Dragon Naturally Speaking: Is It a Good Choice for Transcribers?
Voice recognition software has come a long way in the last few years.
There are some decent products on the market to choose from. One of the most well-known is Dragon Naturally Speaking from Nuance.
What is Dragon Naturally Speaking?
This is speech to text (stt) software for both Windows pc and Mac that you load onto your computer.
It’s a popular brand that has been around for over 20 years.
Earlier versions of the software had a number of issues. However, the later releases have put the company at the forefront of speech recognition software.
There are several different versions of the software including for home, professional use and use by multiple members of staff.
This is not just a simple dictation programme but allows you to use speech to open apps like email, search the internet and so on.
If you want to use it for transcribing audio files, however, you need to understand the limitations.
Can It Do Audio Transcription?
Dragon Naturally Speaking uses a rules-based system to help you manage dictations or audio. For example, you can use a punctuation tool to add in commas and full stops.
Setting up can be a little time consuming but once it’s done you are pretty much good to go.
The cheaper home version works for dictating via a microphone but doesn’t allow you to produce a document from an audio file. For this you will need the premium version.
You can hook up any recording to the software and have it transcribed. The big issue here is that it needs to be a good quality recording. It will not work well with audio that has a lot of background noise or voices which are not distinct.
The software can struggle when there are multiple voices, especially when they have different accents.
Conversations where there are unfinished sentences will also be an issue.
If you have a clear, straightforward audio to transcribe it can certainly do the job for you.
Dragon Naturally Speaking works best when you have tailored it to your own speech patterns. That means there’s an option, particularly with difficult audio, to use it a little creatively.
To do this you hook your transcription file through headphones and repeat the content using your own voice through a microphone. While this will take a little getting used to, it will help overcome the problem of multiple speakers or poorly recorded audio.
What files are supported?
The software supports all the major file types including .wav, .mp3, .wma, .dss, .ds2, and .m4a.
Once you upload the file to your pc, you need to select ‘Someone else’ in the Select Speaker Field to avoid confusion.
If you have a large number of files for a particular person that you want to transcribe, you can always opt to set up a new profile for them to make things easier. The software is designed to ‘learn’ with each voice to make it easier to get a better quality transcription.
How accurate is Dragon Naturally Speaking?
The software is not 100% accurate, even when you use your own voice to dictate. Estimates for Dragon Naturally Speaking put it at between 80 and 92% depending on which version you have downloaded. That means you’ll always need to go back and review your transcription.
The software is a little more difficult to set up, especially if you don’t have much experience with this kind of thing. Once it is done, however, it can then be used quickly and easily.
There’s a decent helpline for any issues that you may have. I have used the helpline as I had an error message about too many download attempts. It took 2 emails to have the issue resolved successfully. I believe they are not UK based as I received emails in the early hours of the morning.
Dragon Naturally Speaking at a glance:
- Yes, it can be used for transcribing audio files.
- It works better with single voice files that are decent quality and have clear pronunciation.
- It can reduce the time you take to transcribe a file.
- The software struggles with multiple voices and files that have interviews where, for example, sentences can be incomplete.
- You need the Premium software package which has audio file transcription available.
- At just under £140 for the Premium, it can be a significant investment for some transcribers.
Can It Save You Time With Transcription?
Used in the right way, the answer is that it can.
A lot will depend on the type of audio file you normally get to transcribe.
If you handle interviews more than straight single speaker files, it may not be the most appropriate tool.
The makers of Dragon Naturally Speaking, Nuance, say that it can dictate three times faster than most people can type.
How Does It Work with Express Scribe?
Most transcribers use something like Express Scribe to manage their workloads.
It’s easy to set up speech to text with software like Dragon Naturally Speaking. All you need to do is head into Options for Express Scribe and select speech to text. You then link it up to the transcription software that you have installed.
The next step is to load up your audio file. It will automatically start using the speech to text software. This can take a little time depending on the size of the file.
You also need to check the transcription manually to remove any errors as it’s never going to be 100% accurate.
Is There Anything Better Than Dragon Naturally Speaking?
For accuracy and reliability, Dragon Naturally Speaking is currently one of the best products on the market. It’s got the flexibility that many transcribers are looking for even though it isn’t completely accurate.
Most of the free speech to text software options out there have a limited shelf-life. They can disappear as quickly as they come onto the market.
Windows has its own installed software but this is pretty limited in comparison. Google Docs Voice Typing fares a little better but is not suitable for those more robust transcription jobs.
This is a landscape that is beginning to change with cloud-based services coming online. Braina classes itself as an AI version of the PA and includes voice recognition software but perhaps still not yet to the standard of Dragon Naturally Speaking.
Overall, the Nuance software remains at the forefront of speech to text solutions.
I have purchased the premium version and have found only one of my files, out of about 6, was clear enough to use with a good result.
You need to download it within 30 days.
Up to now, I can’t see the benefit of running it through Express Scribe.
I believe it is best for use with a single voice, preferably your own.
It is ideal for people who suffer from RSI or have disabilities that mean they are unable to type.
It is limiting in that you cannot do anything else on your laptop/PC while it is running.
A lot will depend on the type of files you get on a daily basis and how you work best as an individual. It won’t handle the entire transcription process for you but it can make things easier and take the pressure off your workload if you use it intelligently.
If you want to purchase Dragon Naturally Speaking quote “Christina Beamish” in the check out to gain 20% off (I may also get a voucher if you purchase using my name!).
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