With automatic transcription services apps widely available for smartphones these days, it’s easy to underestimate how much it takes to get the job done successfully. If you’ve ever tried any of the transcription services apps on iOS or Android, you’ll know even the best of them fall pretty far short of anything useful – especially for business purposes.
Speak to any professional transcriber and you’ll hear it takes far more than a smartphone to transcribe audio files effectively. To give you an idea of what’s involved, here’s a run through of the tech gear a professional transcriber uses to get the job done.
A good headset
The first thing a transcriber will want for any transcription services project is a good headset or headphones. Normally, the best bet is to go for a USB noise-cancelling headset that plugs directly into a computer – especially when working in a noisy environment. It’s worth spending good money on a set, too, as audio quality and the effectiveness of noise-cancelling is important.
Above all, they need to be comfortable for transcribers to wear for extended periods of time. Sore ears are a transcriber’s worst enemy.
Transcription services software
Yes, there’s no getting away from the need for quality transcription services software and we’re not talking about mobile apps here. Transcribers need a piece of software capable of playing as many audio file formats as possible and it always helps to have video support, too. Aside from that, the most important thing is that transcription services software puts all of the necessary controls in easy touching distance – including media functions (pause, play, etc.) and the text editor for typing.
As transcription services software improves, some platforms are capable of automatically transcribing parts of speech so users only need to edit/correct. In truth, this doesn’t necessarily help as it’s often easier for transcribers to do it all themselves rather than trying to jump in every other word. This may change as the technology develops.
A file converter
It’s important a transcriber is able to handle every file format possible and your transcription services software will always fall short on some occasions. When this happens, it’s important to have a dedicated file format converter to cater for file formats your transcription services software doesn’t support.
We make a point of working with any audio format with our transcription services – and this all comes down to the right file converter.
A foot pedal
Yes, that’s right. A good foot pedal is one of the most coveted tools for professional transcribers, allowing them to pause and play audio without using their hands. This means they can continue typing at full speed as they stop and start the audio.
A text expander
This is another secret weapon transcribers use to speed up their workflow. A text expander allows you to type codes for common words rather than typing them out in full. This is especially useful for long, but common words or words that are awkward to type out. For example, instead of typing out organisation, you can set “org” as the code and a text expander will complete the word on your behalf. A good trick is to set common industry terms into a text expander before starting a new project to speed up the process.
For example, if you know the audio is a medical information piece about cardiac arrests you can set a code for cardiac arrest and other medical terms you know will be repeated throughout.
Research for transcription services
This one might come as a surprise but it’s absolutely essential to any language service project. You can’t transcribe audio effectively without some subject knowledge. At the very least, you need to be comfortable with the vocabulary because you don’t want new words tripping you up as you’re trying to type.
Most transcribers will have a longer list of tools they use to get the job done, but that pretty much covers the essentials. It all comes down to getting a project finished as quickly as possible without letting quality slip – and every transcriber will have their own preferences in this regard. What you won’t find is a professional transcriber who sits down to start a project with nothing more than their smartphone and a mobile transcription services app.