Transcription Audio Files and Playback programs

Transcription Audio Files and Playback Programs





Transcription is a little bit more strategic than just using any plain old playback program for the audio a client sends you. Some clients will send files through an online platform such as Dropbox and other similar websites. Other clients will send files to you in a .zip file, and some of the shorter files are just easily downloadable from an email. No matter which way the audio file is sent to you, it is important to know what kind of playback programs work best for transcription, but most importantly, work best for you and your computer.

This blog post will cover:

  • Playing audio with Dropbox
  • Zip File audio
  • Short file downloads
  • What is the best playback program




Playing audio with Dropbox

In my experience, I thoroughly dislike Dropbox. This is just personal preference and opinion, but I do not suggest using it for a new transcriptionist for a few reasons.

First, I personally dislike Dropbox because it is almost necessary that you pay for it. Yes, they start you off on the free version, but you can only have about 3 files saved at a time.

This can be very frustrating for a few reasons. If you are new, you are bound to have lots of smaller files, so only have a couple available at a time can be obnoxious. You will constantly be deleting older files, which is good to keep it cleaned out.

But on occasion a client will ask you to go over a different section of the audio, or to fix a line, or other reasons that it is good to keep older audio files.

Another reason I dislike Dropbox is because it is impossible to slow down the speech of the file. This is not an option that Dropbox’s playback program offers.  There are a myriad of other playback programs that offer this function. The benefits of a playback program with the ability to slow down speech is immense, and a whole other blog post.

Another problem I have come across while using Dropbox is that, because it does not have an audio slowing capability, you will be rewinding the file quite frequently. Dropbox can be quite slow to load the file if you are constantly rewinding it.

This is a hindrance because it slows down your work, taking you longer to finish the file. It is much easier to just download the file straight to your computer.

The saying is true, time is money, and that is why I do not suggest using the playback from Dropbox.



.Zip File Audio

Sometimes the files you will receive from a client to transcribe are quite long, I’ve gotten a few three hour long audio files! These larger files almost always come in the form of a .zip file.  You might be thinking, what the heck is a .zip file? Simply, a .zip file is a computer file which is too large, and it is then compressed for storage and transmission.

.Zip files are necessary for larger files. If you are receiving hours of audio from a client, they can’t very well send them just as a regular file.  They are compressed into a “.zip file” and sent to you in that fashion. I am not 100 percent thrilled with .zip files personally.

They can often times take a long time to download, they take up a lot of space on your computer storage, and are a bit difficult to look through the files to find the specific audio that you are trying to transcribe.

Whenever I am transcribing a larger file, I ask my client to send it to me in segments, and I have not run into any trouble with that request so far.  I tend to ask for 45 minute, or one hour long segments at a time. These files will be much smaller and easier to download onto my personal computer.

I’m sure there will come a time when a client will be irritated by my request, but most if not all of the clients you will run into will understand and not likely give you a hard time.

Just make sure to ask nicely!

You can copy this message:

Dear (client’s name),

It has come to my attention that the audio file you have sent to me is in the form of a .zip file. My computer is a bit slow, and it would be a lot easier for me to download and transcribe if it was broken down into smaller segments.

I am just having trouble downloading it onto my computer. The shorter files will also help my turn around time of this project.

Thank you so much for you consideration concerning this problem,

Sincerely (your name).

That message has worked for me over the years, and I know it will work for you as well! Being honest with your clients 100 percent will help you in the long run, trust me.

.Zip files do take a long time to download, and they are even more difficult to load into a playback program. So, asking for the short files will help you a lot while transcribing.

Some playback programs take even longer to load the .zip file into it than it did to download onto your computer!

Short file downloads

Shorter files are my absolute favorite files to upload onto my computer and playback program.

These files are small, obviously, but they download quickly, and often times, the playback programs you can download have automatic dictation capabilities.  For shorter files, I use one of two programs, depending on how clear the audio is.

The first is called: Express Scribe Transcription and the other is called VLC Media Player.

The latter is typically already downloaded onto most computers, while Express Scribe Transcription needs to be downloaded from the internet.  Both of these playback programs are great for short files along with longer files.

Like I said, shorter files are the easiest to download, and easiest to use on a computer. They do not take a long time to download or transport from different folders in your computer which is a real time saver.

And beyond that, they are just easy to use. There is no other folders you have to go into and search to find the audio file.

You don’t have to worry about slow playback at all, and just in general, they are typically the type of file you will be receiving from clients, especially if you are just starting out.

Most new transcriptionist will receive smaller jobs, meaning smaller audio files. Which is great!

They are quick and easy, you can bang out a bunch of them in a day, adding up to a lot of money over the course of a week.

I always suggest to find a couple solid clients who give you consistent work, and then find other small work to fill out the rest of your time devoted to transcribing.

This is great for many reasons. One, you know that you will be making X amount of money from your solid clients.  And then whatever money you make from the added smaller jobs, is like a bonus!

So get used to using and maneuvering smaller audio files around on your computer and onto varying playback programs, because the little ones are really where you make the money.

What is the best playback program

This is kind of a subjective question. I personally use two playback programs, that I touched on in the previous section. Express Scribe Transcription and VLC Media Player.

Express Scribe Transcription is the program I mostly use and it is great!

It has the ability to slow down speech to whatever percentage you want, or whatever makes it easier for you to transcribe a fast talking speaker.  It has automatic dictation capabilities, and most files download into the program with relative ease and generally the files get downloaded very fast.

All you have to do is open up your ‘Downloads’ file on your computer and drag the file from downloads into the play cache on the Express Scribe Transcription platform and it downloads right away!

There is a button you must click for the automatic dictation, but beyond that the program is easy to use, easy to download, and all around a great program.

The only drawback is that at first the program is free to use, but after a certain amount of time, you have to pay for it.

But I don’t find that to be much of a drawback. The cost is relatively low, and the program is well worth the price, compared to the money you will be making from using it.

The second program I use is VLC Media Player. This playback program is usually already downloaded on most computers.

It is a general playback program that you can play anything with, so it is pre-downloaded.

I personally like this program because it also has the ability to slow down the speed of audio files. But it is to set degrees unlike the Express Scribe program.

The files download into this software easily, and it is easy to use. It is very simple. It has the basic controls needed to transcribe, meaning, play, pause, rewind, forward, etc.

There is no extra flair added into this program, which is nice in a way. It is a small tool bar, so it is easy to have your word document open and the tool bar on the same page.

I would have to say I prefer the VLC Media player better, because of its simplicity. The Express Scribe program is a large rectangle on your screen and it takes up a lot of space.

Making your word file minimized, and making you scroll down to type and read what you have written.

That may not be a big deal for most people, but for me, I find it a little bit of a hindrance.

The fact that I can have my word file open almost all of the way with the VLC program is nice and convenient!

But ultimately, the choice is yours. I would suggest going online and searching for transcription playback programs. Find a few and download them. Try them out, and see what you like best.

See what program works best for your computer, and for you.

I do highly suggest downloading a playback program that can slow down the file. This will save you time, and help you get files down faster.