Here's my 2 cents ;-)
Quick answers to issues you raise below:
1. You are correct about the use of VR.
2. You could transcribe directly from MD, particularly if you have a
recorder like the Sony MZ-B100, but it is probably not the easiest way to
go. rerecording the audio to PC and then using software is one way to go.
This can be cheap. I buy decent audio recording software (e.g. CoolEdit 2000
about $70 online). There are a number of software programs that can be used
for transcription that are free: Transcriber, Express Scribe, etc. Some
programs will synchronize the audio to the transcript (very useful!). You
can buy foodpedals that can be setup to work with any software program if
you feel the need.
MD has been around for a long time. It is a mature technology. The audio
quality is very good. Cost is also low. It has the best quality/cost ratio.
You won't go too far wrong with anything made by Sony or Sharp with a mic-in
jack (some don't have this). See http://www.minidisc.org/ for more
information. My own preference is for Sharps. Issues with MD in general are
1. Lack of fast digital transfer to PC. 2. Needs to be used with a little
Solid state is the future. Several choices at the moment. Best options are
probably: 1) Digital memo recorders. I'm not convinced current recorders are
suited to doing qualitative research but some people use them. They are
getting better each year. Check out the new Olympus DM-20. Not sure what it
costs. Probably not really cheap. 2)Professional solid state recorders. Most
affordable is the new Marantz PMD670. Very serious interview and meeting
recording tool with nearly every bell and whistle one might desire. You may
find it too heavy/large, uses too many batteries, and still too costly
(although much cheaper that their earlier models). The digital equivalent of
the WMD 6C doesn't exist yet. Marantz has told me they understand the need
and are working on cheaper/smaller/lighter/simpler solid state recorders.
Maybe in 2004 or 2005...
----- Original Message -----
From: "Steff Hazlehurst" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Thursday, July 17, 2003 7:47 AM
Subject: FW: Digital audio recording and transcription
I recently posted the query below to the research administrators list, but a
colleague has pointed me towards this list, where you clearly have lots of
expertise in this subject. I've looked in the recent archives and I can't
see the exact question I am asking, so I hope you will be patient with me if
it has been asked before.
I am willing to go digital with audio recordings, but am concerned about how
transcription actually works in practice and what it will cost to change
over (bearing in mind that we will work in both tape and digital mode for
some years as we can't afford to dump all the existing equipment!). Some
people have suggested to me that what they do is record on mini-disc, then
transfer to tape and transcribe from that. Is this the best we can do? Your
advice would be much appreciated.
Looks like the standard of the list is open response to all, but am happy to
receive private responses and create a summary if preferred.
I know we are not alone in having been users of Sony Walkman WMD 6C tape
recorders hitherto, for recording research interviews and focus groups onto
normal-sized cassettes for note taking and transcription. These are then
played back, either on the walkman, or on standard transcription machines,
by researchers themselves, or contracted out transcribers, depending on the
size and nature of the job.
However, our supplier has finally run out of WMD 6Cs (having been importing
them from the US of late), and tells us Sony is stopping manufacturing them,
and wants us to go digital. It's that or a machine which we have previously
found inferior (but cheaper!). I should note that we still have one or two
Marantz machines, but despite their high quality these are less favoured by
users because of the extra weight, and me because of the extra cost.
So I would like to know your experience of using digital recording in the
sort of circumstances I am outlining. My reservations are:
1. That it cannot in practice be sent direct to voice recognition software
as the manufacturers claim, because this software takes time to 'learn' to
recognise a speakers voice, which is fine for dictation, but will not work
for one-off interviews, and worse, focus groups.
2. I don't know what the options for playback and review for transcribers
are otherwise - do we then need to buy half a dozen new transcription
machines at £300 each, say? Or can the recording material (flash memory
cards or whatever) be put into PCs and replayed and reviewed via some piece
of audio software whilst typing (obviously not going to be as good as using
a foot pedal, but might be ok)? Or do you feed it through the voice
recognition software once, then get a human being to correct the errors
while they listen to it? And I normally assume 4 hours transcription per
hour of recording, using standard transcription machines with foot pedal
rewind, what will any of these changes mean for that time, and hence my
I will of course be talking to my suppliers about what they recommend, but I
suspect what suppliers think happens, and what happens in reality, may be
two different things, and any advice on actual human/workload
effects/implications would be really helpful. Also if you have gone digital
and could make specific recommendations on make/model of recorders and
playback equipment (both to choose and to avoid!), that would be