Unsure which transcription software is right for you? Check out our guide to the best tools and features, then decide which one is perfect for your business.
Have you ever seen an old detective movie? There’s usually a montage scene where the weary investigator sits down to pour through his notes, replaying hours of recorded interviews and meetings. He furiously scribbles statements onto his little notepad, flipping through the pages to compare witness accounts and testimony.
It takes hours, perhaps days, of searching for the ultimate before he finds the lead he’s been waiting for. But imagine if the detective had transcription software tools to sort through all those recordings for him—he’d solve double the number of mysteries in no time!
What is Transcription Software?
Transcription software, or speech-to-text software, is a digital tool that converts audio or video recordings into written text. This software is used by businesses and professionals to create a written record of:
- Meeting minutes
- Letter Dictations
What Are the Benefits of Using Transcription Software?
When it comes to supercharging efficiency, outsourcing tasks like transcription is an excellent way to streamline your workflow. Transcription software can help you save time by automatically transcribing your recordings for you, allowing you to spend more time putting your expertise to use on other tasks.
Plus, there are many affordable tools available that make transcription more accessible than ever before.
Types of Transcriptions Solutions
There are 3 main categories when it comes to transcription software and transcription companies.
These are programs that are downloaded to your computer or your phone and exclusively use voice recognition or artificial intelligence to generate a transcript real-time. Typically, you pay for the software up front or pay a monthly licensing fee to access the software. There is no human involvement as the programs rely exclusively on algorithms to detect sounds that create words.
Since the software is automated by artificial intelligence, it offers fewer benefits than a human typist (especially when it comes to accuracy and readability). But it can’t be beaten when it comes to speedy output. So the software could be worth it if you’re prepared to spend time editing for grammar, spelling, and formatting after your transcript is complete.
Voice Recognition/Human Blend Service
Blended AI/human companies are very popular right now. Typically, what they do is they run the audio through a voice recognition program housed on their servers (by doing that they can maintain a more robust program because it’s not stored locally on your computer). Then they have a human review any parts of the audio that the software indicated it was uncertain about.
This model is usually charged per audio minute of the recording, and is returned quite fast, but typically they do not offer any formatting so your finished product will just be straight text.
A true human transcription solution doesn’t use AI or voice recognition at any stage of the completion. The entire audio is listened to and typed by a human typist. The advantage of this model is a much higher degree of accuracy as well as the ability to provide proper formatting as opposed to plain text. The turn around time is a little longer for services like this, but for some its worth it when quality and formatting are important.
We Looked At 5 Core Qualities To Compare Transcription Software Services
Many software options are available, but not all offer the same value and benefits. Before choosing your transcription tool, there are several important factors to consider. To narrow down the best of the best, we analyzed five fundamental categories:
Accuracy & Readability
First, we measured data on accuracy and readability. Transcription software is powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.), meaning it’s bound to have some errors. Therefore, we looked for software that consistently managed 80% accuracy or higher.
Keep budgetary considerations in the forefront of your mind when shopping around for any new service. Cost is usually calculated by word or minute when it comes to transcription software. We searched for services that offered the best value for the price of each transcription.
Turnaround time is another integral factor to consider, especially if you’re in a time-sensitive industry. Most services can return transcripts within minutes or hours, so we looked for services that offer a solid time-to-quality ratio.
Sometimes, audio is challenging for A.I. transcription because of confounding variables like background noise, domain-specific language, accents, or transcribing multiple speakers. Therefore, we looked for companies that offer options for handling tricky audio and have a strong reputation for responding quickly and efficiently to customer inquiries.
Many transcription tools have built-in conveniences to aid you in creating the perfect document. After all, what’s the point of technology if it doesn’t make life easier? The best transcription tools in the industry offer advanced features such as editing tools, built-in microphones, and even customizable templates for making formatting a breeze.
List of the 7 Best Transcription Software & Tools of 2022
There’s hardly anything worse than sitting through a staff meeting when you have about twenty other things you need to do instead. But what if you had the power of real-time transcription notes, audio transcription, and summary capabilities by your side? You could save tons of time.
Otter A.I. is unique in that it can learn to distinguish and tag human voices. That’s quite an improvement from earlier iterations of speech-to-text software. Plus, if you keep your transcription minutes under 300, you can use Otter.ai for free. After that, you’ll have to upgrade to a subscription.
Some error rates have been reported as high as 20%, so users beware. Consequently, this transcription software works well if you use it for in-house communications. Otter.ai has also become a topic of discussions in some circles when a Politico writer had some serious questions about the security of the platform.
Some people swear by Rev’s method of combining artificial intelligence and human transcription [more on Rev here]. You can opt for either service (with automatic transcription starting at 0.20 cents per minute) or choose a hybrid version where humans double-check the transcript before delivery.
Rev offers an automatic transcription service, which works well for low-stakes situations like captioning a Zoom meeting, transcribing phone calls and conferences, and making videos more accessible. It’s ADA and FCC-compliant and can support transcription in 15 languages.
The main downside of Rev is that you’re likely going to need the built-in editing tools to make sense of the transcript. Formatting isn’t a strength with this transcription software tool, and the document will need a human touch to clean up errors in grammar and spelling.
Scribie is one of the fastest automatic transcription tools, with a turnaround time of just 30 minutes. As a result, it’s a popular choice for users in a hurry, and it’s appealing if you’re looking for transcripts on a major budget. Rates start at 0.10 cents per minute of audio.
