In the past when I have worked with audio recordings of oral history interviews I have worked with Audacity for the digitization and transcription of the recordings. Audacity is open source and does a great job in the digitization process and handles the manipulation (clean-up) of audio files well. Additionally, Audacity does allow users to slow down the playback rate, which helps a lot in the transcription process.
However the transcription process can be a bit clunky if you are constantly switching between an Audacity window and a word processing program. I’ve found that using two screens and Alt+TAB can help with switching between programs to replay bits of audio, but the process has never been ideal.
Enter Express Scribe (possibly accompanied by sounds of transcription joy). As I mentioned in an earlier post I’m currently volunteering with the Multicultural History Society of Ontario (MHSO) as a transcriber on their Discovering Multicultural Ontario Digital Archive project. This transcription gig is what introduced me to Express Scribe as a tool for transcription.
I haven’t bee using Express Scribe for nearly as many different tasks as I use Audacity for, but it has a good setup for transcription. The interface is super easy to understand and it can be downloaded for free. Setup and figuring out how to use the program for transcription took under ten minutes. Comparatively, I found Audacity great once I got used to it but the multiple toolbars and copious numbers of icons made it a bit daunting at first.
Express Scribe has also been mentioned multiple times on the H-oralhistory listserv as a good option for oral historians. Personally, I like the program because you can adjust the audio and type all within the same window. It’s like a playback program and a word processing program combined.
What digital tools do you use in the transcription process?
Photo credit: Keenesaw State University Archives