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The Best Transcription Services for User Research
Home > Blog >
The Best Transcription Services for User Research

The Best Transcription Services for User Research

Theertha Raj
January 8, 2023

Read on to learn about the different ways you can generate transcripts, and what we like and hate about them.

User research can be exciting work. You get to dive deep into human behavior and experiences, uncover valuable insights and learn from them to drive innovation. 

But even the most motivated researcher dreads the labor of converting enormous piles of recordings to transcripts, especially when there is a deadline looming. Research transcription is extremely boring work, even if it is the key to uncovering what your users think and feel.

Why bother transcribing?

Researchers unanimously agree –  it is easier to extract data points from a text document, rather than rewatching hours of call recordings and interviews. Bless the written form, which makes it easier to focus more on understanding and extracting the information within.

In this article, we’ve compiled all the different methods that a researcher can employ to transcribe user sessions, focus groups, interviews, ransom calls, or meetings, along with the pros and cons they might pose.

From manually typing out recordings word by word, to using speech recognition technology and advanced analysis, here’s mostly everything you need to know about research transcription services.

How to Transcribe an Interview

As any savvy research expert would tell you, there are broadly three ways to convert enormous piles of audio/video interview recordings to research transcription, ready for extracting useful snippets and data insights from.

Manual Transcription

First, there is the trusted option of manual transcription, no surprise there. By doing it yourself manually or outsourcing to professional research transcription services, you can obtain a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. Manual transcribing also has the advantage of human interpretation, allowing for including context, nuances, and complexities like multiple languages. 

The disadvantage? Despite the level of control and customization manual transcription offers, it can be incredibly time-consuming and expensive. If you are doing it yourself, manual research transcription basically means a gazillion hours of mindless labor, which could instead be spent on analyzing and drawing valuable insights from the data. 

Automated Research Transcription Services

This is where the next option comes in – automated transcription service. These products basically use speech recognition technology to transcribe audio into text, much faster and cheaper than doing it manually. You just need to do a simple Google search to find free and paid options for qualitative research transcription software, accessible at any time.

The catch? Many of these software products are not all that brainy enough to fully capture the intricacies of human conversations like pauses, emotions, and dialects. It eliminates the possibility of human error found in manual transcription, but also introduces a new set of limitations when posed with multiple speakers, overlapping conversations, or background noises. Automated transcription services also do not offer customization or formatting options often, which means that you’ll have to manually do it later.

Thankfully, technology has evolved to present a third option - an intelligent research analysis tool that also works as an automated transcription service. These products go a step beyond simple audio-to-text converters with abilities like sentiment analysis, keyword extraction, and speaker identification. These research transcription services also offer advanced customization and formatting options, doing the heavy lifting by also summarizing large amounts of data efficiently for analysis. Work smart, not hard, yay!

Best Transcription Methods for User Research

Whether you’re trying to figure out how to transcribe qualitative interviews quicker yourself, or find the perfect automated transcription service, here’s all you need to know on how much each option will cost you in time and money, and the advantages they bring to the table.

1. Manual transcription by yourself

Many consider manual transcription to be quite obsolete and needlessly time-consuming, but it sadly is one of the most reliable methods out there. It eliminates the need for additional reviewing and editing, but is quite labor-intensive, especially with longer audio/video recordings. It also requires you to be proficient in listening, typing, and editing, with attention to detail.

Time taken: Can take hours or even days (decades maybe)
Most accurate, but still leaves room for human error
Languages supported:
Any language you are proficient in

2. Outsourcing to professional research transcription services

Many researchers outsource the manual work of transcription to professional agencies, especially if they have large amounts of data to transcribe. This offers the advantages of customization, eliminating confusion regarding linguistic ambiguities, etc. It is still very time-consuming, with a longer turnaround time than the simplest transcription tools. 

Time taken: Varies depending on the length of the audio file and the quality of the recording
Most accurate, but still leaves room for human error
 $0.50 to $2.00 per audio minute (estimated)
Languages supported:
Supports multiple languages

3. Transcription tools

These tools use speech recognition technology to convert audio and video files to text, generating editable transcripts within mere minutes. It's faster, easier, and cheaper than manual transcription, but also has possibilities of error, especially with ambiguous-sounding words, phrases, or complex terms. Basically, it could think hors d’oeuvres meant orders.

Time taken: 1 hour of audio can take anywhere from a few minutes to hours, based on the tool
Less than manual transcription or professional research transcription services

Best Transcription Services for User Research in 2023

Otter is an extremely handy tool that also provides real-time captions for video meetings on Zoom and Google Meet, in addition to offering speedy automated transcription services.

: Free up to 600 minutes of transcription per month. Paid plans start at $8.33 per month.
Languages supported:
English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and Japanese


Boasting an accuracy rate of 99%, Rev is the most reliable simple transcription tool out there, despite the more expensive price tag.

Cost: $1.25 per minute
Languages supported: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Japanese


Also a popular video editing tool, Descript can provide time-synced transcripts for your audio and video files.

Free up to 3 hours monthly. Paid plans start at $15 per month.
Languages supported:
English only


HappyScribe provides machine-generated transcripts in a number of formats, with interactive editing options.

Cost: Free trial includes 30 minutes. Paid plans start at $12 per hour of audio.
Languages supported: Over 120 languages and dialects

4. Research analysis tools with in-built transcription

These automated transcription services can include features like in-built analysis and clip creation, to help you derive better insights from the transcripts generated. You can use these tools for focus groups, video conferences, or user research transcription, especially with the additional support they provide for qualitative data analysis. They’re quite savvy!

Time taken: 1 hour of audio can take anywhere from a few minutes to hours, based on the tool
Similar to  audio-to-text converters, but less than manual transcription or professional data transcription services.


Dovetail is a fully-loaded research repository product, which means you can transcribe, manually code your transcripts, analyze data across calls, and save “insights” all in the product. It’s a great qualitative research transcription software, and has a really useful tagging feature to help you analyze calls uploaded later by specific tags or themes. However, it doesn’t offer an option for note-taking during calls on the platform itself.

Cost: Free plan that includes 3 hours of audio per month. Paid plans start at $25 per month.
Languages supported:
31 languages including Japanese, Finnish, Hindi and Malay


Aurelius is perfect for those looking for rigorous market research transcription services. You can separately upload calls to transcribe, and analyze them right on the platform itself. It offers a more accurate transcription compared to Dovetail. Aurelius also works better as a post-call tool –it doesn’t add much to the interview process but builds great research reports.

It does have a caveat. Aurelius is a little more clunky in its layout and user experience compared to other tools on this list.

Cost: A free trial includes 30 minutes of audio per month. Paid plans start at $49 per month.
Languages supported
: Over 180 languages


Looppanel is unique compared to other data transcription services on this list, as it also allows you to record your calls directly, and receive high-quality transcripts almost instantly. And we’re not just saying it because we made it. Here’s some more of the cool stuff Looppanel can do. You can take notes with colleagues during your user interviews, saving key time-stamps of juicy quotes as they come up. No time to take notes? Our incredible AI-powered note-taker has you covered. It’ll generate notes from your transcript for you, with a dedicated analysis space where you can see all your data by question or tags. Easy-peasy, data-squeezy.

Cost: A free plan includes 120 minutes of transcription (aka your first 15 calls are completely free!). Paid plans start at $25 per month.
Languages supported: English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, and Hindi

Try Looppanel for free now!

And there you have it! If you’re on a deadline and searching for market research transcription services, or qualitative research transcription software, these are the various tools that can assist you in generating all the transcripts you need, to unlock the smartest insights and data points within spoken conversations. 

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