Better Meetings

The 7 best transcription tools (with free options)

7 best transcription tools - featured image

If you’ve ever had to transcribe audio or video files the old-fashioned way (read: by hand), you know that it’s a task that’s both tedious and tiring. 

That's why the best transcription tools are precisely what you need if you want to turn audio or video into text. Transcription services are a lifesaver for journalists, academic researchers, and anyone who’s in a lot of meetings (and who organizes and documents them).

These apps let you focus on the conversation without taking painstaking notes by using automatic transcription (or sometimes human transcriptionists). This frees up the time you’d have otherwise spent on manual transcription.

But which transcription tool is the right choice for you? Let’s dive into the best options.  

Disclaimer: The information below is accurate as of January 3rd, 2023.

Best transcription tools: comparison table [features, use cases, pricing]

When searching for the right transcription tool, the handy table below will show you the main use case for each tool, its top features, and pricing plans.

7 best transcription tools - graphic

Read on for more in-depth information on each tool. 

1. Vowel

Vowel is a video conferencing platform with built-in live transcription and instant recording. Use Vowel to prepare agendas, work on collaborative notes during the meeting, and get instant meeting recaps (with transcription and video!).

Vowel homepage

Vowel doesn’t rely on human transcriptionists to create transcripts of your meetings. Instead, it’s all automatic and real-time. In addition to English, Vowel supports French, Italian, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Russian. 

The platform’s speech recognition software can also differentiate between US, UK, Indian, and Singaporean English dialects for more accurate transcription. 

Who is Vowel for?

Vowel is a video-conferencing platform with built-in transcription, meaning it’s great for anyone who runs meetings on a regular basis, from CEOs  and team leads to engineers, designers, product managers, UX researchers, and more. 

When you start recording a meeting in Vowel, the transcription automatically turns on and every participant in the meeting can see it in real time when they click the transcription tab. 

Because this feature is built-in, there are no “ghost participants” or add-ons required. Plus, you don’t have to wait for the transcript file to arrive in your inbox or download anything to view it. 

Post-meeting view with transcript

Transcription is just one of the useful features Vowel offers for meeting documentation. Recording is also built-in, and the transcripts have timestamps so they’re synced to the video. 

The recording, transcript, notes, and meeting recap are stored together and easily searchable. No more juggling various files in different formats and locations!

Keyword search in Vowel

This level of meeting documentation is great for teams that are trying to communicate more asynchronously and get more out of their meetings. And if someone misses a meeting, they can go through it on their own time — they’ll automatically get the recording and transcript if they were invited, or you can quickly share it with them. 

Top features

  • Real-time automatic transcription in nine languages (plus four dialects of English)

  • Instant cloud recording and universal search across all your meeting content

  • Meeting collaboration features, such as shared shared notes and agendas, agenda timers, emoji reactions, hand raises, and comments

G2 rating

4.5/5

Vowel pricing

Vowel’s Pro plan costs $8.49 per user per month and comes with all the features you need to hold effective meetings and review them within 60 days. 

A screenshot of Vowel's pricing page

For even more features, such as unlimited meeting duration, the ability to go back and review any past meeting, and priority support, you’ll need the Business plan, which costs $16.49 per user per month.  

Free version: Yes 😁

2. Grain

Grain is a transcription tool helping companies get the most out of their customer meetings.

Grain-homepage

Image Source: Grain

Grain is a Zoom add-on that offers automatic transcription of your meetings. With Grain you can record, transcribe, and clip Zoom meetings even if you’re not the host. 

Grain also integrates with Slack, Notion, and Salesforce, allowing you to share meeting insights across different platforms. 

Who is it for?

Grain is for users who need to record and transcribe their meetings, like remote and hybrid teams. However, the platform’s features are geared toward customer meetings. 

Companies can use Grain to capture moments from research interviews, sales calls, and other customer meetings. 

In addition to recording and transcription, you can clip meeting moments to create user stories with built-in editing tools (no additional editing apps needed). 

Top features

  • Automatic meeting audio/video transcription with tools like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams

  • Clip moments from meetings and turn them into engaging stories

  • Integration with Slack, Notion, and Salesforce

G2 rating

4.6/5

Grain pricing

Grain’s Business plan costs $19 per user per month and comes equipped with unlimited meetings and transcripts. However, you’ll need a subscription to Zoom or Meet since Grain isn’t a meeting platform.

Grain pricing page

Image Source: Grain

Added benefits of the Business plan include a shared library for teams and transcript downloads in several formats like DOCX and PDF.

Free version: Yes 😁

3. Otter.ai

Otter.ai is an automatic meeting transcription tool that integrates with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.

Otter-homepage

Image Source: Otter.ai

When you use Otter with one of the meeting platforms it integrates with, it’ll transcribe and subtitle your meetings in real time. Afterward, transcripts are available from a central location for easy review and sharing. 

