When recording an interview or focus group for transcription purposes it is essential, if you want a good quality transcript, to not only have the right equipment but for your surroundings to be right as well. This applies to all recordings.
For the Transcription Service provider it makes it easier for us to provide you with an accurate and quick turnaround of your transcript and, it keeps your costs low if the recording is of good quality with no background interference covering the voices of the participants. At Black Country typing Services the software I use to transcribe digital audio files can reduce SOME background noise and enhance the audio volume but, this does impair the quality of the file:-
Switch off mobile phones (not just switched to silent), humming equipment such as computers and air conditioners, etc, as the recording will inevitably pick these sounds up!
Never use the voice activation facility on your recorder - this always misses the first few words when someone begins to speak, pauses and speaks again
Choose a quiet room to conduct your meeting or interview with the door shut. If the room is located in a building on a busy street remember to shut the windows so the recorder does not pick up the sound of traffic, sirens, etc.
When recording an interview ALWAYS place the a microphone (unless it is omni-directional), closer to the interviewee than yourself. The answers are invariably more important than the questions and you'd be surprised by how many interviews we receive to transcribe where the questions are as clear as crystal but the interviewee can be barely heard.
When recording a focus group or meeting, always use an omni-directional microphone and place this in the centre of the table. Remember though that it will pick up the sound of rustling papers and clunking of coffee cups!
Essential: Test your equipment prior to the recording.
When carrying out an interview always ask your questions loudly and clearly. Most interviewees will follow suit and speak clearly and loudly themselves. If you whisper or ask your question quietly, they tend to whisper back!
When recording a focus group or meeting, remind participants not to talk over one another. Also, at the beginning of the meeting, ask each participant to introduce themselves so we can identify who's talking for transcription purposes. If possible, ask each participant to say their name before they speak, especially if five or more people are participating, if you want each person indicated on the transcript.