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Microphone Selection Guide

Which speech recognition microphone is right for you?

Are you new to speech recognition software? Do you have the new Windows operating system and wonder which microphone you should use with the included speech recognition capabilities? Have you out-grown the microphone that came with your copy of Dragon NaturallySpeaking? What follows is a simple overview of commonly used microphones and accessories used with speech recognition software.


Quick Links:

Overview
Our Rating System
Quick Recommendations
Entry Level Microphones
Intermediate Level Microphones
Microphones for Advances users
Microphones for the iPad user

Hand-Held Microphones
Wireless Microphones
Desktop Microphones
Special Use Microphones
USB Adapters


Microphone Selection Guide: Overview

Some Basics on Microphones

Virtually all of the commonly used microphones employed with personal computers are termed electret microphones and operate by using a permanently electrically charged material which alters its voltage when deflected by sound waves. Generally such microphones include a very small "pre-amplifier" to boost this signal and which requires application of a small external voltage. The alteration of voltage caused by sound waves (an analog type signal) travels into your PC sound card or external sound card and is converted into a digital signal which is interpreted by your PC software. There are, in addition, a variety of microphone types based on the outward design of the microphone:

  • Wired headset microphones
  • Wireless microphones
  • Handheld microphones
  • Table-mounted microphones

USB versus Non-USB Microphones

The issue of USB vs. Non-USB is an important topic. All microphones create an analog signal which needs to be converted to a digital signal for use with your computer software. The analog to digital conversion can happen outside of your computer (with either a converting device integrated into the microphone or with an independent converting device) or with your computer's on-board sound card. There are three main advantages to using a system doing the conversion outside of your computer:

  1. The external USB Sound Adapter accomplishes the process outside of the "electrically loud" environment of your personal computer and theoretically this may improve the quality of the process.
  2. External sound adapters are specifically designed for use with pc microphones are more apt to provide the correct voltage for your microphone and provide more predictably good results
  3. The use of an external sound adapter makes it more practical to move a voice profile from one computer to another and get predictably similar results, because both the user files and sound converting device are being moved.

The bottom line is that use of an external sound conversion device (adapter) is not essential but is highly recommended. Several microphones include built in USB devices, including the VXI Talk Pro USB 100 & 200, the Andrea NC 181 an 185 VM USB mics, the Speechware 6-in-1 microphone, the Samson Q1U, the Dictaphone PowerMic II, the Philips SpeechMic, and several of the wireless microphones such as the Sennheiser DW Office and Jabra 9470. If you purchase a standard analog microphone without an integrated USB sound adapter, we recommend purchasing an external USB sound adapter and interfacing your microphone to your computer with this adapter. You can read more about these devices near the bottom of this guide.


Microphone Selection Guide:  Our Rating System

Comparing microphones is a difficult task as objective criteria for such comparisons are difficult if not impossible to develop. Further complicating matters is the likely variability of microphones based on dictation environment, user voice qualities, dictation style, and computer. What we have used to develop our rating for each microphone is admittedly somewhat subjective and is based on a series of factors, including:

  • our own experience in using these microphones*
  • feedback from customers
  • comments and evaluations posted on on-line forums
  • ratings provided by other microphone dealers**

We will provide relative rating of microphones using a scale of 1-5, shown visually as follows:

Fair Excellent


*Our true "proving ground" for the quality of a microphone is our experience on a busy and noisy hospital ward. In significantly quieter environments the differences between microphones can be expected to be somewhat less.

**Specifically, we have taken into account recommendations provided on-line by knowbrainer and emicrophones


Microphone Selection Guide:  Quick Recommendations

Want to make a quick decision on a new microphone?

For the user who doesn't want to spend the day deciding on a new product, we have distilled the last 6 years of our experience into this set of quick recommendations.  Here we provide you with our best recommendations.

Cost effective upgrade: Looking to upgrade from the microphone that came with Dragon but have a limited budget? Consider the Radio Shack Sennheiser knockoff.

Best Wired Microphone: Looking for the highest quality wired microphone? See Microphones for Advanced Users and consider any of the following:

Best Wireless Microphone: Looking for the best wireless microphone that can also be used with your wired telephone? Pick the Sennheiser DW Pro-1 or DW Pro-2 (see "Wireless Microphones"). If you absolutely need bluetooth, consider the VXI Xpress. For a high quality wireless headset microphone that works on a "plug-and-play" basis, consider the Andrea WNC 1500.

Best hand-held mic for use with Dragon:

  • If you using the medical version of Dragon and looking for the convenience of a hand-held microphone with programmable buttons? Get the Dictaphone PowerMic II (see "Handheld Microphones")
  • If you are using a non-medical version of Dragon, you can use the PowerMic II described above if you combine it with Octopus USB controller. Otherwise consider the use of Philips SpeechMike Premium (wired with USB interface) or the SpeechMike Air (wireless with base connecting via USB)

Best Desktop Microphone: Want a high quality desktop microphone without a lot of complications? Choose the Speechware 3-in-1, 6-in-1 or 9-in-1 Tablemike (see "Desktop Microphones").

Best Microphone for the Notebook User: For the mobile user that needs an easily transportable microphone that is highly accurate and noise canceling and that neither needs to be held or worn, we highly recommend the SpeechWare TravelMike.

Inexpensive Replacement: Lost the microphone that came with your product and looking for an inexpensive replacement? Check out the Cyber Acoustics AC101 or AC201.

 

Microphone Selection Guide:  Entry Level Microphones

For those new to speech recognition software, particularly the user planning to dabble with this technology but not necessarily use it regularly or in association with his/her occupation, any of the inexpensive entry level microphones should be fine. The difference in accuracy between these "low end" mics and more expensive microphone is not huge and for the cost savings, these are very effective. And after all, should you decide to upgrade, you have not made a huge investment in that first microphone. Inexpensive microphones that we recommend and carry are shown below.

Comparison of entry-level speech recognition microphones:

Microphone MSRP Accuracy Noise Cancellation Durability Warranty Overall Rating
Andrea NC 181 $24.95 1-year
Andrea NC-181 VM $29.95 1-year
Andrea NC-181VM USB $49.95 1-year
Buddy DM101 $49.99 2-year
Buddy DS102 $59.99 2-year

Cyber Acoustics AC101

$14.99 1-year
Cyber Acoustics AC201 $19.99 1-year

Andrea NC 181 and 185 Series Microphones: This is a series of microphones released by Andrea to replace its prior NC series. The 181 series has a speaker for one ear and the 185 has a speaker for each ear. Each series comes in 3 versions.

  1. A simple version with simple 3.5 mic and audio plugs (NC-181 and NC-185)
  2. A slightly fancier version with a microphone mute switch and speaker volume control (NC-181VM and NC-185VM)
  3. A higher end version which includes both the mute/volume controls and also a built in Andrea Pure Audio USB sound adapter (NC-181VM-USB and NC-185VM-USB)

For more information on the differences between the microphones in this series, please refer to the comparison table below:

 
 
Mono
Stereo
3.5 mm connectors
USB Connection
Volume & mute
Active Noise Canceling Circuitry
NC 181*
x
-
x
-
-
-
NC 181VM
x
-
x
-
x
-
NC 181 VM USB
x
-
-
x
x
-
NC 185**
-
x
x
-
-
-
NC 185VM
-
x
x
-
x
-
NC 185VM USB
-
x
-
x
x
-
ANC 700
x
-
x
-
Mute only
x
ANC 750
-
x
x
-
Mute only
x
 

This is a series solidly performing microphone series and in the years that they been around we have sold many thousands of these and virtually never get a return or call with a question. Do we consider this microphone series to be worthy of the "5 Dragons" that Nuance provides in their quality evaluation? Not really. Although the native accuracy of this microphone series is quite good, when it comes to noise cancellation (rejection of external noise) they fall short in our opinion. But they are cost-effective work-horse microphones.

