Tips to Improve the Audio Quality Of Your Recordings

Background noise can mess up the quality of your audio recordings to the point that you cannot understand them, and this can get frustrating, especially if you’ve made too many attempts. I relate to this as we, too, receive a significant amount of poor audio-quality recordings that need to be transcribed very accurately. If you’re a video content creator looking for tips to improve your recordings or a legal professional looking to invest in transcription services for crucial audio recordings, this is for you. 

In this article, you’ll learn that:

  • Your microphone matters. It’s the foundation for capturing clear, detailed audio. Professional mics pick up a wider range of sound frequencies, giving you richer recordings that reflect the natural tone.
  • Silence is golden, so find a quiet space to record. Close windows, turn off noisy appliances, and choose a room with soft furnishings that absorb echoes instead of bouncing sound waves around.
  • Before recording anything important, do a test run! Speak into your microphone and listen back with headphones. This helps you identify areas for improvement, like microphone placement, gain level, and background noise.

Why Is Good Audio Quality Important For Transcriptions?

The importance of good audio quality in transcription is honestly self-explanatory—people understand you better. This is especially important with legal or law enforcement audio recordings as they need a verbatim, word-for-word transcription.

However, many people underestimate the scope and results of better comprehension. So, let’s discuss them here.

Crystal Clear Understanding

Imagine you’re a transcriptionist struggling to understand garbled audio content due to the constant roar of a fan—anyone would get frustrated. With quality audio, however, every word that comes through is understandable. It’s like switching from a 144p YouTube video to 4k.

Good audio quality makes it easy for the transcriber to comprehend what’s being said, leading to fewer mistakes and a better transcript that faithfully captures the essence of the original recording. 

Good Audio Quality Means Reduced Guesswork

Poor-quality audio files are riddled with ambiguities and uncertainties. Background noise can mask quieter sounds, making it difficult to distinguish between similar words. Did the speaker say “affect” or “effect”? Who knows? 

Though it sounds easy, this guesswork can ruin a transcriber’s workflow and negatively impact productivity. Good audio quality can eliminate this issue since the transcriptionist can hear each word distinctly.

Faster Turnaround Times

Not understanding a recording is like trying to run through the mud—it slows you down and consumes more time than usual. However, the transcription process becomes much smoother with good audio since the transcriptionist can focus on interpreting instead of understanding the audio. The result? Faster project turnaround times allowing you to work on more important things.

Less Back and Forth

Good audio quality minimizes the need for clarification since the transcriptionist can be confident in their work, knowing they’ve captured the conversation accurately. This reduces the back-and-forth communication needed to confirm what was said.

Benefits of Accurate Transcriptions In General

Accurate transcription benefits various fields, including legal, law enforcement, business, academic, and medical industries. Below is a list of general benefits of accurate transcriptions. 

Improved AccuracyEnsures every detail is captured in legal proceedings, research, or meetings for future reference.
Enhanced AccessibilityMakes audio/video accessible to the deaf/hard of hearing or those who prefer reading.
Increased EfficiencySaves time by allowing users to search text for specific information.
Facilitated AnalysisEnables researchers to identify patterns and trends in data.
Content VersatilityAllows repurposing audio/video content into different formats.
Language ExpansionServes as a base for translation into other languages.

Tips to Improve Audio Recording Quality To A Professional Level

We’ve been listening to audio recordings for transcription since 2010, so I can say we have more experience in the trenches than most. To help others, I’ve compiled a list of the most effective recording tips to improve your transcripts’ accuracy and make you sound better to your listeners.  

Use A High-Quality Microphone for High-Quality Audio

I strongly believe that microphones are the heart of our whole audio-recording setup since capturing sounds of any quality starts with them. Investing in a high-quality microphone will improve the sound and make a world of difference compared to the basic ones in the market.

Condenser mics can capture a wider range, 20-20,000 Hz. They are great for detail but might pick up background noise, which isn’t great for audio quality.

Using professional microphones means that your recordings will have depth and reflect the natural tone and character of your voice, instruments, or anything else you want to record.

Find A Quiet Room

Background noise is the archnemesis of clear audio recordings. It can easily distract listeners, bury the sounds you want them to hear, and frustrate them with your recordings and perhaps you. This is especially bad for those dictating or making social media videos at home.

To address this, choose the quietest location possible to record. Once you find a spot, close the windows and doors to prevent any noise from the outside world, like the cute but maddening barking of your neighbor’s dogs.

Soundproofed windows with a 45 STC rating can block 95% of the noise—you might want to look for it if you’re serious about recording. In addition, it is best to shut down noisy appliances like ACs, dehumidifiers, and old, rusted fans.

Avoid Echo Chambers

You might never have expected an echo chamber in your home, though you probably have one. Echo chambers are rooms with hard and flat surfaces like concrete walls and tile floors, and they’re a menace for creating echoes. These surfaces can reflect sound waves back and forth, which causes unwanted echo effects that make your recording sound hollow—like you’re in a cave.

