10 Best Dictation Transcription Services

Would you believe Thomas Edison invented the first dictating machine in 1877 and actively marketed it to office workers? That means for 150 years or so, people have found the benefit in recording their voices and transcribing it for record keeping.

Today, human transcriptionists and speech recognition software help us record speech in writing for every industry and use case you can think of. Even as a teenager, I remember spending some birthday money on a dictaphone (the kind with tiny cassettes) so I didn't have to write in my diary by hand. Now, I use dictation every day for researching and structuring my writing work.

Put simply, we speak faster than we write, so dictation saves time and allows us to multitask. We can use dictation transcription to help deaf or hard-of-hearing people to understand audio content, too. To help you transcribe dictation, I’ve personally tested and shortlisted 10 of the best dictation transcription services. You’ll find them listed below with a tutorial on how to use them, their advantages, drawbacks, and pricing.

Our 10 Best Recommendations for Dictation Transcription Services

1. Notta

Best for highly accurate, fast dictation when you have an internet connection

Notta

How to Transcribe Dictation with Notta

  1. Log into Notta and visit the Dashboard.

  2. Record from your microphone to dictate live speech and transcribe in real-time by clicking ‘Record an Audio’.

  3. Upload an audio or video you already recorded by clicking ‘Import files’. You can drag and drop a file from your device or enter a Google Drive or Dropbox URL. Your transcript will be ready in a few moments.

  4. Dictate a live virtual meeting with Notta Bot by clicking ‘Transcribe Live Meetings’ and paste your meeting link from Zoom, Google Meet, or Microsoft Teams. Notta Bot joins as a guest and dictates and converts your speech into text.

  5. View, edit, and export your text transcript by clicking the transcript title in Notta’s ‘Recent Recordings’ list.

Notta Pros

  • Up to 98.86% transcription accuracy with high-quality audio

  • Transcribes in 104 languages

  • Translates text into 42 languages

  • Transcribes up to 5 hours of audio or video in around 10 minutes

  • The dashboard and tools are easy to use, even for beginners

  • Chrome extension available to transcribe browser audio

Notta Cons

  • No option for an offline dictation service, must have an internet connection

Notta Pricing

  • Limited free plan with 120 minutes per month (up to 3 mins per live transcription and up to 5 mins per file transcription )

  • Paid Pro plan starts at $8.25 per month, billed annually

2. Rev

Best for short transcription of high-quality audio

Rev dictates audio using AI or human transcription

How to Transcribe Dictation with Rev

  1. Log into your Rev account.

  2. Upload your video or audio file from your device, or via a URL from YouTube, Zoom, or Vimeo.

  3. Confirm the fee and details and pay. Rev will send you an email as soon as your dictation transcript is ready.

  4. Edit the transcript by typing your corrections. Export in a variety of formats.

Rev Pros

  • Up to 90% accuracy

  • Easy-to-use platform

  • Rev has a mobile app to dictate on-the-go

  • Transcribe in 21 languages

Rev Cons

  • Poorer quality audio has to be transcribed by a person which costs $1.50/min

  • No way to record audio in real-time on the web

Rev Pricing

  • First 45 mins free

  • $0.25 per minute thereafter

  • $1.50 per minute for human transcription

  • Rev Max subscription is $29.99/month with a free 14-day trial - 20 hours/month

3. Happy Scribe

Best for transcribing and repurposing pre-recorded audio files

Happy Scribe’s automatic transcription offers up to 85% accuracy when dictating speech

How to transcribe dictation with Happy Scribe

  1. Log into your Happy Scribe account.

  2. Upload an audio or video file from your device or paste a URL.

  3. Choose the language you want it to transcribe your dictation into. Happy Scribe shows the transcript progress on-screen.

  4. Read the full transcript and edit if needed by typing your corrections. Export in a variety of formats.

Happy Scribe Pros

  • Make all kinds of content from your dictation transcription with the AI tool

  • Quick transcription

  • Playback speeds from 0.2x to 5.0x

  • Pro version offers lots of export options

Happy Scribe Cons

  • Higher accuracy costs $1.50 per minute

  • You can only export a PDF with the free version—even plain text is locked behind a subscription

  • Only 85% accurate - lower than many other services

  • No live dictation service

Happy Scribe Pricing

  • Limited free version with up to 5 uploads

  • Paid Basic version starts at $10 per month, billed annually, to get 120 transcription minutes

4. GoTranscript

Best if you don't transcribe often and want fairly accurate results without a subscription

Audio dictated by humans on GoTranscript’s website

How to transcribe dictation with GoTranscript

  1. Choose whether you want human or automatic dictation transcription.

  2. Upload your audio or video file from your device, or provide a URL.

  3. Pay for your transcript.

  4. Check your email inbox—GoTranscript sends your completed transcript via email when it’s ready.

GoTranscript Pros

  • Up to 90% accuracy with automatic transcription

  • Pay-as-you-go pricing

  • Check the accuracy before you order, viewing a snippet as a free preview

  • Website interface is clean and easy to use

GoTranscript Cons

  • The mobile app doesn’t record in real time—you have to import voice notes and then the app uploads it to GoTranscript to transcribe your dictation

