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MacSpeech iListen TranscriptionPak review

Using an iPod as a virtual secretary just got a step closer

iListen enables you to dictate into a recording device and upload it to your Mac for transcription

Our Verdict

A brilliant way to dictate material for transcription - if iListen works for you, that is


  • Easy to use


    Expands the usefulness of your iPod


  • Only as good as your profile's accuracy

    Not everyone can get good accuracy

    It takes hours of work to find that out!

Many of our jobs require us to take notes, and keeping up with a speaker without missing key content is easier said than done. That's where the iListen TranscriptionPak comes in.

iListen enables you to dictate into a recording device and upload it to your Mac for transcription. Now, with the availability of mics for the latest generation of iPods, as well as an improved sampling rate of 22KHz, you can use your favourite music player.

MacSpeech has certified three mic adaptors for both second-generation nanos and video iPods. They are the XtremeMac MicroMemo, (which you can buy from MacSpeech in a package with iListen for around £160), the Belkin TuneTalk ll and the Griffin iTalk Pro.

There's currently no way of feeding a signal directly into iListen from an iPod, so you have to create a separate iListen voice profile, which trains the app to recognise your voice, exclusively for iPod transcription. This is because your voice sounds different using the iPod interface to how it does when you dictate directly into a computer.

Achieving accuracy when creating voice profiles can take time. However, accuracy does improve with training, and iListen loves to train itself by analysing plain text documents that you've already written.

If you use the recommended Plantronics headset (available with iListen software), plugged into the mic adaptor, you can achieve hands-free operation, and it also improves accuracy.

So, what's our verdict? Well, voice recognition is certainly unique - it requires not only that you learn the software, but also that the software learns you. To make this work, there are many things to get right. It's time-consuming, and at times irritating, but the rewards are substantial.