Posts tagged ‘meeting recorder’

Ears are better than microphones, so…

One of the questions we are frequently asked is how to mic up a room appropriately in order to record a meeting.

Well, obviously the ear is a much more complex construct than a microphone, so it is important to follow a few rules in order to get the best possible audio recording for later transcription or reference.

Placement and Directionality

The ear has the great advantage of being connected in real time to the best processing machine in the world – the human brain. As such, the ear can discriminate between the source of the sound and a reflection of it, e.g. off a wall. In fact, the brain can “focus” the ears on the source and largely exclude the reflections… amazing. So, we must be mindful of microphone placement (get it as close to the source as possible) and directionality (employ a cardioid or hypercardioid microphone).


The music industry generally follows the “Rule of Threes” which means placing the microphones so that the distance from each microphone to the source to be recorded is three times less than the distance to another source of sound. Obviously this will work best when the sources are approximately equal in intensity, but is a good rule to give you the best chance of a decent result.

Stereo vs Mono

Stereo provides a richness of sound that mono cannot provide. However, for an application like Acappella ( ) stereo mics detract from the accuracy of speaker identification. So, we sacrifice a little audio “warmth” for the significant business benefit of helping the typist understand who is speaking.

External Factors

Wind, fluorescent light hum, and electrical interference can all significantly impact on the quality of an audio recording. If recording is being conducted outside, then muffs will be required. Luckily, Acappella makes allowances for hum and constant drone etc, but always be mindful of eliminating these extraneous factors if possible.

Acappella Playback Assistant


February 21, 2008 at 4:01 am 2 comments

Secretaries’ Transcription Needs

As much as possible it is desirable that the impact on the secretaries and typists of digital transcription is minimal. In fact, a well designed and deployed solution will be met with enthusiasm when the previously impossible has become possible, such as working from home or highly efficient work sharing to avoid being required to stay back late.

The needs of secretaries and typists fall into 2 categories – what they have always been able to do with tape systems, and what they could do with digital dictation.

How many Secretaries are there in total?
In preparation for the licencing discussion, an understanding will be necessary with respect to the total number of secretaries versus the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) number of secretaries and the greatest number of secretaries at one time, and the distribution over the three 8 hour shifts of the day.

How do the Secretaries view the current tape-based system?
This is an often under-analysed area. Poor productivity due to poor quality recordings costs real money. Also, their opinions may give an insight into any possible resistance to change, or indeed hidden resentment of tapes. Many secretaries immediately believe that their jobs are under threat. This fear will need to be assuaged.

How do Secretaries cope with a bunch of tapes dropped in their in basket?
This helps clarify their level of advocacy for change.

How do Secretaries share the work within and between the practice groups?
This will demonstrate whether they have a teamwork mentality or a solo mentality. Digital dictation opens up a world of opportunities in both flattening the peaks of workload, as well as providing skills-based routing, e.g. some typists like to transcribe multi-attendee conferences.

How do the Secretaries cope with the jobs not completed during the day?
Left for tomorrow lowers client service levels, completed on overtime reduces profitability, transferred to another shift…

Have the Secretaries been asked their opinion of the tape sound quality?
Sometimes this is a very strong driver because poor sound quality impacts their ability to get their job done and it leads to dissatisfaction. It can also result in frequent interruptions of the lawyers as clarifications are sought, especially with multi-attendee conference audio recordings.

Is there a senior Secretary willing to champion the system?
Secretaries are not in a position to approve the system, but they are certainly in a position to provide valuable advice on more efficient ways of working.

Are there Secretaries who could take on revenue generating work, or easily up-skill to do so?
This will uncover hidden value in digital dictation from the redeployment of secretaries to para-legal type work.

In our next post, we will be looking at the Capabilities of the Digital Dictation Systems. They ARE NOT all the same, and I will show you how you can determine which is the right one for you.

November 20, 2007 at 12:07 pm Leave a comment

Lawyers’ Dictation Needs

As much as possible it is desirable that the impact on the lawyers of digital dictation is minimal. In fact, a well designed and deployed solution will be met with enthusiasm when the previously impossible has become possible, such as transcription support after hours and from outside the firm.

The needs of lawyers fall into 2 categories – what they have always been able to do with tape systems, and what they could do with digital dictation.
Are the lawyers aware of the challenges prompting the investigation of digital dictation?
This will help drive the process to completion. Try not to go this one alone – it will be a tough internal sell when they are asked to pay for a replacement to a system they believe is functional.

How many lawyers are there in total?
Not every lawyer uses transcription services, so there is no sense in buying digital dictation for them.

For those lawyers using transcription services, what is their preferred audio recorder interface – slide-switch or push button?
Warning – Do not assume… It has happened that the project team emulated the incumbent interface only to discover that the other was more widely preferred.

How do the lawyers view the current tape-based system?
If the majority feel there is no problem, then you will need to illuminate for them their unrealised needs and a truly compelling business case will need to be built.

Do the lawyers travel?
The level of mobility of the legal practitioners will be part of the consideration for what method of remote access to the digital dictation system will need to be provided.

Do the lawyers second to client sites?
How they are setup on site will influence the remote access options required.

How do the lawyers get transcription support after hours?
This can be a key part of the business case.

Is there a senior partner willing to champion the pilot system?
This will dramatically improve the likelihood of success of the project.

In our next post, we will be looking the transcription needs of the secretaries.

November 13, 2007 at 11:11 am 1 comment