However, processing time might take longer depending on the number of speakers in the recording, the duration of the recording, and how busy the service is. 

You can also use Otter as a standalone app on your iPhone or Android device and create real-time transcripts of in-person conversations. And if you have existing audio files you want to be transcribed, you can upload them to the app. For example, you can turn a recorded podcast into a text file. 

Who is it for?

Otter is an option for teams that need meeting transcriptions and are already using one of the video platforms that Otter works with. Or, if you do a lot of field interviews, its iOS and Android apps can help you turn those conversations into searchable documents. 

Like all automatic transcription tools, Otter takes the burden of manual transcription away and lets you focus on more important things.

One note, however, is that Otter does not support video recording — so you’ll need an alternative app if you want a recording alongside the transcription. 

Top features

  • Automatic speech-to-text transcription 

  • Integrations with three popular video meeting platforms: Zoom, MS Teams, and Google Meet 

  • A useful (paid) feature is that the Otter Assistant joins meetings instead of you when you’re double-booked and gives you the transcript 

G2 rating

4.1/5

Otter.ai pricing

With Otter’s Pro tier subscription, at $8.33/month, you’ll get all the basic features plus the ability to import pre-recorded video and audio recordings and the use of Otter Assistant. 

Otter pricing page

Image Source: Otter.ai

The Business plan is made for teams, starting at $20 per user per month. This plan adds the option of a shared team vocabulary and the ability to assign action items to team members. 

Free version: Yes 😁

4. oTranscribe

oTranscribe is a free and open-source transcription platform that you can use straight from your web browser.

oTranscribe-homepage

Image Source: oTranscribe

Note, however, that oTranscribe is not an automatic transcription tool, so you’ll have to do the work yourself. 

But if you must do human transcription (not automated), oTranscribe is likely your best option. It has keyboard shortcuts you can use while typing, and you can upload your audio or video file (the site also supports YouTube URLs) so that it’s on the same page as your transcript (no more switching between apps). 

Plus, you can control the playback from the oTranscribe app by pausing, rewinding, or fast-forwarding. 

Who is it for?

Anyone with audio they’d like to turn into text and doesn’t mind doing so manually (this is not an automatic transcription tool). 

Usually, you’d choose manual transcription over automatic for these reasons:

  • You have to transcribe in a language that most apps don’t support 

  • Your recording has too much background noise for other tools to process correctly 

  • You had a conversation with a person who has a strong accent 

If you’re a seasoned transcriptionist, you should be aware that oTranscribe doesn’t support the use of a foot pedal.

Top features

  • Adjustable keyboard shortcuts to control the playback of the audio/video file

  • Support for YouTube links 

  • Interactive timestamps that are hyperlinked and allow users to skip to the specific time they’re interested in in their audio files

G2 rating

N/A

oTranscribe pricing

This transcription tool is free.

5. Trint

Trint is an automatic video and audio transcription platform aimed at journalists, researchers, and anyone else who often needs to transcribe.

Trint-homepage

Image Source: Trint

Trint’s transcription is AI-powered and automatic, so you won’t need to do it yourself or rely on outsourced freelancers with different turnaround times.

To use Trint, you upload your video or audio recording (the app supports most formats) and then the speaking parts will be transcribed. The app’s developers boast a “99% accuracy” on their website. 

You can then edit the transcript further with the built-in editor. 

Who is it for?

If you’re looking for a live meeting transcription, Trint may not be the best option for you. It does integrate with Zoom, but it’ll only transcribe the recording. Live transcription is possible with streaming video (the app accepts streaming protocol links), but this is a feature aimed at journalists covering live events. 

Trint is a good tool for teams whose workflows include a lot of audio or video recordings that need to be transcribed after the fact. As already mentioned, that includes journalists but also teams engaged in customer or corporate research. 

Top features

  • Automatic transcription of a wide variety of uploaded audio/video files, such as .mp3, .mp4, .m4a, .wma, .mov, to mention a few

  • Collaboration features: comments, markers, and highlights 

  • Support for 32 languages

G2 rating

4.1/5

Trint pricing

Trint’s paid plans start at $48 per user per month for the Starter tier, so it’s definitely on the more expensive side.

Trint pricing page

Image Source: Trint

At this level, you can transcribe seven files per month and collaborate with up to three users. 

If seven files per month won’t do, you can choose the Advanced plan for $60 per user per month. That plan also lets you collaborate with up to 15 people at the same time.

Free version: No 😕

6. Sonix

Sonix is automatic-transcription speech-to-text software that supports more than 35 languages.

Sonix-homepage

Image Source: Sonix

Like most other tools on this list, Sonix turns audio or video files into text. You can do any editing required right inside your browser, with the built-in text editor.

