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Audio transcription programs and tools

To produce transcripts, you need a transcription program, headset (earphones) and footpedal.

If you’re shopping around for an audio transcription program, make sure you do some research. Choose high-quality software that is compatible with your computer systems, and can import the usual types of audio files. Make sure you know what you are getting for your money.

I have been using Olympus DSS Player Pro for about 10 years. It comes with high-quality headphones and footpedal and is of excellent value. I have also used For The Record (FTR) which is a very good quality program, and ExpressScribe which is of reasonably good quality.

Some service providers on the internet offer a ‘free download’ transcription program. However, free programs don’t include a footpedal or headphones. And you can’t transcribe audio files accurately or efficiently without a footpedal.

If you are thinking of transcribing your recordings without buying audio transcription software, footpedal or headset, think again.

Can you produce transcripts without audio transcription software?

Yes, but it will take forever and the resulting transcript may not be accurate.

Without an audio transcription program, you won’t be able to adjust the speed or volume of the audio recordings ‘as you go’. You won’t be able to set an automatic rewind each time you stop. You’ll have to manually stop and start the recording and it’s likely you’ll miss words as a result of not having an auto-rewind and not being able to use your feet to operate your stop/start.

Can you produce transcripts without a footpedal?

Yes, but it will take forever and the resulting transcript may not be accurate.

Without a footpedal, you will need to frequently type or click ‘play’, ‘rewind’, ‘play’ with your fingers, not your foot. And it is very difficult to produce an accurate transcript if you don’t have auto-rewind which is usually linked to the footpedal.

Can you produce transcripts without a headset (earphones)?

Yes, but only if your audio recordings are of very good quality.

If the recording is of high quality you’ll be able to hear it quite clearly when you play it using the speaker.

However, if the audibility is inferior, as recorded interviews and discussions often are, then the speakers will not give you the same quality as using a good quality headset.

With audio files that are difficult to hear, the clearer the audio, the more accurate your transcripts to be. And the higher quality your headset, the clearer that audio will be.

So, if you intend to transcribe any audio recordings of inferior audibility, make sure you purchase a good set of headphones.

What else do you need to produce accurate transcripts?

In addition to suitable audio transcription equipment, to produce accurate transcripts you need 1) accurate touch-typing skills, 2) excellent hearing and listening skills, 3) excellent knowledge of spelling and punctuation and 4) to follow a consistent process for producing accurate transcripts. For more information, go to: How to produce accurate transcripts.

What if I only need to produce one or two transcripts?

If you only need one or two audio recordings transcribed and don’t own the right audio transcription equipment or software yourself, I recommend you pay a transcriptionist who already has the right software and equipment to  produce the transcript for you. For more information go to: Accurate Audio Transcription.

Sally-Anne Watson Kane has over 20 years’ experience recording research interviews and oral histories; transcribing audio recordings of interviews, focus groups, meetings, seminars and other events; and editing and proofreading transcripts and publications. 

For more articles about this topic go to: Audio transcription and transcript production.

Image: Pixabay – Creative Commons licence (no attribution required)


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