Dictation player


Kevin Umbach's Dictation Player is a nifty tool for the transcription of speech data, conversations and interviews. Adds automatic and manual pauses. The loop function can shift forward while repeating sections of the audio file, in the following fashion:

PAUSE ...the quick brown fox jum...
PAUSE ...uick brown fox jumps ov...
PAUSE ...brown fox jumps over th...
PAUSE ... fox jumps over the laz...
PAUSE ...jumps over the lazy dog...

Supports WAV files. See full explanations below.


This web page copied with permission by Kevin Umbach from the original page at http://www.geocities.com/k_umbach/dictation/

software index

Dictation Player for Windows

DictationPlayer is a specialized wave file player especially suited for playing back recordings so you can transcribe them. DictationPlayer is 100% free for your personal use.

Follow these steps to convert a cassette tape recording into a Windows Wave file and play it back so you can easily transcribe the recording into a word processor.

Step 1 - Connect the cassette player to your computer

To connect your tape player to the computer, you'll need a 1/8" headphone type cable with 2 male ends on it to go from the headphone jack of the tape player to the line in jack on your computers sound card. If you already have a microphone connected to your computer, you may be able to record directly from the tape player's speakers but you may pick up some extra background noise in the recording which may make understanding the conversation a bit more difficult.

Step 2 - Copy from cassette tape to a Windows Wave file recording.

This is done by simply playing back the tape on your tape player and recording it on the computer. Windows comes with a free accessory called Sound Recorder, however I don't recommend using it because it is unable to record anything longer than 60 seconds. Instead, I use RecAll-Pro from Sagebrush Systems. A 30 day free demo is available at http://www.sagebrush.com/ or here. Rec-All has the ability to record directly into a disk file, so the only restriction on the length of the recording is the size of your hard drive. I use the following RecAll recording options: 8bit, mono, sample rate 11025, no compression. This uses up 0.631 MB per minute to record. I also use the file split option to break up the recording into 5MB chunks (7.9 minutes) to make them easier to work with.

Step 3 - Transcribing the Recording

Typing a conversation from a recording into a word processor can be very combersome and time consuming. Unless you are a very fast typer with a very keen ear, you'll find yourself pressing play, stop, and rewind a lot which really slows down the transcribing process. When I first started transcribing my tapes, I used my Walkman to play back the tape while I typed away in Microsoft Word. Even though I can type reasonably fast, about 70wpm, it took me about 2 hours to transcribe 8 minutes of converstation. I thought of ways to speed this up while keeping within my $0 budget. My solution was to write a custom program which I have named DictationPlayer. DictationPlayer is a specialized wave player especially suited for transcribing. There are actually a few good dictation players available over the Internet, but everyone seems to want money for them.

Here is the DictationPlayer screen:

Use the File/Open menu item to open up one of your wave file recordings from step 2. Click the play button to start playing back the recording. Once started, use the pause, rewind, or fast forward buttons to control the recording playback. Note: When you press the stop button, the playback position will be set back to 0. Also, you cannot move the position slider while in play mode, press pause before using this slider.

You can also use the following hot keys even while you are typing in a word processor:

ALT-J - Pause/restart
Alt-H - Skip Forward
Alt-K - Rewind

You can also try the Autopause feature which automatically plays for a short duration, then automatically pauses, then restarts. The Pause Backup slider controls how much the recording is rewound when unpausing. I suggest you just play around with all the sliders to see the result on playback. I have found the following autopause settings perfect for my typing and listening speed:

Play Duration: 4 secs
Pause Duration: 7 secs
Pause Backup: 7000

DictationPlayer System Requirements

- Windows 95/98.
- Microsoft DirectX (must be already installed on your system)..

DirectX is normally installed whenever you install a Windows game on your computer. If DictationPlayer complains that it can't find Direct Sound program files when you try and run it, you most likely don't have DirectX installed. Either install a game, or click here to DirectX from from Microsoft.

Download DictationPlayer

Click one of the links below to copy the file to your computer. I recommend unzipping DictationPlayer into your Program Files folder. There is no setup program to run so to run it you'll have to go browsing "My Computer" and double click on the DictationPlayer icon.

Click here to download DictationPlayer in ZIP format (28 KB) - Mar 1/00
Click here to download the DictationPlayer Visual C 6.0 Source Code (20 KB) - Feb 26/00)

That's All Folks!

This program was really just slapped together for my own use and I have found it to be a real time saver. I hope you find it useful. If you have any suggestions to improve it, or find any bugs, let me know.

Check back here often as I may add a features here and there as I see fit.

Kevin Umbach
February 2000