5 Best Automatic Transcription Tools​

. 7 min read

Thanks to the improvements of automated tech in the last 10 years, tasks like manual transcription seem antiquated and obsolete. Not only are they time-consuming and (potentially) costly for your business, but they are also largely unnecessary. Why spend hours transcribing a video conference or meeting when you could have automatic transcription software do the work for you in a matter of seconds?

While you may need to review your automatic transcriptions for accuracy, you will still end up saving a lot of time and money by letting the software automatically transcribe your audio recording and/or video to text. However, there are a plethora of automatic transcription tools on the market, and some are far better than others.

In today’s post, we will take a closer look at the 5 best automatic transcription tools, paying special attention to their basic offerings, pricing, as well as the pros and cons of each service. But first, we will examine the basic differences between manual and automatic transcribing:

Manual vs. Automatic Transcription

Manual Transcription

Pros:

  • Fewer errors related to linguistic ambiguities
  • Often negates the need for additional reviews for accuracy
  • Manual transcriptions can be edited and polished as they are being created

Cons:

  • Can take hours or even days to complete a full transcription
  • Manual transcribing still leaves room for human error
  • Costs much more in time and labor than automatic transcription

So that you understand what is included in an automatic transcription tool, it is important to understand how automatic transcribing differs from manual transcribing. When you manually transcribe an audio file, video file, or even live event (like a webinar or speech), you simply type every word that you hear. Ideally, if there are multiple speakers, you should delineate between the speakers in the text, ensuring that anyone who reads the transcription can follow along with ease.

While live manual transcription is less popular, it is still very common to hire a person to manually transcribe audio recordings and video files. When doing so, the person will often need to go back and listen to certain parts multiple times to ensure that they get every word correct, especially if there is background noise or multiple speakers. This is why manually transcribing a 5-minute video can still take several hours. And, it goes without saying that the longer the video, the longer it will take to transcribe the content manually.

Automatic Transcription

Pros:

  • Can transcribe hours of human speech in minutes or seconds
  • Offers live transcription as people are speaking, which could otherwise only be done by a trained stenographer
  • Costs far less than manual transcription

Cons:

  • Usually requires human review for 100% accuracy
  • Can make mistakes related to linguistic ambiguities
  • Offers varied results based on the quality of the underlying software

Alternatively, automatic transcribing replaces a human transcriber with software that can provide live transcription or post-recording transcription in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Automatic transcription tech has advanced to the point that most software can offer multiple speaker identification, identify words even with poor-quality audio, and organize the text into a readable document.

However, this is not to say that automatic transcription is always perfect. Like humans, transcription software can make mistakes too, especially when it comes to certain ambiguities related to language. Heavy accents, mumbling, or uncommon colloquialisms can prevent some software from providing a transcription with 100% accuracy. This is why it is often best to have a human review an automatic transcription to identify and fix any errors.

5 Best Automatic Transcription Tools

If you have the time and money to spend on a professional, human transcriber, then you probably do not need to continue. However, if you want to take advantage of the time and cost-saving benefits of automatic transcribing, we have narrowed down this list to the 5 best automatic transcription tools on the market:

Otter.ai

Otter.ai offers live, automatic transcription services for individuals and businesses. Whether you need software to take live notes during a lecture or you want to provide a written transcription of a business meeting for your team, Otter.ai is one of the best transcription tools available. It is specifically designed to work seamlessly with some of the most popular video conferencing platforms, including Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex. Additionally, you can quickly import existing recorded audio or video files to have the software transcribe them in a matter of seconds.

Basic Offerings:

  • Automatic Transcription
  • Real-time note taking
  • Keyword and summary analytics
  • File importation
  • Highlight and comment tools
  • Calendar and video conferencing software integration
  • File sharing and collaboration

Pricing:

  • Basic - Free version
  • Pro - $8.33 per month (billed annually) or $12.99 per month (billed monthly)
  • Business - $20 per month (billed annually) or $30 per month (billed monthly)
  • Enterprise - Customized pricing

Pros:

  • Provides high-quality live transcriptions and notetaking
  • Can quickly and accurately transcribe pre existing files
  • Offers both free and affordable paid plans

Cons:

  • Requires human review for 100% accuracy
  • Some features are limited to paid plans
  • Currently only offers transcriptions and captioning in English

Trint

Trint is an audio-to-text transcription service that, like all of the best transcription tools, utilizes the latest AI, including automated speech recognition (ASR) and natural language processing (NLP). Unlike most similar tools that shy away from promising exactly what to expect with your transcription, Trint boasts “99% accuracy” with its automatic services. Additionally, Trint makes it easy to upload files in a wide array of formats, from MP3 to MOV files.

