MacSpeech Scribe – Transcription From Digital Audio Files For Mac

At the recent MacWorld 2010 Expo in San Francisco, the place for companies developing technologies for the Apple Mac and iPhone to show off their ideas, MacSpeech announced the launch of their new software product MacSpeech Scribe.

MacSpeech Scribe will do what alot of existing MacSpeech Dictate customers have been asking for, transcribe from a digital recording of their voice. Now you no longer have to be in front of your MacBook or iMac to dictate audio to be transcribed. Using one of the certified MacSpeech Scribe digital voice recorders you can record your thoughts anywhere. Then at a time convenient to you have MacSpeech Scribe transcribe the audio for you.

This is similar concept to the Philips LFH0667 (formerly LFH0660/10) which was a cut down version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking 10 for Windows which would only take audio from a digital recording.

MacSpeech Scribe is a stand alone product and is not an add-on to MacSpeech Dictate. If you already own MacSpeech Dictate and have created and trained a profile for your voice that profile can not be imported into MacSpeech Scribe, you will have to start from scratch with a new MacSpeech Scribe profile.

Only a small number of digital voice recorders have been certified by MacSpeech to work with MacSpeech Scribe. These are the iPhone, iPod Touch (2nd Gen up with a mic) and a few Olympus digital voice recorders. Of the Olympus recorders on the certified list only the DS-3400 and DS-5000 are currently available in Australia. MacSpeech Scribe can take audio in .aif, .aiff, .mp4, .m4a, .m4v and .wav format so in theory a huge number of other voice recorders will be compatible (although not certified). Remember, its all about the audio quality, so just because the $20 USB recorder you bought off eBay records in one of the supported audio formats the quality of that recording may leave you disappointed – stick with Olympus and you won’t go wrong.

MacSpeech Scribe is available now in Australia for RRP $199 incl. GST from Dictate Australia.

16 thoughts on “MacSpeech Scribe – Transcription From Digital Audio Files For Mac”

  1. Sorry, but Scribe does not take in mp3 files – I just came back from Macworld today and asked their QA manager point blank. Also, make sure you’re running 10.6 since it also won’t do Leopard.

  2. Thanks Lewis,

    Yes you are correct, .mp3 is not a supported format – that was a mistype of .mp4 on my part. How was MacWorld? Did you come away with a long list of goodies for “your must” have list?


    Dictate Australia

  3. It was a smaller gathering for sure but I didn’t really miss Apple’s presence TBH. They had a Sennheiser booth where all their products they brought to the show were 50% off and tax free, so the consumer whore that I am couldn’t pass up the deal and got myself into a pair of HD 228 for $50 out the door. Bulkier for sure than the B&O A8 buds I’ve been using but the bass response and upgraded performance offsets the additional size handicap.

    I also picked up a copy of Scribe (naturally) but being a long holiday weekend in the US, will have to wait until I get back into work on Tuesday before loading it up since my iMac at home’s only running 10.5.8. Great bunch of peeps at MacSpeech BTW. Not sure how it’s going to roll for customers outside the US but they promise free tech support for Scribe (and for their other products I’m assuming?) for as long as you own the product. Kudos to the company for this impressive gesture.

    One last thing – I can recommend the Olympus DM-520. MacSpeech has blessed the DM-420 but I think the 520’s a better overall deal. It’s as close to a perfect voice recorder used for transcription that I’ve used, in addition to being capable of ingesting Audible .aa files and moonlighting as a iPod. My guess is that since it also records linear PCM (at 16bit 48kHz) you might find some musicians using it too. The included case even comes with a 1/4-20 tripod lug and a flip-up metal stand for interviews and multimedia work. And the Micro SDHC slot can allow you add on memory on top of the 4 gigs soldered inside so theoretically you can record 5000 hours (1k on board, 4k on chip) before needing to take your files off. Best of all it takes AAA batteries, so no worries about getting stuck with some custom battery that could be hard to track down years down the road. If you guys down in Oz have a chance to look this over, I think the DM-520 might impress you.

    Almost forgot, great website you guys got going here – nicely done.

  4. Awesome comments Lewis and much appreciated. We hear alot about MacWorld and the products, great to hear from someone who actually went as a consumer. I have been looking out for a good quality pair of blutetooth stereo headphones, have you come across any that you could give the thumbs up to?