The addition of the Andrea Pure Audio Adapter included with the 181VM-USB and 185VM-USB means that you will not be using your on-board sound card, but rather the included USB adapter. This provides a greater level of certainty that the microphone will be compatible with your PC and also offers the theoretical advantage of doing the analog to digital sound conversion in a more "electrically quite" environment (not inside the less "quiet" confines of your desktop or laptop). Again, this is a theoretical advantage.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 1 Year

Learn more or order an Andrea Product

Andrea NC-181
Andrea NC-181 VM
Andrea NC-181VM-USB
Andrea NC181 Andrea NC181VM Andrea NC181VM USB
Andrea NC-181
MSRP: $24.95

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Andrea NC-181VM
MSRP: $29.95

Learn more
Andrea NC-181VM-USB
$49.95

Learn More

 

Andrea NC-185
Andrea NC-185VM
Andrea NC-185VM-USB
Andrea NC-185 NC-185VM Andrea NC-185VM USB
Andrea NC-185
MSRP: $29.95

Learn More
Andrea NC-185-VM
MSRP: $34.95

Learn More
Andrea NC-185-VM USB
MSRP: $54.95

Learn More

Buddy/Insync

Insync Speech Technologies makes a series of microphones under the name "Buddy" and these are all well-constructed and solidly performing microphones. Shown below are similar microphones that are both analog (3.5 mm connectors rather than USB) and which differ only in the presence of one versus two speakers. The Buddy HeadsetMic DM101 is a single-speaker headset and the DS102 is a stereo headset. Both feature a stainless steel headband and reinforced cables. 3.5mm audio connectors makes it ideal for pairing with the Buddy 7G USB sound adapter.

Features:

  • 3.5mm audio connectors
  • Connector colors match with Buddy USB 7GTM Sound Pod and Buddy DesktopMic Pro 7GTM
  • Unidirectional microphone for noise-free voice capture
  • Designed for speech applications including dictation, transcription and VOIP
  • Shorter boom rotates 270 degrees for easy and effective positioning over either ear

Include in the box:

  • HeadsetMic DS102 or DM101
  • Replacement windsock
  • Replacement foam earpads
  • Microphones Carrying Bag
Buddy DM101
Buddy DS102
Buddy DM101 Buddy DS102
Buddy DM101
MSRP: $39.99


Learn More
Buddy DS102
MSRP: $59.99


Learn More

 


 

CyberAcoustics

Although we were reluctant to carry these microphones simply on the basis of their incredibly low cost and sense that "they couldn't possibly be good at that price", over the years we had enough customers tell us they had used these microphones and noted good performance that we had to try them out. Our thoughts? These are perfectly good microphones and for the cost, a great value. The only difference between the two models we carry is the presence of one versus two speakers. The microphone element and performance with speech recognition is identical.

Cyber Acoustics AC-101
Cyber Acoustics AC-201
Cyber Acoustics AC-101 Cyber Acoustics AC-201
CyberAcoustics AC101
MSRP: $12.99

Learn More
CyberAcoustics AC201
MSRP: $16.99

Learn More

Overall Rating:
Warranty: One year

Learn more or order


Microphone Selection Guide:  Mid-Level Microphones

If you plan to use your speech recognition software with some regularity, but aren't depending upon it at work or as you write your novel, you will likely appreciate the increase in accuracy seen with the following relatively inexpensive and higher quality microphones.

Comparison of Mid-Level Headset Microphones:

Microphone MSRP Accuracy Noise Cancellation Durability Warranty Overall Rating
Andrea ANC-700 $69.95 1 year
Andrea ANC-750 $79.95 1-Year
Radio Shack Sennheiser Knock Off $49.95 90-days
VXI TalkPro UC1 $149

2-year
VXI TalkPro UC2 $159 2-year
VXI TalkPro UC3 $155 2-year

The Andrea ANC 700 and 750 microphones are identical except that the ANC-700 is a monaural headset (speaker on just one ear) and the ANC-750 is binaural (speaker for each ear). Both employ an "active noise canceling" process to reduce the influence of ambient noise. As Andrea Electronics puts it "At the heart of the Andrea ANC technology is a pair of matched omni-directional microphone elements positioned to optimize noise cancellation and capitalize upon their directional frequency independent characteristics." Neither include a USB sound adapter. It is important to know that when used with Dragon NaturallySpeaking the signal:noise ratio may be slightly less with these microphones but this is a byproduct of the noise canceling process and is not an indication of reduced performance. To read more about the noise canceling process employed by these Andrea microphones, read Andrea Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) Microphone Technology, a white paper provided by Andrea Electronics. We consider these to be strong performing microphones and very reasonably priced. Added performance may be realized when utilizing them in conjunction with an andrea USB sound adapter rather than your PC's internal sound card.

An important thing to realize about these microphones is that they require a bit more power than most microphones, in order to drive the noise cancelation circuitry. As a result a rare on-board sound card will not provide enough power for these. If this is the case, you can use either the Andrea APS-100 power adapter to boost the voltage, or (preferably) use these microphones with any of the commonly sold external USB sound cards.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 1 year

Andrea ANC-700
Andrea ANC-750
Andrea ANC-700
MSRP: $69.95

Learn More

Andrea ANC-750
MSRP: $79.95

Learn more

 


VXI TalkPro UC Microphones

VXI released a series of microphones to replace their workhorse TalkPro USB 100 and 200 series microphones. VXI Corp. is known for creating excellent microphones for use with speech recognition and these new microphones are no exception. All three products in this series are Unified Communications (UC) ready, include USB sound cards with digital sound processing (DSP). Being Unified Communications ready means that these mics are intended for use in a variety of settings, including speech recognition, internet telephony, web conferencing, etc.

This series includes the following:

  • TalkPro UC1
  • TalkPro UC2
  • TalkPro UC3

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 2-years

VXI TalkPro UC1VXI TalkPro UC1: This is the simplest of the 3 microphones in this series, but performs identically to the others in all applications.

Features:

  • UC-ready headset with USB connection that plugs directly into a USB port on your computer for clear, natural voice conversations
  • Digital signal processing (DSP)
  • Echo cancellation
  • One-touch answer/end controls allow for quick and easy call adjustments
  • Improved noise-canceling microphone ensures your software application hears precisely what you say, free of extraneous, error-causing information
  • Flexible "stay put" microphone boom stays where put for consistent, optimal voice quality
  • Plug-and-play set-up means no drivers or software to install
  • Compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000,
  • Macintosh OS 9.1 and higher and Linux operating systems
  • 2-year warranty

VXI TalkPro UC1
MSRP: $149

Learn more



VXI TakPro UC2VXI TalkPro UC2

This microphone is similar to the UC1, but includes two speakers.

