Fantastic Frequently Asked Questions
What makes your transcripts fantastic?
No other company works as hard as Fantastic
Transcripts does when it comes to transcription.
We are constantly working to improve and refine our transcription process.
We put ourselves in your place and ask what you would like to see in your
That's why we offer a second pass while other companies only do a single
pass. Clients expect accurate transcripts, even from less-than-ideal audio
sources, and with our two-pass system, our transcripts are simply more accurate
than the industry standard.
We're also fantastic because our transcripts are formatted with an easy-to-read,
21st century look rather than the old, outdated, 1950's typewriter look you will
get from other companies. Except for legal transcripts, we've modified our
formats to make our transcripts look more like printed documents.
On the technology side, we digitally enhance most of the digital files we receive
through various software programs to make them as clear as possible, and we
run sound from analog sources through our Dell workstations to reduce noise
and tape hiss and amplify voice frequencies as much
We do this so our transcriptionists can hear more of the words from the start, so
they can type more of the words with less "inaudibles" than you get from other
Because of our dedication to accuracy, nearly all of our clients were clients of
other transcription companies where they didn't receive the level of accuracy they
wanted in their transcripts.
Our mission is to do transcripts better than any other company can and we prove
it to our clients every day. Let us prove it to you.
Other transcription companies charge by the line or by the page. How does your
per hour rate compare with these rates?
Many of our clients were customers of transcription companies that charged by the
line, by the page, by the keystroke, or by some other method.
When final invoices are compared, our clients have told us that our charges are
about the same or just slightly higher than other companies that do not do a
second pass on their transcripts.
When we format our transcripts the same way other companies do (using large type
and wide margins) and figure the costs, our regular rate translates to about
$3.75 per page, or about 15 cents a line, and medical or legal transcription
translates to about $5.00 per page or 20 cents a line. This includes our second pass
proofreading, which other companies don't do.
As for quality and accuracy, we've been told repeatedly that our transcripts
easily surpass other companies' transcripts, especially with hard-to-hear
tapes. That's why nearly all of our clients have sought us out. We believe the
industry-standard 98% accuracy for broadcast-quality audio is not good enough.
The reason for our success is in the way we do our work. Companies that charge
by the word, line or page have the incentive to work as quickly as possible, not
as carefully as possible, to generate their income. If they're working with
hard-to-hear audio, or if they hear terminology they're unfamiliar with, it's
easier to type "inaudible" than to spend the minute or so it might take to figure
out the word. Our transcriptionists do not have the pressure on them to
crank out transcripts as fast as possible and they can take their time to produce
the best possible transcript.
That's also why you see transcripts with large fonts, fixed-length letter
spacing and double or triple-line spacing from other companies. These tactics
increase the number of lines or the number of pages, and therefore increase the
Legal transcripts are so bloated by these methods that the industry standard
is to print draft copies in a window-pane format that displays four pages on
a single page! Customers are basically paying a four-page rate for a single page
Since we charge by the hour of work, our incentive is to do as good a job as
possible. We can spend the time to go over hard-to-hear material to produce
transcripts that accurately reflect what is being said. Our clients tend to be
people who want accurate transcripts and not "rough drafts" that is standard in
We're also willing to spend the extra time necessary in working with difficult
materials that other companies refuse.
As a result, we produce a product that we believe no other company can match,
and we feel that our rates are comparable to other billing methods.
I've been quoted a lower per hour rate by another transcription
company. Why should I use Fantastic Transcripts?
When comparing prices, be careful - what might sound like a better rate could
turn out to be otherwise.
Some companies will quote a low per-hour rate but then charge you more hours to
increase the bill. Other companies will promise quick turnarounds, but once they
have your project, they drag their feet and make excuses about why the job isn't
When obtaining estimates for a job, always ask what is the total estimated
charge for the project and how long it will take.
At Fantastic Transcripts we will tell you the
cost and when we can get the work back to you right up front. There are no
surprises and we try our best to come in under budget and on time. With
Fantastic Transcripts you will always know how
much your transcripts will cost and when they will be ready.
My audio is confidential. Will you be willing to sign a
All of our work is done confidentially and we do not allow anyone else to read
or have your transcripts without your permission. We have no problem signing simple
We have done work for various government departments and agencies. If they can
trust us, you can too.
How do I record an interview I want to conduct and send it to you?
The simplest way is to buy an
Olympus digital recorder,
preferably one of the higher-end WS models. They provide excellent sound and can
record directly into the MP3 and WMA audio formats.
If you are going to record in noisy environments, you might consider an
noise cancelling microphone to add clarity.
What file format and recording settings are the best?
