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What You Don’t Know About Audio Hours to Turnaround Times 101

Michael Gallagher
Michael Gallagher
Posted in Zoom Sep 5 · 7 Sep, 2022
What You Don’t Know About Audio Hours to Turnaround Times 101

Clients looking into different transcription services available probably want the fastest text file turnabout to their audio hours. But what is too quick or too slow when it comes to transcription jobs? This is an important question to answer so that people looking to get transcriptions done have a realistic time frame for their expectations for turnaround time. 

So how long will it take to transcribe an hour’s worth of audio recording? 

The answer is it will rely on many factors, and how long the audio recording is just one factor. Other factors will come into play, like what type of transcription services you are looking to hire or the overall quality of your audio hours. 

Another critical thing to consider is what your budget would be. If you can wait for the transcript for a week, it will cost you less. Deciding will depend on your golden mean between cost, quality, and delivery times, and it’s essential to consider every factor. 

Transcription Time (Audio Hours)

One variable that will affect how long transcription will take will depend on the options available in the market. There are four prospects you can choose from: doing it yourself, hiring a professional transcriptionist, inquiring with a transcription company, or employing the many transcription services available on the internet. 

Knowing how precise and accurate or how fast or slow you expect the output will help you understand what the best services are depending on your needs.

audio hours

Speed for an Average Person

The first option you can employ is transcribing the audio recording yourself. For non-professional transcribers, this will usually mean being able to transcribe fifteen minutes worth of audio hours in more or less than an hour. 

This ratio is not fixed for everyone since the quality of the audio recording will also be dependent on how much time you will be able to transcribe an interview or even a lecture. 

Fifteen minutes in an hour will also depend on slow and clear recordings. This number can double due to problems regarding faulty or staticky audio, which will require more pausing and playing between each phrase or sentence. 

The complexity of the recordings will also add minutes to the job at hand. This transcription option will be efficient if there is no time limit and the audio recording is short and clear enough for an average person to transcribe. 

Speed of a Professional Transcriptionist  (Audio Hours)

Human transcription services concern a professional listening to audio hours for a time and then transcribing what was said in the audio. This mode of transcription service is still the best in many people’s opinion because it delivers the most accurate and best quality transcription jobs. 

Human ears are great at comprehending words more than any machine used by transcription services will offer because, unlike artificial intelligence, we can give concepts or we can contextualize the dialogue or conversation dictated on the recording. On the other hand, human transcription will take longer to transcribe, unlike automatic transcription. 

On average, a professional transcriptionist will take more or less four hours to transcribe an hour-long audio recording. However, this will also depend on the quality of the audio recording. Professionals will mostly charge a premium for rushed orders for anything faster than 24 hours turnaround time. 

There are three general types of transcription professionals you can hire. 

General Transcription 

General transcriptionists are concerned with the task of providing text files to a variety of audio hours and video files. Sometimes they will be hired to transcribe audio from a philosophy podcast, and other times, they are hired to transcribe audio of an interview for a journalist. 

General transcriptionists are also concerned with transcribing college lectures, speeches, business meetings, conferences, or any other modes of discussions that don’t involve medical or legal matters. Sometimes, professional transcriptionists focusing on broadcasting are also tapped to provide closed captioning for movie and television programs. 

Like the average transcriptionist, the turnaround time for their work will also depend on the audio quality and many others. 

Medical Transcription 

Medical transcriptionists are concerned with listening to many audio recordings from doctors and any other medical practitioners and healthcare professionals, and academics. They convert countless audio hours into written reports for their clients. 

Most medical transcriptionists work freelance and from home, but some can be found working in many hospitals, labs, universities, and other medical settings. Since most of them are concerned with specific medical terms and situations, many of them need to be versed in terminologies, anatomy, procedures, and any other healthcare documentation making licenses, certifications, or training required depending on what company they are working with or for. 