Basic offerings:

  • Automatic transcription in up to 31 languages
  • Live transcriptions in up to 15 languages
  • Transcript editing tool
  • File importation
  • Highlight and comment tools
  • File sharing and collaboration

Pricing:

  • Starter - $48 per month (billed annually) or $60 per month (billed monthly)
  • Advanced - $60 per month (billed annually) or $75 per month (billed monthly)
  • Pro Team - $68 per month (billed annually) or $85 per month (billed monthly)
  • Enterprise - Customized pricing

Pros:

  • Offers transcription services in dozens of languages
  • Great for team collaboration and editing
  • Can transcribe audio playback from 8 distinct file types

Cons:

  • Requires human review for 100% accuracy
  • No free plan is available
  • Far more expensive than most other transcription services

Happy Scribe

Happy Scribe is a transcription and subtitle tool that offers both automatic and human-made (manual) services. In addition to English, Happy Scribe supports transcriptions and subtitle services in 62 different languages — far more than most other automatic transcription tools. Moreover, Happy Scribe makes it easy to use their services as needed, without getting locked into a monthly or yearly subscription.

Basic Offerings:

  • Automatic transcriptions in up to 63 languages
  • Manual transcriptions by native speakers
  • Video captioning
  • Transcript editing tool
  • Project and spending analytics
  • File importation
  • File sharing and collaboration

Pricing:

  • Automatic - €0.20 (about $0.25 USD) per minute of audio or video
  • Manual - €1.70 (about $2.08 USD) per minute of audio or video
  • Enterprise - Customized pricing

Pros:

  • No contracts or long-term subscriptions required
  • Can choose between automatic and manual transcriptions
  • Supports a total of 63 languages (including English)

Cons:

  • Only guarantees up to 85% accuracy on automatic transcriptions or subtitles
  • The standard pricing structure is not cost-effective for those who need to transcribe frequently, even with volume-based discounts
  • The turnaround time on automatic transcriptions is roughly 30 seconds for every minute of audio or video, which is far longer than many other automatic transcription tools

Sonix

Sonix is an automated transcription, translation, and subtitle service. The platform supports projects in over 40 different languages. Additionally, the company promises lightning-fast turnaround times and high accuracy. Sonix also offers more features than the majority of automatic transcription tools, including word-by-word timestamps and the ability to upload multiple tracks and compile them into one text transcription.

Basic Offerings:

  • Automatic transcriptions in 40+ languages
  • Automated translations
  • Automated subtitles
  • Highlight and comments tool
  • File importation
  • Transcript editing tool
  • File sharing and collaboration
  • Multitrack uploading

Pricing:

  • Standard - $10 per hour
  • Premium - $5 per hour + $16.50 per month (billed annually) or $22 per month (billed monthly)
  • Enterprise - Customized pricing

Pros:

  • Transcription, translation, and subtitle services are combined in one package
  • Both pay-as-you-go and subscription options
  • Tons of extra features for editing and sharing files

Cons:

  • No free plan option
  • Pricing structure does not benefit large-volume clients
  • The pay-as-you-go plan does not include custom dictionaries, automated timestamps, or multitrack uploads

Descript

Unlike many of the other automatic transcription tools on this list, automatic transcribing is just one of several tools offered by Descript. Descript offers video and audio editing tools, a podcast production suite, screen recording features, and — of course — automatic transcription. In addition to their automatic transcriptions, Descript has professional transcribers standing by in case you prefer to have your content transcribed and reviewed by a human.

Basic offerings:

  • Automatic transcription
  • Manual transcription
  • File importation
  • Transcript editing tool
  • File sharing and collaboration
  • Filler word removal

Pricing:

  • Free Plan
  • Creator - $12 per month (billed annually) or $15 per month (billed monthly)
  • Pro - $24 per month (billed annually) or $30 per month (billed monthly)
  • Enterprise - Customized Pricing

Pros:

  • Offers both free and paid plans
  • Gives you the ability to automatically remove filler words (like, uh, um, etc.)
  • Access to various features and services in addition to automatic transcribing

Cons:

  • Free plan only offers 3 hours of transcription time in total, while Creator and Pro plans implement monthly limits of 10 hours and 30 hours, respectively
  • Manual transcriptions are treated as a separate service and cost $2 per minute of audio or video
  • Descript only promises 99% accuracy for its manual transcriptions

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are a number of great automatic transcription tools out there, and the list above represents some of the best that the market has to offer. However, it is important to take note of the differences between these services. While some are ideal for individuals who just need a basic transcription tool from time to time, others are better for businesses that want high-volume, accurate, and fast transcriptions to share inside and outside of their organizations. Fortunately, several of these transcription tools offer free plans (or temporary free trials), so you can always test out which one is best for you before making a purchase.