The good news is that you don’t need to move to another recording location since you can minimize echo by putting thick blankets on the walls that absorb sound. You can also scatter rugs on the floor—the more, the better. And if you have any furniture collecting dust, put it to good use! Bookcases, couches, and even pillows can dampen echoes.

Use Mic Stand for Stability

Unless you need to move freely while recording – like during a presentation – using a microphone stand is a good choice as it keeps the microphone at a consistent distance from the sound source.

Even small changes in the distance of your microphone can have notable effects on the tone of your recording. Also, a mic stand helps prevent unwanted handling noise if you hold the microphone.

Use Pop Filter

Have you noticed those “p” and “b” pops when you speak closely to a microphone? They’re quite annoying as they can quickly ruin your recording. Even professional microphones can capture those irritating sounds.  

Using pop filters can improve sound quality during singing, podcasting, and voiceover work. Pop filters are the small mesh screen that sits between you and the microphone. They diffuse the bursts of air from your mouth, which causes those annoying effects.

Adjust Gain Level 

Most recording devices have a gain slider that controls how loud the microphone signal is before it is sent to the recording software. If the gain is too low, your recording will be quiet and hard to hear, so setting the gain level correctly is one thing to note.

Aim for a strong signal without distortion. The optimum spot on your audio meter is around -6 dB to -12 dB, which is also the best podcast decibel setting.

On the other hand, if the gain is set too high, the audio will distort and sound scratchy or unpleasant. The best practice would be to listen closely while recording and adjust the gain level until you get a clear signal.

Monitor with Headphones

When you record something—a dictation or voiceover—wear quality headphones to hear exactly what your microphone is picking up and fine-tune your recording.

Another benefit of wearing headphones is that you can easily adjust your position from the microphone, check the distance for sound quality, ensure the gain level is correct, and help you spot any background noise you might not notice otherwise.

Practice, Practice, Practice…

Take some time to do test runs before getting into the real recording – especially if you’re dictating for a future transcription project. You can do this by recording yourself speaking or singing or…whatever you prefer as long as you practice, then listen closely to the recording.

This way, you’ll easily spot areas for improvements like mic placement, gain adjustment needs, and background noises without having to repeat doing the real thing – the actual recording.

Common Causes of Poor Audio Recording Quality

We’ve been in the transcription industry for quite some time, so we’ve heard our share of bad audio recordings that need transcribing. Once we listen to a poor recording, we can almost instantly tell what’s causing it. Let me share some of the most common ones and how you can fix them.

Background Noise

This is a big one. Background noises from traffic rumbling, a noisy air conditioner, or even your neighbor chitchatting near your windows are all major disruptors for your recording. That is because these background noises can be obnoxiously distracting and make it hard for listeners to focus on the main speaker.

Microphone Technique

Like any other equipment, not all microphones are created equal, so choosing the right one is important for the job. However, even a professional mic won’t work its magic if it’s badly positioned – I can say this based on experience.

Simply put, if the microphone is too far from you, the audio will be quiet and a bit thin on quality. On the other hand, if it’s too close, it can cause distortion, which sounds unpleasant and scratchy. 

Room Echoes

As mentioned before, your recording space can become a sonic nightmare if you’re not careful. Remember the echo chamber that could bounce sound waves like pinballs? These can make your recording sound hollow, distant, and unprofessional. Just follow the tip to avoid this. 

Low-Quality Equipment

Let’s be honest: a cheap microphone or recorder probably will not win any audiophile awards. However, I’m not saying that you should break the bank to get decent equipment, even if there is a correlation between quality and price.

Just do some research online and invest in a good microphone – and recorder – that can make a lot of difference in the clarity and richness of your audio. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive one.

Why Choose Ditto Transcripts For Your Transcription Needs

Here’s a quick summary of why you should pick us, Ditto Transcripts, over the popular automated services.

FeatureDitto TranscriptsAutomated Services
AccuracyHigh (99%+)Low (86%-)
Speed4 hoursFast
Human expertiseYesNo
Use casesBusiness, legal, medical, educationBasic transcription tasks
Ideal forProjects that require high accuracyProjects that need quick turnaround times

Do you want crystal-clear transcripts you can trust? Ditto Transcripts offers the best solution: 100% human, US-based transcription expertise.

We don’t settle for “good enough.” We deliver accuracy exceeding 99% to make sure every word is captured.  Fast turnaround times mean you get your transcripts back quickly without sacrificing quality.

Don’t worry if you’re on a budget; we offer competitive rates that won’t break the bank.  Plus, our commitment to security guarantees your data is always protected. We also offer various transcription services for all industries, including medical, legal, academic, business, and more.

So, what are you waiting for? Contact us now and experience the Ditto difference. 

Ditto Transcripts is a FINRA, HIPAA, and CJIS-compliant, Denver, Colorado-based transcription company that provides fast, accurate, and affordable transcription services to companies and agencies of all sizes. Call (720) 287-3710 today for a free quote, and ask about our free five-day trial. Visit our website for more information about our transcription services.

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