Some use automatic transcription software to aid with the first draft before proofreading, inspecting, and editing the final output to make their jobs easier. 

If you have medical audio files, it’s better to hire a transcriptionist focusing on medicine since they will be able to go through the audio as fast and accurately as possible. 

audio hours

Legal Transcription

Another realm of specialized transcriptionists is transcriptionists concerned with legal audio hours. Many legal transcribers convert hours’ worth of deposition, trials, and many other legal proceedings into written records. The most common type of legal transcriptionist is the court reporter. 

The state or the police also hire many court reporters to transcribe different audio files for the police, from victim interviews to police interrogations to other law enforcement recordings. The lawyers will use many of the written reports that these legal transcriptionists will conjure to prepare any parties for trial and other court procedures. 

You will often find legal transcriptionists in courts, law offices, or any office with legislative functions. Many legal transcriptionists are experts in the many legal terminologies in the books as well as systems and procedures, so it will be best to employ their services for audio hours concerning anything legal. 

Speed of a Transcription Company 

There is generally no difference in the turnaround time for transcription companies versus individual human transcribers since both of these services will concern individual human beings to do the transcription work for any client. Although transcription companies have budgets for better transcription tools and software, this will give them the benefit of offering a faster turnout than the average freelancer. 

Another advantage that a transcription company will have is the team of transcribers available for their perusal. This can give the edge of easy availability and also a faster turnaround time. 

Speed of Automated Transcription Services

The fastest turnaround time among any other transcription services is ASR or any transcription done by an automatic speech recognition software. The only blip on its radar is the little to no quality control it will offer a client, so editing and proofreading are vital if you want a more accurate result. 

Since artificial intelligence lacks the ability of a human transcriber to contextualize and understand specific patterns of speech and recognize different accents present on the audio recording, it will have a more challenging time transcribing the passage, which can lead to more inconsistencies in the end. 

The best-case scenario for an ASR output is an accuracy rate of 80% without editing, but this will require a clear and clean audio file with little to no background noise and clear diction by the speaker. 

Although mistakes can sometimes be a misspelled word or one incorrect passage and no punctuation marks, editing will be needed to make the transcript eligible for official and more professional use, making this choice more convenient for general transcription needs. 

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Is there a correlation between turnaround time and accuracy? 

As we can see with the different transcription services available for us to use, we can see that there is indeed a correlation between time and the accuracy it will provide the end transcript. If a person chooses the convenience of time given by the many automated transcription services available, they compromise the quality of their output. 

Suppose a person values the accuracy in the end transcript of their audio recordings and is looking to employ the careful administration of human transcribers. They need to understand that time is required for the transcriptionists to do the work at hand carefully and accurately. 

The golden mean or the happy middle combines the two aspects of artificial intelligence speed and the reliable power of human intelligence in proofreading the work. This is the secret of most professional transcriptionists and transcription companies. 

What can affect turnaround hours for Transcription Services?

No matter what transcription services you pick to do the transcription work for you, many factors out of their control will affect the turnaround time for every transcription work. Of course, some of these factors will affect an average person choosing to transcribe their work more than a transcription professional who does transcription for a living. Still, the factors mentioned below can double or triple the time it will take an hour worth of transcription work. 

Quality of the Audio Recording

The first factor that can affect any audio hours of transcription work speed is the audio recording’s overall quality. To not have this situation in the future, you need to ensure, on the get-go, that the recording devices used are in prime state and condition before recording happens. 

Microphone placement is also another problem that can affect audio quality, especially if the microphone is concealed since sometimes it can sound muffled, which affects coherence in the audio recording. 

Echoing is another common factor of poor audio quality, and one way to get rid of the echo in your sample recording is to cover any hard surfaces with books or pillows. Sound bounces off of hard surfaces, so covering them will dampen the echo in your recording tenfold. 