Sonix also adds several quality-of-life features to make workflows more streamlined for editors: word-by-word timestamps, speaker identification, and diarizing (aka separating individual exchanges into paragraphs). 

Who is it for?

Sonix is a fit for any individual or team that needs to turn speech into text. Sonix is somewhat geared toward those whose primary job is to work with a lot of video and audio. It integrates with multimedia editing software like Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro X. 

You can use Sonix to transcribe meetings too, but you’ll have to finish your meeting first (it doesn't have live transcription).

Top features 

  • Automatic transcription of video and audio files in more than 35 languages 

  • Timestamps, diarizing, speaker identification

  • Many integrations: Dropbox, Zapier, Adobe, Zoom, Salesforce, etc. 

G2 rating

4.7/5

Sonix pricing

The pricing plans with Sonix are based on hours of transcription. 

Sonix pricing page

Image Source: Sonix

In the Standard tier, each hour of transcription costs $10. If you choose the Premium plan the cost goes down to $5 per hour but you also need to pay $22 per month per user. 

This app doesn’t offer a free plan, but you can test it with 30 minutes of free transcription. 

Free version: No 😕

7. Happy Scribe

Happy Scribe is both an automatic and human transcription service.

Happy Scribe-homepage

Image Source: Happy Scribe

Artificial intelligence can do a lot of things, but sometimes you need a human touch. Happy Scribe combines both approaches into one service. 

You can use this platform to transcribe your audio files, either automatically or by human transcribers. The same is true when you want to create subtitles for your videos.

Who is it for?

You can use this platform to transcribe audio or create subtitles for your videos. The platform comes with a built-in text editor with features aimed at transcriptionists and subtitlers. 

Of course, if you don’t want to personally edit the automatically generated text (the platform states an 85% accuracy) you can have others do it instead. Note that the prices are steeper in that case and the turnaround time is slower. 

In general, Happy Scribe may not be the best choice if you just need meeting transcription. However, if you need a platform that integrates with YouTube, has various collaboration functions, and you work a lot with video and audio, there’s no reason you couldn’t also use it for meeting transcription. 

Top features

  • Automatic and human transcription in the same platform 

  • Integrates with YouTube for subtitling

  • Many export formats: TXT, Word, PDF, JSON, and more

G2 rating

4.8/5

Happy Scribe pricing

There are no pricing plans with Happy Scribe. You pay for transcription by the minute.

Happy Scribe pricing page

Image Source: Happy Scribe

Automatic transcription costs €0.20 per minute and human-powered transcribing costs €2 per minute. If you need your subtitles translated, that costs €20.85 per minute.

Free version: Yes 😁

What to consider when choosing transcription software

There are a lot of transcription apps and services out there. They all have different focuses and different pricing, too. To make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck, here are the things you should consider before pulling the trigger:

1. Transcription accuracy

Accuracy is a major thing to keep in mind. If you have to spend endless hours editing the text — what’s the point of paying for automatic transcription? The best platforms will have 90%+ accuracy. However, keep in mind that the level of background noise and recording equipment quality affects the outcome. 

Reading consumer reviews for an app you’re interested in is a good idea because it’ll tell you more about how the app performs in real-world conditions.

2. User experience

Using tools with bad UIs is nobody’s idea of a good time, so take into account how easy it is to navigate and use the platform you choose. If you’re working with a team, you’ll want to pay attention to collaboration features, too. For instance, does everyone need an account to see the transcription, or can you easily share it? 

3. Overall features

All transcription apps can transcribe, but what else do they offer? Do you need a text editor? Can you use them to complete other business tasks? These are some of the questions you should be asking. 

As an example, Vowel offers meeting transcripts but it’s also a video conferencing platform with built-in recording, agendas, action items, and more.

4. Security

Meetings often involve discussions on private and confidential issues. You definitely don’t want your trade secrets falling into the wrong hands. Pick a platform that is known for good security and regulatory compliance.  

5. Pricing

Automated transcription takes a good deal of processing power and time, so it doesn’t come cheap. Compare the different platforms’ pricing plans to ensure they’re within your budget. 

 6. Use cases

Not all transcription tools are the same. Some operate like services where you upload your files and wait for the output, and some can transcribe meetings or other conversations as they happen. Make sure to pick the one that fits your needs. 

Vowel is a platform made for meetings and it can transcribe them in real time. No need to wait until after the meeting. 

Transcribe your meetings with the right tool

If you’re having productive meetings, they usually end with decisions, ideas, and action items. It would be a shame to lose all that insight — and not leave everyone on the same page — because no one wrote it down.

Document your meetings and turn them into a knowledge base. You can do that with a transcription service…or you can choose Vowel.

Viewing a transcript in Vowel

Vowel is an all-in-one meeting platform where you can host, record, transcribe, search, and share meetings — no add-ons required. 

See what live meeting transcription looks like in action by signing up for free!