Voice-to-Speech Solutions?
July 17, 2009 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I need to get some more writing done for the business I am trying to start. I spend a lot of time walking and driving so I have been thinking that a voice-activated voice recorder that creates WMA files might be useful. But choosing a digital recorder is not what I need help with. I am seeking recommendations for voice-to-speech software that can convert the voice files into text. I know that these programs are not completely accurate but I don't mind doing some editing. But I don't want to have to load a lot of software and click on a lot of prompts just to convert 5 to 15 minutes of audio each day.

The ideal solution would automatically pop-up a file ready to edit after plugging the recorder into a USB port on a PC.

I am aware of Dragon Naturally Speaking, but there seems to be a lot of different versions, some quite expensive, and I have no idea which one would be best for me; or if there are any other good solutions to my problem.
posted by 14580 to Technology (4 answers total)
Why not try Google Voice? Transcription isn't perfect but I've been using it to leave little notes for myself while driving (road noise definitely reduces accuracy of transcription) but it's handy - doesn't require any extra software and you can edit it later at your leisure.

I have more luck with accuracy when doing it on a walk or in my office while I'm reading charts or doing something in the garage. Might work even better if you have a really good bluetooth headset or something like that, I usually just speak into the phone.

Might need an invite or some other way of getting into it if you don't already have an account.
posted by emjay at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2009

Response by poster: I looked at Google Voice and I am trying to get an invite. However, I have a company issued cell phone and they frown on me using for personal reasons even though it doesn't cost them anything. I also don't want to have make a call whenever a thought pops into my mind, or jump through hoops to transmit a recorded voice file to the service.
posted by 14580 at 12:36 PM on July 17, 2009

The 47$ version of Dragon ("standard") is fine for pretty much everyone. You, on the other hand, you will have to get the next version up ("preferred") for $123 in order to be allowed to transcribe from a recording. There are two charts on the Nuance website that compares the different versions. One simple one, and one detailed one.

Dragon is far ahead of everything else in terms of accuracy. In my opinion it's not worth bothering with the other software. Still, even with Dragon, I would worry that the ambient noise in the car will make it impossible for Dragon to recognize your voice accurately. You might have to get a microphone with excellent noise isolation capability. If you buy Dragon and it does not work, call Nuance's customer service. They offer full refunds for up to 30 days, if I remember correctly.
posted by gmarceau at 1:37 PM on July 17, 2009

I'd dictate directly to the software while in the car (using a laptop). The noise might be too much, but it's been done before. Depending on your car, how fast you're going, your mic, etc it might work just fine.

DNS is good. If you use MS Office you can dictate using Tools --> Speech.

I've always been skeptical of using a voice recorder and running it through the software, but I've never tried so who knows?
posted by powpow at 7:13 PM on July 17, 2009

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