-built microphone is used to make a recording of anything other than dictation, the results may be poor. External microphones are essential for capturing a clearly audible recording. The position of the microphone is also important – position the microphone equidistant from speakers.

General Recording Tips

  • Close all doors and windows to minimise outside background noise.
  • When holding a focus group, meeting or conference call have one participant speak at a time. If names are important to your transcript, have the participants state their name before speaking.
  • Provide a microphone for each speaker. If that’s impossible, ask each participant to speak directly into the external microphone ensuring audibility of their individual voices.
  • Do not eat or drink while speaking as this will cause distortion of speech.
  • Test your equipment before recording, checking for low batteries and faulty microphones.


What influences the quality of the transcript?

The clarity and number of voices

If the speaker’s voice is hard to hear either because the speaker is too far away from the microphone, mumbles, speaks very quickly or softly, this can add difficulty to deciphering your audio. With recordings of focus groups, meetings or roundtable discussions, transcription can be more difficult due to the multiple voices involved. Obviously, each voice has a different tone, pitch, and speed together with their accent (if any). People in groups have a tendency to all speak at once, interrupt each other or raise their voices if they become animated. Distinguishing between different voices will always take longer than a one-to-one or single voice situation.

Background noise

Background noise can make or break a recording, so choosing the recording location is vital, preferably a quiet indoor environment. Our ears can filter out most of the extraneous noise, which is constantly around us, from traffic noise, equipment interference, other voices, even background hiss from the recorder itself. Microphones are not so selective – they pick up every sound, giving each noise equal prominence (unless using noise cancelling microphones).

How do I convert my audio file into MP3?

Digital Transcripts accepts all audio file formats. However, if you prefer a faster upload time, or you have multiple files to upload, we recommend uploading in MP3 format.

You can convert your audio files using iTunes. Right click on the file, choose ‘Convert Selection to MP3’ under the ‘Advanced’ menu. You may prefer to download the Switch program which is free software for conversion of audio at