Audio transcription takes spoken words and converts them into readable text. With today’s technology, automatic transcription software has made it easier than ever before to convert spoken language into text formats. Need office meeting minutes? No problem. Need a sharable record of an interview? No problem. Need to document and store a brainstorming session? No problem.
Transcription software is a simple solution that’s cost-effective, efficient, and, for the most part, pretty accurate. Continue reading to learn more about why businesses choose audio to text software and what they use it for, as well as a list of the best free audio transcription software options.
Audio transcription is the process of transcribing the dialogue of an audio file into written text. It’s a handy way of keeping meeting notes, recording a job interview, and documenting anything else you might need a record of. Recording your meetings means you can reference previous discussions, brainstorming sessions, and conclusions at a later date without relying on a team member’s subjective notes or your own memory.
Traditionally, meeting notes were recorded manually either by hand or typed by a designated person assigned to take meeting notes. Today, software that transcribes audio to text is easier than ever before to use, and what’s more, it’s cost-effective. There are many software options to choose from, ranging in price, accuracy, and features.
No transcription software is going to be 100% accurate. You should expect some inconsistencies and inaccuracies to show up—especially if you work in a jargon-filled industry, there’s a lot of background noise, or multiple people try to speak at once. To make the most of transcription software, encourage your team to remain quiet if they are not speaking, and they should never speak over one another. Speak one at a time in a clear voice so the transcription software can detect what it needs to.
If you are looking for 99% accuracy in your transcriptions, you will need to hire a manual service to transcribe your audio or video files. Transcription services are much more expensive and have a longer turnaround time since a person needs to manually type out the audio. If accuracy is your top priority, manual is the way to go, but expect at least a 12 hour turnaround and anywhere from $0.79 to $2.50 a minute for these services.
Taking manual meeting notes is a time-consuming process, and it means one of your valuable employees can’t be present for the meeting you need recorded. The employee transcribing isn’t able to participate, and it puts a lot of pressure on one person to manually document everything correctly. With online transcription software, you don’t need to worry whether the transcriber is catching every detail—the software handles everything for you.
If you don’t already transcribe meeting notes, adding this option into the mix is much more efficient than sharing an audio file. If an employee misses a meeting, they can review the typed transcription and focus on the areas that matter to them, rather than listen to the whole meeting from an audio or video file.
Audio transcription files are easy to share with your entire team. If anyone misses a meeting, they can simply pull up the latest transcription file, so they never miss a beat. With software to transcribe audio to text, it doesn't matter if your employees are in the office, working from home, or on the road; everyone has the same opportunity to access organized meeting notes.
Transcribed meeting notes are handy in the moment, but they also serve a long-term purpose. Your transcribed files can be organized and archived so that they can be referenced in the future. If there’s any question about what happened when, who was there, or what that one wild idea was, you can always look back on your archived notes. When organized effectively, audio transcriptions can become a reliable record of everything that goes on in your workplace.
Documenting meetings is the most popular use of transcription software. Recording the events of a meeting is a decades-old practice, but it no longer requires a dedicated person to do the job. Meeting transcription provides detailed notes for attendees, a reference for anyone who couldn’t attend, and a long-lasting archive of events.
A transcribed interview documents the moments that would otherwise be lost after the interview concludes. It’s a practice some businesses follow to ensure no detail is missed in the process. It allows one person to conduct the interview and share highlights with a larger decision-making team.
Key moments or statements could be overlooked or misunderstood while in the midst of an interview, and it can be tough to fairly assess each candidate when there are different circumstances surrounding each meeting. The added transcription provides equal and fair documentation that allows multiple people to review and assess the candidate in order to make the best decision.
Documentation plays a key role in running a successful brainstorming session. Not all ideas move forward to implementation, but they could be just what you need to solve a different problem later on. Brainstorming sessions move quickly, and with so many new ideas flying around, it can be tough to document everything, even with a dedicated note-taker.
Audio transcription software will ensure every moment of your brainstorming session is documented, and it doesn’t take anyone out of the process. You can save your text-file notes for future reference and share the session with anyone on the team who wasn’t able to attend.
Otter.ai is a free transcription software that’s gained a lot of attention in recent years. The software is up to 95% accurate and is completely free for up to 600 minutes with a max of 40 minutes per recording. If you need more, they have paid monthly plans that offer up to 6000 minutes and a max of four hours recording time. The Business plan provides live notes and captions for Zoom as well as time codes and customizable team vocabulary for jargon-filled industries.
Temi is a popular paid speech to audio to text transcription app that produces transcripts in minutes. It is a paid software platform, but it’s not nearly as expensive as manual service options. Although it’s a pretty great service, there are many other reliable options available. Many Temi users have recently made the switch to Otter.ai, claiming it’s just as good, and best of all, it’s free!
Trint provides audio to text transcription for a monthly fee. Pricing ranges from $48-68/month, making it one of the more expensive monthly subscription options. The added price does bring a few unique features with it, including a vocabulary builder and collaborative editing that allows multiple users to make transcript edits at the same time.
Happy Scribe is an automatic transcription software tool that converts video and audio to text in minutes. Pricing is based on the length of the audio or video that needs transcription and ranges from 12 to 9 euros per hour. Happy Scribe can convert in 119 languages and accents, which makes it an ideal choice for global teams.
Microsoft offers a few different transcription features. With Microsoft 365, you can transcribe voice commands directly into Word. This tool is ideal for conducting interviews, recording your own thoughts, or transcribing small group sessions.
For larger meetings, Microsoft Teams offers automatic transcription, so meeting recordings can be played back with closed captions. The transcript is searchable and stored in the cloud for sharing across your team. This option lacks some of the features other services offer, such as vocabulary builders and speaker identification, but it may be a good place to start if you already use Microsoft’s suite of tools.
Zoom offers built-in audio and video transcription software with its Business, Education, or Enterprise license, so long as cloud recording is enabled. Zoom’s transcription feature gives the option to display the transcript text within the video itself to create a closed caption display. You can also use appropriate timestamps and edit the transcript as needed.
For teams that are already paying for the required Zoom license, this is a good place to start as the transcription addition is free to use and already integrated into Zoom.
If you’re already paying for the Microsoft or Zoom tools that come with free transcription services, it’s worth starting there. These features are built into the tools you’re already using, which will make training and integration easier—plus, they’re free.
Otherwise, your best bet is Otter.ai, which is free to use for up to 600 minutes, and if you need more, the paid pricing is reasonable. The software offers many of the same features as its competitors with up to 95% accuracy.
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