While not always a requirement, transcriptions can be pretty valuable – it aids researchers, students, professionals, and practically everyone for their projects, dissertations, studies – among many other purposes. Because of this demand, several companies offer transcription work and started building their transcription empire. This has led to their rise over the past decades or so, sprouting like seeds planted on good soil.

Transcribing is not just all about hearing and typing what speakers say, so it’s not always a walk in the park. Turning an audio – especially a difficult one – into a legible document can be a tedious process, and that takes a toll. Usually, the success of the business comes from what their clients has to say. If they are pleased, a company can always expect a return customer, but if not, well, there may be plenty of ways to win them back.

Accuracy, turnaround, and pricing are the key factors as to why clients stay and trust the transcription company of their choosing. Undoubtedly, the transcribers working behind the scenes make or break the success of the outfit. Some rely on manual, human effort, while some companies offer automated transcription software, where the machine does the work through voice-to-text technology.

Still, many ask:

Should I choose automated transcription over human transcription?

Putting the key factors into play, let’s have an in-depth look into the pros and cons of each.

Turnaround and Cost


On-time delivery always leaves a positive impression. It’s undoubtedly important to consider whether a transcription company can deliver within your desired deadline, and that they can maintain punctuality, reliability, and most importantly, that you get your money’s worth. Timeliness to deadlines gives you full confidence that the transcription company can meet not only your demands, but also the demand of your work where you can put transcriptions into good and on-time use.

Transcript turnaround and cost go hand-in-hand together. The cost to request an accurate transcript could depend on the capabilities of a transcription service including their processing time. For rapid turnarounds, the fee to produce a transcript would be more expensive than ones set to be delivered at a much later date, and this scheme goes for both automated and traditional transcribing.


Since automated transcripts are machine-generated, they are quicker to accommodate rush requests and can deliver in an hour or maybe even less for short files. This puts automated transcription services at a huge advantage against human transcription – where it could take one, two, or even five days to convert an audio recording into a transcribed document.

Transcription companies on the other hand pay each transcriptionist for every transcription work they do, so part of the profit that they receive from their clients are then used to pay the transcriptionist. This makes their service a bit pricey. Besides that, the rate of each transcriptionist varies depending on their skills, level of experience, and the number of minutes or files that they can accommodate. The human transcriptionist route is then much more suitable for those who aren’t on a rush to get their transcripts back and would highly prefer to have a transcript with high accuracy.


Ever since the commercialization of speech-to-text, automated transcription services try time and again to vastly improve the accuracy of machine-generated transcripts. However, it’s still a pretty challenging feat to get a very accurate transcript from automated options, especially if they don’t utilize human editors to clean-up voice-to-text transcripts for quality check. Difficult recordings that bear muffled audio, multiple cross talks, and other unwanted audio issues would put the transcript quality made by automated machines at risk for poor standards and could potentially lead to client dissatisfaction especially if the documents are going to be used for important purposes.

While this isn’t always the case, people who would rather have their files transcribed this way must be prepared to gamble transcript quality over turnaround and pricing.

Human transcription on the other hand has more flexibility in terms of research and an in-depth or more contextual understanding on the topic being discussed in the recording – this is why most people say that automated transcription still requires the human touch. Human transcriptionists and proofreaders certainly put the quality of the finished product as great to almost perfect. The transcripts made by human transcriptionists are likely to be put through a series of proofing stages to make sure that the document is error-free.

The Verdict: Human or Automated?

Human and automated transcriptions both have their pros and cons – it’s just a matter of deciding which factors are a worthy trade-off. Is it turnaround? Accuracy? Cost? While most transcription services, human or automated, may say that they highly value all of these, it is still a necessary step as a consumer to carefully evaluate whether or not they can fulfill your long-term needs and if they’re truly bang for your buck.

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