How Long Does It Take To Transcribe 30 Minutes of Audio

Wondering how long it would take to transcribe 30 minutes of audio? Indeed, if you have a backlog of audio files waiting to be transcribed, it’s essential to have a realistic time frame for your project’s completion. This way, you can manage expectations.

Producing an accurate verbatim transcript requires skill and experience, especially for longer and more complex recordings. The time it takes to transcribe audio will also vary based on several factors. Indeed, we will cover them all in this article.

Let’s dive in.

How Long Does It Take To Transcribe 30 Minutes of Audio?

The short answer is: It depends.

The industry standard is four hours for every audio hour. That means 30 minutes of audio will take approximately two hours to transcribe.

But whatever the quality and duration, Ditto Transcripts can handle the project.

If your audio features a single-person narrative (e.g., a doctor doing an independent medical evaluation), it might take 45 minutes to an hour to transcribe 30 mins of audio- if the speaker is a good dictator. If it is a two-person interview, it could take us as much as 90 minutes to complete.

However, if your recording has two people with poor grammar and background noise, transcribing it could take us as long as two hours. Three speakers with good-quality audio would take about two hours. Finally, bad-quality audio or grammar would take about 2.5 hours to complete.

Transcribing audio with four or more speakers takes about the same time as three speakers.

6 Factors That Affect Audio Transcription Speed

To help you better understand the time it would take for your audio recording to be transcribed, here are the most common factors that affect transcription speed.

Experience Level

A seasoned transcriptionist will be able to work more quickly than an amateur. Hiring a professional likely makes more sense if you are inexperienced and have plenty of audio files that need to be transcribed.

In most cases, expert transcriptionists with a fast typing speed can transcribe 20 to 30 minutes of audio recordings in less than an hour. But note that this number will still vary depending on the factors mentioned hereafter. So if you’re pressed for time, hiring a transcription company like Ditto Transcripts might be ideal.

We offer competitive rates for your transcription needs. Our general transcription pricing runs between $1.50 and $5.00 per audio minute, and same-day services are also available for anyone who needs accurate transcripts immediately. If you’re on a short deadline, our company can help you tick items off your priority list quickly.

On that note, we ask you to make all same-day requests over the phone, so we can give you a more accurate quote and start working on your transcript as soon as possible.

Audio Quality

An audio recording with lots of background noise can make hearing important phrases or even entire sections of a file difficult to impossible. This means transcribing will be equally a challenge.

Also, audio recorded long ago or with a low-quality device can increase the time needed to transcribe a file, as deciphering what is being said will be more difficult.

Indeed, the harder the audio is to understand, the longer the transcription will take.

Number of Speakers/Speech Patterns

macbook pro displaying group of people on a zoom call to be transcribed later

An audio recording with a single speaker will take much less time to transcribe. But what if several people are talking over each other?

If multiple speakers are talking quickly and simultaneously, the transcriber has to pause and play the recording numerous times to understand what each person is saying. Repeated rewinding might even be necessary, further extending the turnaround time of the transcript.

Regional Accents

Thick regional accents can affect transcription speed, especially if the transcriber does not understand foreign languages and accents regularly.

Our transcriptionists are experts at understanding heavier accents and filler words. And if necessary, we will have multiple people quality control the finished product to ensure 99%+ accuracy in every transcript.

We can also transcribe and translate in Spanish, in case this is a part of your project’s requirements.

Required Research

A transcriber unfamiliar with an audio file’s subject matter will often take much longer to complete a transcript.

If an audio recording has a lot of industry jargon, a transcriber who is unfamiliar with that industry would need to do a lot of research in that specific industry.

Ditto’s transcriptionists are trained and specialized in the medical, legal, law enforcement, and business industries. We have an expert grasp of common terminology and better understand the context of what’s being said, so transcript accuracy is always guaranteed.


Transcribers who work without a foot pedal, dual monitors, good headphones, and shortcuts built into their word-processing software will have quadrupled transcription times versus our transcriptionists.