Environment and Background Noise 

Background and environmental noises are other factors that can impact turnaround time for audio hours. Background noises can be in the form of fans, cars passing through, people talking, the buzz from audio wires, and many others. 

These noises distract the transcriptionist from critical information vital to the recording. Sometimes, it can be phrases, but other times an entire section of the recording is so incoherent that it’s impossible even for the most professional transcriptionist to decipher speech and meanings from the audio recording.

Incoherent sections will lead to constant rewinding of the audio, adding up the time spent transcribing, which can up the cost of transcribing the work. The best thing to avoid this problem is not to have a noisy audio recording to begin with, and this will entail recording in a quiet environment as much as possible. 

Regional Accents 

An inevitable factor that can impact turnaround time for transcription works is a difference in the transcriber’s native language and the variety of regional accents audio hours will frequently feature from the speaker or speakers on the audio file. The closer the speaker’s accents are to the transcriber’s native language, the more manageable audio hours will be transcribed for faster audio-to-file turnout. 

For audio recordings that have speakers with thick accents or speakers who shift from one language to the other, it is only typical for transcribing this audio to be more difficult. This is a factor you need to consider, especially when deciding where to offer or give your transcription works. 

Potential Applicable Researching 

There are different types of transcription works, and some of them will cover more specific topics than others. So the difficulty level for each specialized transcription work will be a factor in whether you are getting faster audio hours to text file turnout. 

Legal, academic, medical students, professors, and professionals will be more affected by this hurdle the most, especially if the topics on the audio recordings are complicated and full of professional jargon and complex terms. It is only normal to expect a slower turnaround for these types of audio files. 

It is better, in the end, to consult with a professional transcriptionist who specializes in different types of transcription works, whether legal, academic, medical, or others. 

Transcription Requirements 

Specific transcription requirements from you will affect the turnout of transcription work. It can either be a fast turnout due to more minor particular requirements or a slower turnout for more specific and accurate transcription works. 

Clients’ requirements can concern formats like sentence and paragraph structures. It can also include specific speaker labels for interview-type audio hours and more detailed and verbatim requests for academic or research use. 

In regular transcription work, accuracy is assured, but it is important to note that not all transcription works given to you will be verbatim to the audio recordings. Sometimes, the transcriptionist will omit repetitive words and expressions like pauses, fillers, and stutters in order to give the client a cleaner output accurate to the essence of the recording. 

Number of Speakers in an Audio

Interviews, talks, and conferences or forums where multiple speakers are involved sometimes need transcription for specific purposes. The client needs to understand that an hour of transcribing these audio recordings can sometimes take about two to 10 hours. Depending on the essence of the conversation and the research that a transcriptionist will be doing. 

Multiple speakers in audio hours will require more pausing and typing to ensure that every part of the conversation is transcribed for verbatim requests and essential pieces of information are not overlooked. 

Transcription Services and Verbatim 

When a person decides to go for the convenience that automated transcription services will give them, it’s critical to note that the output they will be getting is only as verbatim as the audio’s quality and the speaker’s speech pattern will allow. 

On the other hand, human transcribers offer a service known as “intelligent verbatim,” or is also called word for word. With this, all the stuttering or the repeated ‘ums’ or ‘ers’ that speakers usually use when thinking are omitted from the transcript. 

This will give the client an easier-to-read transcript of the audio recording. Although strict verbatim transcripts will also be available upon requirement, it is not to say that transcriptions are always as accurate as they should be since many factors can affect the quality of the transcript. 

You might also like: What Does It Take to Decode a Language for Best Translation?

Final Thoughts

Every transcribed audio recording will be unique to another, so it is not always easy to predict and give an accurate timescale or turnaround time for particular transcription work. Turnabout time can be influenced by the services you choose and also the quality of the original audio recording. 

Ultimately, the choice will depend on you. As long as you know if you are willing or not willing to wait for longer or looking for a clean transcript rather than an ultra-accurate transcript, you can never really go wrong by knowing what you need.