In order to transcribe an audio file effectively, a transcriptionist requires the aid of different transcription equipments. These equipments not only help in completing the work assigned in an effective manner but also reduce the time spent in transcribing an audio file which in turn, cuts down factual and grammatical errors.
Transcriptionists are not only expected to have fast typing skills but they have the additional task of listening to an audio file and simultaneously typing what they hear at the same time. One such equipment which helps increase the productivity of a transcriptionist is the ‘Foot Pedal’. A Foot Pedal enables a transcriptionist to control the audio recording by rewinding, slowing down, speeding up, fast forwarding or stopping the playback. All Foot Pedals meant for speech transcription purposes can be directly connected to a computer through a USB port.
There are plenty of good Foot Pedal models which can be purchased online and which offer additional pedals or enhanced configuration options as well. An important point to bear in mind while choosing a model, is to ensure that it is fully compatible with the digital transcription software already installed in your computer. Well-known brands such as Philips, Sony and Olympus are quite popular with transcriptionists. Investing in a Foot Pedal holder is a good decision because it helps to secure your Foot Pedal in place. It gives you better control over the functions and doesn’t slip out of your grip irrespective of whether the Pedal itself is placed on a tiled floor or a carpeted one.
For an error free transcription, you need a pair of headphones that are comfortable, have a high clarity level and which are easy to use. Headsets come with a variety of plug types such as:
- USB Plug
- Stereo 3.5mm plug
- 3.5 mm straight plug
- 3.5 mm right angle plug
- DIN plug
- Dictaphone Twin Pin Plug
Choose a headset which has a minimum 10’ cord as well as a clothing cord clip. Many headsets offer a digital volume control which enhances sound clarity and also have ergonomically designed ear plugs that fit perfectly.
In the second part of the article, we take a look at the ideal reference materials every transcriptionist should have by their side as well as different software which make perfect transcriptions a reality!
Let’s take a look at three other popular digital audio file formats:
- WMA: Windows Media Audio or the .wma format was originally introduced by Microsoft as an alternative to challenge the growing popularity of the mp3 format. One reason why the .wma format is well-known and used by many could be because it is already loaded in a Windows software cd. Is the sound quality as good as that of a mp3 format file? That is a debatable question as Microsoft firmly advocates that any audio which is encoded with WMA ends up sounding better than an mp3 audio file with the same bit rate. .wma file formats are a good option for those who have lengthy bits of text to record, since the file size is around one thirty-sixth of a .wav file.
- DVF files: The full form of DVF is ‘Digital Voice File’. This file extension is a compressed audio file format used in Sony digital audio recorders. In fact, this file format was originally installed in hand-held voice recorders which allowed users to download audio files directly to their PC running on either Windows or Apple software. If you would prefer to stick to a .wav format, all you need to do is use a Sony Digital Voice Editor for conversion purposes. Overall, this file format is ideal for recording audio files because of its small size, which makes it easier to send to your transcriptionist as an email attachment.
- TrueSpeech: This file format by the DSP Group was originally designed for personal computers, laptops and other personal communication devices. In fact, this format is integrated into Windows Media Player and is also the format used for voice chat on Yahoo Messenger. However, this format is ideal for recording one to one interviews or for dictation purposes because it does not capture focus group discussions or group interviews as clearly. Make sure that any background noise is kept to a minimal when recording the audio file.
The best way to decide which file format is ideal for both you and your transcriptionist is to have a word with her before recording any audio clips or dictation. EQ Trans allows clients to upload digital audio files in any format and our transcriptionists would be happy to assist you in this regard.
Gone are the days when clients were compelled to hand in CDs of recorded material for transcribing or send multiple audio tapes by post. These days, transcription agencies like EQ Transcrition make sending any files that you want transcribed a breeze – all you have to do is visit the website, upload your digital audio file directly and hey presto, your transcription is ready within a few hours.
Which brings us to the next question- which format should a digital audio file be recorded in? Although all file types have their own plus and minuses, what every client should be more concerned about is the quality of the audio file and the size of the file itself. Unless an audio file has been compressed properly, it could impact the sound quality of the file or erase some data and secondly, it could also take ages to upload on to the website server as well. Sound quality usually doesn’t matter if the digital audio file contains material that has been dictated by a single speaker as most speakers tend to hold the microphone closely while dictating. However, if the recording is of a focus group where the speakers are seated in different places and speak in varying tempos and pitches, higher sound quality is required or else the transcriptionist will find it difficult to decipher what has been said.
