What free software can you recommend that offers great control over the timer display? I'm working as a transcriber and I need to often pause the interview and go back at a certain point in time. Usually, it's 5 seconds back, but it varies from 3 seconds to 10 seconds. Precision is paramount, because it would save me a lot of time, since there are interviews that the speech is not very clear, and where I have to often go back to a phrase. A good precision would save me a lot of time and frustration.

It would therefore be nice to be able to go back 5 or 10 seconds, but also to have an input box where I set the exact timer in seconds. For example, 1:45 (one minute and forty-five seconds).

iTunes is bad at this (unless I haven't found out about a hidden feature) and while VLC is better, it's still about dragging the position on the control.

3 Answers 3


I would never suggest doing any kind of professional work with a tool like vlc or itunes etc.

Your best shot is getting a freeware DAW like audacity which provides great Transport, looping and also markers (http://m.wikihow.com/Add-Track-Markers-in-Audacity) which lets you mark regions of a waveform and go to them on the fly.

Also you could easily learn a few handful ways to improve the audio in various terms and make your job easier overall.

Imho a small time investment in a DAW will help you a lot more than trying to do that with a media player.


If you are working as a transcriber then you need to use software that is specifically designed for fast transcription and noting. A DAW is not suitable for this purpose. You should be looking at software such as F4 at www.audiotranskription.de

This will be substantially more suitable for transcription applications than a DAW.


In the media player space (rather than audio engineering spaces), cmus was the best player I found for this sort of thing.

Cmus provides quite nice interface for scripting, so you can do things like get the exact time and jump exactly 10 seconds forward etc. This of course requires you to do a little scripting (or use scripts that others have made for you).

For example:

 cmus-remote --seek +5

seeks 5 seconds forward in a file; I have keyboard shortcuts for this sort of thing. It also allows the ability to save and restore locations (but doesn't really provide an infrastructure

I would warn you that this can be a bit of a rabbit hole, the world of composable open source tools often allows you to do exactly what you want... if only you spend another 2 two hours tweaking... and then another two hours.

The world of proprietary software is kind of different, giving you fully furnished jail cells in which to spend the rest of your life (but if the jail cell is good enough then who cares?).

  • It's worth pointing out that good professional software also supports scripting letting you do exactly what you want. You don't see it in as much of the mid-range stuff though as it's much harder to provide scripting for the full set of extended functionality offered.
    – AJ Henderson
    Oct 25, 2017 at 15:31

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