How To Transcribe Audio to Text the Easy Way

Headphones on a bright yellow background

There has been a surge in the number of podcasts being released and in global audiences developing an affection for audio-first content. In the UK alone, one in four Brits currently listen to podcasts.  

Businesses are recognising the power of audio to reach captive audiences and hold their attention for a prolonged period of time, while they’re commuting, working or completing household chores. Audio content is now used greatly for marketing, internal communications, and training efforts.  

Man on London street listening to audio content

Yet while audio provides many benefits to brands and consumers, it can present some challenges. Audio content isn’t searchable, which makes identifying key moments within the content a challenge. Audio content on its own also isn’t inclusive of people who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as those who may be listening in a language that isn’t native to them.

To make audio content more accessible and searchable, more brands are investing in solutions that transcribe audio to text. The text form of your audio can be searched, provides an alternative way to consume the content, and can be used to help repurpose your content internally, such as when your team needs to reference or pull-out key quotes. 

If you’re wondering how to convert audio to text, we’ll run you through the available options.  

How to transcribe audio to text

There are three main ways you can transcribe audio files to text. The right option for you will depend on your timescales and budget. A key aspect to bear in mind is that you need the output to be as accurate as possible. Inaccuracies in the text will make it frustrating to use and won’t have the positive impact on search and accessibility that you’re aiming for. 

  1. Manually transcribe audio recordings to text yourself
  2. Transcribe audio to text automatically using software
  3. Use professional transcription services, such as Take Note’s  

The processes are very similar to the methods available to transcribe video to text where you’re able to deliver an interactive transcript to work alongside your video content. 

The DIY approach to transcribing audio to text

Woman transcribing audio to text on her laptop

It is possible (although painful) to transcribe audio to text yourself. 

Be warned. It takes professional transcribers around four times the length of the content to transcribe it accurately. So, even tackling a ten-minute clip could take you over an hour to transcribe to a good standard.  

The DIY approach isn’t as low cost as it may first appear when you consider how much of your precious time might be lost to the process. For most people, transcribing their own content isn’t the best use of resources, especially when accuracy levels can’t be guaranteed. 

An alternative to help speed up the process could be to use software to generate an initial text document which you then edit. However, it’s worth carrying out a small test of this approach as you may find it doesn’t fast-track the process as much as you’d hope, once you factor in the editing time. 

Transcribe audio to text software

Toy robots

There is a range of software to transcribe audio to text available, including some free tools or those included with other packages you may already have access to. Software relies on Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) to convert the audio file into a text document. If you’ve ever gotten into an argument with your Alexa, you’ll know that the quality of speech recognition software can be poor. Although different ASR providers exist, accuracy is an issue across the board.  

With ASR, the quality of what goes in will also impact the quality of what comes out. Understandably, poor audio will result in an inferior outcome. Background noise and people speaking over each other are more difficult for a machine to decipher. Accuracy levels are also inconsistent across different accents. Therefore, call transcription for a whole team business meeting will yield poorer results than an audio file of one person speaking clearly. 

Speed is an advantage of software-based solutions as you can get a text version of an audio file back in a matter of minutes, however, it is unlikely to be of a good enough standard to be used straight away. Many software platforms come with an editing feature to allow you to make the necessary amends before downloading your final file. This provides the opportunity to correct typos, add capitalisation and any further required punctuation. 

The power of professional services

Due to the low accuracy levels presented by ASR transcription alone, business leaders should look for human-based or hybrid services that guarantee accuracy levels of 99% or above. Professional services are seen as the gold standard in their ability to transcribe audio files with high levels of accuracy. They will also help your brand or business to come off most professionally to consumers. 

It’s important to note the difference between hybrid versus human-only services to know which best suits your professional needs. Hybrid services will typically auto-transcribe audio to text first using ASR and then human editing to bring the text output up to the accuracy standard required. Human-based services use professional transcribers from the start to convert what they hear in an audio file into text without ASR intervention. 

Professional services can also cope with audio that may be particularly challenging for ASR software to work with. Accents, multiple speakers and poor audio quality, such as background noise, further hinder the accuracy of ASR solutions. Opting for a professional service will help you get the results you need in a timely fashion. Some services may charge an additional fee to work with audio that’s deemed to be of poor quality or for multiple-speaker content, but it will ensure a good outcome.  

Professional services, such as Take Note’s, come with the added benefit of offering you a range of customisation options, so the final output is ready to be used as soon as it’s returned. For example, adding speaker identification, timestamps, removing filler words and ums and errs. You can also often provide them with additional context to help with any technical language, acronyms and names. 

How to transcribe audio files using professional services

The process of using professional services like Take Note’s is simple. You just need to provide your audio file along with your requirements and a few details. Take Note runs on a fully encrypted online portal so users can easily upload and download content and transcribed files. Not only does this help to keep any sensitive, confidential, and personal data secure, but it’s also quick and easy to use. You can get a quote for your project with transparent costs as well.

The process involves: 

  • Uploading your file online 
  • Choosing the type of service you require 
  • Selecting your required turnaround time 
  • Customising your output from the list of options 
  • Proceeding to payment 

If you turn to Take Note to transcribe your audio, you’ll receive a confirmation of your order each time and a message to download your text document once the audio has been successfully transcribed. 

To start easily transcribing your audio files to text with 99% accuracy and guaranteed turnaround, you can begin uploading your files to our fully encrypted portal today.  

Posted in

Kat Hounsell