Features:

  • UC-ready headset with USB connection that plugs directly into a USB port on your computer for clear, natural voice conversations
  • Digital signal processing (DSP)
  • Echo cancellation
  • One-touch answer/end controls allow for quick and easy call adjustments
  • Improved noise-canceling microphone ensures your software application hears precisely what you say, free of extraneous, error-causing information
  • Flexible "stay put" microphone boom stays where put for consistent, optimal voice quality
  • Plug-and-play set-up means no drivers or software to install
  • Compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000,
  • Macintosh OS 9.1 and higher and Linux operating systems
  • binaural (stereo) speakers
  • 2-year warranty

VXI TalkPro UC2
MSRP: $159


Learn more


VXI TalkPro UC3VXI TalkPro UC3: This is similar in function to the TalkPro UC1, but includes 3 wearing styles as shown in the image to the right.

Features:

  • Different Wearing Styles: Over-the-head, over-the-ear, and behind-the-head wearing styles for personalized comfort
  • UC-ready headset with USB connection that plugs directly into a USB port on your computer for clear, natural voice conversations
  • Monaural over-the-head wearing style that is light enough to wear all day long
  • Digital signal processing (DSP)
  • Echo cancellation
  • One-touch answer/end controls allow for quick and easy call adjustments
  • Improved noise-canceling microphone ensures your software application hears precisely what you say, free of extraneous, error-causing information
  • Flexible "stay put" microphone boom stays where put for consistent, optimal voice quality
  • Plug-and-play set-up means no drivers or software to install
  • Compatible with Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP, 2000,
  • Macintosh OS 9.1 and higher and Linux operating systems

VXI TalkPro UC3
MSRP: $155


Learn more



Radio Shack Sennheiser Knock OffRadio Shack "Sennheiser Knock Off"

This microphone is a somewhat difficult microphone to categorize. The term "Sennheiser Knock Off" is not the Radio Shack term for the microphone, but rather a term coined within the speech recognition community because of its outward similarity to the Sennheiser ME3. This microphone has headband system virtually identical to the Sennheiser ME3 and like the ME3 does not include speakers. While it uses a different microphone element than its namesake, it enjoys surprising good accuracy and noise canceling abilities, almost, but not quite at the level of the considerably more expensive Sennheiser microphone. In our opinion, this microphone is clearly a step above the Andrea and VXI microphones in this category in terms of performance. So what's the problem with this microphone? Here are the issues:

  • The microphone boom (the flexible rod extending from the headband to which the foam covered microphone element is attached), is a bit long and not as simple to keep positioned as the Sennheiser microphone.
  • The foam cover on the microphone element attaches a bit less securely.

On the positive side, this microphone comes with a long cord and is wired ready for use with a PC and does not need to be used in conjunction with a USB sound adapter (a good idea nonetheless but a necessity with the Sennheiser ME3).

Our take on this microphone? For $49 bucks it's a steal. But if you need the performance, you're better off buy the "real thing" - the Sennheiser ME3.

Special Note: Radio shack has changed their source for this microphone. Although it still carries the same product number, it is a different microphone and does not include the high quality element the previous version carried. The version carried at this site and at Knowbrainer.com is the standard, high quality microphone. Be careful about obtaining this microphone from Radio Shack.

Overall rating:
Warranty: 90 days

Radio Shack "Sennheiser Knock-Off"
MSRP: $49.95

Learn more about the Radio Shack "Sennheiser ME3 Knockoff" ...


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Microphone Selection Guide:  Microphones for the Advanced User

For those that truly depend on speech recognition software and who have the need to absolutely minimize the presence of recognition errors, there are several microphones that we believe to be truly superior for use with speech recognition software. The difference in accuracy and sound cancellation among the microphones in this category is minimal.

Comparison of High Quality Wired Speech Recognition Headset Microphones:

Microphone MSRP Accuracy Noise Cancellation Durability Warranty Overall Rating
Sennheiser ME3 Combo $190 2-year
Audio-Technica 8HEmV $159 1-year
theBoom V4 $165 1-Year
theBoom "O" $130 1-year
theBoom "C" $165 1-year
Radio Shack Sennheiser Knock Off* $50 90-days


*The Radio Shack "Sennheiser Knock Off" is included in this comparison table since it is very close in quality to the microphones in this category.


Sennheiser ME3

The Sennheiser ME3 is our personal favorite and considered by many to be the best wired microphone for use with speech recognition software. It is highly accurate and uncanny in its ability to reject external noise.

The Sennheiser ME3 is manufactured in Germany and is made for use with their "Evolution Wireless" transmitter and primarily for stage entertainers. Because it is not made for use with PCs, it has a non-standard wiring arrangement and non-standard audio plug. We sell a specially manufactured ME3 which is made with a standard audio plug which is compatible with the USB sound adapters and plugs into standard PC microphone jacks, although it is not compatible with all sound cards. We recommend using the Sennheiser ME3 with either the Andrea USB sound adapter (our first choice) or the Buddy 6G adapter. The Sennheiser ME3 can be used with other sound adapters (Buddy 5G and VXI Two-way adapter) only when used in conjunction with an Andrea P-100 power plug adapter. Attending to the plug issues and when used with an appropriate sound adapter, this is a superb microphone which is truly the leader of the pack in terms of accuracy and ability to ignore extraneous noises.

One thing to keep in mind regarding the Sennheiser ME3 is that it does not include any speakers - it is purely a head-mounted microphone.

The Sennheiser ME3 is highly durable and has been kicking around the back of the author's backpack for nearly four years now and is still going strong! It comes with a 2-year warranty from Sennheiser.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 2-year

MSRP: $155 (mic alone)
MSRP: $195
(our complete "combo" with storage bag and USB adapter)

Learn More


Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmV

Audio Technica Pro 8HEmWLike the ME described above, this microphone was actually designed for another application - in this case use with a camcorder. But it turns out to be a superb microphone for use with speech recognition. This is a newer arrival to the speech recognition community and while we are confident that it is the rival of the ME3 in terms of accuracy and external noise rejection, we have not sold it long enough to have a good feel for such things as comfort, durability, and overall user satisfaction.

Unique features about this product include:

  • Outstanding accuracy and external noise rejection
  • Compatibility with all pc sound cards
  • Ability to mount over top of head or behind head

Please note that while the picture seems to show speakers, these are not speakers but rather foam cushioned areas for mounting to the user's head.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 1-year

MSRP: Mic Alone: $129
MSRP: Combo with mic, storage bag and USB adapter: $160

Learn More

 


Auido Technica ATH COM-1 and ATH COM-2

The most recent edition to our microphones for the advanced user, these two microphones (differing only by the presence of one versus two speakers) offer a high quality product at a very reasonable price.  Designed for hands-free computer and multimedia applications, the ATH-COM1 provides a single earpiece and the ATH-COM2 twin earpieces with 40-millimeter driver for one-ear or two-ear monitoring, along with a neodymium dynamic microphone for crisp, accurate vocal pickup. The flexible mic boom, cushioned ear pads and lightweight design provide added convenience and prolonged listening comfort. The open-back dynamic headset features a frequency response of 30 to 20,000 Hz, a sensitivity of 90 dB and a maximum input power of 50 mW.

