7 Best Transcription Software of 2021 (Speech to Text Tools)
Transcription software helps you automatically convert audio and video files into electronic text.
Most of these transcription tools rely on artificial intelligence technologies like machine learning and natural language processing to transcribe audio to text.
The trouble is, with so many options, it’s tricky to choose the right transcription software to go with.
That’s why in this guide, I ranked and reviewed the best transcription software to use based on accuracy, quality, pricing, features, and more.
Let’s get to the list.
Transcribe is a privacy-focused transcription tool that’s suitable for converting audio files to text automatically. Whether you’re listening to podcasts, music, or even an official meeting, it can save time as well as money and increase productivity levels.
Transcribe comes complete with a specialized audio player that helps to decode audio. It provides foot pedal support, along with excellent slow-motion performance. The software comes with a dedicated help file that explains all its features.
This service is suitable for professionals who want a clean and private way of transcribing audio. I like the handy keyboard shortcuts that help to perform tasks such as inserting timestamps.
Coming to the features, Transcribe allows you to create subtitles for videos and export transcripts in the form of WebVTT or SRT files. These can then be used for captioning videos on social media platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo.
The following is a list of some essential features of Transcribe:
- Automatic text expander for acronyms
- Easy conversion from speech to text
- Manual transcription facilities such as foot pedal integration
- Automatic audio pause and resume
- Easy to use browser-based interface
- Works without an internet connection
- Completely secure and private
Transcript’s pricing plans are dead simple. It has only two tiers: one for self-transcription and the other for automatic transcription. The following is a brief overview of each plan, along with the yearly pricing.
1. Self-Transcription at $20/year
- Media player with integrated editor
- Unlimited dictation
- Automatic text expansion
- Manual transcription aids such as foot pedal integration and playback loops
2. Automatic Transcription at $20/year + $6/hour of audio
- All facilities of the self-transcription plan
- Machine learning-based automatic transcription
- Video subtitle creation features
- Speaker identification with automatic timecodes
All plans are renewable yearly. However, the service doesn’t provide auto-renewal, so you’ll have to give explicit consent for license renewal each year. This saves money in case you don’t need the service but have forgotten to opt-out.
Trint is suitable for Mac users or even Windows users who don’t want to go through the hassle of installing transcription services software. It lets you transcribe video as well as audio files from the comfort of your web browser.
It’s an all-in-one audio editing and transcription platform that lets you collaborate with team members using multiple tools. The service has a fast turnaround time, robust security terms, and low error rates.
Trint uses advanced machine-learning-based algorithms for transcribing audio and video. It supports multiple languages and includes provisions for almost all dialects in the English language.
Apart from turning audio to text within a few minutes, Trint provides options for editing the text and adding captions to video files. It also provides you with the ability to embed these searchable transcripts on your website.
Here’s a List of the Top Features that Trint Offers:
- Fast audio to text transcription within minutes
- AI-based transcription leads to reduced error rates
- Simple tools for distributing transcripts and contents
- Dedicated app for iPhone allows on-the-go accessibility
- Supports multiple file formats for the transcripts
Trint’s pricing is distributed across five tiers, and the features you get depends on the plan you choose. Billing is monthly, though I recommend you go with the yearly billing cycle and save 20%.
1. Starter Plan at $48/month
- Transcribe 84 files per year
- Access to the Trint editor
- Single user access
2. Advanced Plan at $60/month
- Unlimited day-to-day transcriptions
- Access to the Trint editor
- Single user access
3. Pro Plan at $68/month
- Everything in the Advanced Plan
- Ability to create public links
- Collaborative editing features
4. Pro Team Plan at $68/user/month
- Everything in the Pro Plan
- Supports shared workspaces
- Multi-user access (up to ten users)
5. Enterprise Plan at Custom Rates
- Everything in Pro Team Plan
- Dedicated security and reporting features
- Supports more than 11 users
Every plan comes with a fair usage policy, and there are no hidden costs or extra charges. You can even choose to pause your plan should the need arise. However, for large-volume transcription, you’ll need to contact the company for custom quotes.
Descript brings a simple document editor feeling to creating audio/video transcriptions. The tool combines a transcriber, screen recorder, and editor in the same package. It also includes AI-powered publishing tools that make audio/video editing easy and fun.
Using Descript is simple: you just drag-and-drop your media file onto the editor, and the software transcribes the audio into text. The textual transcript is displayed in a simple document editor, where you can change it in any way you please.
Correct mistakes using Overdub, snip out fillers, and add subtitles to your videos…Descript lets you do all that and more. It even has remote recording features and provides dedicated collaborative tools for team players.
Descript is ideal for collaborating on projects that require multiple team members. Apart from screen capture, remote recording, and speech-to-text conversion, the tool provides live collaboration and cloud-based syncing.
