Audio transcription used to be a labor-intensive, tedious, and time-consuming task. Now, whether you want to transcribe an interview, share meeting notes, or repurpose a podcast into a blog for SEO benefits, there are transcription apps that can do it for you.
I know from experience that it's hard to find a transcription app that's affordable, accurate, and easy to use—I've spent plenty of time cursing under my breath after spending money on an online transcription that I then had to spend hours cleaning.
To save you the same trouble, I spent several weeks testing over two dozen transcription services—including AI-powered apps and human transcription services. These are the five best.
The best transcription services
Trint for teams who need a lot of transcription
Rev for fast, automated transcription
TranscribeMe for fast, human transcription
Sonix for the most accurate transcripts
Speak Ai for getting a sentiment analysis of your audio
What makes the best transcription software?
How we evaluate and test apps
All of our best apps roundups are written by humans who've spent much of their careers using, testing, and writing about software. We spend dozens of hours researching and testing apps, using each app as it's intended to be used and evaluating it against the criteria we set for the category. We're never paid for placement in our articles from any app or for links to any site—we value the trust readers put in us to offer authentic evaluations of the categories and apps we review. For more details on our process, read the full rundown of how we select apps to feature on the Zapier blog.
First, a note: you might not even need a dedicated app to transcribe audio to text. For example:
If you want a transcript of your Loom or Vidyard video, both tools have a feature that allows you to do it without ever leaving the app (and at no extra cost, depending on your plan).
If you're looking to transcribe video to text, video editing software like VEED will often have an auto-transcript option for you too.
Video conferencing apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams can automatically send you a meeting transcript after the meeting is over.
That's just to say: looking for software with a built-in transcription feature is easier than going through the hassle of recording and then searching for a transcription app, so keep that in mind.
But if you're looking for dedicated transcription software, here's what you'll want to look for—and what I was keeping my eye out for while I was testing the apps:
Accuracy. I tested each service using a short 4 minute and 17 second clip of a webinar. The audio contained two speakers with a quick back-and-forth conversation. There were a few brand names (like "Zapier" and "YouTube") and industry jargon (like "Zaps," "automations," and "CRM"). I calculated how many mistakes each platform made.
Speed. Especially when it comes to AI-powered transcription services, you don't want to wait three business days to receive a 4-minute audio transcript—so I considered turnaround time in my reviews.
Exporting and sharing. I considered how many formats you could download the transcribed text in and whether there was an editor within the app where you could edit the transcript.
Price. Good, free transcription software isn't really a thing yet, but transcription services are cheaper than ever before. Most automated transcription apps cost less than $1 per minute of audio. But prices often increase—especially for human transcription services—if you want extra features, like speaker labels, erasing filler words, and quick turnaround. While most apps charge per minute, many also have a cheaper option if you buy a subscription. I considered all of this as I was testing.
Complicated audio support. Many recordings today have background noise or connection issues that make the audio unclear. Some apps charge extra for difficult audio, and others riddle the text with mistakes at the slightest hiccup. The audio I tested had a brief clarity issue—enough for me to test how the transcription service reacts to a mildly complicated clip.
With that, here are my picks for the five best transcription services.
Best transcription software for teams with recurring transcription needs
Accuracy: 7 mistakes
Speed: 10 minutes
Pricing: From $48/user/month ($60/user/month for unlimited)
Trint is the perfect app for teams who have a regular transcription need. Its dashboard has excellent collaborative features: you can see the version history of transcripted files, check the transcripts shared with you via other team members, and decide what kind of access you want to give (view, comment, edit). And if your team has certain light months when you don't need transcription services as much, you can pause your plan for $5/month and keep your files and subscription intact.
I particularly loved Trint's story feature, which allows you to combine sound bites and transcripts from different audios into one file, and then email it to your colleagues with a single click. It also has a vocabulary builder, so you can train it to learn new words. Although it took more time to receive the transcript from Trint than it did for most other AI transcript tools, it more than made up for it with its feature set and accuracy. It had only seven mistakes, including three in names, although most of them happened when the audio was crystal clear.
Trint also recently launched a call-recording feature on its iOS app—convenient if you often communicate with clients through phone calls. No need to record the call, then upload it to Trint to transcribe it after; it happens all at once.
You can do even more with Trint by connecting it to Zapier. Cut out the manual work of uploading and downloading files: Zapier can automatically upload new Google Drive files to Trint and create new Google Docs automatically when transcripts are ready—and more.
Create new Google Docs when Trint transcripts are ready
Trint can be a little heavy on the pocket. Descript is a more affordable Trint alternative, especially if you need a fixed number of hours of transcription (rather than the unlimited offered in Trint). A warning: Descript's accuracy isn't as excellent as Trint's, although the user interface is a bit better.
