Tools for Recording & Transcribing Meetings

. 6 min read

For decades, human transcription has been the norm. In almost every meeting and conference room, there used to be someone for note-taking. Over time, the need to record, transcribe, and archive information has grown, but using human transcription is not just expensive but also time-consuming.

Recording and transcription tools make it easier for businesses to record audio and convert it to text. This way, they don’t have to disrupt the meeting or wait for the transcript afterward. The wake of COVID-19 and work from home has increased the demand for transcription tools, but finding one that fits your needs is not easy.

In this article, we will compare human transcription versus automated transcription tools along with some popular recording and transcription tools.

Are AI Transcription Tools Worth the Hype?

AI transcription has made life easier by providing automated transcripts. Even the most experienced transcribers take some time to produce text from an audio or video file. With AI transcription tools, we can do it in real time. However, let’s not forget that such tools have their limitations. When it comes to transcription tools, accuracy depends on multiple factors such as:

  • Background noise
  • Accents and dialects
  • Speech volume and clarity

Otter.ai

Otter.ai is a recording and transcription tool that uses AI. With Otter, users can record audio, import audio files, and generate transcripts. On top of the generic features, Otter.ai also generates keywords, identifies speakers, and allows users to collaborate over the transcript.

Alongside the web app, Otter.ai is also available as a Google Chrome extension and for Android and iOS. It also works with popular video conferencing solutions such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx. For new users, Otter.ai offers a 14-day trial period for the Business teams, after which you can choose the pricing plan best suited for your needs. It also offers a Basic plan for free with limited functionality.

Recording in Otter.ai

Otter.ai allows audio recording in both free and paid plans. After recording, you can edit the conversation and share it with your team. You can record audio via a web browser or mobile app.

Transcription in Otter.ai

Otter.ai offers real-time transcription, which means that your conversation will be transcribed as you speak. This makes it easier to record and automatically transcribe meetings. It’s also intelligent enough to identify speakers and tell who said what.

The mobile app, website, and the Otter.ai Assistant make it easier to record audio, transcribe, and access the transcript from anywhere. Later on, users can search through the transcript, share, and collaborate with their team.  

For the most part, Otter.ai transcriptions are perfect except for minor errors. It even allows users to upload audio files to be transcribed. This process takes a few minutes depending on factors such as the length of audio, accents, clarity, and number of speakers. Although, Otter.ai uses AI which means that the accuracy will improve over time.

Zoom

Since online meetings became the new normal, Zoom is the most popular choice for meetings. It’s available as a desktop, Android, and iOS apps and offers both free and paid options.

Zoom provides a platform for teams to collaborate and allows them to record and transcribe meetings.

Recording in Zoom

In Zoom, both free and paid users can record calls, and free users can save the recordings on their computers. However, only paid members can upload and save the recordings on the cloud. To help users understand how to record a meeting in Zoom, the company put together a video demonstration that you can watch here.

Transcription in Zoom

When it comes to transcription, Zoom’s recording transcript option is available only in the Business plan. It also offers closed captions (CC) and transcribe meetings and call recordings from the cloud. The transcript file appears in the list of the recorded sessions, which can be downloaded and opened via MS Word and other text editors.

The audio transcript for Zoom meetings is generated automatically, but it takes some time. You can listen to a recording, read the transcript alongside, or as CC. Zoom doesn’t use AI and the accuracy of Zoom’s transcripts is almost 80%.

Otter.ai Live Notes Add-on for Zoom

If you don’t want to subscribe to a plan on Zoom, then you can use an Otter.ai add-on for automated live transcription for Zoom calls. Otter.ai Live Notes are a Zoom add-on that enables live transcription for all participants. Overall, Zoom is used primarily for video conferencing and is not the best tool for transcription.

Google Meet or Hangouts

While the education sector opted for Zoom amidst the covid crisis, offices mostly went for Google Meet. Developed by Google, Google Meet is a video communication service that replaced Google Hangouts and Google Chat. It allows users to schedule and record, but they have to use a third-party tool such as Live Google Meet transcription with as Otter.ai to transcribe and caption meetings in real-time.

Cisco WebEx Meetings

Cisco WebEx Meetings is a free video-conferencing tool. While it offers automated audio transcription, it's only available in English and supports English audio. The automated transcription of audio for MP4 meeting recordings can be enabled by the administrator.

Recording in WebEx Meetings

Cisco WebEx Meetings is a video conferencing tool that allows users to record meetings. Although, the rules of recording audio may differ depending on the subscription plan. For example, cloud storage is available only for paid users. Both free and paid users can download a meeting recording to their local storage.

Transcription in WebEx Meetings

Cisco WebEx Meetings is not a specialized transcription tool. Rather, it offers transcription for WebEx meetings and events for customers who have enabled NBR (Network-Based Recording). For such users, transcription is available at no extra cost.

Since WebEx is not a specialized transcription tool, it takes twice the duration of the meeting to generate the transcript. Also, the accuracy of the transcript is not as good as a specialized solution. To get the transcript faster, you can use Otter.ai to transcribe WebEx meeting recordings.

Fireflies

Another recording and transcription tool similar to Otter.ai is Fireflies. It also allows users to automatically record, transcribe, and analyze meetings and calls. The SaaS platform is also available as a Google Chrome extension and offers a large variety of integrations and workflows.

Recording in Fireflies

Fireflies allow users to record audio, transcribe, search, and share it with their team. The recording feature is available in all Fireflies pricing plans including Free. Teams also get up to 3000 minutes of team storage.

Transcription in Fireflies

In Fireflies, Transcription is available only in the paid plans. Alongside transcribing meetings and audio files. Users can also search through the transcript, edit, add custom vocabulary, run topic tracking, and even download recordings and transcripts.

Trint

Trint is a web app that turns audio and video into shareable content. What sets Trint apart is that it can also translate the transcribed (and other) text in 31 different languages. Compared to other recording and transcription tools, Trint is a little expensive starting from $60 per month. Trint is available as a web application and iOS app.

Recording in Trint

Trint does not offer audio recording on their web app. Rather users have to upload audio and video files to transcribe.

Transcription in Trint

Coming to transcription, Trint’s web-based UI allows users to upload audio and video files directly. The ability to transcribe both audio and video files makes Trint unique among other transcription software. Trint boasts a fast transcription within a few minutes with up to 99% accuracy.

After transcribing the text, the team can share the transcript, verify it, leave comments, and make collaboration easy via workspaces. In the end, you can also export the file in the most popular formats including DOCX, SRT, TXT, and CSV.

Sonix

Sonix is an AI-based toolkit for transcription and translation. This web app is similar to Trint as it also allows users to translate in over 40 languages. Alongside automated transcription, Sonix is also available for professionals such as journalists and researchers and business sectors including legal, sales, and non-profit. Sonix only has an iOS app and is not available for Android.

Recording in Sonix

With Sonix, users cannot simply record audio, but upload the audio file to be transcribed.

Transcription on Sonix

In Sonix, users can transcribe and translate in up to 40 languages. The transcript is not only time-stamped but also labeled for speakers. You can also polish the transcript with Sonix in-browser editor and export it as a text or subtitles file.

What makes Sonix unique is that it not only transcribes text but can also generate audio from transcripts. Users simply upload a text file and it generates audio to the transcript.

In Summary

Transcript tools are an excellent way for record-keeping and collaboration but it doesn't come without its drawbacks. Even with AI bringing high levels of accuracy, you can never be sure that the transcript is 100 percent accurate.  Additionally, you don't always need to transcribe meetings as going through thousands of words is never a good idea. What's important to understand is when and how to use automated tools.