Have you ever had to return a transcription job because it was nearly impossible to transcribe? Recently I accepted a transcription job from one of the companies I subcontract for, and the speaker’s accent was so heavy, I could only make out maybe 40 percent of what the gentleman was saying. I rarely send a file back, but in this case I figured my sanity was more important!
Every transcriptionist has to deal with challenges like unfamiliar accents, or microphones placed too far away from the speaker. But I would guess the most common audio frustration is probably background noise.
What about Express Scribe?
I don’t know why, but Express Scribe’s “Background Noise Reduction” feature seems to replace the background noise with a very strange sound I can only describe as other-worldly 🙂 If you’ve ever tried it, you probably know what I mean. It’s definitely not something you want to hear for very long.
Fortunately, there is a Windows and Mac-compatible alternative that should improve the clarity of your file pretty painlessly.
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1. Download Audacity.
2. Open Audacity.
The window should look similar to this:
3. Open your audio file in Audacity.
Go to File > Open. Select the audio file you need to edit.
Once the file is loaded into Audacity, you should see a screen similar to this:
4. Find the noise.
Once you see the jagged blue line, you can zoom in to see where the line is the thinnest. Sometimes this is hard to locate because of fast-talking speakers or no lag time at the beginning or end.
Zoom in using the magnifying glass with the plus sign in it (circled above).
Listen to the audio. Click within the blue line where you would like to start listening to the audio. Press the space bar to start the audio. Press the space bar again to stop the audio.
Select the background noise by clicking and dragging to select the section of audio that represents only the background noise you want to filter out. Don’t select any audio with the voices of the speakers you want to hear later.
5. Say goodbye to the noise!
With the noise only selected, go to Effect > Noise Reduction.
Click “Get Noise Profile.”
Go to Edit > Select > All (or Control+A) to select the entire audio clip (the entire blue line).
Go back to Effect > Noise Reduction. Only this time, you want to click “OK.”
You will see the elapsed time and the remaining time as Audacity works its magic.
After this, the blue line will be reduced and you can listen to a portion to see how it sounds.
You can even repeat step five to see if you can reduce any remaining background noise even further.
6. Save your file.
You did it! Now, all you need to do is save the less noisy file.
Go to File >Export Audio. You will then select where you want to save it and choose a file type. Click “Save.”
Now you can load the new file into your transcription software of choice.
(If you’ve been considering FTW Transcriber, this link will give you a 7% discount.)
If you’re a visual learner, you can see the process in action in this video.
For further help using Audacity, access the Audacity manual and tutorials here.
Did Audacity work for you? Leave a comment and let me know.