Best transcription software for fast, automated transcription
Accuracy: 5 mistakes
Speed: 2 minutes
Pricing: From $0.25/minute
Rev is one of the most popular transcription apps out there, and for good reason: its turnaround time is top-notch without compromising on accuracy.
The AI transcription couldn't detect a few industry-specific words (like "Zaps"). For that reason, I think Rev could benefit from a personal dictionary, so you could add industry jargon or company-specific words for Rev to pick up. But overall, the app had a robust user experience. It's not as team-friendly as Trint, but you can invite your coworkers and create a content hub in the app. I particularly loved its interactive editor: you can review your audio alongside your timestamped transcript, adjust playback speed, highlight, strikethrough, make notes, and leave comments.
Rev also has human transcription services if you need them, although I found them to be a bit pricey given that its automated version is already excellent.
You can take even more of the manual work off your plate by connecting Rev to Zapier to automatically create Rev transcription orders from new Google Drive files or post your Rev transcripts on WordPress when they're ready, among other things.
Create Rev transcription orders from new Google Drive files
If you're looking for a Rev alternative, Temi is a great option. It doesn't allow you to give various access levels while sharing your transcript files, and the interface felt a bit clunky, but Temi's accuracy, speed, and price make it a strong competition for Rev.
Best transcription software for fast, human transcription
Accuracy: 2 mistakes
Speed: 36 minutes
Pricing: From $0.79/minute
TranscribeMe is the app you should use if you want human transcription services that move quickly. They had the best turnaround time and the best accuracy of all the human transcription services I tested. And the accuracy went beyond not having typos or incorrect text—there was also excellent precision in punctuation.
Most human transcription services start at upwards of $1/minute, but TranscribeMe has cheaper plans, and there are different pricing packages depending on whether or not you need a verbatim script, for example. You can also customize how many timestamps you want and choose to pay extra if you want an even quicker delivery.
TranscribeMe's primary disadvantage is that it doesn't have a sharing option—you can't even send transcript files via email, let alone through a shareable link. The interface also isn't butter-smooth, but it gets the job done.
Best transcription software for accuracy
Accuracy: 1 mistake
Speed: 5 minutes
Pricing: From $10/hour (or $5/hour + $22/user/month)
Sonix was the most accurate transcription app I tested. I could only find one mistake (in a name), which is surprising, especially because Sonix is an automated transcription app, and the turnaround time was just five minutes.
Not just this: Sonix has a "quality" feature that tells you how confident the app is about the transcript, so you can easily assess if you need manual help. Even in the editor, there's a "confidence level" metric highlighting all the words that Sonix isn't 100% sure about—making it a cakewalk to clean the script.
Like with Trint, you can add words to your custom vocabulary and create a new story combining multiple snippets from different audios. The pricing also gives you the flexibility to purchase a standard pay-as-you-go option or a subscription at $22/user/month (plus $5/hour) if you have a recurring transcription need and want some extra collaboration tools.
You can do even more with Sonix by connecting it to Zapier: automatically transcribe new files in Dropbox folders, your email attachments, and more.
Transcribe new files in Dropbox folders with Sonix
Send Gmail attachments to Sonix and have them transcribed [Business Gmail Accounts Only]
Sonix's user interface feels a little outdated, so if you're looking for something friendlier, you might try Happy Scribe—it has the same high accuracy levels, but it's a little more expensive and you can't share the transcript through email.
Best transcription software for sentiment analysis
Accuracy: 5 mistakes
Speed: 5 minutes
Pricing: From $8/month
Speak Ai goes above and beyond simple transcription: it gives you insight into your audio through word clouds, overall sentiment pie charts, and transcript breakdowns.
For instance, if you're a UX researcher who often interviews customers for your clients, you can give them a word cloud showing the terms people use most often when speaking about their product. You can also verify if the overall sentiment has a positive or negative trend. And if you want to share branded transcripts with your clients or team, you can add a logo, customize the background, and put in brand colors.
The main drawback is that Speak Ai doesn't have a host of functionalities in its editor. It's barebones with just the text: you can't review your audio alongside your transcript, format or highlight text, or add comments. If that doesn't seem like a deal-breaker, Speak Ai lets you create a custom plan and handpick only the features you need.
Plus, using Zapier, you can automate your transcription processes by automatically analyzing and transcribing new YouTube videos or even logging new emails as text notes in Speak Ai.
Analyze and transcribe new YouTube videos with Speak Ai
Log new emails in Gmail as text notes for Speak AI
Which tool should you use to transcribe audio to text?
To be honest, most transcription apps are indistinguishable—so if you like the price tag and you're getting the quality you want, you're good to go. But each of the transcription services outlined here offers something a little different or extra.
This article was originally published in May 2018 by Melanie Pinola. Previous versions had contributions from Ryan Law and Matthew Guay.