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What are Digital Transcribers?

Grace A. Zuccarello
Grace A. Zuccarello

Digital transcribers are digital voice recorders that are coupled with embedded software so the recorded information can be uploaded easily onto a computer. They have become an essential method of data filing and an important means of saving information. They are frequently used for business purposes and by students.

Recording speech and transcription capabilities are the main functions of digital transcribers. Verbal information is saved through the electronic process of discontinuous values, better known as digital. Using the digital format, more information can be saved than with traditional micro-cassettes.

Journalists might use a digital device to obtain accurate quotes from a source.
Journalists might use a digital device to obtain accurate quotes from a source.

Digital transcribers must be used in conjunction with software that can transcribe the voice onto a computer. Most digital transcribers are compatible with newer software, but it is important to check system congruences. Digital transcribers usually must also be in high quality mode in order to make transcription available. Otherwise, the device will record, but the file will not be available for transcription.

Audio cassettes are often used with transcriber machines.
Audio cassettes are often used with transcriber machines.

One benefit of using a digital transcriber is that a businessperson or student can listen to a lecture or presentation and take notes, all while having the comfort of knowing that the audio has been recorded and is easily accessible. Digital transcribers are especially useful because they eliminate the worry that something may have been missed. They are also useful outside of business and school for management and organizational purposes.

Several different aspects should be considered when choosing a digital transcriber. Playback, voice recognition, quality, and sound should all be taken into account. Battery life, automatic shut off, and verbal cues are also features of a good quality digital transcriber. There are even some models that hold over 250 hours of recording time. These times, however, are relative to the quality; it is often true that the higher the quality of digital transcriber, the lower the battery life.

Digital transcribers often hold more than voice recordings. Most models come with mass storage, meaning that they are able to hold documents and images. The complexity of the image and document is dependent upon the device quality. The digital transcriber should also have a good file management and saving system. Files should be easily accessible and transferable to a personal computer.

Transcription of data from the digital transcriber usually occurs through a USB mass storage interface device. This entails using a USB connective wire between the computer and the digital transcriber. The saved voice recording can be moved or copied, and then can permanently be saved on the computer.

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Discussion Comments


@allenJo - Thanks for the explanation. If that’s the case, it makes you wonder why they even bother offering a transcription device that has a low quality mode. How much serious transcription can you do in low quality?


@everetra - There is a relationship between quality and quantity, as the article points out. Take the units that claim they can deliver 250 hours of recording time as the article mentions.

The fact is that the more recording time it delivers then the less will be the overall quality. Why is that? Because the recorder has to “sample” what you’re recording, and that sampling can be at a higher rate (for high quality recordings) or at a lower rate (for low quality) recordings.

The higher quality samples will result in larger file sizes. So I doubt that you’re going to get 250 hours at high quality unless you have gigabytes of storage in an SD disk or something like that.

Actually you will probably find a “mode” setting in the unit that will let you switch between a high quality mode or low quality mode. I would stick with high quality mode and less recording time personally.


@hamje32 - I agree. But quality isn’t just determined by the digital transcriber. It’s determined by how close you are to the speaker.

In a lecture setting, the best thing to do is to get as close to the speaker as possible. Sit in the front row if you can (that will show the teacher that you’re dedicated!) If you have the best possible sound going in then you’ll get the best possible sound coming out, and your transcription will be accurate.

In my opinion, you don’t necessarily need to get the best unit to deliver the best results, all things considered.


I can’t overemphasize the importance of going for the highest quality recordings when using these units. Yes, it’s more expensive and eats up battery life, but it’s worth it, especially if your intention is to record lectures. Here’s why.

When the lecture is recorded, you then want to convert the recording into lecture notes, which is where voice recognition software (bundled with the product) comes in.

However, voice recognition will not be effective if the sound quality is poor. You’ll just get a lot of jumbled up words. Of course you can forego the voice recognition part, but that defeats the purpose of getting the unit for lectures, unless you want to listen to it and take down notes by hand.

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    • Journalists might use a digital device to obtain accurate quotes from a source.
      By: Mark Abercrombie
      Journalists might use a digital device to obtain accurate quotes from a source.
    • Audio cassettes are often used with transcriber machines.
      By: Oleksiy Mark
      Audio cassettes are often used with transcriber machines.