Monday, July 12, 2021

My Annual Post on Transcribing Voice Recorder Memos

I have more thoughts than I can remember (not necessarily a good thing), so I really depend on voice recorder apps.

I'm a big fan of RecUp, an iPHone app that gives you a big red button to hit for on/off, and that's it. When you stop a recording, it automatically uploads an MP3 to DropBox. The simplicity is fantastic. (I've heard NetMemo+ is similar for Android). I also rigged up an IFTTT process that watches the RecUp folder in my DropBox and sends me an email whenever a new recording arrives. FYI I first mentioned RecUp in this iOS app survey.

Transcribing can be a chore. You can do it yourself (using this Mac transcription app to fastforward and rewind or this free web app which does the same). Or you can pay a service gobs of money to hire people to laboriously transcribe your stuff, which takes days. Or you can settle for semi-crummy automatic translation, which will be riddled with mistakes.

Automatic is the sweet spot, because while you'll need to edit the transcription against the original audio, a decent transcription will be accurate enough to completely fix in one single pass, with very little pausing. It's viable.

Having carefully tested/compared all major automatic transcription services, I've discovered they're definitely not all the same. Best and cheapest by far is TranscribeMe. They offer pricey human translation, but I use their automatic service, which costs 7¢ a minute, and doesn't add up much even if you use it extravagantly (I bask in the delights of The Future).

Other services make you pre-buy bundles of expiring minutes, but TranscribeMe lets you micro-pay as you go. Easy-peasy. And it effortlessly handles dumps of multiple audio files (I let them pile up and then blitz through all at once). Sole problem: their site loves to show you forever-spinning cursors as you upload and order transcription. Just reload the page!

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