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Transcription and Challenging Audio

The Difficult Audio upgrade is an optional upgrade when you order transcription services. How do you know when to add it, and why should you use it at all?

What the Difficult Audio upgrade does

CastingWords uses the additional fee from the Difficult Audio upgrade to increase the pay to our workers who handle your material at every stage of processing.

Adding the upgrade does not reinstate the guarantee on our 1-Week or 1-Day products (challenging material does still take longer to process), but it assures the smoothest possible turnaround in any given case – often to within the desired timeframe.

How do I know if my audio is difficult?

Difficulty factors include:

  • Background noise (other conversations, traffic, music, machinery, PA announcements, classroom noise, office bustle, etc.)
  • Foreground noise (sounds made by the recording device itself, air conditioners, fans, typing/speech/breathing near the mic, moving or bumping the recording device or the surface it’s sitting on, etc.)
  • One or more of the speakers is on a remote connection (phone call, speaker phone, Skype, etc.)
  • Speakers interrupt or talk over each other
  • Accented speakers
  • Mumblers, fast talkers, muffled speech
  • Poorly-mic’d speakers, off-mic speech, or recordings made from the audience of a class, lecture, or presentation
  • Poor recording quality (skipping, warbly sound quality, recordings made at a sampling rate below 44.1 kHz)
  • Heavy use of specialized terminology (industry jargon, drug or disease names, scientific terms, etc.)

The stronger any given factor is (the heavier the accent, the louder the background noise, etc.), and the more of them present in your audio, the more advisable it is to upgrade your file.

Recordings made outdoors or in public places such as job sites or restaurants are almost always difficult. Phone calls and focus groups often qualify as difficult as well.

Background noise
Photo by mauro mora on Unsplash

Adding the upgrade

The Difficult Audio upgrade is most effective when applied at the time you place your order. However, it can be added after the fact if necessary. Visit your Account > Transcription Status page and select the Upgrade option to see what upgrades are available for any given file.

If you have multiple files processing, use the Upgrade All option to select upgrades for some or all of your files, and then check out in a single transaction.

What if I choose not to upgrade?

If your audio is borderline, it may be completed without the upgrade, although it will definitely take longer, since that means our workers are paid the standard rate for more challenging tasks, and may opt for other projects instead.

Turnaround without the upgrade will depend on how difficult the audio is, which difficulty factors are present, and to an extent also on how busy we are at the time.

If the difficulty is due to specialized vocabulary or accented speakers, our workers who have experience in that field, or who are familiar with that accent, may still be happy to work on the files. If it’s difficult because of lots of crosstalk, background noise, or simply poor recording quality, it may languish for longer.

Difficult audio
Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash

Can’t you just tell me if it’s difficult?

While it goes without saying that we will communicate with you about any known issues, we do not hand-screen each file because that would make rapid turnaround impossible given the volume of material we process each day.

If our workers report trouble with your audio, we do of course check on it and send you an email if we think the upgrade would help. However, you will get the best results if you apply the upgrade, as needed, at the time you order the file.

Order a lot? Consider our auto upgrade feature

If you order a lot of audio, and particularly if your files vary in quality, you may not have the time to check each one individually before ordering.

Our optional auto upgrade service can monitor the audio quality rating of all your files, and add the Difficult Audio upgrade to those that fall below a certain level.

The system relies on statistics about the file’s progress through the system, as well as reports from the QA process, to assign a numerical audio quality rating to most files.

It is not foolproof, and of course a file must be in the system for a while before it obtains a meaningful rating, but it’s still a good way for high volume customers to get the upgrade applied to those files that need it most.

Shoot us an email at support@castingwords.com for more info.

Ready to get started?

We have 1-Day turnaround if you’re on a deadline, or try our 1-Week option, or low-cost Budget service. You can add the same Difficult Audio upgrade to any of our transcription products!