Due to having a torn scapholunate ligament in both of my wrists, I’m a user of speech recognition software. That means that I, like many users of speech recognition software, fully understand just how important it is to have a good microphone. Literally it doesn’t matter how clearly you speak, if you have a rubbish microphone then using speech recognition software can be a tedious nightmare filled with nothing but frustration.
So yeah getting a good microphone is an absolute must for speech recognition software, especially if you’re going to use it for voice dictation purposes.
The trouble is there are lots of different microphones out there, from desktop versions to headset versions, all of which will work with speech recognition software but some which will work better than others, the question is how to know which ones will work best.
This is a problem that I had and which led to me wasting tons of money buying microphones which proved not to be that good for using with speech recognition software.
Needless to say I’ve spent a lot of time researching the best microphones for speech recognition software, especially for Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and through trial and error have found what I believe to be the best microphones. And because I know how hard it is to work out which ones are best, I decided to write a post reporting my findings.
So these are what I believe to be the best microphone options out there for Dragon NaturallySpeaking and speech recognition software in general.
Gooseneck Desktop Microphones
I have to be honest when I first started having to use voice dictation software, I really did not want to have to wear a microphone, so I did not want a headset. What I wanted was a microphone that could sit on top of my desk and that I did not have to have up close and in my face.
Without a doubt the best option for a microphone of that sort is a gooseneck desktop microphone, the trouble is there are millions of gooseneck desktop microphones and due to the fact that there are none really created with voice recognition in mind, at least among the cheaper options that is, finding the best option can be difficult.
After much effort though I did find the best options, or at least what I believe to be the best options.
Cheapest – FIFINE Computer Microphone – USB
I purchased this microphone based on the reviews, many of which said it was decent for Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and it is decent. But decent is the word, that means for Internet browsing purposes this microphone does the job, meaning if you wish to use Dragon mainly for browsing purposes you can’t go wrong with this really. However, when it comes to writing out documents, even writing out emails, to say the least the accuracy can be appalling.
The fact is for document writing purposes decent for Dragon NaturallySpeaking is not good enough, what you want is a high level of accuracy, and yet I would say that the accuracy with this microphone for document writing i.e. voice dictation was at best between seventy and eighty percent. And to say the least the amount of times I would speak a sentence, then have to say undo and try saying it again because it was just way off the mark, is ridiculous. Literally sometimes I would say a sentence, say undo, then try saying it again about four or five times before it even got close to what I was saying.
And it is not just this microphone that is like that, all the cheaper end desktop microphones will yield a similar result. For browsing purposes cheaper desktop microphones are fine, but for voice dictation purposes, so document writing, in my view you really need to get a top end microphone otherwise using Dragon NaturallySpeaking or any voice dictation software for that matter will most likely just be a really frustrating experience.
However, if cost is the dominant factor and you really want a gooseneck desktop microphone, this is one of the best in its price range, or at least I think it is. Yes, its neck is perhaps a little on the short side but, even though I often sit over half a metre away, it still does a decent job.
Here is the link to purchase this microphone:
Best – Speechware USB 3 in 1 TableMike
After suffering the terrible accuracy of the cheaper microphone for voice dictation purposes, I upgraded to this microphone and to say the least if you can find a better reasonably priced mid–range gooseneck desktop microphone to use with Dragon or any speech recognition software for that matter than this, then please mention it in the comments because I have not found a better one. The accuracy improvement in this microphone versus the cheaper ones of the same kind is ridiculous, is it perfect, that depends on how much ambient noise there is and how close the microphone is to your mouth, it also depends on how clearly you speak.
But, to put things into perspective, I have had music playing in the background while using this microphone and the accuracy has still held up strongly. And I did a test just for fun of leaving the vacuum on while attempting to use it, and still the accuracy was decent. So for a midpriced gooseneck desktop microphone to use with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, or for any speech recognition software for that matter, this is the one that I have found to be best. And by a long distance as well.
Just to note there are two versions of this microphone available, the 3 in 1 model and the 6 in 1 model, the only real difference is that the 6 in 1 model has a longer neck than the 3 in 1 model, which is why I prefer it. I have a tendency to sit a little bit further back from the desk, so that extra reach means that the microphone is closer to my mouth, which is beneficial.
But as the optimal range for the microphone end is between five and fifty centimetres from your mouth, which one is best is really dependent upon your own setup. If you are like me and have a tendency to sit further back then the longer reach that the 6 in 1 model gives will probably be better, if not then the smaller model will probably be better.
Also, just a little pointer before moving on, if I did not sit further back I would find the 6 in 1 model to be too big, which means that its size would be detrimental. Just something to be aware of if you are considering getting the bigger model, and in fact something to be aware of should you get any gooseneck desktop microphone. To get the best out of it you need to get the one that most suits your setup, that means taking into account its size and its recommended distance from microphone to mouth.
In this case the recommended distance from microphone end to mouth is like said between five and fifty centimetres, but the optimal distances between five and twenty centimetres, so the one that is most suitable for you will be the one that allows you to have the microphone end between five and twenty centimetres from your mouth.
