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Transcription Software

Transcription software assists businesses with the conversion of speech to text format through voice dictation or file transcription. Audio transcription software and video transcription software may also feature machine learning capabilities and multi-language tools. Find the best transcription software for your organisation in Australia.

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Transcription Software Buyers Guide

Transcription software is a type of application that assists businesses with converting speech to text via dictation or file transcription. Capable of delivering on-demand, manual, automated transcription, or a mix of these, transcribing software is particularly useful to law firms, educational institutions, journalists, podcasters, authors, and professional transcriptionists worldwide. However, they are also routinely used in a business setting, as they enable dictation at great speed, with high levels of accuracy, and with the option to share transcribed content with colleagues.

As it can convert interviews, podcasts, and other audio content to text automatically or with human input, transcribing software is also beneficial to the entertainment industry. Software that can transcribe audio to text and large video files is especially well-suited for those in the entertainment business who are in charge of subtitling, music production, and PR.

The mainstay of audio transcription software is its ability to identify speech patterns and detect words using Natural Language Processing (NLP). Paired with Deep Learning technology, a transcription application’s speech engine can enable dictation with increasingly accurate transcription at a faster pace so that users spend less and less time on documentation, reports, emails, and forms. This is a must-have capability for those in the legal field who use transcript software for multichannel verbatim court reporting from microphones and steno masks.

Often the engine will also be able to provide feedback to users on their fluency, pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and intonation based on the content it records and analyses. This makes the transcription software invaluable to language educators, proficiency testers, and fluency tutors. Some types of transcript software can even predict scores for IELTS, TOEFL, and other speaking tests, with grading adapted to the user’s accent.

When it comes to software for transcribing audio to text or video files to word-processing documents, an important feature is the capability to upload media content or record new content with the application. After the software matches content with transcribed text, it can edit media clips, addressing silent gaps and filler words to improve the quality of the file efficiently. Video producers can sometimes record video messages, screen content or webcam footage with audio transcription software, ensuring that the clip is ready for publishing.

Transcribing software can serve a variety of organisations and purposes. For instance, for contact centres, the choice of software can be a toss-up between transcription tools and Speech Recognition Software. That’s because they both interpret human speech, transcribe it, and sometimes even translate it, though not with the same levels of accuracy as fully-fledged Translation Software. The software can be used to power virtual assistants with in-built interactive voice response (IVR) systems for automated call routing, much like IVR Software can. But it can assist with scientific research, automated documentation with the use of AI, or for dictating medical reports, similar to Medical Transcription Software. As for those in the world of show business, they may see some cross-over with Podcast Hosting Software and Video Hosting Software. As transcription tools can create, edit, and publish content online with closed captioning, audio descriptions, subtitling, and various other features made possible by automatic speech recognition (ASR) and machine learning (ML) technology.

Whatever the field and the complexity of the project, transcribing software can provide at least a few basic capabilities. Users of transcribing tools should be able to:

  • Accept audio input via audio/video file upload or dictation
  • Perform voice or audio recording where necessary
  • Decipher the input using automated speech recognition (ASR) technology
  • Transcribe the content and link it to specific audio input using timecoding
  • Analyse the transcribed content using Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Provide subtitles, closed captioning, or live captioning
  • Share the content with users and their audience

What is Transcription Software?

Transcription software tools are applications that enable business organisations, media companies, law firms, and educational institutions to render audio content into an accessible and shareable text format. Depending on the setting, the audio content can consist of live dictation or audio/video file uploads. Furthermore, it can be produced in several texts, audio, or video output formats recognised by most modern-day office processors or web hosting applications.

The primary aim of using software for transcribing audio to text is to ease the burden of taking notes for stenographers, secretaries, students, employees, and business meeting attendees. Furthermore, it also minimises distractions and enables hosts to provide their guests with an accurate and consistent account of what was discussed. This software can automatically transcribe meetings, interviews, lectures, witness accounts, and other conversations and creates sync pulls and paper edits, produce subtitles and captions, organise audio and video file catalogues, and provide a searchable and shareable database of audio content.

To fully utilise the content it generates, transcribing software applies several AI technologies. For instance, it applies Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) to detect speech, identify speakers, perform speaker segmentation, and translate the audio input into written content relevant to its intended audience. If it comes with an interactive voice response (IVR) system, it may be able to reroute incoming calls to the people best placed to process them. It then uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyse the transcribed content and provide feedback on intonation, proficiency, sincerity, and appropriateness. It can also use Machine Learning (ML) technology to identify patterns across speakers and predict the language or the tone that’s about to be used.

