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Speech Recognition and the iPad

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Overview
iPad/iPhone Audio Adapter
Microphones for use with iPhone & iPad
iPhone & iPad Microphone Demonstration ("hearing is believing")

Overview

iPadAlthough not as talked about as the "retina display" and faster processor, one of the most useful features in the third generation iPad is the availability of integrated speech recognition. Unlike the speech recognition available in the iPad 1 and iPad 2, which required use of a separate speech recognition program and need to copy and paste text to other applications, the speech recognition in the 3rd generation iPad is fully integrated and available virtually anywhere the keyboard shows up. Initiated by clicking on the small microphone icon on the virtual keyboard, it involves cloud-based speech recognition which works by compressing your speech, sending it over the internet to a central processing facility where it is converted to text and sent back to you where it is inserted automatically in your document. Incredibly, this entire process takes just a few seconds and happens with a surprising accuracy.

We have extensively evaluated this new technology and find it to be extremely good for general dictation. It may have some limitations when used in the context of non-standard speech, such as those used by medical practitioners and others with unique vocabularies, although even in these situations it does extremely well.

How to use "Keyboard Dictation" on the New iPad

iPad virtual keyboard

We've put together a couple of guides to speech recognition on the iPad, one related to audio aspects of the iPad in general (all generations) and another related specifically to Keyboard Dictation on the new, third generation iPad.

  • Using Keyboard Dictation on the "New iPad" - this review tell you almost everything you want to know about the cloud-based speech recognition product on the new iPad and includes a table of available commands and punctuation.
  • Using a microphone with the iPad: this is a review about the 3 methods of using a microphone with the iPad and is not specific to the new iPad. It includes some technical information, including "pin assignments" for the audio jack and 30 pin dock connector.

The iPad Headset Adapter - get this first!

iPad Headset AdapterAlthough you can use speech recognition on the iPad with a Bluetooth microphone, this turns out to be somewhat complicated and for the average user seeking improved performance over the on-board microphone, interfacing with the audio jack on the top of the iPad is the simplest and most reliable method to do so. The advantages of using a headset microphone plugged into the audio adapter are two-fold and include:

  • Improved accuracy
  • Improved external noise rejection

Unfortunately a standard headset microphone made for use with a personal computer or portable audio device cannot be used when plugged into the audio jack on the iPad because the jack has four terminals and plugging a microphone into this jack will actually short out the microphone terminal and the iPad will continue to default to using the on-board microphone. In order to get around this, Speech Recognition Solutions is happy to offer a simple audio adapter that splits the connections within the audio jack into those needed for stereo sound out and those for the mono microphone in. Pictured on the right, this adapter will allow you to use a headset adapter for speech recognition, Skype and other internet telephony applications, and with other audio applications such as Garage Band.

Warranty: 1 Year

Price: $14.95 with volume pricing available

Learn more or purchase now

Microphones for the iPad

The following are headset microphones that we have specifically tested with the iPad and which we recommend. Keep in mind that for many or perhaps most casual users, the on-board microphone works fine. We have been very impressed with the results using the on-board mic and recommend these products only if you have the need for more intense accuracy, external noise rejection, or desire for the process to be a little more discrete. In general you can talk a bit more softly when using a headset microphone. Remember, you will need to purchase the iPad headset adapter (shown above) in order to use a headset microphone with your iPad.

Hearing is believing:

If you want to hear directly the difference in audio quality of the iPad on-board microphone versus some traditional headset microphones, click on the links below to hear some audio examples. We recommend that you play the top recording (the onboard microphone) first so you can compare it with the others. Although you will notice some differences in the "quality" of the sound, the truly monumental difference is the ability of a headset microphones, in varying degrees, to ignore external noise. The on-board microphone picks up almost everything in all directions from the iPad, while the headset microphones barely register the external noise.

  Microphone Sound File  
  iPad On-board Mic Play  
  Audio Technica 8HEmW Play  
  Andrea ANC 750 Play  
  Andrea NC 181 Play  
  Buddy DM101 Play  
  Cyber Acoustics AC101 Play  
  Sennheiser ME3 Play  
  UmeVoice theBoom "O" Play  

[A note on the production of these files: These files were recorded using either the specified headset microphone attached using our headset adapter shown above plugged into the iPad audio jack, or with the iPad on-board microphone (top recording only). All files were recorded in .caf format using the iPad app "Sound Recorder" and then transferred to a pc where they were converted to .wav files using "Switch Sound File Converter Plus". External noise, which is introduced about half way through each recording, is coming from using playing directly in front of the recording subject, at a distance of about 2 ft. and with a sound level of about 65dB as measured at the microphone element.]

Andrea NC 181:

Andrea NC181This is a "workhorse" microphone and is Andrea's replacement for the NC91. It is very cost effective and can be expected to give good results with VoIP and speech recognition applications. This basic model includes only monaural sound (only one speaker) and standard 3.5 mm connectors.

Features:

  • High Fidelity Monaural PC Headset with noise canceling microphone
  • Includes Andrea's Noise Cancellation Microphone Technology with Highest Voice Recognition Industry Rating
  • Pro-flex wire microphone boom for accurate microphone placement
  • 40mm speaker with CD quality deep base sound and large comfortable ear cushion
  • Stainless steel adjustable headband8 ft. long shielded cable
Product Compatibility

Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Mac OS*
Speech Recognition Software: Dragon (all versions), MacSpeech Dictate*, Window SR
iPad & iPhone: Yes- when used with iPhone/iPad headset adapter
Comments: *Mac use requires interfacing with a USB Sound adapter. See Accessories.

