Analogue vs Digital Dictation

The use of analogue (cassette tape) recorders is somewhat outdated but are still used in many professional industries. But as we have moved forward into a digital age there is a call for more companies to embrace digital dictation and here are some of the reasons why.


Analogue devices are highly insecure, after all anyone can playback the recording and listen to your patient or client data.

This is where the difference lies between the analogue and digital world. As digital devices have ways of securing voice files, they are compliant with data protection laws and can be locked via a secure PIN, not to mention that the data can be encrypted.

If a cassette is lost, the data is lost forever. With digital recordings, they can be stored in your computer or in the cloud giving you access to the sound files whenever you need them. Even if something catastrophic happened you could still get the files back, unlike its analogue counterpart.

Sound Quality

As with any voice recording, other factors need to be taken into account. A recording in a loud coffee shop is going to be harder to pick out the speakers than one in a quiet room. However digital dictation wins hands down as it can sound very crisp and clear every time the file is played. Whereas tapes stretch over time, the more the tape is played the more of a risk of damage which can make the sound quality poor or distorted.


With analogue dictation the tape itself must be stored, creating storage space issues not to mention an increased risk of tapes becoming lost, damaged or mislabeled.
Digital files can be stored easily and securely on a hard drive or in the cloud making archiving and retrieval simple and cost-effective.


It is only a matter of time before analogue dictation goes the way of the VHS which stopped being manufactured in 2016 because of a decline in sales. Our advice to any customers is to start moving across to digital devices as soon as possible to future proof yourself.


Tips for using your phone as a dictation device

Using your phone as a recording or dictation device is smart, just like the apps and programs that are on it. Recording audio with your smartphone isn’t always straightforward and although mobile phones have advanced a lot over the last few years the microphone on the device haven’t generally changed that much, with mobile manufacturers focusing the efforts on better cameras, application or software speed as their main features.

Below are our top tips to get better audio recording on your mobile device:

1. Remove distractions from your phone

Your smartphone is a multi-functional device, it distracts us from every day conversations with people, keeps us informed as to the latest news and connected with our family and friends.

It is important that you are not distracted when making a recording, think how distracting it is when your instant messenger goes off when you are out with friends, in the cinema or a meeting, it is human nature to look a it, so it is important to ensure that it does not intrude upon your recording, with shrill notifications, or break your flow of conversation.

So before you press the record button, turn your off your phones capabilities to take messages or to make calls. Switching to airplane mode should do the trick!

2.       Know Your Surroundings

Before you start recording, stop and look (and listen to) your surroundings, is there anything that could distract you or that could be easily picked up by a microphone. For example I am sat writing this blog and my two dogs are in the room with me eating bones. If I was to be recording this as dictation instead of typing it, you would be able to hear them chomping and munching away.

What you could do is take a short recording sample of the room you are in and listen to the recording to check the sound quality

3. Use an external microphone

To ensure that you maximise your chances of capturing all of your audio it is recommended that you use an external microphone which can be inserted into the earphone socket of your smart phone device.  It is even better if the microphone that use is one that can be attached to your lapel as it will ensure that everything is caught if you move around.

The Future of Dictation

The digital age has moved dictation forward leaps and bounds.

Dictation and speech recognition started over 50 years ago by Alexander Graham Bell, whose wife was deaf and experimented with transmitting speech taking words and turn them into a picture that a deaf person could then understand. This is actually how he invented the telephone, not entirely solving the problem that he had set out to do, but an amazing accomplishment nonetheless.

Technology is moving fast and what is relevant today may not be fit for purpose tomorrow, this blog post will explore what the future of dictation tools may look like.

Current technology such as Apples Siri is stuff of 1970’s and 80’s sci-fi movies, who would of thought that we would be talking to our phones and tablets and actually getting an answer back!

We have come so far over the last few decades, but what else does technology have in store for us?

The Future

  • Multi-lingual – Dictation and voice recognition technology that can detect multiple languages without changing a setting.
  • Trigger Words – Using trigger words to auto detect when dictation software could be used to enable the recording.
  • MultiVoice – Some current digital dictation and voice recognition software you can train to understand you voice and your personal nuances, however if someone else uses your machine the artificial intelligence (AI) within the software can get confused. In the future software could have the ability to learn multiple voices and dialects.

I feel that there will soon be blurred lines between dictation/voice recognition software and virtual assistants. Software such as Siri was supposed to help us in our everyday lives, help us plan and organise our time better, however in reality it has fallen short of our expectations. In the future as technology advances and the difference between the two will become less distinctive, although AI still has a long way to go and to learn human behaviour and speech.

What are your thoughts on the future of dictation and transcription?