I need to listen to audio files in short looped fragments (useful for transcribing). I have found a few apps that let me define regions (VLC, Audacity) and that let me play these regions in a loop, but there is no easy way to move the looped region over so I can keep listening to the file.

I have found two alternatives, but they are not ideal, so I was wondering if anyone knew of a better one. Here they are:

  • use Speater, an iOS app that does automatic looping
  • use the transcribe option of Draft, which lets you specify a loop and gives you a shortcut to shift the loop over. This works great but you must be connected to the internet.
  • By transcribing do you mean deriving a written text from a audio recording of somebody speaking? The same term is used to mean writing the score from a music recording... – Bordaigorl Sep 15 '15 at 15:32
  • Yes, writing down the audio transcript. I didn't know a better word to use – nachocab Sep 15 '15 at 17:26

The Transcribe! application by seventhstring is amazing for transcribing music and has the exact feature you are looking for.

It displays your music as a waveform and you can pan, zoom, mark it freely. By selecting a region it automatically plays that in a loop. You even have an analysis of the spectrum of the selection overlaid to a keyboard to help you identify chords. Also extremely useful is the speed control

It is available for OSX, Linux and Windows. The only downside: it's shareware, but the price is quite acceptable: $39 for one licence. You can download a 30 days free full-featured trial version on their website.


I'm not sure what you mean by looping, but I will tell you how I type transcripts. After trying several different pieces of software, I discovered that Youtube has something built in that works really well for me. The video automatically pauses as you type, and the transcript and the video (or audio file) stay in sync with each other. You can also select and copy the whole text you've typed to insert in some other program, such as MS Word.

Here are some instructions: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2734799?hl=en

Just make sure you don't use the automatic transcript feature. Also make sure you have set the file to "private."

It takes a very long time to upload the video or audio file to youtube, but it's worth it.

  • 1
    Thanks, I'll give it a try, but still I'd like something that would work offline. By looping I mean playing the audio in a loop. It helps me transcribe audio in a foreign language because I might need to hear it several times. – nachocab Aug 15 '15 at 20:06
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    @nachocab - Please do try it. It is extremely easy to back it up and listen to the last sentence (or paragraph) in case you need to hear it again, or just check your accuracy before you move on. I didn't use it for a foreign language, but I used it for a three-person heated discussion, with lots of interrupting. Very challenging. Without this software I'm not sure I would have succeeded with the transcription. – aparente001 Aug 15 '15 at 20:09

Sounds like a perfect use for Subtitle Edit. https://github.com/SubtitleEdit/subtitleedit/releases

I am fairly certain that the program will accept audio tracks as well even though it is designed for video. (Uses windows media player or VLC as its backend media player)

Set up some custom shortcuts inside the program for skipping forward/back and pausing/playing. It also outputs in tons of different formats, so while you may not want an exact subtitle file it's not that hard to get it to a format you can use.

  • Looks cool, but I don't think it works on OSX – nachocab Sep 16 '15 at 21:13

I wouldn't give up on Audacity completely. Learning some of the keyboard shortcuts for the transport and edit menus can really speed things along.

The "Selection Extend Right" (Shift+Right) and "Selection Contract Right" (Ctrl+Shift+Right) might be a quick way to scoot your selection window based on the zoom level, and then Shift+Space to loop play.

Another easy way is to use the period and comma to change your start playback position, and just press Space when you want to start from that position again.

I would suggest reading through all the keyboard shortcuts to see if there is something that really grabs your attention.

  • Thanks, but this method doesn't really work. – nachocab Sep 10 '15 at 11:00

I have switched from using Youtube (as I described in my previous answer) to using Transcribe It works much better, in my opinion, and has a very nice auto loop feature that might suit your needs. Their website says you don't need to be connected to the internet while you are looping.

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