Scribie lays out its downsides right up front—count on only 80% accuracy for accented speakers and 60% for “noisy/poor” audio. Oh—and hopefully, timestamps aren’t a priority. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay extra for those. Scribie offers a human/AI blend transcription for 0.80 cents per minute, but be prepared to wait up to 24 hours before you see your document.
With self-described “lightning-fast transcription” available, Sonix is an excellent option if you’re looking for immediate results. Sonix offers a ton of language options, making it an accessible tool for all. In addition, it’s intuitive and straightforward, and customers have positive things to say about their customer service.
Sonix tends to be on the higher end when it comes to cost. You can opt for pay-as-you-go at $10 per hour or subscribe to the premium package at $5 per hour—plus $22 per user per month.
You may be able to watch real-time transcription before your eyes, but there’s no guarantee it will accurately reflect the conversation. Be sure to block out some time after the transcription is delivered to give the document a fine-tuning.
Sonix only offers automatic transcription. So, if you’re looking for an error-free document, you might want to keep scrolling.
Trint might be a valuable gadget to add to your creative tool belt if you’re a fast-paced content producer like a journalist or media producer. This transcription software allows content teams to work in the same document with commenting, highlighting, and tagging features. Best of all, the built-in editor tools make content creation for social media posts or blog posts simple.
It’s available in 30 languages and boasts powerful ISO-certified security. The automated speech recognition software is available with a subscription that costs $60 per month per user. That gets you up to seven transcription audio or video files for up to three users, which is on the low end compared to other tools.
Trint is wildly popular despite not offering human transcription as an option for clients looking for extra attention to accuracy. Still, it might be worth the investment if you’re looking for a tool to help your content team work more efficiently.
6. Transcribe by Wreally
Transcribe by Wreally boasts itself as a “privacy-focused” A.I. transcription speech-to-text software. It claims to securely delete all media file uploads from its servers once a job is complete, protecting sensitive client information from potential data thieves.
Pricing is quite manageable for even the tiniest budget, with a self-transcription option available at just $20. For an extra $6 per hour, users can upgrade to automatic transcription instead.
This is more of a software for transcriptionists or self-transcribers rather than anything. Transcribe by Wreally even includes foot pedal integration to aid you in the process (you know, where you can control playback on a fancy contraption with your foot to free up your hands?)
At 99% accuracy, there’s no doubt about it. Professional transcriptionists beat transcription software and A.I. every time for accurate transcripts.
That’s because human transcriptionists are empowered by the one thing speech-to-text and voice recognition software are nowhere near advanced enough to understand—context. And at just 1.5 cents per word, it’s one of the most affordable transcription services available.
You can upload audio or video files directly from your Dropbox or Google Drive account. SpeakWrite also offers a mobile app for iOS and Android, as well as a desktop app and an add-on for Microsoft Outlook.
Users can choose from pre-formatted templates or submit their own customized templates. And since real human transcriptionists transcribe the documents, you can even include formatting instructions in your dictations.
True, you’ll get your transcript back in hours instead of minutes (the average is just three hours), but consider what you gain from the benefit of a human touch. Documents are perfectly formatted, grammatically sound, and proofread for accuracy. That’s what makes SpeakWrite the best choice for businesses and professionals.
Transcription Software FAQs
What is the most accurate transcription tool?
Some speech-to-text transcription software is more accurate than others. But for the most part, they’re all powered by artificial intelligence (A.I.), which means they’re not 100% accurate. So if you need a transcript that’s guaranteed to be error-free, it’s best to use a human transcription service.
Is there transcription software that’s better than a human transcriptionist?
No, no transcription software can match the accuracy of a human transcriptionist. Human transcription consistently offers 99% accuracy, whereas most transcription services don’t even reveal the accuracy percentage, which is likely closer to 90% (at best).
Does Microsoft Office have a transcription tool?
Yes, Microsoft Office has a transcription tool called Transcribe in Word. Transcribe is powered by A.I., which means it’s not as accurate as human transcription. But it’s a good option if you’re looking for a free or low-cost solution.
Is there a free version of any transcription software?
Yes, there are a few free versions available. But they’re usually limited in terms of features and accuracy. Free trials are another excellent way to shop around and compare transcription services before you buy, so be sure to take advantage of those, too.
Can transcription software offer speaker identification?
Some can offer speaker identification, but most programs only work if the audio is perfect. If you need this feature, be sure to check the service’s accuracy rate for multi-speaker transcription before you buy (if it’s even available).
What is the best way to transcribe audio files?
The best way to transcribe audio files is by using a transcription service. Unfortunately, transcription software can be error-prone, and it’s often not worth the hassle (or the expense) to try and fix the mistakes—especially if you value your time.
How do I convert an audio file to text?
Using a human transcription service or speech-to-text software, you can convert an audio file to text. Transcription services are more accurate, whereas speech-to-text software is faster (but far less reliable).
Choosing the Best Transcription Software For Your Business
When investing in your business, you want to ensure you get the best value and quality for your money. Transcription software should make your life easier, not harder—so you shouldn’t have to waste time editing transcripts or chasing down customer support.
That’s why more professionals than ever are turning to SpeakWrite. If you’re looking for an accurate, reliable, beautifully formatted document every time, then our human transcriptionists can help. Find out how much you could be saving using our new Time and Cost Savings Calculator, or snag a Free Trial of our transcription tools and services today.