Just about every transcriber I know has encountered one of these audios. They drive you crazy and take longer than usual to finish. An unclear audio could be as a result of many factors. There might have been a lot of background noise, there is some interference with the recording material e.g. static, the connection was bad (the likes of phone and Skype interviews), audios with heavy industry-specific terminology, the speakers have heavy accents or the speakers were not loud enough etc. These can be really tricky to transcribe. For the experienced transcribers you may have realized that these ‘bad’ audios seem to pay a lot (it’s because they know how tough it will be for you to get these transcripts right thus the incentive). Good news is there are a few things you can do to handle such audios.
- Clear up the background noise. Some transcription softwares such as Express Scribe have the option of clearing out background noise. Go to the Express tool bar, click file go to special audio processes and click on background noise reduction. For some files you will have to do this more than once to clear it up (not that it will be super clear now) but it helps.
- Boost the volume. If the volume is too low and increasing the volume to max on the Express software does not help follow the same process as above but now click on the second option that reads extra volume boost, right below background noise reduction. You can repeat this as many times as you would like to get the desired volume.
- Speed up the audio. Sometimes the speaker is inaudible but if you speed up the audio you might actually get to hear what they are saying. Do this after you are done typing out the audio and you are doing a once over. You might actually get to hear some of the words you missed before.
- DO NOT slow down the audio. As crazy as this might seem slowing down the audio might actually make it harder for you to hear the speaker. Imagine this, the speaker was talking at normal speed (normal is not so normal to everyone some actually sound like they are rapping) so when you slow down the audio it might sound like they are slurring. Keep it at 100 or speed it up.
- Pay attention to what they are saying. If you are actually following the conversation in the audio you are more likely to get it right. This is because when you are paying attention there are those words or phrases that you might have misheard but since you know the topic of discussion you have a clue as to what might have been said. Now don’t get me wrong that does not mean that you type out what you think you heard but paying attention to a conversation helps you know where the conversation is going.
All in all if you are not able to handle such audios I would advise against doing them just because they pay a lot. You would rather reject such than take them up do shoddy work and end up with bad reviews/reputations. Reputation is of utmost importance in this field and nothing speaks more to it than your previous work.