Transcription Media Player

Transcription Players Available – Audio/Video Media Players

Transcription Media Players – A Comprehensive List

Getting started in my journey as a work-from-home transcriptionist back in 1999 was a bit tricky for me because I had no formal training (or really any informal training either) and so it was very much a “learn as you go” type of thing. It was suggested to me–by the transcription firm I was doing subcontractor work for–to purchase the Start-Stop kit that included the basic items I would need such as a headset, foot pedal, and software. The cash investment was more than I was willing to pay in order to start in a field that I wasn’t even sure I’d succeed at.

After some quick research, I came across Express Scribe. At that time–well over ten years ago–it was completely free. I was also able to purchase a used foot pedal online for a fraction of the price of a new one. With a pair of headphones we already had at home and of course a home computer with high speed Internet, I was set to start my career as a general transcriptionist.

Not quite five years ago now, I also started doing some subcontractor work for a court reporter. Those audio files can be a bit different with multi-channels. That is when I learned about The Record Player (a.k.a. FTR Player), which is also free. Although it is geared towards the legal industry, it does work with file formats such as .mp3 and, thus, can be used for general transcription purposes.

Of course, most businesses, including the entrepreneur (self-employed), are very cash conscious and do their best to save money wherever possible. The high cost of software may not just be a financial burden, but a barrier to entry into the transcription field all together. Therefore, being able to find a transcription player that is free to use, but provides all the features needed, is obviously the best option, but may soon no longer be an option at all.

Namely, Express Scribe previously was completely free and included all the features and functionality. However, within the last year or two, I’ve heard many people who are having trouble with the free version as being limited in features and also quickly prompted to purchase the Pro version in order to use the software at all. Other players offer a “free” version, but those versions also oftentimes lack in features and functionality from the paid version. This is what has prompted me to take a look at what transcription media player options are available on the market today and at what price points.

Nobody wants to invest money into a software program, start to use it, and only then find out it lacks the features and functionality needed to complete the task it was purchased for. Therefore, I must stress that this is just a high level look at many options and that it is imperative that you do your own research and comparisons to find the right software program that fits your needs at the right price point for you. In the coming weeks, I hope to take advantage of the free trials offered with some of these programs in order to do some further evaluation. I will share those via a video on YouTube and within this blog. (Be sure to subscribe to either this blog or the YouTube channel to get notifications of all upcoming videos and blog posts.)

Please also note that, other than the kits, the software does not come with the foot pedal. However, many of the software sites do have links available to purchase foot pedals as well. While it’s not a 100% guarantee that all USB pedals will work with all the different software programs for audio/video players, I think that most of the major ones are supported. One other note is that a foot pedal is not 100% required. There are some transcribers who do prefer to use hot keys with the keyboard to do transcription. For a demo of the foot pedal I use, you can check out this video.

Features to Consider

I’ve listed a few features to watch out for that you may need, but may not be available in all the software programs:

  • Time Codes/Stamps: The ability to copy/paste the time elapsed within the audio into the text document.
  • Video: File formats such as .MOV, .MP4 where you are able to see the video play in the player itself.
  • File Formats: Not all players support all audio/video file formats
  • Audio Quality: Some players compress the audio, thus reducing the quality.
  • Usability: Features/functionality and the ease of use.

Foot Pedal Controllers

These are two software programs that I’ve come across that allow you to “emulate keyboard and mouse functionality using your foot pedal.” At a quick glance, I get the impression that they are very similar software programs if not the same. I have played around with Pedable, and you can find a video demo [here].

The difference between these to “controllers” and the audio/video players is that, with these, you are not loading in the audio (or video) file into this software and then controlling the playback. This software is to control the pedal through hotkey functionality. I explain in more detail in the video how you can then use the hot key controls in a program such as Windows Media Player in conjunction with this software and your foot pedal. These pedal controllers are free to download and are an option for transcription.

The downside to these controllers is that the hot keys can conflict with the hot keys within the program you are transcribing into, such as Microsoft Word. For example, the hot key for play in Windows Media Player is ctrl-P, which is the same hot key for PRINT in MS Word. Thus, some workarounds need to be done to get this to work effectively. Secondly, I personally have found the process to be a bit clunky with a delay in starting, stopping, rewind, fast forward. This could be due to speed of my computer system itself. Lastly, this software lacks the ability to use “backstep” functionality, which is a feature I enjoy having in the audio/video players.



Listed below are two “kits” or packages that I’ve found available. Although many of the software sites do offer a link to also purchase the foot pedal, these kits offer all three items together and, thus, should have a level of guarantee that they will all work together.

I also noticed with these kits that you are sent a CD with the software on it. I do like this feature as well because, should you purchase a newer computer, you should be able to simply load the software onto it using the CD as opposed to hoping that the software website will allow you to download the software onto your new system without charging any additional fees. (Yet another thing to consider when it comes to an actual CD versus just downloading software from a website.)

One other thing to point out is that these kits are sometimes sold used on different sites such as Amazon and ebay. While I’ll stress a “buyer beware,” this may be an alternative to paying full price for a brand new kit. Please take into consider that buying used might forfeit any support or other benefits offered when purchasing new and directly from the company.

Legal Industry Focused Players

While these two players seem to be focused towards the legal industry, they may come in handy for general transcription purposes as well. While I was only able to find that the Liberty Court Player worked with .dcr files, The Record Player (a.k.a. FTR Player) plays a variety of file formats, including .mp3. The downside to The Record Player is that it does not play video files and also the time displayed cannot be changed to start at zero for time stamp/code use. They both are currently free downloads with no limit in features and functionality.

