I won’t pretend to be an expert in this area, but I will be glad to share my recent experience with two dictation/transcription software programs I tried.
When I want to get something done, I can be a little impulsive. So, upon returning from the Journalism Education Association (JEA) Boston conference in November with fresh interviews of students and advisers about blogging, I was faced with reviewing hours of audio files.
Dragon Dictate came immediately to mind, and I’d always wanted to try it. The speech recognition software version I purchased cost $169, took several minutes to figure out from the company’s website, and several more minutes to go from a sales chat to a customer service phone call where I actually spoke the numbers of my credit card. It wasn’t until after I made the purchase that I understood the program would take up to 10 days to arrive.
In my impatience waiting for Dragon Dictate for Mac to arrive, I discovered InqScribe. There’s a 14-day free trial (which I took advantage of), and I began using it immediately. I had every single interview transcribed and the story written by the time the other software arrived.
InqScribe has an intuitive environment and takes only a few minutes to learn. One of the features I like most is a shortcut key that inserts a time in the transcript from the audio file in case I ever want to re-listen without having to search. I used this often.
When the 14-day free trial is up, the program doesn’t go away. You can actually still use it. But, ethically, you should buy it. If you choose to do so, the cost is $99, and with a short wait-period for an educator discount code, $69 ($39 for students).
I opened Dragon Dictate when it arrived, downloaded it from a disc, and realized that the program came in a box because it also includes a headphone that works with the program. The tutorial, for me, took several sittings. It’s a more powerful program; it requires that I record my voice from a pre-programed paragraph of words so that the software can adjust to the nuances of my own voice.
But, I never tried my audio files with Dragon Dictate because I had many noisy interviews (imagine the background of a JEA convention between passing periods and before keynote speakers), and I wasn’t sure how I would make the program understand at least 10 people’s voices. Nor was I interested in taking the time to do so. I didn’t even attempt to do this.
Plus, I felt a little irked as I had told the customer service representative what my purpose was for purchasing Dragon Dictate, and he had confirmed that the program was appropriate for my needs. I probably could have returned it, but I’m also a little stubborn and thought Dragon will somehow be part of my stable of programs that helps my efficiency as a teacher and reporter.
Dragon Dictate is a good program for recording your own voice and getting a transcript. Inqscribe is a program that allows you to manually transcribe your interviews with a simple interface.