If you are confused about whether your transcriptionist will be able to open the files that you send, it is best to discuss this before making the actual recording. In case your recorder does not allow you to record audio data in your transcriptionist’s preferred file format, don’t worry as there is plenty of good software available online which can convert digital audio files from one form to the other. Let’s take a look at two commonly used digital audio file types :
- Waveform Audio: These kind of audio files are distinguished by the .wav extension and are quite popular with many PC users. These files are usually very large and could take a long time to upload as well. However, the sound quality of .wav files is quite good.
- MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3: These files carry the .mp3 extension and are used quite frequently. It is not unusual to find music tracks usually recorded in the .mp3 format. These files are ideally the best for transcription purposes as they upload quite fast as well. In case your dictation recorder only allows you to record data in a wav file format, simply download an audio file converter and compress it to an mp3 format which can then be sent for transcribing.
In the next article, we take a look at other digital audio file formats which can also be used for transcription purposes.
A common woe that most transcriptionists have to deal with almost on a daily basis is unclear dictation. No matter how carefully one listens to a digital audio recording, sometimes the most minor of background noises or interruptions can mar the flow of the words spoken. As a client, each transcript is important for official purposes and with a bit of effort put into clear dictations, you’ll find that your transcripts are delivered error free as well.
- The first tip is to ensure that any recording is done in a noise free environment. Although, this is quite an obvious point, cutting out absolutely any noise at all does take some practise. For instance, the sound of somebody typing away at a keyboard, a cell phone ringing in the background or even the sound of footsteps could interrupt the dictation. If possible, use a microphone that automatically cancels out any background noise or make a recording in a secluded room.
- It helps if a client is clear about whatever details or specifications are required in the transcript. That helps the transcriptionist to edit the document properly and give the appropriate finishing touches so that the document makes complete sense at a glance:
– Adding the right punctuation (for example, saying the word ‘ Full stop’ ) while dictating the text or giving the transcriptionist the freedom to decide where the proper punctuation marks should appear in the document is an important call to make.
– It helps to spell out proper nouns such as the name of a person or a place and to stress if you require certain words to be spelt out in capitals. Don’t forget to mention if you want to add a heading, a sub-heading, a title or a new paragraph during the dictation.
– Transcriptionists not only transcribe interviews or discussions, they also create meeting memos, e-mails and a host of other official documents. While uploading an audio file to your transcript agency, it makes sense to add a footnote highlighting the nature of the file as well. In case, you require transcripts on a regular basis, asking your transcriptionist to develop a few set templates for you will help speed things along.
- Speak in a pitch that’s neither too high nor low. Make sure your voice is audible; you speak slowly and with pauses included at the appropriate moments. It helps to make a short recording and then play it back, so that you can take note of any improvements that need to be made while making the actual dictation.
With a bit of practise, you’ll find that giving a good dictation is easier than you thought!
If you want a transcript that can be read smoothly without any errors in grammar or word usage, it pays to take a few extra minutes during the recording of the interview or matter itself. After all, speech that is easy to understand makes it possible for a transcriptionist to beat any deadline you set as well.
- In order to get a good quality recording, the first step is to invest in quality recording equipment. While there are many clients who prefer to use good old audio tapes or even a Dictaphone, digital recording is clearly a notch higher. In fact, many transcriptionist agencies like EQ Trans allow clients to upload a digitally recorded file directly on the home website as well.
- Depending upon the number of people who are participating in a discussion or interview, care should be taken to give a good quality microphone to each participant. This ensures that each participant can talk slowly and clearly allowing not just the other participants to hear what has been said but it also helps a transcriptionist decipher each word more accurately.
- Participants must be reminded to talk clearly into the microphone and at a pace which makes listening to the speech a pleasure. Although, humans tend to talk faster in a group, it becomes confusing for a transcriptionist when more than one person talks at the same time, or if the words are mumbled and not spoken clearly.
- The moderator plays a big role in ensuring that the main objective of holding the discussion or interview is achieved without repeated interruptions, long breaks or people talking in a high pitch. These factors hamper the smooth flow of a group discussion.
- The environment in which the recording of an interview or discussion takes place is also extremely important as it seriously hampers the quality of a recording. If the recording takes place in a room with an echo or amidst other noises in the background, it not only distracts the participants but they may end up repeating each statement twice. On the other hand, transcribing such a recording is also a transcriptionist’s worst nightmare as it becomes hard to understand what is being said clearly. Usually such transcripts may contain text that has nothing to do with the topic of the discussion itself.
Getting a good transcript isn’t just the responsibility of a transcriptionist. By handing in a digital audio file that is clearly audible, you’ll also get your important transcript faster too!