Recommendation for free audio transcription service?
October 27, 2018 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Is there a website where I can upload an mp3 or m4a file and get it transcribed into text? Preferably something free?
posted by NoneOfTheAbove to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
There are a few sites that do this. I've used a paid account with at work and the results were good - some cleanup was needed but overall I was pretty impressed. You can get 30 minutes transcribed in their free trial. is also supposed to be good and has a free trial of one transcription of any length.

It's possible to use Google Docs to do this for free as well, as described here.
posted by theory at 7:29 PM on October 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

I believe at this point this technology is sophisticated and new enough that anything reasonably accurate is not a free service.

I pay for Wreally, which is a transcription tool where I can have my audio player and typing field on the same page (which helps a LOT when it comes to starting and stopping). Included in my basic subscription is a very similar Dictation tool to the Google Docs hack linked above, though I prefer Wreally’s version.

As far as true auto transcription goes, they provide a free trial, but charge by the minute after that.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:22 PM on October 27, 2018

Depending on the nature of your project(s), you may find that your time/energy is worth more than the cost of a paid transcription service—most free transcription sites will transcribe your recording to about the same degree as an iOS voicemail. Which works well in many cases. But if you need a certain degree of precision and/or readability, you’ll spend a lot of time editing and reviewing those transcripts and after a point it’s better to just pay a professional. YMMV, obviously, but if your budget is $0 I would encourage a more realistic survey of your options.
posted by witchen at 8:35 PM on October 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

Otter does that well, with 600 minutes free per month, and longer for pay. In addition to transcribing uploaded files it's also an app which can record and transcribe. I've used it for both transcribing previously recorded meetings and for recording+transcribing on my phone.
posted by anadem at 8:35 PM on October 27, 2018 [6 favorites]

Temi is great for this (I use it for podcast referencing and interviews). However it's 10c a minute.
posted by teststrip at 1:16 PM on October 28, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've used many times. They're a gig-economy clearinghouse and have people standing by 24/7 to grab the work as you upload it. Transcription costs $1 per minute of audio (so an hour of audio would cost $60) and for me at least it is absolutely worth it. It's startling how fast they work; you'll get the results back almost immediately.

Now, if your time is worthless, sure, fart around with free solutions. See witchen's comment above.
posted by intermod at 6:32 AM on October 30, 2018

TheWireCutter recommends ($6/hr) for automated and ($54/hr) for human-done. Consider for a great free option (10 free hours, $10 for up to 100hrs/mo).

API-only services offer significantly lower rates but are less user friendly:
posted by notpeter at 6:21 AM on March 12

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