Human vs. Machine: Should You Use a Manual or Automated Transcription Service?

Speech and voice recognition software is getting better than ever.

In the age of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, we expect more advanced transcription software. However, are any of the automatic transcription services good enough for your audio or video?

How many times have your automatic transcriptions included potentially grave (and often tragically embarrassing) errors?

Transcribing words is relatively easy for machines, and they’ve gotten really good at it. Just take a look at this chart by Kleiner Perkins.

What’s difficult is to infer what you truly mean by saying these words, which makes it more prone to error. Humans, on the other hand, are much better at discerning and recognizing the context of a conference call, webinar, podcast, or any kind of content.

Transcripts produced automatically are quick and private. Yet, they eventually need intervention by hand for proofreading. Others who are looking for accuracy and convenience think that they might as well order manual transcription services.

If you’re unsure whether automatic or manual transcription is the better solution, we’ll be comparing and discussing the pros and cons of both options in detail.

Find out whether you should purchase a manual or automatic transcription service…Human or machine?

The Benefits of Automated Transcripts

First, let’s go over the benefits and downsides of each option, beginning with automatic transcription services.

Transcription tools like Scribie, AWS Transcribe, or The Cloud Speech API by Google converts speech into text transcription from audio. Sometimes, you don’t even need a recorded file. Scribie, for instance, lets you directly make in-app calls where conversations are recorded for automatic transcription.

Automatically turning your video or voice file into a transcript is fast and easy. The average time it takes Scribie to transcribe a 2-hour file is 30 minutes. You’ll have a fast, first draft of your recording in no time.

Besides speed, it also comes at a lower cost for those whose needs don’t require a perfectly documented version of their audio.

Concerned about privacy and confidentiality? With automatic transcription, no other person would listen to your audio. Although some platforms, like Google and AWS, transfer your data to Google servers or others. Scribie is unique in that we have our own tech for privacy concerns and don’t require 3rd-party platforms to process your recordings.

Is It Good for You?

That depends on how you’ll use the transcript. If you’re simply using it to refer to while listening to the recording, you’ll have an easier time processing the information and content of the recording.

Transcripts of interviews, video content, and raw footage are often used by media outlets and journalists as a first draft. Scribie also provides automated subtitles along with the transcript. Users will be able to download the file, as well as upload it to their YouTube account and add it as a caption.

Researchers whose files may contain highly-technical terms or crucial data might prefer automatic transcriptions. Later, they’ll be able to edit the copy themselves for preciseness and accuracy.

For highly sensitive transcripts, such as psychotherapy sessions, rest assured that no other person would listen to the audio or watch the video.

Many businesses also use automated transcripts as a backup for detail discussed in a meeting. It’s also useful for contact centers who record a high-volume of calls with customers.

Automated transcripts are Ideal for:

  • Journalists
  • Medical
  • Research
  • Businesses
  • Contact Centers
  • Media

Get a fast and easy transcript of your recording. Upload a file on Scribie for automatic transcription now.

The Downsides to Automation

Transcription software doesn’t have language inference systems. Without this tech, the machine won’t be able to make corrections based on context, as well as identify different speakers, appropriate paragraph breaks, punctuation marks, and more.

Scribie, however, has a highly-advanced speech recognition engine tuned specifically for transcription of all file types. Unlike others tuned only for conference calls, Scribie can automatically recognize multiple speakers, whether on the other side of the call or sitting right next to each other.

If you find transcription technology that guarantees 100% accuracy, they’re either overshooting claims or over-optimizing for one particular scenario.

Of course, accuracy will also depend on certain factors such as the speaker’s accent or whether the audio is of high quality.

Typical Errors in Automated Transcripts

There are a few usual errors you can expect based on the limitations of today’s transcription automation software.

Artificial intelligence has difficulty detecting speaker turns, especially when there is fast back-and-forth between multiple speakers. All systems have a 20% to 30% failure rate for fast turns. In the most ideal scenario, a system will be able to figure out 90% of the turns. This means paragraphs won’t be broken correctly, words will be missing, and speakers won’t be tracked.

Names of people and places are also often mixed up. There is a village in Wales, for example, called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, which will most likely never be recognized by transcription software.

Source: Imgur

You can also rule out an automatic transcript from accurately displaying single or double quotes. A voice recording with “He said,…” will show the start of a quote but can’t determine where to close them.

Punctuations, such as hyphens, quotations, and exclamation marks, as well as proper capitalizations, are often unrecognized by systems. AWS, Google Web Speech, and Speechmatics don’t support quotations.

Fortunately, Scribie has an 80% accuracy rate for punctuations. We support all types of punctuations, including quotes and hyphens. Our speech recognition engine also uses Continual Learning to consistently decrease the word error rate (WER). In five to ten years, we’ll be able to reach a 95% accuracy rate for most audio files with good quality.

Automatic transcription is usually the first step to transcription of data and the first draft is rarely the final one. As Scribie keeps your transcript synced to audio, you’ll have an option to manually edit the transcription afterward through our built-in editor tool.

The Benefits of Manual Transcription Services

Transcription by hand is great for a high-quality text version of your file, with an accuracy rate of anywhere beyond 95%.

Nothing is more convenient than handing over the task of transcription to a specialist. Manual transcription services can be beneficial for large files, fast talkers, speakers with accents, and audio challenges, like background noise or distortion.

Manual transcriptions can also be secure. When you use Scribie, your covered by an NDA. Our transcriber directly works through our editor and won’t be able to download the file.

A time-coding feature for manual transcripts helps you determine when a sentence is spoken, so the subtitle shows up at the right time.

Is It Good for You?

Hire a manual transcriber for a clean and polished copy that is presentable to audiences.

Brands and enterprises might need high-quality transcripts to remain compliant with brand guidelines. TV Show subtitles, for example, can benefit from a transcription by hand.

Some content, such as medical and scientific papers are high stakes. It might be preferable to have a human type out the findings. Manual transcription is also crucial for court transcripts, depositions, and other legal documents.

Despite the higher cost of manual transcription vs. automated, a human with attention to detail can save you money. Mistakes by automated transcription software can be costly. A missing punctuation mark once caused a rocket’s engine failure and ended up costing $620 million.

Manual transcripts are ideal for:

  • Enterprises and Brands
  • Research
  • Media
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Legal

How Will You Use Your Transcript?

Deciding between a human or machine mostly boils down to the application of your transcript.

The modern tech of transcription software is impressive, with an accuracy rate higher than ever.

If you prefer a low-cost alternative and a more hands-on approach, you can use platforms like Scribie to quickly turn your recordings into written text which you can then edit afterward. Of course, doing-it-yourself may be impractical for large files.

Manual transcription services ensure your transcript is high-quality, convenient, and error-free for public or internal use.

Try Scribie’s manual transcription service by 100% humans. Order transcripts online today.

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