From video producers and podcasters to researchers in Antarctica, the users for this type of software are large and eclectic, as is the type of content it produces. Most importantly, as the content is digitised, it is often searchable, shareable, and easy to publish online with subtitles, captions, and integrations that make it accessible to a global audience. Fully editable within the transcribing application, the audio content can be slowed down, sped up, filtered, timestamped, played from within the application, exported into countless formats, enriched with add-on clips and screen footage, or trimmed down to exclude lags, silent gaps, and redundant words.

Industries like media, entertainment, education, law, and e-learning make ample use of audio transcription software, as do government institutions, businesses involved in eCommerce, and contact centre operations. That’s why, depending on the industry and the user base, transcribing software may look more like a text editor or a video player than a standard dictation tool. Some providers go as far as to offer professional transcription services alongside their machine-generated transcription options, leveraging the expertise of human transcriptionists to bring the accuracy and quality of the converted file to near-perfection.

With integrations for popular business tools like Zoom App and browser extensions for web-based access to other applications, audio transcription software can perform non-conventional tasks like setting meeting topics and agendas before meetings or accessing the minutes of several meetings happening at the same time.

Transcribing applications are usually provided as ASP software, with content stored in the cloud and access to it provided on demand in exchange for a fee. Cloud-based transcription systems are easily scalable and cost-effective, as the user doesn’t need to provide the data infrastructure. The user can also make the content available around the clock to a global audience from virtually any device. However, given the sensitive nature of the audio content, those in legal, medical, research, and other fields may opt for the on-premise option or a hybrid version of the speech-to-text system to minimise data leakage and unauthorised use of the audio content.

What are the benefits of transcription software?

The benefits of transcription software apply to those who use these applications and those who access the content they generate. Not needing a professional transcriptionist, stenographer, secretary, or assistant to take notes in real-time, along with a subtitler or captioner to make those notes accessible to the entire audience is a key benefit. Furthermore, transcribing software has many other advantages. Here are a few of the many benefits of transcription tools:

  • Speeds up note-taking: Automated transcripts take far less time than man-made transcripts. They can occur in real-time with speech-to-text dictation or within minutes with file uploads. While it takes a human at least an hour to process an hour-long video, it takes transcription software only half that time. Even accounting for the time it would take to edit the first draft of a low-accuracy machine transcript, the time spent on an automated transcription pales compared to the turnaround for a manual transcription.
  • Provides consistent information: Giving stakeholders consistent access to meeting notes, interviews, verbal agreements, and other audio content is easier said than done with manual transcription. But thanks to transcription software, the content is available to all stakeholders automatically, often in real-time, ensuring that everyone has access to the same set of information and there are no misunderstandings.
  • Multichannel input and output: Manual transcription involves only one source of content and often a single form of output. However, transcribing software can accept audio input from several sources, including .txt and .wav files, and render it in formats usable by various applications. They can be used for transcribing dictations in real-time, processing audio files, transcribing video clips, or a mix of these three either independently or simultaneously, and can produce simple word processing documents or more complex video files ready for sharing or web upload.
  • Ideal for a multilingual audience: Manual transcribing doesn’t come with translations. Fortunately, audio transcription tools can adapt their output to a diverse audience as they often come with multilingual support. With subtitling available in several languages and dialects, transcribing applications make the audio content relevant to a much wider audience than a monolingual text file can.
  • Universally accessible: Manual transcribing doesn’t make any allowance for an audience with auditory impairment. By contrast, automated transcribers can come with closed caption (CC) features that signal sound effects, music cues, and other non-speech elements to render the content more immersive to a much wider audience. This can be extremely useful in venues with a large footfall, such as museums, theatres, educational institutions, and stadiums.
  • Easily searchable: With manual transcription, searching for specific content within files takes time and effort. Transcription applications can address this problem by storing the content either in a searchable knowledge base or a cloud database.
  • Quickly shareable: While transcriptionists can share their text, audio, and video files with other users over the internet, they lack the speed and convenience of transcribing software. These files can be uploaded and shared more quickly to a vast audience over the internet, but also within the workplace thanks to automated, scheduled, and synchronous file transfers.

What are the features of transcription software?

