These days, you have a choice when it comes to transcription services. You can get traditional human-powered transcription and editing, or opt for machine transcription.

Machine transcription (also known as ASR, or Automatic Speech Recognition) can save you a lot of money, but depending on how you’re going to use the transcript, may require some additional work on your part.

They’re essentially two different products, so which is right for you? Here are some points to consider:

1. How will you use the transcript?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made great strides, but it’s still a long way away from producing the quality of output that can be achieved by real human workers.

Hands typing on a laptop

If you intend to use the transcribed text directly, for instance by publishing large portions of the transcript or using it to add subtitles or captions to a video, then you will want the polished output of human transcribers and editors.

If you will be using the transcript as a note-taking device, study aid, or a resource for creating other content, a machine transcript may meet your needs, as it allows you to search for keywords and jump to the relevant portion in both your text and media to find pull quotes, remember the discussion, or verify what was said.

2. Consider your audio quality

The better your audio quality, the better your transcript, obviously! If your audio is crisp and clear, with well-mic’d speakers, you can likely get good results from machine transcription.

The more foreground or background noise, accented speakers, crosstalk, or specialized terminology in your recording, the more you will benefit from getting the human touch. Challenging audio is more difficult for human workers too, but they can apply logic and context in a way the machines can’t, and even do some googling to verify unfamiliar names and terms.

3. Weigh cost and convenience

Machine transcription is fast and inexpensive, but depending on how you’re going to use the text, it may require you to spend a little time (or a lot) tweaking and correcting the text.

Human transcription costs more and takes a bit longer, but you’ll get the best possible script, and won’t have to invest more time in it.

Detail from the WatchingWords 'Choose a Plan' page

4. Consider the third option

WatchingWords not only has all-human and all-machine plans, it also offers a “best of both worlds” option, where a machine transcription gets a once-over by a human editor. You’ll still want to do some editing yourself, but we’ll do the heavy lifting to clean it up and improve accuracy.

Stop by and check us out today, or email for more info!