MSRP: $24.95

Learn more or purchase now


Buddy DM 101

BuddyMade of heavy duty, highly durable materials, these headsets are backed by an industry leading 2 year warranty. Featuring a top of the line, highly unidirectional microphone element, this headset has been designed from the ground up with quality in mind.

The Buddy HeadsetMic DM101 is a mono headset featuring a stainless steel headband and Teflon reinforced cables. Color-coded 3.5mm connectors makes it ideal for pairing with one of our famous Buddy USB Sound Pods for speech recognition applications.

Features:

  • Highly unidirectional microphone element
  • Stainless steel headband
  • Padded leatherette ear cushion for all day comfort
  • Teflon reinforced cables for unmatched durability
  • Includes replacement foam windscreen and foam ear pad
  • Includes microphone carrying bag

Links:

View "QuickStart Guide" from Insync

Product Compatibility

Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Mac OS*
Speech Recognition Software: Dragon (all versions), MacSpeech Dictate*, Window SR
iPad & iPhone: Yes- when used with iPhone/iPad headset adapter
Comments: *Mac use requires interfacing with a USB Sound adapter. See Accessories.

Comments: We consider this a fairly priced, "work-horse" microphone. It offers high quality performance with speech recognition software and is built to last. The warranty is excellent, but we think it unlikely you will have problems with it because it is so well built. For even better results, consider purchasing this with the Buddy 7G USB adapter with "Filtered Audio" technology for added external noise rejection and computer compatibility.

Buddy HeadsetMic DM101

MSRP: $49.99

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Cyber Acoustics AC 101

Cyber Acoustics AC-101This is a simple, highly functional microphone that works well in a variety of applications, including gaming, VoIP, and speech recognition software. We have tested it and find it to be an effective and highly cost-effective microphone for use with the iPad.

Features:

  • Noise canceling mic element
  • Mono sound
  • Adjustable headband
  • Adjustable boom arm
  • "velvet" ear pad

Specifications:

  • 3.5 mm gold plated plugs
  • Sensitivity: -62dBV/microbar, -42dBV/Pascal +/- 4dB
  • Frequency Response: headset 20 to 20,000 Hz; microphone 100 to 16,0000 Hz
  • Impedance: Headset: 32 ohms; microphone 2.2K ohm

Warranty: 1 year, manufacturer

Comments: We decided to carry this because over the years many, many customers reported excellent performance from this product. We have found it's basic accuracy to be good. It isn't as noise canceling as some of our higher performing microphones, but results are certainly good. For the money, we consider this a very functional and reliable product.

MSRP: $14.99

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Sennheiser ME3

Sennheiser ME3This is our biggest selling microphone for speech recognition users and is widely considered the best wired microphone for this purpose. Beyond being highly accurate, the ME3 is unrivaled in external noise rejection. These same qualities are in play when using this microphone with the iPad. It's expensive, but superb in it's functioning.

Learn more about the Sennheiser ME3 at our "Sennheiser Page"

Sennheiser ME3 Alone: $155

Sennheiser ME3 Combo: $195

Learn more or purchase

Recycle SymbolIf your budget is extremely tight, consider purchasing a "barely used" version of this product from our stock of returned items. Learn more ...


Audio Technica Pro 8HEmW

Audio Technica Pro 8HEmWThis is the latest addition to our headset microphone selection and is the first serious competition for the Sennheiser ME3 in our 6 years in business. Although made for use with a camcorder, this product has a number of features that make it perfect for use with speech recognition, including:

  • superb accuracy
  • unrivaled external noise rejection
  • multiple mounting methods

Our own testing of this microphone, conducted both on the bench and in the setting of a loud hospital ward has shown this to be a versatile, high performing headset. It provides excellent results when used with recognition on the iPad.

Features:

  • Hi-ENERGY® neodymium element for articulate vocal reproduction
  • Frequency response 200 - 18,000 Hz
  • Weight 2.1 oz
  • Connector: 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) mono plug
  • 55 inch cord (perfect for the laptop user; we add an additional 72 inch extension for desktop users)
  • Low-visibility headband and cushioned support pads providing a stable, comfortable fit
  • Pivot-mounted flexible mic boom descends from left or right side

Included with the purchase:

  • Audio-Technica 8HEmW microphone
  • Foam windscreens
  • 72 inch audio extension cord
  • Nylon storage bag (pictured below with combo)

Links:

Product Compatibility

Operating System: Windows XP, Windows 7, Mac OS*
Speech Recognition Software: Dragon (all versions), MacSpeech Dictate*, Window SR
iPad & iPhone: Yes- when used with iPhone/iPad headset adapter
Comments: *Mac use requires interfacing with a USB Sound adapter. See Accessories.

Comments: This is an outstanding microphone for use with speech recognition software. Its only rival is the Sennheiser ME3, which is similarly great, but this unit has a few advantages, including 1) lower price, 2) ability to use it on either side 3) ability to use it over the hear or behind the head. In our testing we have found this to be generally comparable to the ME3 in performance. We recommend using it without the foam windscreen. If you have any doubts as to the quality of your computer sound card, or if you are planning to use this microphone with a Mac, we recommend you purchase the combo shown below which includes an external USB sound adapter.

Please not that this microphone has foam-covered pieces on each and and that while these are similar in appearance to the speaker on a traditional headset microphone, these are only mounting/stabilization areas for attaching the microphone to your head. Whether you mount the microphone over the top of your head or behind your head, the mounting areas will best sit in front of and above the level of your ears, generally speaking above the area of your temple on each side. When mounting on top of your head you will notice that better balance will occur if you lean it backwards a bit (not straight up).

Audio Technica Pro 8HEmW microphone

MSRP: $159
Our Price: $129

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