Transcription services allow for the large-scale use of speech to text, which has applications from everything from business to education. While apps are available to do this, they may not work too well with volume or be able to cope with some of the more technical areas of work, such as the legal and medical sectors.
In effect, transcription services replace dictation services and at their most basic level offer a third-party platform that often uses artificial intelligence for voice recognition. However, many professional transcription services also include a manual review process to ensure accuracy and a high success rate with the transcription.
The overall aim is to provide a hands-free service that can deal with one-to-one dictation as well as natural conversations, such as from business meetings, in order to produce searchable documentation that can help boost productivity and otherwise help with customer engagement.
There are a lot more transcription services available online, but while you may be tempted to shop around on price, it's also important to take account of error rates. There's little point paying a fee for a transcription service that is so riddled with errors that you need to fork out more for it to be completely rewritten.
Ultimately, choosing a transcription service comes down to cost, whether it is a human or computer doing the transcribing, and the other integrated services. With the basics laid out, here are our best choices for a transcription service.
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Best transcription services - at a glance
Scribie offers both manual and automated transcription services. The manual transcription service offers 99% accuracy and a 36 hour turnaround time, as well as speaker tracking, for $0.80 per minute of audio. .
These prices are for clean files of American speakers, with an additional charge of $0.50 a minute for speakers with an accent, a noisy background, or a poor audio quality file. The user simply uploads their file, chooses their plan, pays the fee, and the text in a Word file is returned within the expected time window. They claim 99% accuracy with their incorporated proofreading, and full confidentiality.
For transcribing jobs that are less sensitive, and do not require such a high level of accuracy, there is also an automated service that is free. Simply upload the audio file, and a 30 minute turnaround time with an accuracy of between 80-95% for clean audio of American speakers.
iScribed offers both general transcription services, as well as for the legal and medical professions. A two-pass process is used to review transcribed files, resulting in a claimed accuracy of 99%, as well as a relatively fast turnaround time of 48 hours.
Pricing starts at $0.89 per minute, but there is an extra $0.20 per minute charge for verbatim or timestamped transcripts. Additionally, you can pay at extra $0.60 per minute (for a total of $1.49 per minute) if you need to rush your order through much faster.
iScribed also offers a range of related services to complement and go beyond their transcriptions, including subtitles, closed captioning, translation services and even content writing services.
Rev provides a range of audio and video transcription services, including captions, subtitles, and translations for all types of audio and video files.
Straightforward transcriptions can be complated in a few hours and come with a very high accuracy rate of over 99%. Captions and subtitles for videos are also available as a service, and are FCC, ADA, and Section 508. Both sets of services are charged at $1 per minute.
Translation services are also available for over 35 languages, and are charged at 10c per word. Perhaps of more interest is the foreign subtitles service for video, which is an additional feature other services tend not to offer directly, and this is charged at between $3-7 per minute depending on the task.
What also makes Rev stand out is that it manages to achieve one of the best balances between transcription speed and error rate. In terms of speed it's relatively fast, rather than blindingly fast, but where it really comes up trumps is in its low error rate.
Temi offers an automated voice transcription service at an affordable price. Their service gets used by ESPN, The Wall Street Journal, and PBS among their 10,000+ customers.
Via their “advanced speech recognition software,” they can transcribe voice to text via an uploaded audio or video file in a quick 5 minutes. The accuracy claimed is 90-95% with clear speakers with minimal accents, and minimal background noise, which are pretty much ideal recordings. Text files can be downloaded as MS Word or PDFs.
The cost is $0.10 (£0.07) per minute, and there are no minimums, subscriptions or additional monthly fees making this ideal for users with less regular transcription requirements.
TranscribeMe follows the trend here in trying to balance speed of transcription with a low error rate and competitive pricing.
While it's not as fast as Rev at transcribing, and while it can also have a slightly higher error rate, it costs significantly less with pricing starting from $0.79 per minute for a first draft.
So if cost is a key consideration in your budgeting, then TranscribeMe could be one of the better options, without sacrificing quality.
Transcription Panda positions itself very similarly to TranscribeMe, in that pricing starts at the same rate of $0.79 per minute for a rough draft has a similar error rate, but enjoys a slightly faster transcription speed in our testing.
However, turnaround time varies according to price paid, with the cheaper rate offering a 5 day turnaround, and higher costs of $2.40 a minute for a final draft transcription, which is made available within 24 hours.
So like a number of other transcription services it's worth looking at which is the more important, price or turnaround time, and so long as you're happy to wait for up to five days then Transcription Panda is an option worth considering.
GoTranscript is a British company that offers competitive pricing, while aiming to provide the accuracy that business customers need.
One of the bigger advantages of choosing GoTranscript is that it can cater for the more complex projects you may need to handle, not least technical, scientific, or other STEM academic projects where word accuracy can really suffer if the service isn't already set up to handle it.
Additionally, the turnaround time for GoTranscript is at the higher end of the service spectrum, with its fastest service offering a return within 6-12 hours, which is faster than a lot of other companies.
The one caveat is that unless your based in Britain the faster turnaround may be muted by the time-difference, meaning that projects come in after hours anyway.
GMR Transcription offers a range of difference transcription services. As well as the traditional service that includes automation and human review, they also offer video transcription as well as Spanish transcriptions. Another interesting service is text-to-text transcription for converting paper documents into electronic ones.
However, pricing tends to be at the higher end of the service spectrum while turnaround can be at the low end. So for basic transcription at the discount company rate expect the process to take weeks rather than days, though a faster same-day service is available.
Also note that rates will increase according to the quality of audio sample, as well as the number of speakers involved.