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.

Why Scribie Is The Top Transcription Service

Scribie Top Transcription Service

What A Top Transcription Service Offers

If you’ve ever found yourself in need of a transcription service, you know that by doing a Google search, you will see a lot of results. Just because there are many transcription services out there, doesn’t mean that they all match up to each other. Continue reading “Why Scribie Is The Top Transcription Service”

Adding Subtitles to Your Videos is No Longer Optional

Scribie Transcription

Transcription and Subtitles in 2017

If you’re reading this, you may be asking yourself why should I bother to add subtitles to my videos? They are just videos after all; a visual aid. It’s simple to just watch the video, get the information or content in that manner and go about your merry way. Well, it isn’t that simple. In this day and age, it’s vital to add subtitles to your videos. Let’s discuss a few reasons why. Continue reading “Adding Subtitles to Your Videos is No Longer Optional”

How can a small business use transcription services?

Small Business Transcription Services Scribie

Helping Small Businesses Compete

Times are changing… As you’ve noticed, the world is becoming more digital. This is especially apparent in the business world. Instead of software, now a lot of the biggest applications are accessed through websites.

This can be daunting for a business owner who isn’t constantly keeping up with the times. Don’t worry — with the right information, it’s easier than you think to level the playing field. Continue reading “How can a small business use transcription services?”

Affordable Transcription Pricing

Affordable Transcription Pricing Scribie

Demystifying Transcription Pricing

 

If you’ve ever shopped around for the best transcription service then you’ve probably experienced how confusing and frustrating transcription pricing can be.

Many services aren’t upfront with their pricing (or accuracy level) and require you to submit for a “free quote.” Others may ostensibly offer a rock-bottom price only to nickel and dime you for features that are already standard in most services. And others are just downright disingenuous about the entire process—good luck getting in touch with them! Continue reading “Affordable Transcription Pricing”

Speech Recognition Software Falls Short on Transcription

Human Transcription is better

The Foibles of Speech Recognition

 

In this day and age, more and more of what we are doing is becoming automated. One example would be banking. You don’t have to go to a bank anymore to deposit or transfer money. You can do that from an app or just log on to their website. Some banks don’t even have physical buildings. Human interaction and the component of business is becoming more and more limited. Continue reading “Speech Recognition Software Falls Short on Transcription”

Transcription Service Lingo

Common Transcription Terms

Most things in life have their own way of communicating, of talking. If you think of your life, I’m sure you’ll find this to be true. The same can be said for the transcription world. There are shortcuts and shorthand ways of saying things.  This allows transcribers to communicate with each other in an efficient manner.

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Here’s a list of some of the commonly used terms in the transcription service and an easy to understand definition of each term.
Audio Time Coding: this is simply a reference to a particular time point in the audio file.

BITC: This stands for Burnt-in Timecode.  This is when you see the timecode on the screen.  BITC allows you easily access a certain point a video and match it with the timecode in your transcription.

Speaker tracking: Each person that talks in the audio or video is given a distinct tag of Speaker 1, Speaker 2, etc. Scribie use names when they are available.

Multiple Speakers: There are more than 2 speakers in an audio or video file.

Non-North American Accent: This means people who have African, Asian, Australian, English, European, or Indian accents.

Noisy Background: Files have been recorded in places with lots of noise in the background like crowds, restaurant, etc.

Strict Verbatim: This is a transcript that includes every word uttered or spoken. This means the “Ah’s”, “Umm’s”, etc.

High Difficulty Level: These are files that contain things such as high levels of background noise, non-North American accents, poor audio quality, distorted audio, or far-off speakers.

Spelling Style: This allows you to specify which English spelling style you prefer. Currently, Scribie offers Canadian, British, Australian, & American styles.

Subtitle File: The words, or subtitles, seen on videos can be provided by Scribie in two formats – SubRip (.srt) and SubViewer (.sbv).

Non-default formatting: This refers to formatting of a transcript in a way that is not Scribie’s standard.

Default Transcript Format: Scribie starts a new paragraph at a new speaker or every 3 minutes, whichever comes first.

Transcript File Formats: There are 4 standard formats available for each transcript file – Microsoft Word (.doc), Adobe PDF (.pdf), OpenDocument Text (.odt), and Plain Text (.txt).

Transcription Progress Tracking: This allows you to keep track of your transcription as it goes through four stages to completion – Transcription, Review, Proofreading, & Quality Checks.

Start/End Time: You can define the start and/or end time of your transcription. This is used when you only need a part of the audio file transcribed.

Transcript Template: This allows you to determine the particular template file used for the conversion of your document. See transcript formats for the 4 types.

Man Hours:  This is when you pay for the amount of time taken to transcribe a file.

Audio Hours: This is when you pay for the amount of audio transcribed.  This is the format used by Scribie.

Re-reviews:  If you find that the transcription quality is not to your satisfaction, Scribie will review the file again for free.

Good Audio = Lower Prices

How To Get Cheaper Transcriptions

Want to pay less for your transcripts? If you use the following tips and tricks you can improve your audio and pay up to 4x less than what you would pay with bad audio — that could save you hundreds of dollars!

Seems simple, huh? It is… but many people often don’t realize they are recording bad audio. Here are a few quick and easy tips for getting the best quality audio with the least amount of effort.

