Digital Transcription Services vs. Traditional Transcription

Deep into the digital era, audio transcription are as important as ever. You may use speech to teach, sell, negotiate, or take notes. Or it may be part of your work if you make videos or podcasts. If that’s the case, you will benefit from having a written transcript to edit, read, study, search, and share written recordings of the spoken word.

We are in the middle of the next big power-up in transcription: the move to digital transcription. Digital (or automated) transcription is done by Artificial Intelligence. It’s already a useful, widespread tool, and it’s getting bigger and better all the time.


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Transcription as a service dates back at least as far as ancient Egypt. Civil servants were trained in their youth to write down meetings, speeches, and even magic spells!

Since then a lot has changed (to say the least), and technical breakthroughs that have powered up traditional transcription include:

  • The printing press;
  • Shorthand;
  • Stenography;
  • Typewriters; and
  • Electronic word processing.

Each of these still requires a human hand to convert speech to text. In recent years, the internet has made traditional (human) transcription quicker and more affordable.

Let’s have a closer look at the advantages and use cases for traditional vs. digital transcription services.

Traditional Transcription: Humans Listening to Humans

Human speech is weird! Language is complicated and ambiguous (e.g., your vs. you’re). Add slang, dialect, accents, mumbling, and mistakes, and it’s a wonder anybody knows what we’re saying. Things get more complex when there are two or more speakers in a room talking (and talking over each other).

There is only one tool fully equipped to cope with this complexity: the human mind. We understand all sorts of surprising things we hear. We have the power to zone in on one particular voice in a crowded room. And we know when somebody means “your” or “you’re.”

Of course, even a trained transcriber not as fast as a computer at writing things down. That’s one reason that digital transcription is sometimes a better choice. But the extra time and effort a traditional transcriptionist puts into their work ensures a finished document that is ready to share. Traditional transcription is more apt if you will publish or share your transcript in public, if it may be quoted by the press, and even in legal or medical contexts. It may also be a wise choice if your audio is low-quality or features multiple speakers or heavy accents.

Rev has a network of more than 50,000 trained transcribers. Simply upload your video or audio file to our site, or send us a URL of the speech you’d like transcribed. Then, choose if you would like a verbatim transcript (including all the um’s and ah’s) and if you would like it timestamped. Rev emails you the transcript within 12 hours, and guarantees 99% accuracy on all orders. You can download transcripts in several formats and edit them in our powerful online editor.

The Most Accurate Digital Transcription AI Available on the Internet

Automatic speech recognition is in everyday use in many professional contexts. Just think how Siri knows what you want, or how you can spend ten minutes talking on the phone to a robot before you get through to your banker!

Automated transcription is completed by computer software and trained on hundreds of hours of human speech. When human speech is fed into the system, the machine figures out when a word is being said and what it is. It is quicker and cheaper than traditional transcription. The trade-off is that accuracy is lower: Rev’s digital speech-to-text service achieves an industry-best 86% accuracy vs. a guaranteed 99% accuracy for Rev’s human transcription service.

Rev Beats Google Amazon Microsoft in Speech to Text Accuracy

If you need a recording transcribed quickly and without finesse, and it’s free of excessive background noise, digital transcription is often the best option. For example, you may have recorded lecture notes on your phone or listened to a spoken word podcast that you want to re-read and study at your leisure.

As with Rev’s traditional service, for automated speech-to-text, you just upload or link your file to us. We’ll get it back to you in a format of your choice within five minutes.

Need a Speech Recognition API Solution?

Rev provides API’s for both it’s industry-leading human transcription services and AI transcription services. This allows developers to integrate Rev’s world class transcription options into applications, software, and more.

Human vs. Robot Transcription

Whatever your mode of work, there is a transcription solution for you. Traditional transcription is done by humans and remains more accurate. Digital transcription is cheaper and faster, and accuracy is improving all the time.

There is a third way if both speed and accuracy are essential: when you order traditional speech-to-text with Rev, choose to get a machine-read version back in minutes. Then, you can start working with your ‘instant first draft’ while waiting for your near-faultless traditional transcript.

Rev also has appscaptioning options, and API integrations if you’re looking for something a bit different. If you’re still unsure what you need to streamline your speech-to-text workflow, why not get in touch?