Don’t Stress about Digitizing Audio Files

Does your family have audio interviews? Ask anyone who doesn’t have a sound recording of their departed relative and they’ll tell you that such recordings are priceless. However, an audio recording can be lost in a heartbeat and are often not as useful as they could be without a transcription.

With a transcription, you can sort different story segments apart to recombine the information in other projects. Additionally, a transcription of an audio file, also helps listeners quickly scan where certain topics will be found in the file.

Since I’m hearing impaired, an audio transcription serves as ‘closed captioning’ for voice files. Even if you don’t have difficulty hearing, a transcription helps you and me interpret unfamiliar voice patterns and pronunciations.

Transcription options generally come in two varieties, paid or free.

Free Tools:

Free services actually involve you keying in the text that you hear but combines the audio files and the typing interface into one screen. Some services offer a voice to text option. The program won’t recognize the voice in the audio clip.

Instead, you play your audio clip, then press pause. Speak what was just heard on the audio clip and Transcribe will turn your voice into text. This is not the same as the program creating text from the speakers in audio clips.


Using this service, you open your audio file and enable playback controls for slow down, pause, and rewind. In the same software, you have a workspace. This saves you from having to open the audio file and the text workspace in different applications. A service similar to Transcribe is OTranscribe

Paid Tools:

The paid transcription option exchanges the tedious of transcription for a fee. You upload your audio files and then either an audio transcription service or a human will create your text file. You’ll receive an email with the transcription. Some service charges $1 per minute, but some will discount the fee for longer clips.

Some services offer a cheap per minute rate as the transcription is auto-generated, so you’ll need to review the work before publishing it. What’s cool is some services transcribe video interviews as well

Regardless of whether you transcribe your audio interviews yourself or contract it out, take time to have your family interviews transcribed. The transcription helps people understand people they have a difficulty hearing and use the transcriptions in other genealogical projects.
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

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