Some of you will recall analogue Dictaphones. The tapes would jam, snarl up and stretch from repeated use. The sound quality was variable. The recording time was limited and it was all too easy to accidentally wipe a tape by pressing the wrong button. But times change. The new breed of digital voice recorders are a huge improvement on the old analogue systems. A modern voice recorder is an incredibly useful tool in the modern office with a wide range of practical applications across several sectors.
Can’t I just use my Smart Phone?
Most smartphones have a voice recorder on them. These are perfect for practicing presentations, creating reminder type messages that you can listen back to, and also great for recording 2am thoughts that you can later note down and expand upon. We often have our best ideas when we are out and about, just about to fall asleep, or following a really great discussion (whether at networking or in the local pub). As most of us have our mobile phones with us all the time, they are great for this kind of off-the-cuff verbal note-taking. Voice recording apps aren’t really designed for heavy-duty use but if you aren’t going to use the voice recorder for lengthy tasks and won’t need to transcribe your information very often then your smartphone may well be adequate for your needs. Some smartphone apps do allow you to send the file to your transcriptionist via Email. If this is something you intend to do, even if only occasionally, then it is worth checking that your chosen app will allow you to do this quickly and easily. You should also check that your chosen transcriptionist can transcribe the file type on their system. I use a system that will work with many, though not all, file types. A good choice is an app which saves to MP3, MP4, or WAV format. These work well with most transcription systems.
Dedicated Recorders and how to choose one.
If you want to use your voice recorder more effectively in your business, and really harness the advantages which they can bring, then a dedicated machine is best. These machines have better sound quality, making the recordings clearer and allowing your Virtual Assistant to transcribe the information much more accurately. Higher quality machines can also minimise background noise. This is particularly important if you intend to use it for focus groups or interviews.
Consider the battery life if you are planning to use the machine a lot. Some machines have a battery life of 48 hours which should be more than sufficient. However, it is worth choosing a machine that takes standard batteries as it will be easy to carry a spare with you. It will also be straightforward to purchase a replacement battery if you do forget the spare.
It is also important to consider the file format. As with the voice recorders mentioned earlier, MP3, MP4 and WAV are popular formats which all transcriptionists should be able to work with.
The machine needs to sit nicely in your hand, not being too heavy, bulky or unwieldy. It should have one press record and be easy to pause, replay and stop. Some machines are voice activated which is a nice feature if you use it for interviews or meetings. You can also get machines that will playback at variable speed, though if you are planning to send out your dictation, your Virtual Assistant’s system will allow for this so it is not necessary for you to choose that option unless you want it for your own playback purposes.
Some of the more expensive devices produce incredibly clear sound and have directional microphones which will record simulated 3D sound. However, unless you are using your system for a very specialised activity which really requires that level of clarity, a mid-range machine should be absolutely fine. It is worth taking into account the amount of storage which the advanced directional systems use. This will reduce recording time. You need to balance the need for accuracy against the available recording time and purchase your machine accordingly.
Recording time is related to memory capacity on a digital system. The more memory the machine has, the longer it will be able to record for. If you think you may need more memory at a later stage, then it would be worth looking at devices which have Micro SD slots so that you can add cards to extend the memory at a later stage.
When you are ready for the files to be transcribed, they can be sent via Email to your Virtual Assistant. Alternatively, you can upload them to a shared cloud storage area and let your Virtual Assistant access the files from there. I am happy to receive files via either method. You can see more details about my transcription services here and can get in touch with me here to discuss your transcription task and book it into my diary for accurate completion.