Best Transcription Software for Windows – Philips or Olympus?

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Let’s start by saying we know that there are a few other popular transcription typing software options out there, Express Scribe from NCH springs to mind, but we are looking at the only two that can process .ds2 (DSS Pro) audio files. DSS Pro is the standard for confidential audio transmitted over the internet and is common in the medical and legal profession.

Brand Loyalty – Olympus (Japanese safe and efficient) or Philips (chic European design)

We all have our brand loyalty and running a dictation business we hear that every day, people who dictate who have stuck with Philips or Olympus for five, ten even 15 years plus. It’s ok to change and to look at other options, it’s also ok to stick with what you know. Whatever you choose your Philips and Olympus dealer Dictate Australia is here to help and guide you.

Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe or Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module

To be honest we like them both and they are both very similar. It is fair to say that a few years ago Olympus were the leaders in the digital dictation and transcription space with Philips following and maybe even copied a little of what Olympus did. That though has now changed and Philips are defining their own place in the global digital dictation/transcription space with some innovative ideas of their own. ODMS if you are not sure stands for Olympus Dictation Delivery Service.

Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module screenshot
Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module & Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe have a similar look and feel

How are Philips SpeechExec Pro and Olympus ODMS licenced?

Let’s start by looking at the licence models, both are quite different.

Olympus ODMS – Perpetual

Olympus operates a perpetual software licence for their ODMS software. You buy the licence once and you are entitled to all updates and patches for that major version of the software. ODMS, at the time of writing, is at major version R7 so all sub releases are included in the price, e.g. R7.1, R7.2, R7.3 etc. With Olympus, ODMS software with an ODMS Transcription Module (TM) licence key, can only be installed and used on one PC, you can not share a licence across two or more computers. Each PC requires its own unique licence key and it is your responsibility to keep that licence key safe. Why keep it safe? Well if your PC crashes and ODMS needs to be re-installed or if you upgrade your computer, you can move the licence to your new PC.

Olympus usually release a major software version upgrades every 4-5 years. When the software moves to a new major version you can and should upgrade to that version. Currently, upgrade licences are $99 if you want to move from DSS Player Pro R5 or ODMS R6 to the latest supported version ODMS R7.

Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module Free Trial. Olympus let you try the transcription (and dictation) module for free on any PC that does not have an older version of their software installed. The free trial lasts for 60 days and gives you full access to the software. Once your trial has expired you will need to buy a licence, details below. Click this link – dictat.es/trial – for information on how to download and install in trial mode.

Philips SpeechExec Pro – Subscription

Philips operates a subscription licence for its SpeechExec Pro Transcribe software. The subscription period runs for two years and during that time you are entitled to any and all upgrades and patches, including major release updates. At the time of writing SpeechExec Pro is at major release version 11. When your subscription comes to an end you simply buy another two-year subscription licence. Unlike Olympus, the Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe software (v11.x and above) can be installed on many computers and you are then restricted to a single concurrent session for your licence key, essentially allowing easy licence mobility. What does that mean? It means you can be in the office and transcribe with your SpeechExec Pro Transcribe licence then head home (or another office location) and continue to transcribe using the same key as long as two sessions are not running at the same time. This is a huge cost and time saver.

Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe Free Trial. Philips also offer a free trial of their transcription software, the SpeechExec Pro Transcribe trial lasts for 30 days and gives you full access to the software. When the trial is up you will need either a SpeechExec Pro licence;

or you can also use the SpeechExec Pro Transcribe software if you have a SpeechLive Typist licence;

SpeechLive is Philips cloud-hosted dictation and transcription solution. With a SpeechLive Typist licence you can transcribe audio in a web browser on any Windows PC or Mac with an internet connection, no need to install any software locally. You can also use a Philips transcription pedal, like the ACC2330, to transcribe in the browser. This has been a popular option during COVID-19 where more people are working from home and remotely. More info in SpeechLive in our FAQ – dictat.es/cpeechlive-trial-faq

Transcription Typing Kit
Download and install software + Transcription Headset + Transcription Pedal

Transcription Kits

Both Olympus and Philips also sell transcription kits which is a perfect way to get started in the transcription typing business. The kits contain the software licences described above along with a transcription typing USB foot pedal (for audio playback control using your foot to stop/play/rewind dictation) and a typing headset to help you focus on listening to dictation while you type. Of course you don’t have to use a transcription footswitch you can use hot-keys for audio playback control if you prefer.

Supported Audio Playback Formats

As a transcription typist you will likely receive audio (and maybe video) for you to transcribe to text. As mentioned at the top of this post we are looking at the two kits most commonly used by legal and medical typists because of the .ds2 (DSS Pro) audio format. But you might transcribe audio for focus groups, interviews and meetings which more commonly are recorded in open audio formats (non-proprietary formats, not owned by a corporation). Good transcription software will play a mix of both. The .ds2 (DSS Pro) audio format is the only format than can have each individual audio file encrypted, the typist then needs a passcode to decrypt and play. Both Olympus and Philips support this decryption.

Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe & Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module both supports playback of:

  • .ds2
  • .dss
  • .wav
  • .wma
  • .mp3

People often receive .m4a audio files, these are generally from an iPhone. These can be easily converted to mp3 using one of the many free online audio conversion tools or using our favourite free file editing software Audacity.

Voice Recognition with Dragon

Dragon is software from Nuance which can convert audio to text automatically. Often legal and medical practices may try Dragon to improve their transcription turnaround times and reduce transcription costs and time. Both Philips and Olympus have hooks from their Windows software into Dragon. Meaning as a typist, you can push the audio to Dragon and have it transcribe the audio for you. You then just proofread the output from Dragon, less typing for you, faster turnaround for the author.

  • We demonstrate Olympus ODMS and Dragon in this YouTube Video.
  • We cover a lawyers experience using Dragon with this in this blog post.

Voice Recognition with Philips SpeechLive and the role of the Transcription Typist

Philips via their SpeechLive solution also offers an automated voice recognition service. Authors can dictate on any digital dictaphone, can be Philips, Olympus, Sony etc. Authors can also use the Philips Voice Recorder App to dictate and then send to SpeechLive. As a typist, with a SpeechLive Typist licence, you get access to that audio for you to transcribe in the SpeechLive website itself on any internet-connected computer, Mac or Windows. Transcription through the SpeechLive website also supports the Philips foot pedals like the ACC2330 and of course you can also use Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe software on your local PC. If the author selects SpeechLive to convert voice to text with Speech Recognition you as the typist can collect the transcript and the audio and you can hen proofread and format the completed text. The aim again to speed up transcription turnaround time and reduce transcription time and cost.

We demonstrate Philips SpeechLive Automated Speech Recognition in this YouTube Video.

Transcription Foot Pedals

Transcription typing foot pedals or footswitches as they are sometimes known, connect via USB to your computer and allow you to use your foot to tap a pedal which controls the audio playback while you listen and type, freeing up your hands. The pedals can be configured however you like and usually have either three or four pedals. Pedals are typically set to stop, play, rewind and pause. You can, of course, select to use hot-keys instead of a pedal which means you assign specific keys on your keyboard, usually the function keys, to perform stop/play/rewind. In that setup you “flick a finger” rather than “tap a foot” to control your audio playback. Personal preference but most professional transcription typists tend to prefer a USB foot control.

Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module only supports Olympus foot pedals with their software, you can not use a Philips pedal or other common pedals like the Infinity brand with Olympus. Supported Olympus pedals are the RS-28/RS-28H and RS-31/RS-31H. The RS-31H is included in the Olympus AS-9000 Pro Transcription Kit.

Philips SpeechExec Pro Transcribe is a bit more forgiving as it supports both the Philips and the Olympus foot pedals with their software. The Philips ACC2330 being the most popular of the Philips range of pedals and is the model included in the Philips LFH7277 Pro Transcription Kit.

Automatic Audio Load and Alert

Both applications can load audio received automatically and alert you that new dictation has arrived. Indeed any .ds2 files with a priority flag will also be shown alerting you to urgent dictation. Both Philips SpeechExec Pro and Olympus ODMS can tap into your email accounts (in a safe secure way) to watch for incoming audio to load and alert you. Both support the popular cloud mail accounts (Office 365 aka O365 aka M365, Gmail, Google G-Suite, Hotmail (yes people still use that), Bigpond (yes people still use that also), Outlook.com and even your own mail servers).

Additionally, both allow you to hook into shared network drives (typical in an office) and cloud drives (OneDrive, Dropbox, iCloud Drive etc) to watch for and auto load dictation files placed in those drive locations.

Going one step further, users of the Philips SpeechLive cloud dictation and transcription service, audio sent to SpeechLive can also be pulled down in the SpeechExec Pro Transcribe software automatically to be transcribed. Note as both software applications support playback of the same audio formats Olympus ODMS R7 Transcription Module can also play audio from SpeechLive, you would just have to manually download it first.

Which is better, Olympus or Philips?

That is a difficult question to answer. Both are leaders in their field, both do exactly what they need to for the transcription typist which is quickly and easily load the audio for you to process and return your transcripts. Philips may just have the edge with the integration with their SpeechLive system but at the end of the day it is up to you. We encourage you to trial both software applications (using the links we detailed above) and see for yourself which you prefer. Please ask questions to get the understanding you need, either from us or your favourite Philips and Olympus dealer. Dictate Australia is an official Australian Philips and Olympus audio dealer.

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