The following is a list of the essential features of Descript:
- Automatic transcription with almost instant turnaround times
- White-Glove service that provides professional human transcriptionists
- Web-link based project sharing, editing, and commenting features
- World-class data security
- Supports multiple file formats (SRT/VTT/DOC/RTF)
- Live, automatic multitrack transcription
- Create audiograms from podcast highlights
Descript provides users with four pricing plans that provide correspondingly greater features. All plans are billed monthly, but you can save up to 20% by paying yearly. Here’s a quick look at each of the plans and the associated benefits.
1. Free Plan at $0/month
- Record and edit one project
- 20 screen recordings at a maximum resolution of 720p
- Up to three hours of transcription
2. Creator Plan at $12/editor/month
- Unlimited number of projects and screen recordings
- Up to ten hours of transcription per month
- Timeline exporting ability
3. Pro Plan at $24/editor/month
- Overdub, filler word elimination, and Audiograms
- Batch file exporting ability
- Up to 30 hours of transcription per month
4. Enterprise Plan at Custom Pricing
- SSO features
- Dedicated accounts rep
- Custom onboarding and training
In case you need an audio transcription done extremely fast, I recommend you go with Express Scribe. It’s an entirely free tool compatible with audio players and can integrate with phones and computers via USB.
Apart from fast transcription, it provides a searchable text editor that you can use to edit the transcripted text. The software works seamlessly with Microsoft Word and also supports USB foot pedals.
Express Scribe works in both Windows and Mac systems and supports most audio and video file formats. Whether you choose to use the keyboard hotkeys or a dedicated foot pedal, this software promises and delivers speedy transcripts.
The following is a list of the essential features that Express Scribe offers:
- Variable playback speeds
- Automatic file management
- Multi-channel control
- Supports encrypted dictation files
- Integrates with both analog and digital voice recorders
- Automatic file reception and loading via FTP or email
Express Scribe has a free version that you can download from the official site. It offers most of the required features but with limited file format support. For working with proprietary file formats, you can purchase the Pro versions of the tool.
Pro version of Express Scribe is available in the following two variants:
- Express Scribe Professional at $70 ($49.99 after discount)
- Express Scribe Basic at $60 ($39.95 after discount)
You can also choose to bundle other software with the primary tool, such as Express Dictate and Express Invoice. Payment for the tool can be made using most cards or via PayPal.
Inqscribe is one of the newer entrants into the transcription software market and is extremely easy to use. The software’s unique selling point is its straightforward interface that makes the tool easy to operate even for first-timers.
Inqscribe provides you with a detailed guide that explains how to use it. You’re also guided with simple on-screen instructions that are easy to follow. Apart from the above, it includes a glossary of standard transcription terms so that novices can get acquainted quickly.
The software is cross-platform, although the Mac version is still in the stages of Beta testing. It works with the most popular audio and video formats. You can use it to add customized timecodes, type simple notes, and export subtitles.
Despite being simple to use, Inqscribe doesn’t skimp on the features. The intuitive interface lets you play audio/video and type out transcripts in the same window. The editor works like a word processor and lets you insert custom snippets with a single stroke.
Here’s a list of the most significant features of the tool:
- Compatible with QuickTime and Windows Media Player
- Can play audio/video from tertiary storage
- Pitch lock feature to prevent voice distortion
- Mouse-free, keyboard-based controls
- Compatible with USB foot pedals
- Easy transcript sharing
- Works with multiple export formats
- Fully Unicode compliant
- Supports multiple languages
Downloading Inqscribe is free, and you can use the software without purchasing any license. However, here you’d be limited in the number of features available. For the complete Inqscribe experience, opt for an individual license at $99.
In case you’re buying in bulk (5 or more licenses), you get attractive discounts. Academic institutions, non-profit organizations, and students can also get special rates.
Otter is an online tool that lets you record audio in real-time and transcribe it on-the-go. It’s compatible with the iOS and Android operating systems, which means you can use this speech recognition software to transcribe on mobile devices.
The tool provides users with multiple options for editing transcripts and sharing them. It even has speaker identification features. However, a significant drawback is that you can transcribe only up to 600 minutes of audio per month with the free version.
If you opt for the tool’s premium version, you can work with prerecorded audio and video files. The software uses Ambient Voice Intelligence technology, which lets it get better with repeated use.
One of the significant features of Otter is its ease of collaboration. Apart from AI-based voice recognition, the software can interface with remote working tools such as Zoom for collaborative transcription.
Here’s a list of the other notable features that Otter offers:
- Real-time audio recording and transcription
- Searchable transcripts
- AI-based adaptability
- Suitable for businesses as well as individuals
- Dictation features for academic use
Otter’s pricing is again distributed across three tiers: Basic, Pro, and Business. The Basic plan is suitable for official meetings with limitations. The Pro and Business plans give access to premium features in addition to the basic capabilities.
