How Long Does it Actually Take to Transcribe 1 Hour of Audio?

Transcriptions have an unbelievable number of uses, from creating references for meetings and interviews, making subtitles, or increasing SEO for your video and social media projects. 

Transcripts are also crucial for people that are hard of hearing, deaf, or in noisy environments. Having a transcript of meetings or lectures also makes report and memo creation more straightforward and accurate by providing you with detailed information about the event. 

So, how long does it take to transcribe one hour of audio? This time can vary dramatically based on several factors. Today, we’ll cover 7 factors that can affect transcription speed and the average transcription time of different types of transcribers and transcription programs. 

How long does it take to transcribe 1 hour of audio?

Transcription speed for an average person

An amateur transcriber typically types between 40 and 60 words per minute. As a result, it takes the average person about four hours to transcribe one hour of audio. However, the complexity of the transcript can make this time estimate vary significantly. An hour-long transcript may take up to ten hours for an amateur transcriber to go through. 

Transcription speed for a professional transcriber

Professional transcribers have above-average typing skills, so most will type between 80 and 100 words per minute. A professional transcriptionist can transcribe an hour of audio in two to three hours. Some of the quickest professional transcribers can transcribe an hour of basic audio in 30 minutes. 

Transcription speed for transcription software like Notta

Transcription software like Notta offers real-time transcription, saving countless hours of painstaking work that manual transcription would otherwise take up. Notta even offers live transcription for online meetings, like Zoom, creating your transcription while the discussion goes on, saving you time uploading the meeting audio later to the transcription software. 

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7 Factors that Affect the Transcribe Time

1. Background noise

Background noise distracts the transcriber and makes the audio more challenging to understand, increasing the time needed to transcribe the file accurately. If you plan on regularly creating transcriptions, invest in a high-quality microphone or recording device and sit in a quiet area with little to no background noise to make the task easier. 

2. Audio Quality

Poor audio quality can hamper a transcriber’s work because the transcriber will likely need to replay the audio more times to understand what is being said. Audio recorded long ago or on a low-quality device will be harder to transcribe, which is why high-quality audio is crucial for accurate transcription. 

3. Possible additional research

If the transcription audio contains unfamiliar words, jargon, or industry-specific information, a transcriber may need to take more time to research these terms so that they are appropriately spelled and utilized in the transcript. 

4. Multiple speakers

Multiple speakers can make transcribing more difficult because speakers may talk over each other. You’ll also need to track who is speaking and note this in your transcription, resulting in additional time required to add the speakers into the transcription. If the speakers switch between different languages, this will increase the time needed to transcribe as the typist adjusts to the new language and indicates this in the transcription. 

5. Your experience level

A transcriber’s experience level and WPM typing speed will significantly impact the time it takes to transcribe. A less experienced transcriber may average closer to four hours to transcribe one hour of audio. In contrast, a professional transcriber may only take 30 minutes to one hour to transcribe an hour of simple audio. An experienced transcriber will also be more familiar with their tools, know the proper formatting for transcriptions, and likely have a higher WPM, saving them time. 

6. Heavy regional accents

A heavy regional accent that the transcriber is unfamiliar with can make it difficult to transcribe audio accurately. As a result, the transcriber may need to listen to the audio more times to determine what is being said and record it accurately. There may also be linguistic expressions that need to be translated into the desired transcription language. 

7. Speech patterns

Lastly, speech patterns can affect the transcription time. If individuals speak quickly or have unusual speech patterns, this can slow down a transcriber. People with low voices or individuals who change their pitch may also slow the typist as they try and understand if the same person is speaking or if another person has taken over speaking. Another example of complicated speech patterns is children, who typically have irregular speech patterns and may use words that aren’t fully formed.

transcribing in a meeting

Does the transcribing time affect the quality of the transcription?  

Yes, the transcribing time can affect the quality of the transcription. Transcribing time may decrease the quality of the transcription if you rush through the transcription and don’t replay sections of the audio to verify the accuracy of your transcription. Depending on the experience of the transcriber, the typist may require more time to create accurate transcriptions.


How long does it take to transcribe 1000 words?

It takes approximately 2 hours to transcribe 1000 words manually. However, some transcribers share that it can take up to four hours to transcribe 1000 words manually, depending on the complexity of the transcription, the number of speakers, how hard it is to understand the transcription, and much more. 

How much does it cost to transcribe 1 hour of audio?

The cost to transcribe 1 hour of audio varies widely based on the service. Professional transcriptions typically cost $1.5 to $3 per audio minute or $90 to $100 per audio hour. The service may add additional fees for quick turnaround or added complexities, such as a recording with over five people speaking. Alternatively, transcription software can cost as little as $8.25 per month for many hours of transcription while maintaining a high accuracy level. 

Why does transcription take so long?

Transcription takes a long time to perform because transcribers need to rewind and listen to the audio multiple times while typing the transcription out. Other factors, like speakers with strong accents, many speakers, and the overall complexity of the transcription, will affect how long it takes to transcribe something. 

How do you transcribe fast?

You can transcribe audio faster by increasing your typing speed, using a high-quality noise-cancellation headset, and sitting in a quiet environment. Using tools like an autocorrect tool and transcription pedal can also quicken your transcription time. 


Transcribing one hour of audio manually will take several hours at minimum, which is why it’s ideal to hire a professional transcriber or use transcription software like Notta to save time and free up your hands.

The Notta Bot can even live transcribe video calls so that your transcription is done automatically during the video call. You can easily make quick edits to the transcription and add photos and notes to your transcript. Notta also lets you transform your transcript into memos and reports for work or school. 

Overall, Notta will save you the time and stress of transcribing hours of audio, freeing up your busy schedule for more meaningful work. 

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