How to produce good quality recordings (of your interviews/focus groups)

recording an interview or focus group it is important to make sure that people’s
comments are clearly audible. As a general rule, the clearer the recording is,
the better the transcript will be and the less it will cost to produce.

audibility of a recording may be affected by many factors including: background
noise (air-conditioners, heaters, crowds, traffic, wind); people speaking very
quietly or mumbling; very strong accents; people turned away from the recorder;
people situated too far from the recorder; people speaking with their mouths
too close to the recorder (for example, when recording dictation); several
people speaking at the same time; people constantly interrupting and talking
over one another; documents being placed over or rustled next to the recorder; technological
problems or poor reception when people are speaking via video-conference,
teleconference or Skype. If only one of these factors is involved to a small
extent, then the recording may still be reasonably audible; for example, if someone
has a very strong accent but there is no background noise and no other impediments,
the audibility will be good. However, if two or more factors impact the
audibility – for example, if there is constant background noise, people are often
speaking at the same time and one of the speakers has a very strong accent –
then sections of the audio recording will be partially inaudible or inaudible.

there are a number of comments in the recording that are only partially audible,
it will be more time consuming (and therefore more costly) to produce a high
quality transcript. If any comments in the recording are inaudible, those words
will not be able to be transcribed unless the context explains what those missing
words are, and there is likely to be gaps within the transcript. If there are
only a few words missing from the transcript due to inaudibility, the
transcript will still be of quite good accuracy but if there were a lot of inaudible
words in the recording, that missing information will obviously result in an
inferior transcript.

for producing good quality recordings

you plan to record a telephone conversation by placing the recorder next to the
telephone speaker, do a ‘test run’ first to work out the best distance to place
between your particular recorder and the telephone speaker, and make sure that
the comments made via telephone will be audible.

you are recording a one on one interview, first ensure that there is no
background noise. Make sure that the interviewee is situated no closer than an
arm’s length away from the recorder and no further than about three feet from
the recorder. Place the recorder so that it is facing the person whose comments
are the most important (e.g. the interviewee, not the interviewer). Remind the
interviewee to speak clearly. Unless your own comments are as important to you
as the interviewee’s comments, don’t punctuate the interviewee’s comments more
than necessary with your own comments. If the interviewee has a soft voice or
mumbles, ask him/her to speak up; if you still think the interviewee is not
speaking clearly or loudly enough, reiterate his/her comments as part of the
interview process to provide an audible record of what has been said.

recording a focus group, meetings or any event involving three or more
speakers, extra care should be taken to ensure that there is no background
noise and that each speaker is situated within about three feet of the
recorder/microphone. Place the recorder closest to and/or facing the
participants (not the facilitator or interviewer). Before recording, remind
everyone to speak clearly and one at a time. Once recording commences, if any
participants have soft voices or mumble, ask them to speak up so that their
voices are clearly audible. If you think some participants may not be speaking
clearly enough, try to reiterate those participants’ comments to confirm what
they have said and provide an audible version of what has been said for the

you are recording an event comprising eight or more people (for example, a
conference, annual general meeting or large committee meeting), more than one
microphone may be required to record the event. Otherwise, the comments spoken
by the people sitting some distance from the recorder may not be audible in the
recording. Each speaker needs to be situated within about three feet of each
recorder/microphone so that their comments are clearly recorded. It is also
important to ensure that people speak one at a time, and that the more
important statements in particular are either stated clearly, or reiterated by
the Chair or another person to ensure that those statements are recorded
clearly. Remember, only the information that is audible in the recording will
be represented in the transcript.