Need Audio Transcription? Here’s What That Means

When thinking about audio transcription,​ is the first image which comes to mind a headphone-clad person madly typing in a dark room awash in screen light? It’s not quite like that.

However,​ neither is audio transcription quite as simplistic as many believe it to be. Here’s exactly what audio transcription is,​ why it requires experienced professionals,​ and what to look for choosing an audio transcription service.

Audio Transcription Explained

Ever read a televised speech published later on the internet? That’s audio transcription. At its core,​ audio transcription is the conversion of speech to text when it occurs in a sound file or in real life. In other words,​ someone listens to what’s being said and writes it down.

The unique nature of audio lends a few challenges to this type of transcription. Transcriptionists must remain extra aware and sensitive to sound. For example,​ things like accents,​ background noises or unfamiliar words all make it more difficult to clearly understand and transcribe audio. Likewise,​ the quality of sound in a file may also play a role in whether each word remains crisp and clear.

Furthermore,​ the question of how faithfully each sound is recorded is more important in audio recording. Court stenographers are doing audio to text transcription when they type – full verbatim – every sound uttered the courtroom exactly as it is. This includes coughs,​ repeated words,​ and non-words like uhs and ums.

In contrast,​ someone who is taking notes during a meeting or a class lecture may be engaged in audio transcription but leave these extra sounds. In transcription,​ we call this intelligent verbatim.

Machine or Human?

A staggering amount of audio transcription software has appeared across the internet in the last few years. Anyone looking for online audio transcription services will quickly run into the new kid on the block: automated transcription. This removes the human mostly (in some cases entirely) from the picture. Such services often advertise the ability to transcribe instantly.

Most of this software takes advantage of advances in speech recognition. The development of machine learning in the last five years has unlocked the ability for computers to understand and transcribe a wider range of words,​ phrases,​ and utterances. Initiatives such as the Amazon Transcribe and Mozilla’s open source speech-to-text engine promise to make transcription quicker,​ easier,​ and – yes,​ cheaper.

These innovations are exciting because they offer the potential for more efficient transcription through joint machine-human effort. However,​ it also leads some to ask the question: why hire a human transcriptionist at all? Isn’t this a job that will get automated fully soon?

Yes and no. An increasing body of research shows that automated transcription makes mistakes which humans won’t. This is true both with high-end software and an audio transcription app. At best,​ machine learning audio transcription can provide a good enough transcription which still needs a human editor. For many purposes,​ this might be okay. However,​ for many purposes,​ it’s not. Need a highly precise transcription of a conference meeting using specialized industry jargon? Get it right the first time with a human who is trained and familiar with the industry.

The Many Uses of Audio Transcription

As a general voice to text company with specialists in a wide range of subjects,​ we’ve seen a lot of unique media come across our desks. Clients choose us because we understand the requirements for many different types of subject matters. Some common transcription cases include:

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. We also create bespoke solutions for our clients who have needs beyond traditional audio transcription,​ or who have large volumes of audio to transcribe.

Key Considerations When Selecting a Service

5 Key Questions To Ask When Choosing An Audio Transcription Service

Audio transcription services range in their offerings and capabilities. Many are highly specialized in a specific industry or type of audio media. Others,​ like Way With Words,​ demonstrate a broad level of expertise across media types and subject matter. However,​ when considering a service,​ look for these five things:

1. Accuracy

There’s no point in transcribing something if it won’t be accurate later. Services with a strong track record for accurately transcribing audio files demonstrate a commitment to truthfulness and quality.

2. Reliability

Need a recording transcribed rapidly? No problem. A reputable transcription service can accommodate needs and timeframes without fail every time.

3. Security

Keep confidential and sensitive conversations secure with a transcription service which understands data security. This includes not only regulatory compliance requirements,​ like GDPR but also proper handling of sensitive material.

4. Formatting Options

Well-formatted transcriptions are easy to read,​ uniform,​ and have all the necessary information on them. Additionally,​ many audio transcription services will offer the ability to further personalize the format of documents to make sure any special needs are met,​ and requests accommodated.

5. Qualifications

Audio transcription can be difficult and time-consuming,​ but with a trained professional,​ it isn’t. The professional whom the service selects will significantly impact the quality of the transcript. Choose a service which hires vetted and experienced transcriptionists,​ ideally with experience in clients’ industries.

Audio Transcription Keeps Records Straight

We’ve shared some insight on the nature of this beast to help our readers make sense of the many services which exist in this industry. Audio transcription is a rapidly developing field which leverages some of the most exciting groundbreaking technologies to date.

Don’t stay in the dark when it comes to audio transcription. Like a brightly lit office,​ understanding the industry helps use time and resources wisely.


Way With Words is a general voice to text company offering audio-to-text,​​ speech-to-text or voice-to-text solutions. Clients use us for a wide range of subjects. Our audio,​​ video and custom transcription services are often chosen because of our excellent reputation to transcribe local voice to text dialects. We also process large volumes of audio or video recordings with a 99%+ accuracy guarantee.

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