    The DM-420/DM-520 are not available in Australia, we tend to lag behind the US and Europe with recorders.



  5. Would be interested to read users experience of Scribe. In particular how do you add and train new words. I wss going to buy but have been put off by trouble people are reporting at the MacSpeech forum related to downloads and poor customer support. Unfortunately people are more likely to write if they are dissatisfied so not sure if this is just an unrepresentative minority.

  6. Should I import from my Iphone using AAC or AIFF, since the marketing material doesn’t mention AAC

  7. This sounds great! Exactly what I need!

    Is it worthwhile investing in a higher quality iphone headset beyond the standard apple earphones + mic?

    I tend to do a lot of my audio recording in the car and are wondering whether the background noise of the engine/traffic is going to be a big problem and whether a better quality headset would resolve some of the issues?



  8. Hey Amanda

    Background noise does not help, for best results recording audio in a quiet environments would be best. Actually using the standard iPhone headset and mic would help the cause as your voice will be close to the mic on the headset cable, no need to invest in a more expensive headset. Also, the inbuilt mic in the iPhone (and now the iPad) is very good.

    I hope that helps.


  9. Hi,
    I have been trying to source this software in Australia without success. The apple store does not yet stock it and I’ve had no luck finding the MacSpeech Australia website. Options for free downloads (I assume trial versions of the software) on other sites have also failed. Any other suggestions?

  10. Hi there – can anyone advise if macspeech operates OK via a laptop and if so, what would be the preferred headset. Secondly, is the transcription easier/better if you record to a digital file first or just direct to the Mac. Thanks. Sue.

  11. Hello Sue, thanks for your comment.

    On the Mac there are two seperate products for voice recognition currently available. MacSpeech Scribe which will only take digitally recorded audio and Dragon Dictate which will only take spoken voice via a mic, this is different from the Windows world where NaturallySpeaking Premium and Pro can take audio either spoken or by recording. As this is the case answering your second question is tricky as they are two separate things.

    As for using MacSpeech Scribe or Dragon Dictate on a laptop, then as long as your MacBook meet the minimum requirements which are as follows then yes both products can run on your MacBook.

    System Requirements for MacSpeech Scribe:
    Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Internet connection required for product registration. Transcribed audio must be of a single speaker’s dictation in one of these file formats: .wav, .aif, .aiff, .m4v, .mp4, or .m4a.

    System Requirements for Dragon Dictate:
    Intel-based Mac with Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Internet connection required for product registration. Nuance-approved USB microphone for Mac (included with new boxed-product purchase). For a full list of mic options available in Australia take a look at this blog post: click here


    Dictate Australia

  12. This is way late… but getting a digital recorder to record my lectures audio to text has been a priority of mine for a long long time. I was wondering if PCM recorders work with macspeech scribe. Im currently waiting around for a better improvement to macspeech scribe but may give in and use it for the time being with a good audio recorder.

    Would models such as the LS-7 work (which is a linear PCM recorder) or is there some thing about what “type” of recorder you have that determines if it would even work with macspeech scribe. A lot of these recorders I see use Olympus Sonority software and not DSS pro.

    Also I will add I have a software called Switch installed on my laptop, which I use time to time for other things I do and I feel like this could come in handy.

  13. Hello Gurdev

    Thank you for your comments.

    I heard only last week that the distributor for MacSpeech Scribe is no longer supplying this software due to many issues with the software, mainly around compatibility with Lion I am assuming. For some time now I have also been advising customers to wait as, like you said, Scribe is old technology and I am sure an update will come to Dragon Dictate to include this feature (likely a paid update).

    Having said that, it would still not be suited for your needs. Voice recognition software is designed to be used with a single person speaking and that person needs to voice train the software so that it can understand how that individual speaks. Not only that but speech recognition relies on clear spoken audio with minimal to no background noise.

    I would not put so much reliance on PCM recordings, instead concentrate on high quality MP3 (e.g. 320Kbps) with no background noise. PCM recording is not necessary for Dragon just clear spoken audio. But as I said above not suited for recording a lecture, only good for transcribing what you say as a trained user.

    Below is a link to a blog I wrote about using Dragon to transcribe meetings or interviews. The same applies to sitting in an audience and recording the lecturer.

    Using Dragon for Interviews or Meetings

    I hope that helps. Please email me if you need more information.


    Dictate Australia

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