For instance, bad-quality audio with three speakers might take someone without the right equipment at least 10 hours to finish, likely 12 or more. And that’s assuming zero distractions while sitting and working in a quiet room.

We understand that in transcription, there is the complication of pausing and rewinding audio. That’s why our transcribers use foot pedals while working.

Transcriptionists wouldn’t be able to type as fast as they do without the help of a foot pedal. Using one allows our transcriptionists to control the audio hands-free. With foot pedals, they can rewind the audio and keep up with it while typing and revisiting troublesome spots. This helps them achieve quicker turnaround times and first-rate accurate transcriptions.

Transcription Speed: Average Person vs. Professional Transcriber

It takes the average person approximately two to three hours to transcribe 15 minutes of audio, provided it is clear and the speaker talks steadily. But if any of the factors mentioned above alters the quality of the recording, the time could be higher.

On the other hand, a professional transcriptionist can transcribe 15 minutes of audio in about one hour. Really experienced transcriptionists can transcribe 20 to 30 minutes of audio in an hour, but that number is an outlier because they are experts in what they do.

What Type of Audio Takes the Longest to Transcribe?

hourglass, time, hours

There is not one type of audio that takes the top spot, as each audio file is different. But to give you an idea, we’ve outlined the typical completion times for each audio type below:

  1. Single speaker (i.e., a doctor dictating patient notes, political speech, sermon, or a police officer dictating a patrol report…) – One to two hours per audio hour.
  2. Multiple speakers (i.e., corporate meetings, group interviews, conference presentations, etc.) – Three to four hours per audio hour.
  3. Complex recordings and requirements (i.e., specialist industry group meetings with many speakers, transcripts that need time stamps, speaker identification, closed captions, etc.) – More than an hour and a half per audio hour.

How Much Does It Cost to Transcribe 30 Minutes of Audio?

Ditto Transcripts offers standard, competitive rates for all of your transcription projects.

a graphic that explains the costs to transcribe 1 minute of audio

Wait. Could you please tell me what the above categories mean?

Category A:

  • Single-person narrative or standard one-on-one interview recorded in digital format (i.e., note-taking for active or prospective cases you may be working on).
  • You can dictate outside the courtroom once a hearing is over using our smartphone app, and we can have it transcribed for you that same day or in a few days.
  • A one-on-one interview could be with your client or even a deposition preparation meeting with your client. These would also include any other official or unofficial two-person meeting or interview.

Category B:

  • Any audio with a total of three or more people, audio with significant noise in the background, and any audio with voices that are difficult to understand (i.e., poor recording, soft voices, etc.).
  • These could be official depositions with your client and the opposing attorney, a conference call with two other attorneys discussing a case, presentations dealing with highly scientific terminology or thick accents, panel discussions, focus groups, conference calls, or seminars with multiple participants.

Court hearings will most likely also fall into this category as well.

Significant audio is anything that can affect the audio quality on our end, making it take longer to transcribe because we can’t hear the participants very well. Loud background noise would be music, wind, or the sound from the street outside coming through an open window.

Need Help With Transcription?

benjamin walker, CEO of Ditto Transcription Services

Although listening to a recording and logging what is being said may sound easy, many people are surprised to learn how labor and time-intensive transcription is.

If your transcription duties require a professional touch, it makes sense to outsource the work to professionals. An outsourcing transcription team like Ditto will give you a fast, accurate turnaround for an economical price.

Our cloud-based submission system allows you to submit your audio online any time. Transcriptionists experienced in your specialty—legal, medical, law enforcement, financial, or insurance—listen to your audio and transform it to text in the document format of your choice.

Quality control experts review each transcript for accuracy, and you can receive the finished document by email. Of course, you might miss those occasional transcription funnies, but you probably don’t want those anyway.

Ditto Transcripts handles everything to provide accurate, timely, cost-effective transcripts for any project. Call us at (720) 287-3710 to have us complete your transcriptions correctly.

Looking For A Transcription Service?

Ditto Transcripts is a U.S.-based HIPAA and CJIS compliant company with experienced U.S. transcriptionists. Learn how we can help with your next project!