  • No way to dictate live speech

  • No options for different export formats— you’ll receive a Word document via email

  • No subscriptions available—it might get pricey if you need lots of transcripts

GoTranscript Pricing

  • Around $0.20 per minute for automatic transcription

  • Around $0.80 per minute for bulk human transcription orders, with a 5-day wait

5. Google Docs Voice Typing

Best for simple, free dictation

Google Docs offers dictation and simple formatting tools

How to transcribe dictation with Google Docs Voice Typing

  1. Open a Google Doc.

  2. Go to ‘Tools’ and select ‘Voice Typing’. A floating menu will appear.

  3. Select your dictation language from the drop-down menu.

  4. Press the ‘Record’ icon and speak—Google writes what you say in real-time.

  5. Press the ‘Stop’ icon when you’re finished.

Google Docs Voice Typing Pros

  • Super simple to use

  • Has some basic commands like text formatting and editing

Google Docs Voice Typing Cons

  • Accuracy is questionable

  • It stops recording when you navigate to other tabs

Google Docs Voice Typing Pricing

  • Free

6. Microsoft Dictate

Best for accurate English transcription on Windows

Dictate your speech to write text and use format controls on Windows

How to transcribe dictation with Microsoft Dictate

  1. Press the ‘Windows’ and ‘H’ keys to activate Dictate Mode.

  2. Move your cursor to any text field.

  3. Speak into your microphone and Windows will type what you say.

Microsoft Dictate Pros

  • Works on Windows 10 and 11

  • Faster than the older Speech Recognition tool included in Windows

  • Works online and offline

  • Works anywhere there’s a text field

Microsoft Dictate Cons

  • Limited dictation languages

  • Takes a long time to initialize at times

  • Dictation commands can get confusing

Microsoft Dictate Pricing

  • Free for Windows users

7. Apple Dictation

Best for easy, free dictation for macOS users

Use Apple Dictation to write and control your Mac

How to transcribe dictation with Apple Dictation

  1. Switch dictation mode on by going to ‘Apple Menu > Settings > Keyboard Icon > Dictation’. Toggle dictation on.

  2. Move the cursor to anywhere you want to type.

  3. Right-click, select ‘Edit’ and ‘Start Dictation’.

  4. Speak and Apple Dictation writes what you say in real-time.

Apple Dictation Pros

  • If you have Apple Silicon, you can talk and type manually at the same time without stopping dictation

  • You can set any custom shortcut to start and stop your dictation

  • Simple formatting commands

Apple Dictation Cons

  • Not very accurate at times

Apple Dictation Pricing

  • Free if you own macOS

8. Otter AI

Best for dictating live meetings

Dictate live meetings with Otter’s AI software

How to transcribe dictation with Otter AI

  1. Log into your Otter account and click ‘Record’ on the dashboard to begin recording using your microphone.

  2. Paste a meeting URL and click the ‘Microphone’ icon to invite Otter Pilot to join your meeting as a guest. It dictates the entire meeting in real-time.

  3. Access your transcript via the Otter AI dashboard. Click to edit, or type questions into Otter Chat to have AI answer them for you.

Otter AI Pros

  • Otter Chat is intelligent and accurately answers your questions in natural language

  • Dictation transcript is fairly accurate

  • Dashboard is clean and easy to navigate

Otter AI Cons

  • The record and invite functions are laggy, sometimes taking a few seconds to react when you enable or disable transcription

Otter AI Pricing

  • Limited free version with up to 300 minutes per month, 3 file uploads lifetime

  • Paid Pro plan starts at $10 per month, billed annually

9. IBM Watson Speech to Text

Best for scalable transcription

Use IBM’s AI-powered speech recognition tool for dictation

How to transcribe dictation with IBM Watson Speech to Text

  1. Sign up or log into your IBM cloud account.

  2. Click ‘Create resource’ and find ‘Speech to Text’ in the menu.

  3. Create an API key and URL in the service credentials.

  4. Integrate your API into the application you’re using to make API calls.

  5. Send a POST request to the service's URL with your audio data. It’ll respond with the transcription.

IBM Watson Speech to Text Pros

  • The free plan is generous

  • Custom APIs let you integrate in company voice controls, such as customer service chatbots

  • Very accurate

IBM Watson Speech to Text Cons

  • Credit card is required for signup, even on a free plan

  • Only 11 live languages, which is fewer than other options

  • Waston doesn't have an ‘interface’ as such—you need technical knowledge to transcribe audio using APIs

IBM Watson Speech to Text Pricing

  • 500 minutes free per month

  • $0.02 per audio minute over the free threshold

10. Trint

Best for collaborating with others

Dictate speech from audio and video into text using Trint

How to Transcribe Dictation with Trint

  1. Log into your Trint account.

  2. Click the ‘Upload’ button from your dashboard and select a video or audio file from your device.

  3. Click to view your full transcript. Edit by correcting the text like a text editor and share with others in your team to make changes or add notes.

