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Descript, the Audio Editing App, Just Might Save Your Life

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There is a new app for your Mac, which might make it easier for you to edit your audio files.  Some are even saying that this app is as easy as a word processor. But it’s going to take a lot more to convince me.  The app Descript allows you to edit a transcript of the recording. How does it work?  When editing, your changes will automatically be made to the synced audio file. It definitely sounds amazing, but is it too good to be true?  Developer, Andrew Mason explains how the app works:

“The app relies on text-audio alignment in order to work. A text-based transcription is generated from the audio file, and from there, the app uses machine learning to do a match between the audio sample and the text version of the words. A time code is assigned to each and every word, so that if you were to use the text editor to delete a word in text, it’s immediately synced with the audio file.  Mason claimed that Descript gets a “surprising number of edits right the first time” but added that there’s also a waveform editor in the app so that users can continue to tweak the audio file or add light effects as needed.”

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This is a potentially incredible tool.  Automated transcription was the first step in this process.  Which makes this the obvious next step, according to Mason.  Think about what this will mean for people who produce podcasts.  This might be life-changing.  But there is one catch.  There’s always a catch, right?  The Descript app requires a subscription.  Which will cost you (gasp), $20/month!  There is an introductory price of $10/month.  But that’s not it.  In addition, you pay 7 cents per minute to generate the synced transcription.  My eyes are literally wide as I type those numbers.  I stand by my previous statement of “life-changing”, but I guess you have to do a cost/benefit analysis of this one.  Apparently, per-minute transcription fees are the norm in the industry.  Descript’s fee is actually lower than the fee that their competitors charge.  And maybe so, but that seems to be quite costly.

Here is something incredibly scary.  This app could be used as a way to create fake recordings of other people.  Which Mason has acknowledged himself.  I guess I should rephrase that.  It could get abused in this way.  Can you imagine?  I’m not saying everyone (or anyone) would take advantage of this, but it’s certainly a scary thing to think about.

“Even though we don’t intend to be on the vanhgard of the fakery, it’s coming one way or the other. But we’ve been through this before. Basically what’s happened to photos and print before will happen to audio and video, and society adjusts. The credibility of a piece of content comes down to the credibility of the source.”

Mason is correct.  This isn’t new for us, but that doesn’t make it any less real.  Or any less of an issue.  I’d like to get back to the price for a moment.  While it’s incredibly high, I think a lot of people are potentially going to use this.  Audio editing is a fine science, so I think that any help we can get is beneficial.  To me, it’s worth the cost.  But that’s because I don’t like to spend a lot of extra time editing.  That’s not my jam.  If you think you will use Descript, let us know. You can’t buy it from the Mac App Store, so you’ll have to go directly to their website if you want it.

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