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Transcription Machine: What Are the 11 Best Options?

Matthew Patel
Matthew Patel
Posted in Zoom Sep 4 · 7 Sep, 2022
Transcription Machine: What Are the 11 Best Options?

Whether you’re working as a full-time transcriber or you’re a freelancer, you can make considerable income when you can type fast. However, listening to a recording and typing what you hear with lightning speed requires more than personal skills. You’ll also need a transcription machine. 

Before, transcriptionists are assigned cassette tapes that can be played in a special transcription machine. However, these days, more digital options are available to let you to transcribe electronic files on a computer. Whether you’re using a digital or manual transcription machine, the tool can boost your typing skills and turn them into a lucrative career.

What Is a Transcription Machine?

A transcription machine is specifically designed to make word and voice processing easier. Transcribers can use it to convert video and audio recordings into text. These machines are not intended to replace professional human transcriptionists. Transcribers are still necessary for ensuring that the text is accurate and error-free.

Why Transcribers Need a Transcription Machine

Various industries use dictation and transcription services. Professional transcribers usually build their careers in the legal and medical fields. However, if you’re just entering the industry and you haven’t taken any classes, you can still get hired as a general transcriptionist. In this field, you’ll find work from clients like journalists, students, podcasters, event organizers, and market researchers, among others.

In the past, entering the transcription industry was a difficult choice of career. The job was quite tedious, especially because the available equipment was inefficient. The tools were also expensive, complicated, and difficult to use. 

Transcriptionists often had audio cassette tapes shipped to them. Most of the time, the audio quality of those tapes was poor. Moreover, because of their fragility, the tapes easily get jammed. Of course, computers used to be slow. So, if they were available, they weren’t efficient.

However, technology has made great strides, providing convenience to professional human transcriptionists. With the right transcription machine and equipment, they can boost their typing skills and earn more.

What Are the Tools You Need as a Professional Transcriptionist?

As we’ve mentioned, the right tools can help you increase your typing speed significantly. As always, your best bet is to use the best equipment for your budget. A quality transcription kit can include traditional and digital tools. 

Traditional Transcription Equipment

Today, many businesses use a digital recording system for their meetings and notes. Even so, there are still a few who prefer recording on cassette tapes. So, you’ll need a traditional transcription machine when you work with a client who uses this type of system. Most of the time, this option is user-friendly and it comes with various components, like the following:

Micro-cassette transcriber

The micro-cassette transcriber is the primary component of the transcription machine. It looks a lot like those portable cassette players we used to bring around in the 90s. Your client will use the dictation machine to record their notes, then you play the tape to listen to what they said.

Foot pedal

To keep your hands free for typing, you’ll also need a foot pedal. This piece of equipment allows you to start and stop any section of a recording. A foot pedal is a must-have for any professional transcriptionist as it increases your typing speed by up to 50%.


Of course, since you’ll be listening to all sorts of audio, you’ll also need a good pair of headphones. When you use them, you can hear conversations, words, and fillers that are difficult to detect with an ordinary pair of earphones. Here are some of the headsets you can use for transcribing:

  • Headsets that cover your entire ear – Headphones with noise-canceling features usually come in this style. Most of the time, you can wear over-the-ear headphones for hours to end with little to no discomfort.
  • Headsets that rest in your ears – This type of headphones do not cover the entire ear. Others find this more comfortable than over-the-ear headphones. In most cases, it all comes down to your personal preference.
  • In-ear headphones or earbuds – This is a great option for transcriptionists who are always on the go. However, some people find them to be uncomfortable when worn for several hours.
  • Wireless headphones – If you’re working in a busy environment, a cord or wire may get in the way. So, in this case, wireless headphones may be the ideal option. However, do note that they usually cost more money. What’s more, they can be unreliable at times.


You’ll also need a computer. Choosing between a desktop computer or a laptop depends on how you work as a transcriber. If you’re away from your office or you work remotely, a laptop would be a great option. However, if you usually transcribe in the office, a desktop can be more convenient. In general, desktop computers are more reliable and you can upgrade them easily. 

Mechanical keyboard

Since you’re going to type all day, having a comfortable and high-quality keyboard is necessary. It’s easier to push down the keys of a mechanical keyboard. So, it’s a great option for preventing pain and injury.

Digital Options for Transcription

The following are the digital add-ons that you can use to bring your transcription game a higher notch.

Computer specs

We’ve already mentioned that you need a computer when working as a professional transcriptionist. However, your device needs to meet various technical specifications. For instance, your RAM should be at least 4GB while your hard drive should be at least 250GB. Naturally, you’ll need several USB ports so you can connect all the necessary peripherals.

Dual monitors

You can save yourself from the constant Alt+Tab clicking when you have everything you need in front of you. In this case, you’ll need two monitors.

High-speed internet

You’ll be downloading a lot of video and audio files. So, make sure you have a high-speed internet connection with a bandwidth that can handle your media files.

Transcription software 

Transcription software works in conjunction with a foot pedal in allowing you to easily start, pause, speed up, slow down, forward, and rewind a recording.

Word processing app

You need to install a word processing app like Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. Otherwise, where would you type your transcripts?

Text expander

Using a text expander is not necessary. However, it can help you type faster and save you a lot of time. Aside from boosting your typing speed, a text expander also helps you minimize errors.

In a way, a text expander works similarly to the autocomplete feature on your smartphone. You can use shortened forms of words or abbreviations and the tool will generate the whole thing for you. 

The rule of thumb is using a text expander for phrases and words that you have to type repeatedly. Instead of transcribing the same words over and over again, you can save time by using the shortened version. Medical and legal transcriptionists often use the same phrases and words. So, a text expander is useful in those fields.

Wrapping Up

If you found this article because you’re contemplating about finding the right tools to transcribe your own recordings, then you must think twice. In the medical, legal, and business industries, it is crucial to get accurate transcriptions. Your safest option is to get professional transcription services. 

For instance, if you turn to GoTranscript, you can get legal-grade accuracy and 100% human-generated text. So, instead of buying a transcription machine and doing everything on your own, spare yourself from all the trouble and hire professional services.