What is a Transcription Software and How to use it

Using Transcriptions

Transcription is the process of converting speech or other audio into text. It’s a way to preserve and share information that would otherwise be lost in the transitory medium of sound.

The transcriptions, either manual or automatic, apply to many scenarios and needs, for example:

  • You’re recording a speech or a presentation and don’t have time to transcribe afterwards the speaker’s notes.
  • You want to write down interviews scripts that you use later for articles or research
  • You attend business meetings and you want to keep track of the discussions, the decisions, and other relevant outcomes.

Automatic or Manual Transcriptions?

One of the best things about automatic transcriptions is that they are useful for real-time captions during live events. In such cases, you can record audio and generate captions at the same time. For example, during meetings or conference calls, or in general when you’re attending something live. Automatic transcriptions are also great when you want to share what you’ve written down with someone but don’t have time to type it up.

However, while automatic transcriptions save time and reduce potential errors, they’re not perfect. For example, during a meeting, the speaker might say something unexpected or repeat themselves. An automatic transcription may not capture these moments properly. Similarly, real-time captioning generates captions as the speaker is talking, which means the captions may not reflect the overall context of the conversation.

When you need more accurate content, automatic transcriptions are a great help to jump-start with transcripts that you can modify, review and adjust later and manually, in order to properly reflect the context, correct word-specific errors, refine the sentences and the punctuation, etc.

Software Transcription: audio to text conversion

Although the accuracy is not always perfect, adopting Automatic speech recognition (ASR) software is fundamental in all cases. It can do both speech recognition and TTS at once. By combining these two technologies, users could have their conversations transcribed into typed text and then converted back to speech so that others can understand them. As highlighted before, ASR software is typically used in conference calls, videoconferencing, and online chat sessions where people need to communicate with each other without having to worry about getting the timing right.

The foundation of Transcription software is Artificial Intelligence, specifically Machine Learning and Deep Learning algorithms, based on Neural Networks and Natural Language Processing techniques.

What is the best software for transcribing?

There are many software and platforms available offering transcription services, with different features and prices.

In general, there is no one solution that outperforms the other. It depends on your needs, requirements, and budget. Here a quick summary and overview:

There is no single best solution. Depending on the user profile, needs and requirements, professional vs fun, budget and cost, one or the other can be suitable. Here some suggestions (not in order or ranking):

Pros and Cons of Transcription Software

Advantages of Transcription Software:

  • Time-saving – At work or for study, people who need transcriptions of business meetings, lectures, calls, etc. can save time either by recording the audio and transcribing it afterward or even directly in real-time when the software allows such feature.
  • High level of accuracy – Artificial Intelligence and machine learning have made a big step towards accuracy and reliability, thanks to the constantly increasing amount and quality of training set adopted by the algorithms to auto-evolve and improve.
  • Affordable Pricing – pricing is usually tied to consumption, with monthly subscriptions in the range of 20 to 80 dollars.

Disadvantages of Transcription Software

  • Accuracy is not always 100% – although we’ve just said that accuracy is a strength of transcription software, in some cases you need to refine and review the transcripts to correct mistakes or misspellings or other issues. Some words could be misinterpreted also because of the specific context or of slang and dialect inflection. For example, when the speech is related to a medical topic (and medical transcriptions are a largely adopted scenario for ASR), the transcription algorithm will not interpret correctly many words if it has not been properly trained with medical-related audio training sets. Whereas, the transcription algorithm will have higher accuracy in case of business-sales-related speech in case it has been trained well in that area.
  • Lack of real-time and audio streaming solution – the majority of automatic transcription solutions provide batch processing. That is, you upload a media file (e.g. .mp3 or .wav file) to an online platform, and after asynchronous processing of the file, it provides the corresponding transcripts. The real-time solutions consisting of generating transcriptions in real-time with the audio are very few (and One Transcriber is offering such a feature).
  • Only input microphone is the audio source – also here, almost all solutions mentioned above, offer the possibility to transcribe the audio provided in input to the microphone by the user. They don’t allow to transcribe in real-time the audio played by the Output Speaker (still, One Transcriber only offers this feature).

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