How Long Does It Take to Transcribe 1 hour of Audio?

Danilo Coviello

So, how long to transcribe 1 hour of audio? Transcribing often isn’t as simple as it may seem. If you have never tried it before, you may think that the time it takes for transcription of an audio file is equal to the length of the audio. However, that could not be further from the truth. Usually, it can take hours of additional time per audio hour.

Throughout this article, we’re going to show you how long it takes to transcribe one hour of audio, as well as the factors on which it usually depends.

How Long Does It Take to Transcribe 1 hour of Audio?

It depends. Various factors affect how long it takes. As a very broad rule of thumb, many transcribers say it takes four hours for every one hour of audio.

Obviously, if you’re wondering how long to transcribe 30 minutes of audio file, around two hours.

However, because of the number of factors involved the four-hour time length can also be completely off. In a lot of cases, it can even take 10 hours to do one hour of audio.

To help you get a better understanding of how long your file may take to be transcribed, we’ve outlined some of the factors below.

Request a quote


One of the first and biggest factors is the skill and experience of the transcriptionist.

Someone more experienced will be able to work at a faster speed than somebody who is not. For this reason, it often makes sense to hire professionals, as they can get the job done much faster.

If you do hire professional transcriptionists, they might also be able to transcribe your files much quicker. In some cases, professionals can transcribe 20- 30 minutes’ worth of audio recording in less than an hour, depending on the elements mentioned throughout this article.

Generally speaking, a professionally fast transcription is worth it, as it will save you lots of time. So if you’re short on time to transcribe one hour interview, choose an industry standard professional.

Background Noise

Another big factor that affects transcription time is background noise.

Noise in the background can be distracting, and also makes the audio harder to understand. This can then cause the transcription time of one hour of audio recording to be higher.

Request a quote

If you are looking to get audio files transcribed regularly, we recommend recording in a place where there will not be a lot of background noise if possible.

Heavy Regional Accents

If the speakers have heavy regional accents, it can also take longer to transcribe an audio file. Again, this is simply because it might make it more difficult to understand.

This can increase the transcription time it takes per audio hour.

Number of Speakers

Another factor that affects the audio transcription time it takes would be the number of speakers.

If there are lots of speakers talking together, it can make the transcribing job a lot harder. This will cause the transcriptionist to have to replay the audio and will drive the take it takes up.

On the other hand, if there is only one speaker it will take a lot less time per audio hour. If you are transcribing an interview, we recommend making sure nobody speaks together.

Required Research

If the transcriptionist isn’t familiar with the industry of the audio file, it will also increase the time it takes.

Specialist industries like medical, finance, law transcription, business transcription and a couple of others can often take a little longer. This is because of the amount of research that is required.

If an industry has lots of specialist terms, it can often take a long time to transcribe. It’s not uncommon for a half an hour audio file to take five or six hours to transcribe.

Audio Quality

Last but not least, the audio quality is also extremely important. If you are trying to get a file transcribed that was recorded 100 years ago, or with a low-quality device, it will take much longer. This is also why if you are looking to get audio transcribed regularly, you should record with a device that does so clearly.

In general though, the harder the audio is to understand, the longer it will take. And the fastest way to transcribe audio is by ensuring the audio quality is good in the first place.

Does The Time It Takes To Transcribe Affect The Quality?

Yes and no.

If a company you work with takes extreme measures to decrease the time, it will probably affect the quality of the audio negatively. On the other hand, if an experienced transcriptionist works on your project it may take them a lot less time. In this case, you would still get a good result.

So, it always depends on how the time was reduced. If a company is offering ridiculously low prices for a human transcription, then you can probably guess that this will affect the audio negatively.

Or they may be using software which will also give you bad results. The problem with using software is that they often can’t identify words, which means you’ll need to perform a lot of editing.

How Much Does It Cost To Transcribe an Hour Of Audio Recording?

The cost of transcribing 1 hour of audio also depends on the elements we covered earlier. If it takes longer, the price will increase too.

That being said, you can normally expect to pay anywhere from 90p to £1.50 per minute. Therefore, the cost of transcribing 1 hour of audio will usually range from £54 to £90.

Read Also: How to Transcribe Audio to Text

What Type Of Audio Is The Longest To Transcribe?

Again, it heavily depends on the audio file itself. But to give you a general idea we have outlined the times it takes for some common files below.

One-to-one interviews, telephone interviews, podcasts, webcasts, lectures, etc. (anything with one speaker at a time) – four to six hours per hour of recording.

Group meetings, conference presentations, group interviews, etc. (anything with multiple speakers at once) – six to ten hrs per hour of recording.

More complex group recordings, time stamps added to transcriptionist, needing speakers to be identified, or specialist industry group meetings – seven to ten hours.


As you have seen throughout this article, the transcription time of a file has various elements.

The easiest way to ensure fast turnaround time is to make sure you use a device that records high-quality audio.

Then, that average figure of four hours could even be reduced to 2 or 3 hours which is probably in everyone’s best interest.

Need To Get a File Transcribed?

If you are looking for a professional transcriptionist company to work on your project, we’d love to help.

Here at Espresso Translations, we have strict quality assurance and also offer free quotes before you purchase. This means you’ll know exactly how much you will pay before you purchase. We can get a quote to you in 15 minutes.

Our transcription services are affordable and we also accept custom turnaround time requirements. Our transcriptionists can transcribe industry standard audio transcription or other transcription content at a speed that works for you.

You can tell us a little more about your project and get a free quote here.