The features of transcription software can vary depending on the intended field of practice. For instance, tools developed for users in the medical field have an entirely different skill set than those built for journalists. But there are a few features of transcription software that users expect to have access to, at the very least:

  • Speech recognition: Captures, interprets, and stores speech input. Dictation is a very useful feature that not all automated transcribers provide. Authors, journalists, physicians, musicians, and various other professionals will find real-time text-to-speech a must-have feature, especially if it supports multiple languages. Whether it’s through dictation, digital upload, or both, all transcription software tools must be able to process speech.
  • Automatic transcription: Perform the speech-to-text conversion automatically with acceptable accuracy. Some transcriptionists use machine-based transcriptions as their first drafts, tweaking the output to near perfection, while other professionals rely solely on the results of automatic transcriptions. With that in mind, transcribing tools should offer a sufficient level of accuracy to satisfy the type of user they work with, with greater accuracy offered to those in fields like law, medicine, and research.
  • Audio/video file upload: Accept input in the form of audio or video files. For those working in media, entertainment, video production, and other fields where there’s no need for verbatim, real-time transcription, the variety of files their transcription tool can accept will make all the difference. Wide compatibility and API integrations reduce the need for time-consuming processes like file conversion or finding alternate software. For instance, SRT/VTT input support would speed up subtitle processing, while direct access to OneDrive, Google Drive, and other virtual storage devices would bypass repetitive downloads and uploads.
  • Speaker segmentation: Differentiate between speakers and mark the difference accordingly. Telling people apart is hard for machines, but good transcription tools should be able to identify different speakers and mark their input with "Speaker 1" type tags in the text. This enables the user to replace the tag with the speaker’s name, which is a process that takes mere seconds.
  • Timestamps: Add timestamps to the transcript to make finding specific passages easier for the reader. To help the audience navigate the text, audio, and video file more easily, the transcribing tool should be able to add content in the [00:05:20] format that users can click on to access quickly. This is especially useful if the user is referencing specific content, pins it for future editing, or aims to minimise the number of times the viewer plays back the content in search of a line. Some of the best transcribers come with automated and scheduled timestamping, making it easier to signal when the speaker changes or a time limit is exceeded.
  • Subtitling and captioning: Provide transcribed content in a format accessible to a diverse audience. With support for several languages and abilities, audio transcribing applications can reach a far wider audience than the user would single-handedly be able to reach.
  • Custom dictionary: Enable users to enter their terms in the word database. For those in the medical, legal, and entertainment industry, it’s critical to have the ability to add industry-specific jargon into the transcription engine’s accepted phrasebook.
  • Editing tools: Feature an easy-to-use interface designed specifically for editing transcriptions. Users often require software that can speed up, playback, filter, trim, add content to, and otherwise change in the same way as a video editing tool might. In this context, some must-have features might be keyboard shortcuts for professional translators or foot pedal integration for those in the music industry.

Capterra’s software directory features applications with these and many other capabilities. Brimming with tools relevant to virtually any industry and field of activity, the catalogue welcomes readers to browse, filter, and pinpoint their ideal transcription software tool.

What should be considered when purchasing transcription software?

When looking for transcription software, it’s easy to be sidetracked by the sheer number of applications on offer. But there are a few basic things to consider when purchasing transcription software:

  • What languages and regions does it support? Transcription software is often used for a specific industry and a particular type of audience. But with globalisation comes a greater need to tailor to a diverse range of ethnicities, especially those in the legal, educational, and medical fields.
  • What is the accuracy level? Transcribing tools may claim to be more accurate than they are. Before committing to a purchase, it’s best to check that their claims are backed up by user testimonials and that they use scientifically-proven benchmarks in their accuracy calculations. Furthermore, you need to remember that no transcription is 100% accurate, be it manual or machine-made.
  • What is the turnaround? Transcribing applications can work in real-time or with a lead time. Unless it’s a dictation, the software will most likely take about half the time to transcribe the speech than it takes the actual speech to take place. But with human-backed transcriptions, there may be a 24-hour turnaround and a drop in efficiency.
  • Does it come with an editor? Transcription tools aren’t much use without the means to edit the text. An in-app editor makes cleaning and tweaking the text easier, improves the flow of information, and helps users prepare their summaries, presentations, and videos faster.
  • Is it secure? Transcription applications often process sensitive information. All organisations must comply with privacy laws like the Data Protection Act and GDPR. Good transcription software will provide a paper trail for audits and enable users to dispose of the information lawfully.

The most relevant transcription software trends to users today reflect wider trends in business and technology. This includes environmental awareness, health-based movements, and global cybersecurity threats. Here are some of the most critical transcription software trends of our time:

  • Reliance on Artificial Intelligence (AI): Transcription solutions use AI-enabled technologies to an ever-greater extent. Aside from voice recognition and machine learning technologies applied to calls, face-to-face interactions, interviews, and recorded content, there are emerging technologies that are just as vulnerable to bias and poor programming.
  • The drive for wearable tech: Instead of stenograph machines and microphones, users today lean towards smart devices they can wear, such as watches, rings, and glasses. Software developers will likely produce transcribing applications that will work with these devices very soon.
  • Mobile readiness: There’s every expectation that transcription applications will adapt to the complexities of mobile device design. This would enable business attendees, interviewers, and other professionals to transcribe speech using only their phones, in any setting, and much faster than they can today.