Features:

  • Ideal for hands-free voice-activated computer and multimedia applications
  • Excellent sound quality for monitoring and speaking
  • Flexible mic boom, cushioned ear pads and overall lightness provide added convenience and comfort
  • Durable 4.9' cable with two 3.5 mm input/output mini-plugs
  • Two 1/4" (6.3 mm) phone plug adapters included

Specifications:

  Type Open-back dynamic
  Driver Diameter 40 mm
  Frequency Response 30 - 20,000 Hz
  Maximum Input Power 50 mW
  Sensitivity 91 dB
  Impedance 40 ohms
  Weight 2.5 oz (70 g)
  Cable 4.9' (1.5 m)
  Connectors Two 3.5 mm mono mini-plugs
  Accessories Included Two gold-plated 1/4" (6.3 mm) mono plug adapters
  Type (Microphone) Neodymium dynamic
  Sensitivity (Microphone) -55 dB (1.7 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa

ATH COM-1
ATH COM-2
Audio Technica ATH-COM1
Audio Technica ATH-COM2
ATH COM1
MSRP: $49.95


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ATH-COM2
MSRP: $59.95


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TheBoom "O"

theBoom "O"is a headset microphone made by UmeVoice. It is light, comfortable and enjoys accuracy and noise canceling qualities extremely similar to the Sennheiser ME3. Because it is designed for use with standard devices, there is not the requirement for use with a sound adapter, although this might be a good idea if you have uncertainties about the quality and shielding of your on-board sound card. We recommend this and other microphones by UmeVoice with any sound adapter except the Buddy 5G and Buddy 6G. In other words if you want to use this with an external sound adapter, we recommend you purchase the Andrea USB adapter or VXI 2-way adapter.

Although we consider the performance from all of the UmeVoice "theBoom" series microphones to be outstanding, they all suffer from the one weakness of being a bit fragile. Don't step on this one or run it over with your desk chair.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 1-year

MSRP: $130

Learn More


TheBoom "C"

This new headset microphone is almost identical to the "O" but includes a speaker for each ear. It offers very high accuracy and noise cancellation. Unlike the other UmeVoice microphones, this particular microphone is compatible with the Buddy 5G and 6G USB adapters, although for those wishing to use it with a USB adapter we have the most confidence in the VXI 2-way adapter for use with UmeVoice microphones in general.

We find this microphone headband to be sized somewhat on the small size, so if you have a large head, you might find it too tight. For individuals with small or medium sized heads this should not be an issue.

Although we consider the performance from all of the UmeVoice "theBoom" series microphones to be outstanding, they all suffer from the one weakness of being a bit fragile. Don't step on this one or run it over with your desk chair.

MSRP: $165

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TheBoom V4

This microphone uses the same accurate and noise canceling microphone element as the "O" model, but is ear-mounted. It is extremely lightweight and comfortable. Please see the note about compatibility with sound adapters described with the "O". We recommend the use of a VXI 2-way USB adapter and not the Andrea or Buddy adapters with this microphone.

Although we consider the performance from all of the UmeVoice "theBoom" series microphones to be outstanding, they all suffer from the one weakness of being a bit fragile. Don't step on this one or run it over with your desk chair.

MSRP: $165

Learn More


Radio Shack "Sennheiser Knock Off"

This microphone is a somewhat difficult microphone to categorize. The term "Sennheiser Knock Off" is not the Radio Shack term for the microphone, but rather a term coined within the speech recognition community because of its outward similarity to the Sennheiser ME3. This microphone has headband system virtually identical to the Sennheiser ME3 and like the ME3 does not include speakers. While it uses a different microphone element than its namesake, it enjoys surprising good accuracy and noise canceling abilities, almost, but not quite at the level of the considerably more expensive Sennheiser microphone. In our opinion, this microphone is clearly a step above the Andrea and VXI microphones in this category in terms of performance. So what's the problem with this microphone? Here are the issues:

  • The microphone boom (the flexible rod extending from the headband to which the foam covered microphone element is attached), is a bit long and not as simple to keep positioned as the Sennheiser microphone.
  • The foam cover on the microphone element attaches a bit less securely.

On the positive side, this microphone comes with a long cord and is wired ready for use with a PC and does not need to be used in conjunction with a USB sound adapter (a good idea nonetheless but a necessity with the Sennheiser ME3).

Our take on this microphone? For $49 bucks it's a steal. But if you need the performance, you're better off buy the "real thing" - the Sennheiser ME3.

Special Note: Radio shack has changed their source for this microphone. Although it still carries the same product number, it is a different microphone and does not include the high quality element the previous version carried. The version carried at this site and at Knowbrainer.com is the standard, high quality microphone. Be careful about obtaining this microphone from Radio Shack.

Overall rating:
Warranty: 90 days

Radio Shack "Sennheiser Knock-Off"
MSRP: $49.95

Learn more about the Radio Shack "Sennheiser ME3 Knockoff" ...


Microphone Selection Guide:  Microphones for the iPhone and iPad

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. 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 (volume discounts available)

Learn more ...

iPad and iPhone Compatible Microphones

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 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 headband 8 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.

Price: $24.95

Learn more ...


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

Learn more ...


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
Our Price: 12.99

Learn more ...


UmeVoice theBoom "O"

This microphone uses the identical element as the "V4" but is an "over the head" headset microphone. It shares the exquisite accuracy and noise canceling qualities of the V4 and is a clear rival for the Sennheiser ME3, although significantly lighter, potentially more comfortable than the ME3, and with the added advantage of having a speaker.

Other than the different means of attachment to your head, this microphone uses the same element and is similar to the V4 in accuracy and noise canceling abilities. Likewise, it is equipped in a manner similar to the "V4", including the 2.5 mm plug for attaching to most cell phones and a PC adapter for use with computer sound cards and USB sound adapters. The total length of the cord on this microphone when using the connectors as advised below (see the diagram with the description of the PC adapter) is about 72 inches.

This is a superb microphone and priced notably less than its only rival - the Sennheiser ME3.

Additional Information:

Comments: We consider this microphone to be of extremely high quality in terms of performance with speech recognition and equal to the accuracy and noise cancellation of the Sennheiser ME3. Advantages over the ME3 include the presence of a speaker and comfort. Disadvantages include a shorter warranty (only 1 year versus two years for the ME3) and a slight fragility. We recommend you use caution in straightening out the plastic headband as it might snap if pushed too far. This is our highest performing headset microphone when used with the iPad.

theBoom "O" Microphone with PC Adapter
MSRP: $99.99 for mic and $15 for PC Jack = $114.99

Our Price: $125

Learn more ...


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 - 8 ft. cord with standard 3.5 mm plug

Usual Price: $190
Our Price: $155

Learn more ...



Audio Technica Pro 8HE

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

Learn more ...


Microphone Selection Guide:  Hand-Held Microphones

There are currently two handheld microphone suitable for use with speech recognition software. They both provide the convenience of being hand-held and having programmable buttons.