Trint Pros

  • Trint Mobile Live allows you to record and transcribe on the go (but only for enterprise plans)

  • Translates to 50 languages

  • Share with your team and collaborate on edits and notes in real-time

  • Customize a personal dictionary

Trint Cons

  • Expensive compared to competitors

  • Only 32 languages which is fewer than many others

Trint Pricing

  • Plans start at $40 per month, per user, billed annually

Why Is Dictation Transcription Important?

Accessibility

Not everyone can understand speech. Deaf or hard-of-hearing people may find it difficult to interpret spoken words, but transcribing speech into text makes audio content easier to understand. For non-native speakers, transcripts can be translated into their own language, too.

Retain Ideas

Chances are, even with the best memory, you might forget key details if you don’t write down a speech from a meeting or lecture. Transcribing your dictation means even small details get captured to refer back to later.

Speed

People speak around 150 words per minute (wpm) yet type on average 50 wpm. Think how much quicker you can say your ideas than write them down! Automatic transcription writes at the same speed as talking so nothing gets left out.

Preserve Information

Having written records of conversations or interviews is compulsory in some industries, like medical or legal fields. Transcribing dictated speech means you can refer back to previous conversations and decisions. It’s necessary for giving evidence, analyzing interview answers, and providing correct treatments for patients.

How Dictation Transcription Can Help You

Medical, Legal, and Law Enforcement Dictation

If you’re a medical professional, transcribing dictation documents patient records, diagnoses, and treatments. It tracks insurance claims and billing while keeping an overall detailed and accurate patient history so that it’s a breeze to refer to in the future for better continuity of care.

For legal and law enforcement professionals, dictation works in a similar way. Dictating conversations keeps an accurate record of conversations for evidence in court. It allows police officers and lawyers to make observations in an interview setting and makes it simpler to refer to specific parts of a case, without the need to listen to long audio files.

Journalist Dictation

Journalists need to record information rapidly and accurately, so writing by hand often isn’t quick enough when pressed for time. Dictating your observations and interviews with subjects is quicker and you can focus on the situation and story. Transcribing your dictation afterward means you can quickly search for quotes or specific information to write up your report with ease.

Interview Transcription

Writing both sides of an interview means you miss out on engaging with the person you’re speaking with. Dictating the interview with a meeting recorder captures everything that’s said, which is particularly useful when reviewing candidates for a job or conducting qualitative research. Transcribing your dictation helps identify keywords for analyzing feedback and sharing it with your team.

Podcast Transcription

Transcribing podcast dictation makes your content accessible to a wider audience. Deaf or hard of hearing people can enjoy your content, and it can support non-native speakers with their language learning. Having audio in text format boosts your discoverability on search engines, reaching more people. You can also use the transcript to turn podcasts into blog posts, show notes, and social media captions.

Business and Project Management Dictation

As an executive on the go, dictating your thoughts and transcribing them into text saves time in your busy schedule and keeps a record of your ideas and decisions. Dictating on your wearable device or smartphone helps you be more efficient in your work when you’re on the move between meetings or while traveling.

If you’re managing projects, you know that communication is key to keeping things on schedule. Dictation while overseeing project tasks helps you multitask and communicate updates to other departments. It keeps an accurate record of discussions, decisions, and disputes so your team is always on the same page.

Academic Dictation and Transcription

Academic transcription, for professors and students alike, accurately records lectures and discussions to make revision simpler. Students often have different learning styles, so having both audio and written versions of academic content makes it more accessible. You can use transcripts as references in research papers. Forget misinterpreting complex topics, as dictating reduces the risk of taking notes down incorrectly.

Real People Versus Speech Recognition: Which is Better?

Both manual and automatic transcription have their advantages. Real people understand context better, so are less likely to misuse ambiguous words (think ‘flour’ and ‘flower’). Plus, in industries where specialized vocabulary is used, like in medical or legal fields, a human transcriptionist is likely to know their antipyretics from their antiplastics. The drawbacks are that humans transcribe much slower than machines, and at a much higher cost.

Speech recognition software is much quicker and cheaper, often available with a subscription. It’s fairly accurate too, as long as the audio is clear. If you’re dictating natural language without an advanced vocabulary, automatic tools transcribe in real-time and sometimes have apps you can use on the go.

In short, if you need near 100% accuracy for advanced words and phrases and don't mind waiting or paying extra, human transcription may be better for your needs. If you’re after simple dictation for study notes and writing up a blog post, digital dictation and automatic transcription could fit your needs.

In Summary

Dictation transcription is at its best when you use a high-quality microphone and as quiet an environment as you can manage. Of course, this isn’t always possible, but the clearer the audio, the more accurate the transcription. In fast-paced or sensitive environments like a police interview or patient appointment, make sure you understand how to use your chosen speech recognition software before using it in a real scenario. It only takes a few minutes to get acquainted with software like Notta, so try a couple of test runs to feel confident in using the tool correctly.

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