Digital dictation

Digital dictation

Digital dictation is a method of recording and editing the spoken word in real-time for transcription and maximum intelligibility in a digital audio format. In some cases speech is recorded where sound quality is paramount and transcription unnecessary, e.g., for broadcasting a theatre play; such recording uses techniques closer to high-fidelity music recording, rather than those discussed here.

Digital dictation offers several advantages over traditional cassette tape based dictation:

  • The user can instantly rewind or fast forward to any point within the dictation file to review or edit.
  • The random access ability of digital audio allows inserting audio at any point without overwriting the following text.
  • Dictation produces a file which can be transferred electronically, e.g. via WAN, LAN, USB, e-mail, telephony, BlackBerry, FTP, etc.
  • Large dictation files can be shared with multiple typists.
  • Sound may be CD quality and can improve transcription accuracy and speed[citation needed].
  • Digital dictation provides the ability to report on the volume or type of dictation and transcription outstanding or completed within an organization.

Dictation audio can be recorded in various audio file formats. Most digital dictation systems use a lossy form of audio compression based on modelling of the vocal tract to minimize hard disk space and optimize network utilization as files are transferred between users. (Note that WAV is not an audio encoding format but a file format and has little or no bearing on the encoding rate (kbit/s), size or audio quality of the resulting file.)

Digital dictation is different from Speech Recognition where audio is analyzed by a computer using speech algorithms in an attempt to transcribe the document. With digital dictation the process of converting digital audio to text may be done using a digital transcription software, typically controlled by a foot switch which allows the transcriber to PLAY, STOP, REWIND, and BACKSPACE.



The days of cassette dictation and transcription machine are nearly behind. For years, digital dictation has been slowly and steadily replacing old and worn out tape machines.

In early 2000, Large manufacturing companies that have been making tape machines. So from this last decade, they just aren’t making them anymore. The cost to build the machine, retool factories for modern product safety standards, plus distribution and support costs makes it economically difficult for these companies to build a quality machine and offer it at a fair price. With big investments by these companies, they could continue to offer the products, but why? Popularity has been decreasing for cassettes and lower cost more efficient options are available now like digital dictation[1].

Where do I start

First the client should choose their desired dictation method. They can use PC based dictation software, call-in dictation using a system or for the author on the go, they can use a digital portable recorder.


The client simply puts his or her recorder into a docking station or plugs in the USB cable and they walk away. The powerful work flow software called does the rest. It will offload the recorder, encrypt the files for HIPAA/HITECH compliance and send them via email or FTP to you. One can’t think of anything easier for the client…just drop it in the dock and go!

How to make it easy

Actually, not very hard at all. Once work flow software is installed on your PC, it will reach out to the FTP, download the work and decrypt the files. One simply can open up the digital transcription software and those jobs will be displayed in your work list. From there, you can sort the jobs by author, job priority or other demographic data.

With the transcriber, you can transcribe the files with crystal clear audio, full foot pedal support, tone, volume and speed controls along with a powerful work list and a gorgeous user interface. If you have others transcribing along with you, don’t fret. It has a work group mode to keep you and the other transcriptionists from working on the same job.

Types of software

There are two types of digital dictation software:

  1. Standalone digital sound recording software: Basic software whereby the audio is recorded as a simple file. Most digital sound recording applications are designed for individuals or a very small number of users, as they do not offer a network efficient way of transferring the audio files other than email, they also do not encrypt or password protect the audio file
  2. Digital dictation workflow software: Advanced software for commercial organizations where audio is still played by a typist but the audio file can be securely and efficiently transferred. The workflow element of these advanced systems also allows users to share audio files instantly, create virtual teams, outsource transcription securely, and set up confidential send options or 'ethical walls'. Digital Dictation workflow software is normally Active Directory integrated and can be used in conjunction with document, practice or case management systems. Typical businesses using workflow software are law firms, healthcare organizations, accountancies, or surveying firms.

Recordings can be made over the telephone, on a computer or via a hand held dictation device that is "docked" to a computer.

See also


  1. ^ featured Articles from


"Digital Voice Recorder Buyer’s Guide". Retrieved 2011-06-1. 

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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