Comparison of hand-held microphones for speech recognition

Microphone Price Accuracy Noise Cancellation Durability Warranty Overall Rating
Dictaphone PowerMic II $424 90-day
Olympus DR-1200 $349  
Philips SpeechMike Premium $335  
Philips Speechmike Air $499  
Buddy StylusMic $299.95  


Nuance/Dictaphone PowerMic II

PowerMic IIThis is an extremely high quality handheld microphone manufactured by Dictaphone and now owned by Nuance, the maker of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. This is considerably more expensive than it's rival microphone made by Philips and Olympus (see below). Is it worth the extra cost? Here are three reasons to think it might be:

  1. It appears to be slightly more accurate than the Speechmike
  2. It is notably more noise canceling than the SpeechMike
  3. It is specifically designed for integrated use with NaturallySpeaking and this integration and added functionality is expected to increase with future versions of NaturallySpeaking.

The downside? At this point there is virtually no ability to program complex scripts and assign them to keys, as is the case with the Philips microphone. When used with Dragon 10 and 11 (medical versions only), keys can be assigned to a variety of functions, including direct initiation of any inherent or user programmed command.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 90 Days

MSRP: $424

Learn more or purchase


Olympus DR-1200

Olympus DR-1200We love the the touch and feel of this microphone. Although it is described by Olympus as having 5 programmable buttons, we actually find that there are 10 buttons which can be programmed for both the Mac and PC. When using this with a PC you can configure the buttons using "Device Configuration Manager" which is downloaded from Olympus. With a Mac, you must obtain the freeware system utility called "USB Overdrive" which allows you to easily assign buttons to a variety of functions with Dragon or other programs. While we love the feel of this product and are very happy with its accuracy, we do not find the external noise rejection properties of this product to be any better than the Philips SpeechMike II (average at best) and somewhat less than what is seen with the Dictaphone PowerMic II. Although you can use the Device Configuration Manager to program functions within Dragon, integration with Dragon is not nearly as tight as it is with the PowerMic. Where this product excels is a) overall ergonomics b) a nicely functioning trackball c) ability to use this with any version of Dragon (the PowerMic II is limited to use with medical versions and d) ability to use it with an Apple computer (along with USB Overdrive to assign functions to keys in the Apple environment).

Features:

  • Large multi-functional push buttons with trackball
  • Symmetrical and ergonomic design for comfortable hold
  • USB direct dictation device
  • Symmetrical design giving optimum use for both left and right handed users
  • Directional microphone to reduce undesired background noises
  • Engineered to work best with Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition software
  • Powerful integrated speaker for clear playback

Overall Rating:
Warranty:
MSRP: $349
Our Price: $249 (save $100!)


Philips SpeechMike Air (LFH 3000)

SpeechMike Air The Philips SpeechMike Air is a high quality handheld wireless microphone that comes in 3 varieties, depending upon your dictation workflow. All three share some great features: high quality performance, wireless convenience, and a sense of extreme quality as it sits in your hand. Our only complaint about this microphone and one which is shared with its wired version, is a relatively poor external noise rejection. It will pick up background noise fairly easily and this may impact your performance with speech recognition software if significant.

Features:

  • Superb recording quality optimized for speech recognition
  • Trackball for navigation through documents
  • Recording control with 4-position slide switch or push button version
  • High-end front speaker for crystal clear playback
  • 3 function buttons for individual configuration
  • Up to 7 hours of recording time on a single charge (2.45 hours for full charge)

Overall Rating:
Price: $499

Learn more or purchase


Philips SpeechMike Premium (LFH 3500)

Philips SpeechMike PremiumThis is the newest entry to the hand-held USB microphone market and huge leap in technology by Philips. Made for the demanding workflows and requirement of the professional , this produc combines the best of design, ergonoimics, and functionalityt. Unique to this microphone is a suspened electret condenser microphone element which is "decoupled" from the housing to offer both unpressidented accuracy, but also immunity from background noise, touch, and click noises.

Microphone Characteristics

  • Type: electret condenser
  • Capsule: 10 mm
  • Characteristics: uni-directional
  • Frequency Response: 200-12,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -37 dBV
  • Signal to noise ratio: > 70

Connectivity: USB 2.0

System Requirements:

  • Processor: intel Pentium 4, 1.0 GHz or equivalent
  • RAM: 1 GB (2 GB recommended)
  • Hard Disk Space: 250 MB hard-drive disk space for Microsoft.Net Framework, 30 MB for SpeechControl Software
  • Operating System: Windows 7 (32/64-bit), Vista, XP (32-bit), Mac OS X 10.7/10.8

Physical Characteristics:

  • Dimensions: 45 x 175 x 32 mm (1.8 x 6.9 . 1.25 inch)
  • Weight: 7.1 oz
  • Cable Length: 8.2 ft.

Included in Box:

  • SpeechMike Premium USB dictation Microphone
  • USB cable
  • Microphone holder
  • CD-ROM with software and user manual
  • Quick Start Guide

Downloads/Links:

Comments: For the user preferring to hold rather than wear a microphone, this is an excellent product and may be the most accurate hand-held microphone on the market. If we have any complaint about this product it is the need to use and understand a separate software package (SpeechControl Application) in order to integrate the buttons with Dragon. Unique to this product is the application control software for use with a Mac computer and the "suspended" microphone element that reduces its susceptibility to external noise.

Price: $335

Learn more or purchase


Microphone Selection Guide:  Wireless Microphones

Although all of the wireless microphones are high-performing and are discussed in the section above on microphones for the advanced user, we separately review them here to provide further comparative information for those contemplating purchase of a wireless microphone.

Comparison of Wireless Microphones

Price
Performance
Comfort
Stability
Talk Time
Range
Warranty
Accuracy
Noise Cancellation
Sennheiser DW Pro-1 $379
12 hr
180 m
2-years
Sennheiser DW Pro-2 NA
12 hr
180 m
2-years
Sennhseisr SD Pro-1 $349.95
12 hr
180 m
 
Sennheiser SD Pro-2 $369.95
12 hr
180 m
 
Andrea WNC-1500 $99.95
8 hr
30 ft
1-year
VXI Xpress  
    2-years
VXI Voxstar                
Samson Airline Micro  
10 hr
  2-years
Samson Airline Micro Camera $299.99
No mic
No mic
NA
NA
     
Samson Airline 77  
14 hr
2-years
Plantronics CS50-USB  
8 hr
200 ft
1-year
Plantronics CS530  
     
350 ft.
 
Revolabs Xtag  
8 hr
60 ft
90-days

Comfort: This parameter is obviously extremely subjective and variable from user to user. In general we weight headsets with typical over-the-head mounting arrangements a bit higher than ear mounting (BW900) given that most users are accustomed to the feel of a typical over-the-head arrangement.

Stability: This refers to the tendency of this microphone to remain in place in reference to the user's mouth during movement of head and potentially when assuming a supine (laying on back) position

Price: Prices represent current prices for the microphone, with basic additional hardware if required (both the Plantronics CS55 and Sennheiser BW900 require the GN Netcom rocker switch in order to work with a PC and prices include this). With the exception of the VXI and Revolabs mics, all of these microphones work best when used with an external USB sound adapter. The cost of this is not included in the prices listed above.

*The VXI Xpressway does not come with a base station and must be used with a Bluetooth equipped device or pc.


Sennheiser SD Pro-1 and SD Pro-2

This is the newest wireless offerring from Sennheiser and is the evolution of the previous DW Pro- series but with a different outer form. Functionally this system provides the same excellent results, whether using it with your computer with speech recognition, or with your corded phone.

