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Choose the Right Digital Recorder for your Transcription Needs The accuracy and clarity of audio transcription directly depends on the quality of the recording. The practice of audio recording has changed considerably with advancements in technology. If you are planning to record audio for transcription, then it is important to acquire the right recording equipment to ensure transcription accuracy. There is a bewildering array of recording equipment available that can be used to record focus group discussions, interviews, conferences, and so on for transcription. As the features and specifications of recording equipments differ, it is important to choose a recording machine that’s right for you and your transcriptionist. Digital Recording Equipment Transcription Point of View






Here is a list of things to consider when you purchase a digital recorder for your digital audio transcription needs:

Recording quality – The accuracy and clarity of audio transcription directly depends on the quality of the recording. Recording quality is usually indicated as stereo high quality (SHQ), high quality (HQ), Long Play (LP) and Short Play (SP). SHQ offers the best quality, but records less and takes up a lot of memory. LP (Long Play) is at the other end of the spectrum and is of the poorest quality, though it allows you to record more time. Mono is ideal for recording an interview. However, if you are recording a focus group discussion, conference, or meeting, stereo recording would be more suitable and you would need either a stereo microphone or more than one external microphone.

Frequency responses – The quality of recordings directly depends on the frequency responses. The most used frequencies in speech are close to 250 Hz to 5 kHz the higher end being a high-pitched female voice and lower end being a low pitched male voice. So select frequencies between those ranges. Also, there are different frequencies available in different digital recorders. With most, you can get reasonable quality at SP and even LP for accurate one-to-one interview transcription.

Recording time – This may depend on the choice of recording quality. Range of times is huge and so you would need to consider your specific needs. A long recording time is needed: o If you are doing field research for long time periods with no access to a PC to download files o If you are recording a conference (for which you need to use a high quality recording system which means less time) For recording notes or one-to-one interviews, you would not need to store large amount of data in your PC as these can be regularly downloaded onto your computer. So save on costs by purchasing a machine that offers only as much time as you need.

File type – This is another main factor to be considered while selecting recording equipment. There are different types of files like WAV (uncompressed, great quality), DSS (Olympus proprietary transcription file, compressed and good voice quality) and WMA (Windows Media format, compressed but reasonable quality for voice). Small files such as DAV and DSS can be easily emailed to the transcription company, though WAV files take a long time to send and consume more space on your PC and recorder as well.

Computer interface – Computer interface is crucial. If you are sending your recordings to a transcription service provider, download the files onto your computer first. There are different ways of sending these files - email, FTP transfer or using a file-sending box on the provider’s website. Outsourced transcription services are a better option than handling the job yourself if you are using a 'note taker’ - a recorder does not have a download interface.

Editing of recorded voice – This factor needs to be considered if you are using the recording machine for taking dictation rather than an interview. Most recorders that come in the medium to upper price range have this feature which would allow you to delete and replace the last few words in your dictation.

Battery power – Most of the digital recorders are battery-powered. Rechargeable batteries are a cost-effective option. Moreover, dimensions are also important as batteries can add weight to the device. Most recorders are compact and light weight, but if you are concerned about weight, check if the weight listed is with or without batteries.

Microphone jack - The microphone jack and the quality of mike that can be plugged in is an important consideration. Using only internal microphone to record an interview would not give you the outcome you expect. An external microphone is necessary for everything but a one-person dictation.

Speech recognition software - Some recorders may link with speech recognition software which is useful for one-voice recordings. You would need to spend some time to train the software to recognize your voice. Leading transcription companies offer both toll-free phone-in and digital recorder dictation options. Some even offer free high quality digital recorders for clients with volume transcription requirements. You wouldn’t have to worry about recording quality and transcription accuracy when you outsource your audio and video documentation tasks to a company that offers such facilities.

Choose the Right Digital Recorder for your Transcription Needs  
Choose the Right Digital Recorder for your Transcription Needs  

The accuracy and clarity of audio transcription directly depends on the quality of the recording.