For what we do, we feel the MP3 format offers the best in terms of quality
versus file size for easier uploading and downloading. We recommend a sample rate
of 22 kHz and a bit rate of 48 kbps. Higher encoding rates don't add quality to
voice recordings and just waste bandwidth.
What audio formats can you transcribe?
We can transcribe from nearly every audio or video format either directly or by
converting it to a format we can transcrbe. But we do prefer MP3s, WMA/WMVs and
Why does Fantastic Transcripts require a
credit card number or a cheque before it will transcribe my material?
We have found that many accounting departments are slow to pay these days, and
there are some companies that don't pay at all.
Since we cannot tell in advance which companies pay quickly and which do not,
we have instituted a policy that requires all clients to pay when services are
This helps to keep our prices low since paying customers do not have to
subsidize non-paying customers.
We also save money by not having a collection department and by not having to
borrow money to pay our employees.
Instead, we can concentrate on what we do best, transcription, not billing and
I have video tapes that need to be transcribed. Do you transcribe video tapes?
Yes, we do. If you have a VHS videocassette or DVD, we can transcribe it.
And we can include timecode with our transcripts for a small additional fee. If you
have a digital video tape, just make a VHS or audio cassette copy, or rip an MP3
from it and send that to us to transcribe.
Can you transcribe digital audio files on Websites or e-mailed to
you over the Internet?
Yes, we do it all. More than 80% of our business now consists of digital files
sent over the Internet. We can handle all digital formats including MP3, Windows
Media files, Sony DVF and Olympus DSS files. And we can record streaming audio
directly from the Web.
To upload files to us, we recommend a service called
YouSendIt.com. A basic account is free
and allows you to upload one file at a time. But we can also download files from
your Website, FTP site, or any other file-sharing it. We will quickly transcribe
your files and send you back a Microsoft Word document via e-mail.
Why do you recommend against using microcassettes?
Although Staples and Office Depot still sell microcassette recorders, they
never had good sound because of their slow recording speed and very thin,
see-through tape. They are basically obsolete and we do not reccommend using
Full-size cassette recorders provide better quality audio to transcribe
from, and we still accept tapes, but with digital recorders producing better
quality sound, even from cheaper recorders, they too are obsolete.
Typically, the cost of a high-end digital recorder and microphone will pay for
itself in transcription cost savings, sometimes with the very first job.
Why are some of the words listed as "inaudible" in my transcript?
In a typical transcript there will be some instances where our transcriptionists
and proofreaders cannot understand words because the speaker mumbled, talked
too fast, the recording volume was low, or background noise obscured the words.
We don't have our transcriptionists make up dialog or fill in what they think
was said, as other companies do. Our transcripts reflect exactly what we can hear.
You should expect to do some light editing on our transcripts to make sure we
identified people properly and to make sure we used the correct spelling of your
company's products or services.
The number of "inaudibles" in a transcript is usually an indication of the
recording quality of the material. The more difficult the audio is to hear, the
higher the number of inaudibles. Clear tapes usually result in no inaudibles at
We do our best to clear up as many inaudibles as we can and to identify speakers
and spell company terms correctly. We use the Internet to research company and
product names, and we routinely ask clients to provide a list of names and terms that
might have been used. The more we work with a client, the more familiar we become
with names, voices and terminology. And that's why customers use us again and
Why are some of the speakers not identified or misidentified in my
We our do our best to identify who is speaking in our transcripts, but there
are times when it isn't clear who is speaking, especially if participants
have similar-sounding voices or accents, or if the speakers aren't identified
originally and there's no way to infer it from the dialogue.
We try not to guess, but sometimes we're fooled, especially when people have
similar sounding voices. We usually suggest that someone who was at the recording
read over the transcripts, especially if they're going to be printed or posted to
a Website, to verify the speaker identities.
You did a transcript for me two years ago. Is there any way I can get
We can look on our computers for it.
While we don't actively archive our transcripts, we do hang onto them until we
need to free up space on our hard drives or until we switch out old computers for
new. We delete the audio files after a month or two, but hang onto the transcripts
for a while just for this very purpose. So there is a good chance we can find your
missing transcript - even a year or two later. No promises, but we will do a search
for you at no extra charge.
What other services do you offer?
We offer a wide range of secretarial and communication services for our
We type manuscripts, digitize and encode audio and video, certify court
transcripts, proofread and copy-edit galleys, tabulate survey results, and even
design Websites and printed publications.
Please read our Business Services page for more about
what we do.
I'm looking for work. Is there a way for me to do transcription from my
Although most of our transcription is done at our offices, we do take information
from people looking for work-at-home employment. Please keep in mind, however, that
we receive dozens of e-mails a month from people looking to work from home.
For employment opportunities in our offices, see our
employment page, and for work-at-home opportunities see our