Features:

  • Iconic design– crafted for best comfort
  • Single speaker (SD Pro-1) and dual speaker (SD Pro-2) versions
  • Sennheiser HD voice clarity – wideband sound for natural listening experiences
  • High comfort wearing styles - perfect adjustment to your ear for a full day wearing comfort
  • Ultra noise-canceling microphone filters out unwanted background noise
  • One touch on the base station to select the channel you wish to call from -between desk phone and softphone
  • Pairing for desk sharing and phone conferences – intuitive and easy to set up
  • Microphone mute and volume up and down – intuitive user interface
  • Full workday talk time – 8 hours in wideband sound mode and 12 hours in narrowband sound mode
  • Re-charge 50% of your battery in 20 minutes – intelligent fast charging
  • Long distance wireless range – in typical office building: up to 180 ft and in line of sight: up to 590 ft
  • ActiveGard™ technology – protects your hearing against acoustic shock
  • DECT for US: DECT 6.0 (1.920 to 1.930 MHz)
  Sennheiser SD Pro-1   Sennheiser SD Pro-2  
  Sennheiser SD Pro-1   Sennheiser SD Pro-2  
         
  MSRP $349.95

Learn more
  MSRP $369.95

Learn more

 

 


Sennheiser DW Pro-1 and DW Pro-2

Sennheiser DW Pro-2It's been a long time since we've been as impressed with a product. Until now we have considered the Sennheiser BW900 the best wireless microphone for use with Dragon. While we loved the convenience of the Sennheiser DW Office, which allowed seamless movement from the phone to PC, we never felt the speech recognition accuracy nor external noise rejection was quite at the level of the BW 900. Now things have changed.

For any user wishing to go wireless, either for VoIP or speech recognition, and especially for the user wishing to use the same set-up for wired telephone use, this is the perfect product. This DW Pro has all the features of the DW Office and betters the quality of the BW900. It is, in our opinion, an amazing product.

Features:

  • Ability to move back and forth between a wired telephone and personal computer with a single button push
  • Outstanding accuracy and external noise rejection with speech recognition software
  • Integrated USB sound adapter for use with a pc
  • Sennheiser HD Voice Clarity – Wideband sound for a more natural experience
  • Protected hearing – ActiveGard™ technology protects against an acoustic shock and sudden sound surges
  • Total charging time from 0% to 100% - one hour! 50% charge in just 20 min.
  • Talk time: 12 hours in "narrow band" mode and 8 hours in "wideband" mode
  • Standby time: 4 days
  • Range: 180 m in range of sight; 55 m in office buildings
  • Microphone type: electret, ultra noise canceling

Included in the box:

  • Base station and headset
  • AC adapter
  • Modular cord for attachment to telephone
  • USB cord for connection to personal computer
  • Quick Guide (Quick start-up guide)
  • CD with full User Manual and "HeadSetup" software (for communicating with a variety of softphones)

Links:

  Sennheiser DW Pro-1   Sennheiser DW Pro-2  
  Sennheiser DW Pro-1   Sennheiser DW Pro-2  
         
  MSRP: $379

Learn more

  MSRP:

Current out of Production and not in stock

 

Learn more or order


Andrea WNC-1500 Wireless Headset Microphone

Andrea WNC-1500The dream of a high quality and comfortable wireless headset microphone for Dragon users has finally come true.  This recent offering by Andrea Electronics, a pioneer in the manufacture of products for speech recognition users, will be welcome news to the serious user needing to be untethered and hands-free while dictating. 


From Andrea:  “Andrea Electronics has combined the benefits of a Wireless headset with our PureAudio USB digital audio which includes Andrea’s complete PureAudio™ Voice Solutions software Suite (including Audio Commander, Voice Center and Pure Audio Technology). The WNC-1500 wireless noise canceling computer headset delivers a high fidelity audio enhancement, noise reduction and EQ with an excellent 5 Dragon voice recognition rating awarded by Nuance.
Andrea’s Pure Audio Wireless USB Soundcard solution bypasses your desktop or laptop computer’s integrated sound system, providing increased intelligibility and performance of microphone input and stereo speaker output for all of your digital audio applications including VoIP and speech recognition programs on your Mac or PC.”

Features:

  • Wireless computer headset with noise canceling microphone and digital audio enhancement software
  • Uses Andrea’s noise cancellation microphone technology for exceptional speech recognition performance
  • Pro-flex wire microphone boom for accurate and stable microphone placement
  • Windscreen to minimize breath-related “popping”
  • Hi fidelity 40 mm speaker drivers with acoustic bass enhancement
  • Wireless USB soundcard with digital sample rates for high definition audio
  • PureAudio digital noise reduction for enhancing both the microphone and speaker communications
  • Folds flat for storage (see images)
  • Includes carrying case for protection while on the go
  • Headset can transmit and receive continuously for up to 8 hours and can also be used when recharging
  • 30 ft. maximum operating distance

Links:

Specification Sheet from Andrea

Included in the box:

  • WNC-1500 headset
  • Wireless USB sound card
  • Carrying case
  • Recharging cable

Comments:  We consider this an excellent product for the Dragon or Windows Speech Recognition user needing to go wireless.  The microphone is not particularly hot, so we recommend placing the mic element between ¼ and ½ inch from your mouth.  In terms of functionality this product is similar to the Logitech H600 although the dongle full sized, rather the “nano” dongle that comes with the Logitech mic.  It is built and packaged in a more quality manner than the H600, although is a bit more expensive.  If you don’t mind the extra $30 bucks, we recommend this mic, but if you go with the Logitech mic you will also be getting a well functioning wireless headset microphone.


MSRP: $99.95

Learn more or purchase


BlueParrot Xpress/Xpressway II

VXI XpressThe VXI BlueParrott Xpress is the latest product from the company that has been on the forefront of speech recognition micropones for more than a decade. If you need the best quality and don't need to connect to your wired telephone, this is the product we recommend.

Features:

  • Xtreme Noise Suppression, together with wind suppression technology eliminates background noise from any source (the Xpress eliminates 94% of all background noise).
  • Wideband audio sounds clear and natural, for better communication and fewer misheard words.
  • A2DP to use with GPS, music players, laptops and other Bluetooth-enabled devices.
  • Multipoint pairing lets you use both your work and personal cell phones or connect to a Bluetooth-enabled PC.
  • Over 7 hours of talk time on a single charge means the BlueParrott Xpress is ready when you are.
  • 128-bit data encryption keeps your calls secure.
  • Wireless range of up to 66 feet gives you twice the wireless freedom of most other Bluetooth devices.
  • One-touch multifunction button controls on/off, call answer/end and pairing.
  • Voice prompts mean no more wondering what the coded “beeps” mean.
  • One-year warranty.

VXI XpressIncluded Items:

  • BlueParrott Xpress Wireless Headset
  • Ear Hook Wearing Style
  • Round Ear Tips
  • USB Cord
  • Auto DC Charger
  • User Guide (not shown)

More Details:

VXI BlueParrot Xpress Microphone

MSRP: $99

Learn more or purchase


VXI Voxstar Wireless Bluetooth Microphone (with BlueTooth Dongle)

Coming soon ...


