Cost of Transcription Services

    Danilo Coviello

    At Espresso Translations, we understand that when you spend money on transcription services, you want to know that you’re getting the best value for your money and that your transcription project will run smoothly from start to finish.

    One of the most confusing things when looking into transcription services for the first time is the difference in pricing, especially when, on surface value you could be paying anywhere from nothing to up over £100 for just an hour’s worth of transcribed audio (and that’s without filtering the ‘add-ons’ of the service you’re getting).

    As such, it’s important to know a little bit about what you’re looking for (and what to look for) when seeking out a transcription service. At Espresso Translations, we’re here to help guide you through the costs of transcription and what to look out for so that you’re not going in completely blind.

    What is Video and Audio Transcription?

    Video transcription is the process of translating your video’s recorded audio into text using automatic speech recognition technology, human transcriptionists, or a combination of the two. Without such transcription, your videos rely solely on audio-visual material to convey information.

    Audio transcription is the process of converting speech in an audio file into written text. This could be the recording of one-to-one interviews, academic research, discussion with focus groups, or a company meeting.

    What to Consider Before Focusing on the Cost

    Whilst looking for the best pricing, or lowest price, is something that people tend to look for when approaching about any service they use, it’s not hard to imagine that just looking for services with the best prices can be risky, especially when you need quality, as is the case with transcription.

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    When looking at the going rate of transcription services, there are a couple of key areas that you must keep an eye on when scouting for the best service for you:

    Security: understanding how confidential your data is and what security procedures you need to implement before outsourcing your transcripts are key factors when assessing costs.

    Accuracy: accuracy is perhaps the biggest deciding factor when looking for transcription services. Asking yourself how accurate the transcription needs to be is a good starting point, as cheaper costs often mean cheaper salaries or ‘per minute’ rates paid to the audio transcriptionists, meaning that the accuracy (and sometimes quality) of the final transcription is not necessarily too high. It is also important to note that different sectors have different regulations and requirements. For example, sectors that work closely with financial, legal, and medical transcription often require more accurate and secure companies to undertake this sort of work for them.

    Costs For One Hour of Audio Transcription

    Due to the increased capability of transcription software nowadays, powerful enough to ensure that a transcriber is able to complete the work at a consistent speed, whether working with video or audio files, the costs for audio transcription and/or video transcription are generally the same no matter where you look.

    What will affect the hourly cost will be the number of people who are assigned to work on your transcription. If you have just one audio transcriptionist to transcribe your project, then it will cost less than having one audio typist and one proof-reader. However, if accuracy is very important to you, and if you don’t want to pay for anything that has typos and mistakes in it, then it’s worth asking how many people will work on your transcript.

    The average pricing in the UK for standard two speaker interviews, conversations, or discussions is roughly 90p to £1.50 per audio minute. However, these prices will vary depending on aspects such as turnaround time (e.g. your deadline) and length of the video or audio files, with the cost rising to £2-5 per audio minute for a two-person job.

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    It is also important to take note that some agencies will have a minimum charge when offering their services to their clients or charge more for any extra amendments to be made to the final transcription.

    Transcription Rates for Transcription Services

    Whilst different transcription services cost different amounts, it’s important to note how they charge for transcription, with some companies charging per word, some per hour, and others by volume package. However, the most popular transcription service cost model is based on a per audio minute price rate.

    The transcription costs can also vary depending on what type of transcription you require, with some agencies offering an upfront price based on a set of standard requests, and others offering add-ons but at an additional price.

    However, when researching transcription services, the price is not always the most important consideration as most cheap transcription sites offer low transcription rates due to low labour costs or because they use machine-based solutions, the result of which is usually highly inaccurate transcriptions that will most likely need correcting at a later date.

    If quality and accuracy are important, then it’s often best practice to avoid cheap sites as not only will they generally deliver work with less than 95% accuracy (machine-based services range from around 50% upwards) but will most likely cost you more time in the long-run. Whilst 95% accuracy sounds good, any transcript with 98% accuracy or less will require a thorough check and proofread on receiving it to ensure that everything is as it should be.

    Factors that Affect Transcription Costs

    The cost of your transcription can be affected by a plethora of reasons. As such, it’s always important to note what is included in the cost of your transcription before signing over anything.

    Some key areas to consider when assessing costs include:

    Turnaround Times: some transcription companies offer lower prices the longer you wait for your transcript, whilst others offer a single turnaround with a set rate. Essentially, for fast turnaround times, the overall cost will generally be higher.

    Accuracy: if accuracy is not essential (i.e. anything under 95%), then the overall cost is much lower. And whilst machine translation offers a very low-cost alternative to human transcription, the accuracy rate is often lower.

    Time Coding: time codes are important if you need to locate specific information in your audio, video, or transcript quickly.

    Number of Speakers: most transcription services charge extra per additional speaker in a recording and free or cheap transcription sites do not always produce transcripts that clearly distinguish between speakers. As such, speaker ID add-ons can be essential for easy reading and attribution of who is speaking, especially should there be lots of crosstalk or people speaking quickly.

    Original Sound and Audio Quality: machine-transcription services can be fast but are limited when it comes to transcribing poor audio quality with lots of background noise, heavy regional accents, or any special subject matter. Consequently, transcription companies usually charge higher rates if the original audio is distorted, muffled, too quiet, or has heavy background noise.

    Specialised Transcripts: transcripts within a specific sector such as the medical, legal, academic, technical, and financial fields can be considered as difficult audio when transcribing and may cost more than so-called general transcription projects due to their specialised nature, the amount of research required, and the need for a transcriptionist that has the right background/ subject knowledge and qualifications in the field in question.

    Transcription Style: the transcription style defines how detailed the transcript is going to be, with three most commonly used styles when transcribing; verbatim; intelligent verbatim; and true verbatim.

    Types of Transcription

    As previously stated, there are three common types of transcription used when developing transcripts:

    Verbatim Transcription = this is the rawest form of transcription. Verbatim transcription (or full-verbatim) captures all words present within the audio recording being transcribed. With full-verbatim, transcribers also take note of any pauses, false starts, and other verbal tics (as well as any “umms” and “ahs”).

    Intelligent Verbatim Transcription = intelligent verbatim transcription is a cleaner version of the audio recording, as it details everything that is said but removes any of the verbal extras (such as the “umms” and “ahs”), essentially making it easier to read.

    True Verbatim: whilst true verbatim doesn’t include every single “umm” and “ah” or stutter, it does give a representational amount to convey the non-verbal utterance. This form of transcription also doesn’t denote any ambient noises heard in the recording such as “chair creaks” or “birds chirping in background”.

    Quality Transcription Services

    Espresso Translations is an ISO-certified transcription agency with an extensive and successful history within the transcription industry. Our years of industry experience has led us to the development of our professional transcription services, capable of offering accurate and affordable transcriptions that are undertaken by some of the industry’s best transcribers coupled with our first-class transcription solutions.

    As an ISO-certified company, our transcription service carries out an extensive and rigorous quality control process with our embedded quality tools to ensure that all transcription and certification processes are conducted to the highest possible industry standard to match the hard work and passion that our clients have injected into their project.

    Plus, should there be any errors in your final transcription, they will be amended free of charge provided the work is returned to us within 48 hours of the client receiving it. 

    To see how the UK’s leading transcription specialists can deliver accurately produced transcripts at a competitive rate and bolster your work and business, get in contact with Espresso Translations today.