Convert Audio To Text
TIPS, HINTS AND SUGGESTED LINKS
OPTIONS TO CONVERT AUDIO TO TEXT
The problem of how to convert audio to text is an ancient problem. The spoken word has an immediacy that, until recently, was nearly impossible to capture. Today, though, we have thankfully progressed and there are at least three options we can suggest for anyone looking to convert audio to text or transcription: do it yourself (with software), use a human-based or hybrid transcription service, or try out machine transcription services. We take a brief look at each with some links for you to consider.
A BRIEF HISTORY
Various attempts to convert audio to text (or convert audio text) have been made over the years.
The first was shorthand, where a skilled practitioner could record up to 225 words a minute. Shorthand though has the weakness inherent in immediacy as the practitioner only has one shot at hearing what is said.
It wasn’t until a reliable means for recording voices came along in the late 19th century, with Edison’s phonograph cylinder that digital recording devices came into existence. Even then, they were hardly portable. But for the first time, transcription of speech based on a recording was possible, and the art of dictation was born. So it was now possible to convert audio to text with a level of accuracy never before achieved.
But let’s not get caught up in history. You are probably here to look at some options to get your audio recording transcribed (if you are looking at having a video recording transcribed, you might like to consider our guide to video transcription services). If so, we suggest that you should consider two things before you choose your preferred transcription method to get your get your recording transcribed. If so, we suggest that you should consider two factors before you choose your preferred approach to get your audio into text:
- How important accuracy is for your transcript.
- The amount you are prepared to spend.
Accuracy and spend influence the best options for you to consider for audio transcription – these being: do it yourself and outsourcing your work.
DO IT YOURSELF: If you have time, are very concerned about excellent accuracy but have a very low or no budget, we would suggest you “do it yourself”. In this case, take a look at our transcription software list for (mostly free) software you can download to use to type your recording (tip: see our hints for best quality audio recording – if you have recorded yet).
CHOOSE A TRANSCRIPTION SERVICE: If you do not have the time or simply don’t want to transcribe your recordings but have a budget and need an accurate transcription, then look at using an appropriate audio to text transcription service – human or hybrid transcription services. Alternatively, if you still don’t have time but either have a very small budget or don’t care about a high level of accuracy, then you can always try out one of the many start-up machine transcription services.
We list some of these options for audio transcription. Important: we cannot guarantee the accuracy or veracity of other transcription services listed.
DO IT YOURSELF – TRANSCRIPTION SOFTWARE
Transcription software has been around for many years and continues to slowly improve. Often used by audio typists, some software requires additional equipment such as foot peddles. Most software is suitable for dictation.
Express Scribe Transcription Software – professional audio player software for PC or Mac designed to assist the transcription of audio recordings. A typist can install it on their computer and control audio playback using a transcription foot pedal or keyboard.
InqScribe – supports multiple languages and has the capacity insert time codes and utilize analysis codes. It is simple to use. You can view a video and transcribe it using one window.
Nuance Dragon – if you rely on a digital voice recorder or smartphone to capture notes and memos, you can use Dragon’s transcription to turn recordings into text.
FTW Transcriber – transcription software that offers time-saving features like automatic time stamps.
Listen n Write – used to play and transcribe ordinary audio and video recordings (WAV, MP3, OGG, WMA, AVI, MPG, WMV, OGV, FLV, VOB, TS, etc).
VoxSigma – a suite of language-specific speech recognition software offered by Vocapia Research for Unix-like x86 and x86-64 platforms.
EureScribe – transcription client that breaks files into small, easy-to-memorize chunks.
MAXQDA – text analysis software.
HUMAN OR HYBRID TRANSCRIPTION SERVICES
The ability to convert audio to text (or convert audio text) using human transcribers requires a reasonable typing speed, an excellent level of general knowledge and very good hearing indeed.
Services have appeared everywhere from individuals or freelance transcribers who offer their skills directly in the market to established transcription companies that have a global presence and good reputations. Whichever you prefer, always choose a preferred transcription service according to the quality of transcribers they employ (and how they source, select and assess them!). Also, you should review the company’s reputation and ability to transcribe in your required language and accents. Furthermore, you should check what the company’s experience and knowledge of relevant client subject matter. Also, see if the company offers localized solutions and is secure.
There are hundreds of services out there and if you try Google for transcription services companies you will get an endless list. We have chosen ten prominent and reputable transcription companies globally.
Waywithwords.net – The original English-language transcription service company. Personifies itself as “Transcription made personal”. A professional transcription boutique service offering various turnaround options and standard or customized transcripts.
Nibity.com – A first stage hybrid transcription solution using people. Simple drop-and-go transcription solution to convert audio or video to text. On completion, an email notification is sent. The service focus is on low pricing, superb accuracy, 24-hour turnarounds or queuing and increased automation of the process.
Athreon – quality professional transcription services at a reasonable price.
GMR Transcription – professional transcription and translation.
Transcribeme – Cost-effective and flexible, includes basic and premium features.
Transcription Outsourcing – LLC’s secure, CJIS-approved online transcription platform. Focuses on police transcription services.
Today Translations – international translation services company that handle more than 200 languages.
Take1 – a UK leading transcription company with a focus on TV and video.
VoxTab – a human team of transcriptionists and quality analysts for the US, UK, and Australia.
Machine transcription applications are still very much in their infancy and have a serious problem with accuracy. So their accuracy can range vastly depending on the number of speakers, background noise, etc. A human audio to text transcriber with a level of less than 95% accuracy would be regarded as barely competent.
English is a very context-dependent language, stuffed with homophones, homonyms and very idiosyncratic spelling and grammar. Therefore, it’s unlikely that we are going to reach the stage when a machine delivers the same quality of audio-to-text conversion as humans before 2025 (according to our research). However, if its simply keyword search or meta tagging you need then this might be an option for you.
Here are some machine transcription services:
Happy Scribe – automatically transcribes interviews for € 0.09 per minute.
Phillips Speechlive – almost immediate transcription of notes, tasks or simple documents.
Speechmatics – challenges understanding speech in any language.
Trint – a platform for searching, editing and getting audio and video content.”
You can choose between proven approaches to convert audio to text or new emerging options. Either way, we hope your choice works for you!