Jabra 9470

Jabra 9470This is a relatively new addition to the Jabra line-up and is the first offering by Jabra that we consider to be serious competition for our favorite wireless microphones made by Sennheiser. Unique to this set-up is:

  1. Three available interfaces: Computer (for softphone or voice recognition), wired telephone, and Bluetooth cell phone
  2. Three wearing styles
  3. Color touchscreen
  4. Extremely long range

Features:

  • Touch screen& touch sensors for easy call control
  • Triple Multiuse connectivity: desk phone, softphone and mobile phone
  • Easy installation with SmartSetup wizard
  • Superior sound and Noise Blackout™
  • Choice of 3 wearing styles for greater comfort
  • Up to 450-foot wireless range
  • Future-proof investment through feature upgrades via Jabra PC Suite

Additional Information and Links:

Comments: No system is perfect and this system has its minor issues, but we feel that this is the best "all-in-one" system for the busy professional that wants a single system for use with the telephone, computer, and cell phone. We consider this somewhat similar to the Sennheiser DW Office, but with notably better external noise rejection. In fact, what we most love about this system is the extremely high quality performance with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. Be aware that the Bluetooth interface with your cellphone involves pairing your phone with the base station and not the actual headset. Although we love the look of the color touch screen, in some respects we also appreciate the simplicity of simple button pushes and the touch screen can actually be a bit distracting. Wonderful about this system is the way that instructions provided through the touchscreen walk you through the set-up with your pc, wired telephone and cell phone. Any way you look at it, though, we think this system provides superb performance and we highly recommend it. It has replaced the Sennheiser DW Office on our own desk.

If you need a headset lifter, consider purchasing the GN 1000 lifter shown below.

Overall Rating: rating
Warranty: 1 year

Price: $399

Learn more or order


Revolabs Xtag

Revolabs XtagThis unique device is revolutionizing the way we use microphones. It is a wireless microphone which communicates with a small base station which connects with and draws it's power from your PC or Mac computer using an available USB port. The microphone itself measures only 2.5 inches x 0.9 inch and weighs only 0.05 lb (less than one once). It has a range of 20 meters, and uses a rechargeable lithium polymer battery with an 8 hour talk time. The big advantage of this microphone is extreme comfort - you will forget you are wearing it - and a surprising high level of accuracy. The only disadvantage (other than price!) is the relative lack of noise cancellation resulting from its positioning relatively distant from your mouth. This is an outstanding microphone to use in a quiet environment but will provide disappointing results in settings with anything other than mild background noise.

Overall rating:
Warranty: 90 days

Price: $224

Learn more or order


Samson Airline Micro

Samson Airline MicroWe continue to test this unit, but our preliminary impressions are very favorable. It is amazingly small and lightweight and yet attaches so securely that use by a fitness instructor is entirely feasible. On the other hand it seems to have the accuracy to allow practical use with speech recognition software. We have not yet formally evaluated the external noise rejection qualities of this microphone, but in preliminary testing it seems to do fine and was minimally affected by our babbling 8-year old son, a fairly loud air conditioner and other household noises. The external noise rejection is clearly well above average.

We recommend using this device with a monaural USB adapter such as the Andrea USB adapter since it does not have sound out capabilities. This product is packaged for use with professional sound equipment and not a personal computer. The audio output cord has a 1/4 inch plug. We recommend that you purchase a double male stereo 1/8 inch cord if you plan to use this with a pc. We list both the USB adapter and 1/8 inch double male cord below.

Overall Rating: rating
MSRP: $359.99
Price: $ $249.99

Learn more


Samson Airline Micro - Camera Edition

Samson Airline Micro - CameraIf you don't depend upon headset speakers and want to convert any microphone into a convenient wireless microphone, this is the perfect solution. Although made for use with a video camera and bundled with a simple lavalier microphone, there is nothing about this unit that prevents it from being the ideal means of making your favorite speech recognition microphone a wireless microphone. The transmitter features a standard 3.5 mm (1/8 inch) jack which will accomodate any wired microphone with a 3.5 mm microphone plug. Although the transmitter is equipped with a removeable belt clip, it is so small that it can easily fit in a breast or coat pocket (the transmitter weighs just 1.5 oz and is 1/2 inch thick). Unique to this system is the ability to choose one of two transmitter output strengths and the ability to export the signal from the receiver at either mic- or line-level.

AirLine Micro Camera Wireless System

  • Wireless system with micro-sized AL2 transmitter, AR2 receiver and double dock
  • Tone squelch and auto mute for clear operation
  • Includes a system carry case, hot shoe mount, 3.5mm and XLR camera connectors, AC adapter and charging cables
  • Working range 300m (100 ft.) - in line of sight.

AL2 Transmitter

  • Beltpack transmitter and LM10 omnidirectional lavalier microphone
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (7-8 hours of operation)
  • USB DC input for recharging
  • Single button operation for power, mute and volume
  • Multi-color LED displaying RF, low battery and power

AR2 Receiver

  • Low-profile wireless receiver (2.36” x 1.67” x .51”)
  • Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (7-8 hours of operation)
  • USB DC input for power and recharging
  • 3.5mm balanced mic/line level output
  • Multi-color LED displaying RF, low battery and power

Price: $299.99

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Airline 77

Samson Airline 77 Wireless Microphone

This is a unique and highly accurate wireless microphone that provides the best accuracy in the wireless category. It does not include speakers and the transmitter sits on the back of the microphone, essentially near the base of your skull. This includes a good sized transmitter which, in turn, is connected to your PC with a supplied cable. The advantage of this microphone is the freedom from wires and the high accuracy. The disadvantages include 1) It requires daily replacement (or recharging) of the AAA battery in the head-worn transmitter and 2) it is a bit rigid and not the most comfortable microphone we have tried.

This system comes in two version:

  • The QV10e or "vocal" version which is best for users of speech recogntion
  • The Qe or "fitness" version which has a more moisture-proff microphone element and which is intended for fitness instructors and similar users

Overall rating: rating
Warranty: 2 years
Cost (with needed cable for PC):

Vocal Version: $299.99
Fitness Version: $349.99

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Plantronics CS50-USBPlantronics CS50-USB

This is a comfortable, ear-mounted, wireless microphone which communicates with a base unit which, in turn, is attached to your computer via an available USB port. Although we were skeptical that this microphone would perform so well, it is truly outstanding in both noise cancellation and overall accuracy. The main advantage of this microphone over its rival, the Sennheiser ME3, is the freedom of the wireless connection. It has a 200 ft range and the battery lasts a full 8 hours. The disadvantage, if any, is that it attaches to the ear and based on your ear shape, it may or may not be comfortable. It includes a variety of different ear-pieces and the option of using it as a typical over-the-head headset microphone (follow some of the links below to see options). The battery in the mic unit charges when in the base unit which in turn receives it power either via the USB connection or the supplied AC adapter. Overall, we find this to be an extremely good, albeit pricey, microphone.

Overall rating:
Warranty: 1-year
Cost: $239.95

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Plantronics CS530

Plantronics CS530This is the latest addition to our line of Plantronics wireless microphones and the replacement for our old favorite, the CS70N. This wireless product uses DECT frequency, and features an ear mounted headset that weighs only 29 gm, so it is ideal for all day use. With optional connecting devices, this microphone can interface directly with your personal computer and performs extremely well with speech recognition software.

