How Long Does It Take to Transcribe One Hour of Audio? | GoTranscript
9 March 2020

How Long Does It Take to Transcribe One Hour of Audio? | GoTranscript

More and more professionals in various industries regularly need to transcribe audio and video recordings. To save time and money, they usually turn to highly skilled professional transcriptionists to get their files transcribed. Transcription is a process of listening to a sound recording and then accurately typing it into a text document. How long does the process take to transcribe one hour of audio or video? The industry standard is four hours. In other words, for every one hour of audio, it's expected for the transcription process to take four hours. The actual time, however, can vary significantly.

Many factors have an impact on the turnaround time. How these factors come into play may shorten the process down to two hours or lengthen it to ten hours. Every transcriptionist is different, based on their level of experience, typing speed, specialization in particular areas, and other factors. To determine a realistic transcription time frame, it's essential to consider several specific characteristics of a project to establish a realistic time frame:

Audio Recording Quality

The overall audio quality quality of the source material has a vital impact on the speed of transcription. Background noise, connection problems, speech clarity, and the pace at which the speaker talks, all make an influence on the transcription turnaround time. Things tend to get done a lot quicker where there is little or no ambient interference, background noise, or other interruptions. Problematic internet connection will also slow down the process if the source material is an internet call. If the speakers are speaking clearly without interrupting each other, transcription will require less time. In case the recording is performed outside, or if the recording equipment quality is lacking, the transcription is guaranteed to take longer.

Regional Accents


Whether the task is to transcribe audio or transcribe video, the process will likely take longer if the speakers involved have a local accent. The transcriber may slow the audio playback to decipher the speech and ensure the accuracy of the transcription. Stopping and replaying the audio file also may be necessary to discern words complicated by the accent, additionally increasing the time required to complete the work.

Multiple Speakers

When it comes to transcribing recordings with multiple speakers, the process will take longer. Multiple speakers tend to overlap at times and talk over each other. Interpreting overlapping speech and labeling it as such is guaranteed to impact the speed of the transcription process negatively. Recordings that include multiple people, like focus groups or business meetings, will typically take longer to transcribe than single-speaker ones.

Potential Research Required

Some industries, such as medical or legal fields, are replete with complicated jargon and terminology, while also being known to employ a variety of abbreviations. To accurately transcribe audio or video in these fields, a transcriptionist has to perform extensive research to get everything right. Also, recordings that are rich with proper names or locations almost always require more time to investigate accurate spelling. Additional research means more time added to a transcription project.

Special Transcription Requirements or Instructions

Some professionals assign transcription projects with special requirements, such as full-verbatim instructions (including false starts, stutters, and incomplete sentences) or timestamps. The overall transcription process is usually slowed down by these requirements. When transcribing on jobs with such requirements, the initial run-through may require additional time for stopping and replaying speech to ensure perfect accuracy. Furthermore, a transcriptionist may impart additional review to ensure the rules on strict verbatim instructions and timestamps have been met.

Hopefully, this brief overview helped shed some light on the different important factors involved in the art of transcription. So, how long does it take to transcribe one hour of audio? The short answer would be four hours. Taking into consideration everything we mentioned above, the more realistic answer would be - it depends on the circumstances.