MacSpeech Scribe review

If you’re a terrible typist, struggling with RSI, or you get your best ideas when you have no way to write them down, MacSpeech’s Scribe is certain to handle the details.

You can use virtually any recording device (including your iPhone’s Voice Memo app) to capture your words, as long as your recording can be saved in any of Scribe’s five supported audio formats: AIFF, M4a, M4v, MP4, or WAV.

To get started you need to train Scribe to understand the way you speak: Scribe only needs 120 seconds of recorded speech. You can also feed it text files, which gives Scribe a better idea of the vocabulary you use, making its transcription more accurate. We were impressed by how well the program worked once the training session was over. For the most part Scribe picked up every word without a hitch.

Unfortunately, the initial training sessions didn’t come off without a hitch. Before using the iPhone’s Voice Memo app we tried a Snowball mic and GarageBand to record and then export audio in MP4 format, but using it always caused Scribe to crash. MacSpeech told us that, while MP4 files are supported, they rarely see anyone using that format and suggested that we use a different format. Once we made the change Scribe worked fine.

You edit your transcribed speech within a two-column window. Clicking within a transcribed phrase on the left changes the list of possible transcription options on the right; clicking a number in the list changes the phrase in the body of your document. If none of the phrases are correct you can double-click the phrase in the list that comes closest to what you’ve said and make edits. Scribe will then make changes to that phrase in your document and update its library of words to add a new word or continue learning how you speak.

We have one other complaint about Scribe. The application ships with a vocabulary library that includes about 150,000 words, but there’s no way to correct typos – few as they may be – that appear in the included library.

OUR VERDICT

Small foibles aside, MacSpeech Scribe is a powerful and intelligent tool for transcribing your recorded speech. A quick and simple training process, and support for a wide variety of standard audio formats mean that you’ll be moving your spoken words to the printed page in a matter of minutes and with a minimum of hassle.

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