1. Free Plan at $0
- Variable speed recording and playback
- Collaboration features
- Up to 600 minutes per month
2. Pro Plan at $8.33/month
- Advanced import and export features
- Custom vocabulary
- Up to 6000 minutes per month
3. Business Plan at $20/user/month
- Otter Live notes and captions for Zoom
- Centralized billing
- Up to 6000 minutes per user
Plans can be billed yearly or monthly, with up to 36% savings on yearly billing.
Sonix is a highly accurate automatic transcription service that’s suitable for podcasters, and anyone looking to transcribe audio effectively. The service is used by over a million users worldwide and delivers accurate transcriptions in more than 40 languages.
The tool works entirely online: just upload an audio/video file to the service, and it’ll return the transcription within five minutes or less. Its in-browser editor allows you to edit transcripts exactly like a word document.
When using Sonix, you don’t have to worry about punctuations and speaker separation, as it takes care of everything automatically. You can even perform a qualitative analysis of transcripts, which very few transcription tools provide.
Although Sonix is best suited for podcasters looking to create highly accurate transcripts, it can transcribe any audio or video file. Through the Sonix media player, you can share videos and transcripts with automated subtitles for driving greater social traffic.
Apart from the above, the following features of Sonix are also of note:
- Extremely fast and accurate
- Affordable pricing plans
- Supports multiple languages
- Browser-based transcript editor
- Word-wise timestamps
- Supports multiple text formats (DOC/TXT/PDF)
- Allows multitrack uploads
- Custom dictionaries
- Automated translation
Sonix’s pricing plans are simple and straightforward: it offers three tiers: Standard, Premium, and Enterprise. Each plan comes with advanced features and is suitable for different types of users.
Here’s a breakup of the different pricing options for Sonix:
- Standard (pay-as-you-go) plan at $10/hour
- Premium plan at $5/hour + $22/user/month
- Enterprise plan with custom pricing for high volume transcription
Transcription software refers to tools that can allow users to convert audio tracks into digital text. There are a large number of automatic transcription tools on the market, with varying levels of accuracy.
Some transcription services include human transcriptionists in the process for increasing the accuracy of the transcripted text. However, selecting the best transcription service is not a function of accuracy alone, as I explain in the next section.
As I’ve already mentioned, selecting the best transcription software depends on a variety of factors. In the following section, I’ll touch upon each of these in brief.
This is the first and foremost aspect to consider when choosing transcription software. Usually, most AI-based automatic transcription tools can reach accuracy levels of up to 90% accuracy, while human transcribers have almost 99% accuracy rates.
When selecting transcription software, I recommend using the free trial to test the accuracy of the tool. Are the transcriptions it produces free of grammatical errors? Are there any lapses in the punctuations? These are some of the aspects you need to take into consideration.
After accuracy, the features available play the most decisive role. Features such as subtitling, in-browser editing, and custom timestamp insertions are some of the important ones.
In case you’re a business looking for a transcription tool that helps create marketing videos with subtitles, make sure your tool of choice has collaboration features. Such features can help in streamlining workflows and increasing efficiency.
Turnaround time refers to the time that it takes for a transcription service to return the completed transcripts. Automatic transcription software is speedy, with turnaround times of a few minutes. However, you might have to sacrifice accuracy.
If near 100% accuracy is what you need, opt for human-in-the-loop (HITL) transcription services. These can often have turnaround times of a week or more, so you’ll have to consider a tradeoff between accuracy and time delivered.
Budget is always a consideration when opting for any service, and transcription software is no different. As you’ve already seen, most services come with a multi-tiered pricing structure that’s differentiated based on the features you need.
While large businesses can opt for custom plans, small players and individual content creators can opt for pay-as-you-go payments. Most transcription software comes with free versions or trials that you can use to test the waters.
Not every audio or video file that you need transcribing will have clear audio. There may be background noise, static or other disturbances such as fillers and accents. Your transcription software should be able to clean all this up and deliver clear transcripts.
Some software provides multilingual support and works with all available file formats. The exact choice should be driven by your requirements and the kind of audio you work with.
Ease of use is the one factor that you can’t compromise on when selecting a transcription service. A simple and intuitive user interface means that you’ll be able to focus on your content without having to worry about navigating the software.
If you’re using an online transcription service for transcribing sensitive audio such as meetings/discussions, then always take care to check out the service’s privacy policies. For sensitive data, you can also ask for a non-disclosure agreement.
The advancement of AI and machine learning has boosted the transcription software industry. Experts expect the sector to expand at a 6.1% CAGR from 2020 to 2027.
If you’re on the search for the best transcription software, then here are the top picks to choose from:
- Transcribe: Best for Professional Transcriptionists
- Trint: Best for Mac Users
- Descript: Best for collaborative audio/video editing
- Express Scribe: Best for Fast Transcription Jobs
- Inqscribe: Best for Ease of Use
- Otter: Best for real-time Transcription
- Sonix: Best for podcasters
Whatever your transcription needs, I’m sure you’ll find a good option from the list above.