Tales of Audio Transcription: The Audio Quality is Very Good when Sir Paul McCartney Goes Back to the USSR

Good audio quality is important for efficient audio transcription, if not outright essential. Having the person(s) speaking recorded professionally with industry-standard recording gear, in particular good microphones, makes the transcriber’s work pleasant rather than an ear bending and mind numbing chore. And it should  go without saying that limiting extraneous ambient noise is also critical for producing a recording that will lend itself to successful audio transcription. Listening to the same passage of inaudible audio over and over to try and tease out the words for a complete and coherent audio transcription makes for a sure trip to a bottle of aspirin.

When the former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was in Russia in May of 2003 as part of his Back in the World tour, he met with Vladimir Putin, who had invited him to the Kremlin and given him a personal tour. A US film production company was there to document the occasion and video tape the two men chatting amicably in one of those imperial Russian gilded rooms with high ceilings and beautiful hardwood floors, surrounded by Kremlin staffers, producers, directors and production crew, other dignitaries and invited fans.

When this footage arrived back in the United States, the production company contacted InterNation and asked us to prepare an audio transcription of the interview. When we asked if the audio quality was good, the response was almost indignant. “Highest quality audio. Do you think we were hired to do anything less?”

OK then. We received the video file and began the audio transcription. The ornate room, while very beautiful, was clearly not an industrial strength sound recording booth. It produced an echo as the sound bounced off the walls and ceiling. But compounding this unfortunate audio setting was the hardwood floor and the people who were ceaselessly milling about. The sound of hard leather shoe soles and high heels on the inlaid wood produced a cacophony of footsteps that overpowered Paul and Vladimir’s conversation and made the audio transcription extremely difficult. The sock on the microphone did little to absorb the offending noises, and large portions of the interview were inaudible and unintelligible. Unless, perhaps, if you had access to the FBI’s forensic audio transcription sound labs or the like.

But in keeping with the high quality sound recording, you sure could tell the difference between the Guccis and the Manolos.

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