Here are the links to the microphones:
Headphones with mics
One of the big problems with desktop microphones for use with speech recognition software, is the fact that if you like having music playing in the background you are going to totally mess up the accuracy. Yes with the SpeechWare TableMike you can have music playing quietly in the background and it will still work, but accuracy will be hit.
Now of course it is possible to simply wear headphones and continue using desktop microphone, but if you don’t have a set of headphones than a good option is a headphones set with microphone included.
The best options that I have found have been gaming headsets.
Cheapest – Sennheiser GSP 300 Closed Acoustic Gaming Headset
The microphone accuracy of the Sennheiser GSP 300 is solid, the speakers are also really good. In fact for the price range if there is a better option out there I couldn’t find it.
One thing to watch out for though, I have found that if I wear these for long periods of time that my head starts to hurt mainly because they are a bit tight. People who are under six foot tall probably won’t have this problem unless they have a big head, but for those standing over six foot tall, like me, these are great if you plan to use them only for short periods of time, maybe the odd hour or so here and there, but if you’re going to use them a lot and for long periods of time I would definitely recommend getting a bigger headset, otherwise you’ll just end up with a sore head. Or even if not a bigger headset, a headset in which you can move the microphone low enough so that you can rest the headphones over the back of your head.
Though of course finding a set like that is easier said than done, as the majority of people who stand over six foot tall and use headsets will attest to. Basically, a problem with a lot of headsets is the fact that they are too small to go over the top of your head but would fit if you were able to push them a little further back. However, if you push them a little further back then the microphone does not stretch low enough down to reach your mouth, the reason being that for some reason the majority of headsets limit how far down you can move the microphone. Why they do this I have no idea. But the fact is they do and if you have a big head because you’re tall or just have a big head, then you need to be aware of this.
But anyway, I am ranting, so I will stop now. This is without a doubt in my view the best headset which includes headphones within its price range to use with speech recognition software, or at least I have found it to be.
Here is the link for the headset:
Best – Sennheiser GSP 500 Open Acoustic Gaming Headset
This is basically a better version of the GSP 300, the microphone is better and the sound quality of the headphones is better. Is it that much better that is worth paying so much more money, debatable really. I have used the GSP 500, I borrowed them from a friend but due to the fact that I did not intend to use them a large amount I elected for the GSP 300, it just made more sense for me.
However, if I was planning on using a headset like this a lot i.e. one with headphones, then I would without question have got the GSP 500. It just provides better accuracy, not a great deal better but even a small difference in accuracy makes a big big difference with speech recognition software.
For example, I found the GSP 500 to have better accuracy when using Dragon NaturallySpeaking for voice dictation purposes. For Internet browsing there was no real difference, but for voice dictation purposes there was. Not a great deal of difference, but like said a small difference in accuracy can make a big difference in usability.
Just to note, this headset has the same problem as the other version, if you stand over six foot tall or have a big head it will likely be too tight and so hurts your head if used for a long period. And again if the microphone could be moved lower this would be a problem, but it can’t be and so it is so keep this in mind if you are considering purchasing this.
Here is the link to the headset:
Headmics are different from headsets, they basically include only a microphone and don’t go over your head in the way that headsets do, they mainly are attached via your ear/ears, so you wrap it around your ear/ears and the microphone stretches round to your mouth. The benefit is of course if you don’t wish to wear headphones they are less cumbersome.
In truth for voice dictation purposes Headmic’s are likely the best option out there, but the best ones are also surprisingly difficult to get hold of.
SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC
This is a Headmic that people swear by, I can’t comment on how good or not it is yet as I have not got one, all I wanted to say was that from my research, this absolutely seems to be the best Headmic for speech recognition software, especially for Dragon. But seems is the word, and as I have not tried this myself I cannot comment on whether the rave reviews it gets are justified or not.
Just to note, to make this work you will need to get a USB adapter with it. SpeechWare make an adapter to go with it of their own, and from the reviews I’ve seen despite its cost it is the best option.
Here is the link to the Headmic:
Sennheiser ME 3
This is a little bit cheaper than the SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC, and I have a friend who swears by this Headmic, however, the majority of reviews now make clear that the SpeechWare headset is better than the ME 3, some seem to say by a good distance.
But despite this, the ME 3 used to be recommended by the majority of reviewers and speech recognition websites as the best Headmic, so it is still a top notch Headmic and if you one to really good Headmic and find you can’t get a hold of the SpeechWare headset it likely is still a great option. But like said I can’t comment on either as I haven’t actually tried either, once this changes I will update this section.
Just to note, unless you get the version of the ME 3 that is specifically made for use with speech recognition software, you will need to get a USB adapter to make this work.
Here is the link to the Headmic:
Final comments on microphones
When using speech recognition software of any kind, the microphones are only as good as the voice speaking into them, that means to really make good use of speech recognition software you really have to learn to speak with clarity. And if you have an accent you will have to work hard on nullifying that accent if you want to get anything like decent accuracy.
But with a good microphone and clear speech speech recognition software can be a lifesaver not just for people with hand and wrist problems, but for people looking to avoid getting hand and wrist problems in the first place.
Anyhow that’s all from me for today, stay safe!
PS see this link for my view on the best speech recognition software available for people with hand and wrist problems.