 

1. Microphone & Recording Device

First off, determine what type of microphone pattern best suits what situation you need to record. If you’re recording a one-on-one interview, you’ll want a mic that has a narrow pickup pattern (unidirectional). If you’re recording a group of people (board meeting, focus group, etc.) you’ll want an omnidirectional mic as it has a larger pickup pattern and will capture all of the speakers. While you always want to be in a quiet environment with any mic, it’s important to note that omnidirectional mics are more susceptible to unwanted background noise so make sure you have a nice and quiet room.  Here are a few microphones and recorders we recommend at Scribie:

  1. Zoom H4n  – Awesome recorder with many recording options $219.99 zoom_h4npro_4_channel_handy_recorder_1464752813000_1253811
  2. Tascam DR 05 –  Best bang for the buck recorder $99.99   
  3.  Shure VP64A Nice mic low-priced and durable  $78.75
  4. Sennheiser MD 46  Great unidirectional mic for high noise environment $199.95
  5. MXL AC-404 Portable USB Conferencing Microphone – Perfect omnidirectional mic for recording groups – $83.99

2. Recording Environment

Ideally, you will need to be in a quiet location free of any ambient noise. This is crucial to capturing excellent audio because background noises such as a coffee shop, bar, or your neighbors’ car door slamming party can make it difficult for transcribers to hear your speakers’ voices. And even though our transcribers are awesome, transcribing audio with a noisy background is no easy feat and can take 3x to 4x longer to ensure our 98% accuracy.

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Picture from reddit user kidbopper

 

 

3. Microphone Positioning

Have the recorder on a stand or at least some type of buffer between it and whatever platform you use. This helps by separating the mic from any vibrations that may cause unwanted sound. If you are using a unidirectional microphone, try and position the mic 6″-12″ inches in front of the subject, with the mic aimed directly at their mouth. If you are using an omnidirectional mic, position the mic in the middle of the group on a stand. Always do a sound check before you begin recording by plugging in a headset and having people talk at normal voice levels.

4. Recording Settings

Recording settings are important, so make sure your recorder is set to record at a proper setting. We recommend setting it to record WAV files at 48kHz 28bit. This setting makes sure you are able to capture the human voice at an optimal level.

 

Don’t have a mic or recording interviews on your iPhone?

No problem, you can still produce great audio. Fstoppers shows how they use the iPhone to grab audio for video interviews and you can use the same methods for your audio interviews as well.

  1. Get the mic as close as possible to the subject.
  2. Use the stock iPhone recording app or download iTalk by Griffin.
  3. Export audio.

 

 

 

Why Scribie Charges Extra For Non-North American Accents

We have often been asked “Why does Scribie charge extra for non-North American accents?” so we decided to clarify and expand on the reasons behind our decision. Here’s what you need to know:

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Most files that are uploaded on Scribie for transcription are from the US, or at least the speakers are mostly North Americans–so for that reason, we specialize in transcribing North American accents. Naturally, it makes sense that most of our transcribers are based in the US. And this ensures they are familiar with the accents, which in turn ensures flawless transcription in much less time. The result? Faster turnaround, better accuracy, and happier customers.

Generally, we have a flat rate for all high-quality audio files with North American speakers. However, we do charge a bit extra ($.50 per minute) for high difficulty files due to the time these files are. Similarly, we charge a little more for files with a non-North American accent. The main reason is, these accents require specialized transcribers that are familiar with wider accent patterns and can transcribe files with non-US speakers at the same accuracy level. The problem is that these transcribers are rare, which means, if we get too many files in this category, the files tend to get stuck in the pipeline. And nobody likes that.

Basically, we charge more for these files because it costs more to transcribe these file types. It also keeps the transcribers motivated and encourages them to continue to work on such files.

So in closing, the pay rate occasionally changes, but what doesn’t change is Scribie’s commitment to one of the highest levels of accuracy in the industry  Upload your files now and find it out for yourself.

Top Five Recording Apps For iPhone

Looking to record a conversation, interview or business discussion? Forget the age-old voice recorder; rather grab your iPhone. There are loads of cool apps that ensure clarity, so that the final recorded file is easy to understand and transcribe. Here are the industry toppers:

iphone recording app

Voice Recorder: Here is a really simple app that’s easy to understand and works great. What’s more, it also comes for free. It is also passcode protected, just in case you want to make sure your recordings are safe. The app is compatible with iOS 8. Use it to record and store unlimited number of recordings, add them to your favorite list for quick future reference, and for loop function.

Audio Recorder: While this app is also free and simple to use, it is definitely more versatile when compared to the Voice Recorder. Apart from recording your ‘piece’ you can email the file for easy sharing. The app also gives you the freedom to specify the format in which you would want to record or save the file.

Voice Record Pro: This free app takes the recording experience to a whole new level with its impressive import and export functionalities. You can easily access the Google Drive and Dropbox, among many others. What’s more, you could even post your recording as a movie clip on Facebook and YouTube. Cool, isn’t it? Apart from recording, you can attach notes and photos, and keep everything safe with the help of a passcode.

Super Notes: If you are ready to shell out a few dollars for a professional quality recording, here is the perfect app for you. Like most other apps in this category it offers superb recording features and clarity, and is cut out for any situation that you have in mind. What sets it apart is its ability to allow you to add notes and annotations to your recording while you are still at it.

Dictate + Connect (Dictamus): Compared to the other apps in this genre, this one is on the higher end of the price chart. But once you look at the features, you would know why. With this app on your side, you can actually forget all other recording devices. Apart from recording, you can even rewind and overwrite without hampering the audio quality. The app comes complete with instant dictation controls, barcode scanner, easy saving and sharing options, and more.

The world has moved light years ahead of traditional, run-of-the-mill voice recorders. However, before jumping on the digitised bandwagon you must ensure that the app you choose is of top quality. It is also indispensable if you are looking to transcribe the audio files. A good quality file does not only make the job of a transcriptionist easier, it also ensures that the transcription is error-free. That means less back and forth, less wastage of time, and optimum use of resources.

Got a file that you need transcribing? We can help. Contact us today for an accurate and affordable transcription service.