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If you’re a podcaster or media producer, you probably already know the value of clear audio, and how to capture it. But what if you’re recording qualitative research, town hall meetings, oral histories, or material for business or personal use? How concerned should you be about sound quality then? (Spoiler: It’s more than you might think.)

First, the obvious: Regardless of your transcription needs, audio is more accessible when it’s clear. If your recording is muffled, distorted, or distant, you'll have a hard time hearing and interpreting the content that was captured in the conversation – take it from our seasoned transcriptionists!


Moreover, when converting your audio to text, this becomes a significantly larger hurdle. No matter where you order your transcription—even from a 100% human transcription company like us—average or poor audio quality will always create more margin of error. Technical language, foreign accents, or crosstalk runs a higher risk of being marked inaudible. This, in turn, may necessitate more time and resources from you in order to review the inaudible sections of audio. Not only this, but if audio quality is below a certain point, most companies require additional time or payment (and sometimes both) to transcribe it.

The good news is that in most cases, making a clear recording is free and incredibly easy. It just requires three things:

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1) A good recording device

With the multitude of digital recorder options available, this step can sound the most daunting – but in reality, it’s usually the easiest one of all. The truth is that most smartphones from the last few years are capable of capturing reasonably clear audio. You may prefer to seek out a high-end recorder if you’re planning to use your recording for a presentation or professional function, but for the purposes of transcription, your smartphone and its default recording app can go a long way. Be sure to test your own phone’s recording feature before looking at more costly options.

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2) A quiet room or area

Whether you have a high- or low-end recorder, the presence of background noise can make or break a recording. A quiet room is ideal – outdoor areas are sometimes sufficient, but they’re more subject to wind and other unexpected interference.

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3) A suitable surface on which to set the recorder


Surprisingly, this is often the most overlooked part of audio recording. Even if the first two steps are covered, a recording can be seriously compromised if the recorder is placed in a poor position. However, once you’re aware of it, it’s an easy fix. First, don’t hold your recorder or microphone in your hand. This creates potential for inconsistency in volume, as well as distortion created by the motion occurring near the microphone. Find a flat surface instead. Secondly, if your recording is focused on a single speaker or interviewee, keep the recorder 1-2 feet away from their face. If recording multiple speakers at once, try to keep everyone equally close to the recorder, if possible.

We happily work with all kinds of audio at TranscriptionPanda, regardless of quality. We try to avoid delays and extra charges, unless the sound is so inaudible that it would take doubly long to transcribe. Still, knowing how to make the most out of your recording equipment will ultimately save you time and effort, and help us bring you the most accurate transcript possible.

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