What Is Digital Transcription?

K.C. Bruning

Digital transcription is the act of processing sound so that it can be played back on a computer. It consists of putting audio digital content on a disc or in a media file. Digital transcription files commonly come from dictation made into recorders or software that enables the transcription of speech directly to the computer.

Computer programs have the ability to transcribe spoken words to written text.
Computer programs have the ability to transcribe spoken words to written text.

There are a few different kinds of devices that can be used to create content for digital transcription. Digital recorders can be handheld portable units or pedal-operated devices for desktop use. These are both similar in function to traditional analog machines, though the way they operate is dramatically different. Voice to software transcription is a process that is new to the digital age.

Some of the benefits of digital transcription include clearer sound, less equipment maintenance, and lower operational costs. Sound recorded digitally tends to be sharper, which makes it easier to hear and understand. A digital recorder does not have moving parts and thus does not require as much upkeep as an analog machine. It also costs less to use, because discs can hold more sound and tend to be less expensive than cassette tapes.

Many professionals use an outside contractor to prepare digital transcription. These companies typically accept files in a variety of formats, including audio from a recording device, phone-in dictation, and sound recorded directly on a computer. The most popular methods of transporting files via computer are email and file transfer protocol (FTP).

Another popular benefit of digital transcription is that digital files are easier to transport to a transcriptionist. Rather than being dropped off with a service, the files can be sent via email or other electronic means. Using this method also enables faster transport of files.

The best method of digital transcription depends on the type of audio being recorded. If the recording device is to be used for occasional notes recorded by an individual, then voice recognition software may be sufficient for transcription. Professionals such as lawyers and doctors who frequently record dictation may find using a stand alone recorder and a transcriptionist more efficient. Dictation taken where there is more than one speaker, such as at meetings or large events, will usually be difficult to understand if recorded with voice recognition software. If a recorder is used, then it may also be more beneficial to hire a transcriptionist who can add punctuation and otherwise make the transcript easier to read.

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