HOW TO – Make a trial recording of an audio transcript draft


After you’ve written a draft of your transcript, make a trial recording, which has these benefits:

  • You’ll learn the basics of how audio recording software works.
  • You’ll discover whether you have the right software and equipment and have the chance to sort through any technical issues that come up
  • You’ll gain practice at reading your transcript at an appropriate pace, in a tone and style that sounds natural and conversational.
  • As you listen to your trial recording, you will notice aspects of your transcript that you didn’t notice when you read over the draft before recording it, such as how well organized the narrative is, if the purpose is clear, and if the details are vivid enough. These insights will help you figure out how to revise and develop your transcript.
  • You’ll test the process of exporting the audio file as an mp3 and uploading it to Google Docs, and your classmates will let you know if they were able to download and listen to your file without any problems.

How to Record a Trial Version

BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Read these Tips to ensure a good quality recording. You’re not aiming for “good” quality in a trial version, but some of these tips are relevant to any type of recording.

In particular, be sure to do a short mic test: record yourself saying something like “testing 1 2 3” and then listen to it, so you can make sure everything is working (and make adjustments as needed). You don’t want to make an entire trial recording only to discover that nothing was actually recorded!

When you’re ready to make your trial recording, follow the steps below. As you read your transcript, imagine that you’re speaking to a friend on a phone with a slightly bad connection, to help you use an informal, conversational style while speaking more slowly than you would face to face.

  1. Find a suitable location that is fairly quiet and where you won’t feel self-conscious about reading out loud. (Ideal locations for recording audio are those that are small and well padded, such as your car or closet.)
  2. Check your computer’s settings to make sure your internal microphone is set to an input volume that is fairly high (but not all the way to the highest end). If you’re using an external microphone, make sure the computer is set to receive input from it instead of rom the internal microphone.
  3. Position your laptop so that the microphone is about two feet in front of (and slightly lower than) your mouth. If you’ll be recording on a desktop computer, position yourself accordingly.
  4. Open your audio transcript draft in Word or Google Docs and display it in a size that’s easy to see.
  5. Launch the recording application you plan to use.
  6. Click “Record” and let the app record 5-10 seconds of silence while you make your transcript visible on the screen. Always record silence at the start of an audio file for two reasons: because the compressed file may clip off a bit of the beginning and ending; and because listeners need a bit of time to prepare before you start talking.
  7. Read the title of your narrative and provide your first name. For example, “I believe in family,” by Amanda Smith.
  8. Pause for 4-5 seconds and begin reading the transcript. Speak more slowly and clearly than you would do in normal conversation, but try to maintain a conversational or storytelling style, like you were speaking to a group of friends.
  9. Pause for a few seconds between each paragraph or section of the narrative. If you decide to add music bumpers when you create a full draft, you’ll use these silent moments to identify where you’ll need to split the clip to make room for the bumper.
  10. If you stumble or need to start a sentence over, go ahead and do so. It’s fine to leave that in your trial recording, as the point is just to practice and gain insight into what to revise.
  11. When you reach the end of your transcript, record 5-10 seconds of silence and then click the “Stop” button in the audio recording application.

Windows Sound Recorder or Quick Time X: When you click stop, you’ll immediately be prompted to give the file a name, specify a destination for it, and save it. The file will be in a compressed format (most likely mov or wma), which you can’t edit, but you can listen to the recording to see how it sounds (and then make a new recording, if necessary). Before you share the file with the class, you’ll need to convert it to mp3 format.

Audacity or GarageBand: After you stop the recording, choose Save from the File menu, which will save a working version of your project in the application’s project file format. You can listen to this version within the app by placing the playhead at the beginning and pressing the space bar. If you want to re-record, either select the audio track and delete it or create a new one. Before you share the recording with the class, you MUST export it out of the app in mp3 format.

How to Export the Trial Version

NOTE: The exported version of your audio recording must be in mp3 format, which is a compressed format appropriate for posting on the web. If you end up exporting your audio recording in a different format (like mov or wav), use a media converter to convert it to mp3 format. Search the web for info on free tools that will convert your file type to mp3 format.

Windows Sound Recorder or Quick Time Player: Convert the trial recording to mp3 format, using a free media converter.

Audacity or GarageBand: Use the File-Export option in Audacity or the Share menu in GarageBand to create an mp3 version. DO NOT use “save as,” as you’ll simply end up with another version of the original project file, rather than a compressed mp3 file suitable for sharing on the web.

For instructions on producing mp3 files, including troubleshooting tips for Audacity, browse the Using Audacity or Using GarageBand categories on the sidebar.

Use this file name format for your trial recording: lastname-audio-trial.mp3

Upload your trial recording and transcript to the appropriate folder on Google Docs.