FTR Player

Non-U.S./Foreign-based Players

Recognizing that not all transcriptionists are U.S.-based, I decided to add in these two players that I came across as possible options that are available. F4 appears to be mainly Dutch focused and I did not see any pricing in U.S. dollars. Transcriber-Pro appears to be Russian focused, but did offer pricing in U.S. dollars. Both have information in English on their websites as well as an English version of the software.

Media Transcription Players

Here it is, the main list of transcription players that I have compiled. These are players that have been suggested to me, as well as some that I have just come across doing a Google search. Again, I will note that I have heard from others that the free trial available for Express Scribe is limited in features and functionality, as well as the free version becomes disabled and there is a prompt that the Pro version must be purchased.

Also, with the free trial of FTW Transcriber, the features/functionality is very limited. One other note to make is that I’ve heard others state that they prefer FTW over Express Scribe because FTW does not compress the files before playing, whereas ES does. Therefore, they have stated the audio quality in FTW is superior to ES.

As stated previously, I have not tested all of these programs, but wanted to give you a baseline to get started on finding the right software solution for you. Please be sure to keep in mind all of the features and functionality that you need when evaluating these programs.

Express Scribe

  • Express Scribe: $50 (limited free trial)
  • FTW Transcriber: $10/mo. OR $24/year (limited free trial)
  • Gear Player 4: $119.95 (free trial)
  • Inquscribe: $99 (14-day free trial)
  • Quickscribe: No pricing given (30-day free trial)
  • Transcription Buddy: $39.95 (1 month free trial)
  • VLC Media Player PLUS Utility: Free program, but there may be a fee for the utility. NOTE: Given more thought to this (VLC Media Player), I think it is similar to what would be using Windows Media Player in conjunction with something like Pedable or Pedalware and may not have the full functionality like other transcription players available. However, I left it in the list for informational purposes in case you come across this software program while doing your own research.

Final Thoughts

Again, this is simply a list to provide some baseline for your own research to find the right software program for your needs. I am not affiliated with any of these companies nor these software programs. Prices may vary and are subject to change at any time. Discounts may be available, so please watch the corresponding sites carefully. The disclaimer of “buyer beware” not only applies to buying used products such as kits and foot pedals, but also make sure you understand the licensing agreements as it pertains to the duration of the agreements, any support available, et cetera.

If you would like to share your thoughts on which software programs you are using and like, or even ones you’ve tried and dislike, please be sure to leave a comment. It will be interesting to hear other opinions on what is working and what isn’t working, features you enjoy, and features that are lacking.

Thank you for joining in on another Quick Tip Tuesday.

–Tina Pham, Owner/Operator

Comments ( 5 )

  1. / ReplyDebs
    Hi Tina. Very useful information here. I am currently using Express Scribe but the audio quality is quite bad in comparison to other players. I just downloaded and love the FTR player you mention but, as you know, being a transcriptionist we need to insert time codes for any inaudibles, etc. FTR (unless I am completely dumb) does not show the time lapse, only the time and date of audio and the duration of the audio. I have looked at the help guide but cannot see an answer to this. I do feel it's rather odd as this is obviously transcription software and time stamps are crucial in this job. Any help would be really appreciated, otherwise will just have to stick with muffled ES sound.
    • / ReplyTina
      Hello, Deb! I too wish that FTR had the option to start the clock at zero, so to speak, in order to add in time codes easily that represented the run time rather than the time of day. I think that because it is focused towards the legal transcription industry, the time codes reflecting actual time of day is most useful/important in those transcripts. Also, I'd agree the audio quality is better in FTR, as I think ES compresses the files, reducing the quality. Have you looked at all into the FTW Player? If so, what are your thoughts on that one? It seems to offer more time code capabilities without giving up on audio quality. This is an interesting discussion, for sure. Thank you. Tina
      • / ReplyDebs
        Hi Tina, Thanks so much for your reply. I haven't looked at the FTW player. I might wander over and take a look right now! The company I take in work from are always pulling me on my 'mishears', I'm not happy to accept it's an age thing just yet :) so am trying very hard to find something to make the audio quality better, with the time code capabilities. Will let you know how that goes. Thanks again.
  2. / ReplyNancy
    I love the FTR, but since I took my computer in to be cleaned and scanned this week it no longer will work on it. I have tried everything and even had an FTR support tech remotely access my computer to see if he could get it to work. You can see it plays the audio. It will play their files, but it won't play the files I have for some reason. You cannot hear the audio. We have uninstalled and reinstalled it and I still cannot hear the audio. I can hear the audio in Express Scribe but it is sounds like they are in a tin can and I can't stand that and that is why I quit using Express Scribe. Any suggestions on why my FTR won't play my audios? Or do you have any other suggestions on another software to use that doesn't sound so tinny? I work at home as a transcriptionist also. Could really use some suggestions. Thanks.
    • / ReplyTina
      Hello, Nancy. I feel your frustration in not being able to get FTR to work, and even more frustrating that the support tech for FTR wasn't able to resolve your issue. The only thing that I'm wondering is the version versus your system. For instance, are you on Windows? If you've using 8.1 or 10, FTR recommends version 5.7.1 of the player. However, if you're on Windows 7 or XP, you should try installing the legacy version 5.6.2. If you've been trying to download and use the latest version without success, that would be my first thing is to try downloading the legacy version of FTR and see if that works. Because you said it won't play "your files," that would be the second thing I would try is converting those files into a different format and trying them again. In other words, if they are .wav, I'd convert them to .mp3 and try again. The Liberty Court Player is a free option, but the type of files it plays is limited. If you are unable to resolve the FTR issue, you might need to consider one of the other players I've talked about in the video that, unfortunately, are not free to use. Please let me know how things are going. Good luck! Tina - Owner/Operator

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