4 Ways You Can Transcribe Audio to Text

Nov 5, 2016 | Resources | 2 comments

How can I easily transcribe audio to text? Which tools should I use? Is there transcription software available? This post is an attempt to answer these and similar questions.

Audio transcription is the process of listening to audio/video recordings and carefully typing them to text. It’s a time-consuming process that requires a combination of skills including good listening and typing skills.

If you have hours of dictations, lectures, interviews or focus groups to transcribe and are looking for ways to save time, here are 4 options to consider:

  1. Speech recognition software.
  2. Transcription software.
  3. In-house or Freelance Transcribers.
  4. Transcription Companies.

1. Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition technology has been around for years and has improved immensely over the years. It allows you to feed single-speaker audio recordings into a software program that ‘listens’ to the file and converts it to text.

Dragon NaturallySpeaking is the best speech recognition software in the market today. If you take a little time to ‘train’ the software to recognize your voice, it can create accurate transcripts in several languages including English, French, German and Japanese. It can transcribe both real-time dictations and audio recordings.

Windows Speech Recognition is a free option available for PC users. It’s not as accurate as Dragon, but with a little training it can transcribe audio to text with fairly high accuracy. It does not have a functionality to transcribe pre-recorded files though, so usage is restricted to real-time dictations.

Siri is another excellent option for iPhone users for dictating notes and memos directly into their phones. The accuracy level is very high and you can dictate in all languages that Siri understands.

Overall speech recognition software is great for transcribing audio to text.

Pros: Good accuracy level, even with the free apps. Pre-recorded audio can be transcribed using Dragon.

Cons: Only clearly spoken, single-speaker audio can be transcribed accurately (dictations, lectures, etc.) . Software needs to be ‘trained’ to understand your voice before it can transcribe accurately.

2. Transcription Software

If your recording has more than one speaker, then transcription software may help. Transcription software doesn’t automatically transcribe audio to text, but it makes manual transcription a little simpler by offering options like playback hotkeys, reducing playback speed, increasing volume, etc.

Express Scribe from NCH is the best and simplest transcription software in the market. With both free and paid versions available, it’s very popular amongst transcribers worldwide.

The software allows you to load MP3 and WAV files and use either hot keys or a foot pedal to play, rewind, fast forward, and pause playback. It also has several other useful features like slowing down or increasing playback speed, adding time codes, etc. and can be used with Dragon NaturallySpeaking to automatically transcribe dictations.

Other options available are Transcribe and InqScribe.

Pros: Great for playing back audio while transcribing.

Cons: No automation – you have to transcribe everything yourself.

3. In-house or Freelance Transcribers

If you are short on time and need multi-speaker recordings transcribed, then hiring a transcriber is a good option. Transcribers are highly skilled professionals who can create accurate and well formatted transcripts fairly quickly.

If you have an office setup and need transcription done regularly, then hiring an in-house transcriber could be a good choice. If you need services just once in while, then finding a freelance transcriber is a better idea.

Most freelancing websites like Freelancer and Upwork offer a large and talented pool of transcribers that you can interview and hire from.

Pros: You get highly accurate transcripts.

Cons: Finding a good transcriber can be a bit of a challenge. One transcriber can manage no more than 30-60 minutes of audio in a day (highly experienced ones can manage more), so turnaround time can be high.

4. Transcription Companies

Transcribing audio to text takes time. A simple recording can take up to 4 hours to transcribe, depending on audio quality etc.  So if you have a large number of recordings transcribed quickly, a transcription company may be the best choice.

Pros: Fast turnaround and accurate transcripts.

Cons: Higher rates.

Those are the choices available today to those looking to transcribe audio to text. Do you know of any good apps or transcription software that we haven’t covered here? Leave a comment to let everyone know!

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