Guide to Audio Recording Equipment

Selecting the right audio recording equipment for Interviews, focus groups and dictations.

Whether you are recording a simple dictation or multiple speaker focus group, selecting the right recording equipment is an essential part of creating a high quality audio file and producing the most accurate transcript.

Digital Recording Equipment (Basic Guidelines)

Although analogue recording equipment is still available, we strongly recommend that you always purchase digital recording equipment. Digital recording devices will produce superior sound quality, will be more compact, easier to upload to your computer and take up less space on your online storage or hard drive. Digital recording equipment will eliminate the need for buying cassettes and mini discs that have to be either converted to a digital file – which will often lose sound quality, especially if you are doing it yourself. It also means that you no longer have to be post or courier your sound files to your selected transcription service, saving you a significant amount of time and money.

Taking the time to select the best and most appropriate recording equipment that suit your needs will save a significant amount of time and money in the long run, as badly recorded audio can be a nightmare to transcribe and will prove much more expensive when compared to clear audio files. If you are going to take the time to record important audio, you will need to be able to hear it properly. Please do not compromise on quality when it comes to purchasing your recording equipment, as this really is a false economy and will cost more in the long run, especially if you intend to make recordings on a regular basis.

Choosing your recording Equipment – Selecting the right equipment depending on your needs.

Recording Clear Dictation

Recording dictation requires the least amount of equipment and should be fairly straightforward (as long as you ensure that you make your recording in a peaceful environment). Digital Dictaphones are widely available and at affordable prices. Simple be sure that you select a dictaphone that is user friendly and can transfer files easily to your computer for a hassle free upload. It can also be worthwhile to select a device that records in MP3 format, as these are one of the smallest type of audio file and can reduce upload times and storage space on your computer.

iPhones, iPads and Android devices can also be used to record dictation, but please ensure that there is minimum background noise and that you speak directly into the microphone. These types of device are often extremely convenient for recording dictation, as it means that you don’t have to purchase new equipment, the files produced are generally small. Uploading files to your computer is straightforward and files can be easily sent to your chosen transcription company via applications such as DropBox or even emailed directly (provided they are no longer than 15 minutes) to your transcription service.

Recording Clear Interviews

When recording one to one interviews, it is recommended that you purchase not only a good quality digital recording device, but also at least one external microphone (either an bidirectional or omnidirectional microphone). iPhones, iPads and android devices are not suitable for recording a one to one interviews, as they will not produce audio of a suitable quality.

Focus Groups and Seminars

Focus groups and seminars can prove extremely difficult to record clearly and will always require a recording device that is of a high quality along with additional microphones (one for each speaker if possible). Although omnidirectional microphones are designed to pick up sound from all directions, they are not ideal for focus groups or seminars due to the fact that they pick up a substantial amount of background noise, including side conversations and noisy movements (which are extremely common during focus groups!) We recommend that you provide each member of the group with their own microphone, especially if you often record this type of audio. This will ensure that your recording is clear and that you receive the most accurate transcript. Although it can be tempting and seem like a good idea, do not attempt to use one microphone and direct from person to person, as this often causes more background noise rather than picking up the audio you want!

Telephone Recordings

Please be sure to purchase the proper equipment to record any telephone interviews or conferences. It is not sufficient to hold a microphone or Dictaphone to the earpiece of the telephone.
Also, do not record audio from your speakerphone as doing this will only produce a recording that is inaudible and most likely untranscribable! Call recording adapters can be purchased at relatively little cost and will produce far superior recordings.

Recording iPhone and Android Calls

We have heard that you can record incoming iPhone and Android calls using The Google Voice app (registration is required).

Recording Online Conferences (Recording Skype and Google Hangouts)

Online calls and video conferencing are becoming more and more popular. Skype and Google plus (to name a couple) are often used for both one to one calls and online conferences. Provided that you have a decent microphone on your computer, the audio quality is pretty good. Recording software can be purchased and downloaded at very little cost (sometimes free) and Google plus video conferences can even be uploaded directly to YouTube (can be set to private) which means that you can simply provide your transcription service provider a link in order for them to download and transcribe your call.

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