Remember the horror stories from the days of Windows XP speech recognition? It was a mess, however, with the rise of AI and machine learning, speech-to-text (not text to speech) transcription has become more reliable and efficient than ever. There are plenty of speech to text apps which do that in real-time but what if you want to transcribe voice recording to text? I’ve made a list of the best solutions to convert voice recordings to text on your mobile, web browser and PC. Let’s check them out.
To test the accuracy of the following software we will use first one minute recording of this YouTube video.
Convert your Voice Recordings to Text
Transcribe transcribes both video and audio recording into text. While the app is free, it monetizes transcription time on an hourly basis. Compared to the higher-end options in this list such as Happyscribe, rates are quite reasonable at just $4.99. The developer doesn’t specify if they’re using a speech-to-text API like Google Cloud Input or a custom solution.
The app gave a clear output with punctuation missing here and there. It had trouble only with the words which either not clear or were a little distorted. Either way, the app still outputs the closest word and scores the transcription itself. Nevertheless, the output is great, a clear step up from free solutions like Bear Converter, and at $4.99 per hour of transcription, it’s not going to break the bank.
Install Transcribe (iOS)
Otter is a great transcription app for students and helps them in easing the tedious task of transcribing notes. Not just Students, it is equally popular among professionals who use it to transcribe the minutes of meetings and conferences. Even though it is intended for transcribing on the fly, you can still upload a voice recording from the local storage and transcribe the audio file. All the transcription happens on the cloud and you get two variants of the script. The first draft is the quick transcription generated within seconds and may contain errors, however, the audio is processed again on the cloud and significantly improves the transcript accuracy. The app is free and available for both Android and iOS, you can transcribe up to 600 minutes.
Related: Best OCR Apps for iPhone
During my testing, I found the app is still very accurate and got all the words right, it still struggled with punctuations. It also couldn’t identify any paragraph changes but that is not a big deal as I can just edit the script afterward anyway.
Happyscribe is the first online option on this list. It’s a paid offering that’s targeted squarely at professionals, including journalists—and the pricing definitely shows this: Happyscribe’s pay as you go plan costs 12 Euros per hour. For that kind of money, there’s got to be a meaningful payoff. This comes in the form of Happyscribe’s highly advanced machine learning algorithm—what it uses to identify and transcribe speech. Happyscribe’s algorithm is advanced enough to recognize multiple different speakers—it makes the second-pass process faster by offering a heatmap mode that shows you exactly where in the transcript its algorithm struggled. You get a wide range of file export options, too, from Word docs and plain text files to timestamped SRTs.
It showed incredible results and got almost all the words right, it even detected the paragraph changes which is great if you have multiple speakers in a conversation. Happyscribe does have a free trial that gives you access to 30 minutes of transcription. All in all, if you’re looking for the best-in-class online audio-to-text solution, Happyscribe is a great option.
Check out Happyscribe
Sonix is very similar to Happyscribe and is aimed towards the same kind of target market—business users who want a reliable, AI-based transcription solution that actually gets the job done, though at a fraction of the cost of human transcription. Sonix’s pricing reflects this: You’re looking at an $11.25 per month subscription for a single-user license on top of $6.00 per hour rate for recordings. If you’re looking to handle large volume, this makes it more competitive than Happyscribe but the latter wins out for smaller volume use-cases. Sonix also has a free 30-minute trial, though you’ll have to enter your credit/debit card information in order to access it. We tried it out and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the transcription.
Just like with Hyperscribe, Sonix showed extremely good results. Not a single word was incorrectly transcribed. Another point to note is that Sonix took noticeably less time to finish transcribing than Happyscribe.
Check out Sonix
5. Bear File Converter
Professional transcription software can be expensive! Even if you’re missing out on industry-best transcription, free alternatives are preferable if your budget is, well, zero. We tried out Bear converter as a free option. This is a multimedia converter that allows you to convert just about any type of file into any other and it incidentally has an MP3 to TXT converter that uses Baidu’s speech recognition engine.
While the Baidu recognition wasn’t perfect, it correctly transcribed approximately 70 percent of the speech. Not bad for a media converter that isn’t even advertised as transcription software! There’s a 3MB cap on audio files for transcription. You could drop the file size by re-encoding to a lower bitrate but that could just make recognition worse.
Check out Bear File Converter
6. Sobolsoft MP3 to Text Converter
Sobolsoft has over 1500 apps and audio transcription is just one of them. The Sobolsoft Speech to Text converter requires a bit more setup than most. You need an IBM Speech to Text API key to make it work. Watson’s speech to text gives you 100 minutes of transcription for free per month after which it’s priced at a per-minute rate. Sobolsoft itself has a free version and a $19.99 paid version. Apart from a nag screen, I didn’t notice any significant difference when using the free version.
The test results are obvious when you bring IBM’s Watson in the picture. However, the results were not better than some of the more advanced apps above like Happyscribe and Otter. It didn’t recognize any punctuations or paragraph changes.
Check out Sobol Mp3 to Text Converter
These were my picks for best apps to convert voice recordings to text. Otter and Transcribe are the best solutions for mobile users. Sonix is cheaper than Hyperscribe if you are going to transcribe more. Sobolsoft MP3 to Text is kind of outdated but it is still fresh and strong in the bones. What apps do you like the best in this list or if you have a better solution then let me know in the comments below?