Features:

  • Range up to 350 feet away for maximum mobility
  • Premium wideband audio quality
  • One-touch call answer/end, vol +/-, and mute
  • Adaptive power management system optimizes for range and talk time
  • Conference in up to three additional CS500 or Savi headsets for enhanced collaboration
  • Guest headsets can subscribe to a base by simply docking the headset
  • Use with Electronic Hook Switch Cable or Handset Lifter to remotely answer/end calls
  • Use with a PC using the Sennheiser Modular to PC adapter, the Zoom Switch USB or the Zoom switch analog

More Information:

Plantronics CS530

MSRP: $329
Our Price: $224

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Microphone Selection Guide:  Desktop Microphones

Some users would prefer to avoid wearing or holding a microphone. For some users with disabilities, particularly with problems related to use of your hands the concept of a desktop microphone works quite well. In general these microphones work well, although they share the susceptibility of accuracy falling off as your distance and angle of approach to the microphone vary.

Overview of Desktop Microphones

  Price Accuracy Noise Rejection Boom Length (Inches) Working Range (Inches) Integrated Speakers

Accessory
Mic Jack

Programmable Button
SpeechWare 3-in-1 $279 16* 10-20 No Yes No
SpeechWare 6-in-1 $329 18* 10-20 Yes Yes No
SpeechWare 9-in-1 $379 16-24 10-20 Yes Yes Yes
Audix USB 12 $149              
Buddy Desktop 7G with filtered audio $179.99   3-4 No No Yes
Buddy Desktop Mini $69.95   3-4 No No Yes
Samson Q1U with balanced spring arm $134.99 36 2-12 No No No

*The telescoping 16-24 inch boom which is standard on the SpeechWare 9-in-1 can be purchased separately as an option for the 3-in-1 and 6-in-1 (booms are interchangeable).

SpeechWare 3-in-1 TableMike (TK03)

TableMike 3-in-1This "second generation" TableMike from SpeechWare is the result of more than a year of the best Belgian engineering and input from a number of experienced speech recognition users/resellers including Chuck Runquist, Larry Allen, Lunis Orcutt and Speech Recognition Solutions. While the first generation product was good and clearly on par with other table-mounted microphones, the subsequently released "second generation" 3-in-1 is proving to be nothing less than extraordinary.

Unique to this product is an auto-gain or "equalizer" function in the microphone input volume which will automatically increase the gain as you move further away from the microphone element and allow a workable distance between 10 and 20 inches. Also unique is a digital signal processing built into the circuit board which does an extraordinary job removing external noise. The result is a microphone with a high level of accuracy over a great variation of distances and relative immunity to external noise. In our opinion this is the best table mounted microphone for speech recognition users, unless you need the features contained in the 6-in-1 or 9-in-1 microphone (these offer the same quality with speech recognition software, but other helpful features).

Like the other microphones in the TableMike series, this microphone can be used in one of three modes:

  • Speech Red mode (auto gain employed; maximal noise cancellation; working range 10-20 inches; speaker not operational in this mode)
  • Normal mode (most realistic sound and noise rejection but auto-gain not operational and working range 2-4 inches; speaker operational in this mode)
  • Accessory microphone mode (a separate headset microphone of user's choice can be plugged into microphone jack)

Overall Rating:

MSRP: $279

Learn More


SpeechWare 6-in-1 TableMike (Tk06)
TableMike 6-in-1

 

This microphone has undergone re-design with the best Belgian engineering and is currently in production in Taiwan. It uses the same microphone element and circuit board as the 3-in-1, so i5 provides identical performance with speech recognition software.

Features this microphone has over the 3-in-1 TableMike are the following:

  • a longer boom (18 inches)
  • integrated speaker with volume controls
  • a jack for integration with an optional foot pedal
  • an accessory USB jack

 

Overall Rating:

MSRP: $329

Learn More

 


SpeechWare 9-in-1 TableMike (TK09)

SpeechWare 9-in-1 TableMikeThis is the "grande" of the SpeechWare TableMike series. It uses the same microphone capsule and circuit board as the other members of this series, so it will exhibit the exact same accuracy, noise cancellation, and working range. Unique to this product is a number of additional features, including:

  • A unique telescoping boom which can vary from 16 to 24 inches
  • Two accessory USB ports
  • An integrated SD/SDHC/MMC/MS/MSPro/MSPro-HG card reader
  • A programmable button which can be used to control other applications

Like the 6-in-1, this product includes a built in speaker, and foot pedal jack to use with an optional foot pedal to control the microphone's on/off functionality. Like the other members of this series, the 9-in-1 includes an accessory microphone jack and a sound out jack. This microphone truly has it all!

Overall Rating:


MSRP: $379

Learn more

 


Audix USB12 Desktop Microphone

Audix USB12The Audix USB 12 is a plug and play desktop USB microphone. The Audix USB-12 records in high definition with a 16 bit sample resolution and supports 44.1k and 48k sample rates for both playback and recording.

The Audix USB12 features a push-to-talk button with the option of ‘steady on’ or ‘momentary on’ as well as a headphone jack for real time monitoring and a bass roll-off filter to control unwanted low frequency signals. The Gooseneck is 11".

The USB 12 is perfect for Speech Recognition with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, podcasting, Skype or other VoIP and chat programs. We find that the Audix USB12 has moderate noise canceling and performs as well as the higher priced Buddy Desktop microphones.

Features:

  • Flexible gooseneck design
  • Records directly into computer via USB port
  • Studio quality sound
  • “Plug and play”
  • Mac and PC compatible
  • 16 bit sample resolution
  • Supports 44.1k and 48k sample rates
  • 12 mm high resolution condenser capsule
  • Push to Talk-- ‘steady on’ or ‘momentary on’
  • Bass roll-off filter
  • Headphone jack for real time monitoring

 

MSRP: $149

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Buddy USB Desktop Microphone

Buddy Desktop MicrophoneThis is a considerably better desktop microphone than the inexpensive ones seen in electronics stores. We don't consider this to have the accuracy of our better headset microphones, and falls short of the Speechware microphone shown above. It is, however, considerably less expensive than the Speechware microphone and it is notably better than the average desktop microphone sold at your local Best Buy. For those seeking a reasonably priced microphone and needing to keep their hands and heads free, this is an excellent choice.

Important features include the following:

  • USB plug-and-play microphone
  • Built-in noise-canceling microphone designed for speech applications like dictation and transcription
  • Includes FilteredAudio™ technology for highly effective mechanical noise cancellation (Selected Models)
  • Configurable microphone buttons:
    Push-To-Talk to hear sound only when button is held or set for mute toggle
  • Direct control of the microphone On/Off function in Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • One programmable button simulates keyboard or mouse input for repetitive tasks or to insert text.
  • Once programmed, Buddy DesktopMic 7G retains its configuration
  • Free MyBuddyMic™ software download allows you to customize advanced tasks to control Microsoft Speech and Dragon NaturallySpeaking
  • No need for additional drivers -- MyBuddyMic is optional for most normal operations

Overall Rating:
MSRP: 179.99

Learn More


Buddy DesktopMini

Buddy DeskTopMiniThis is a new offerring from InSync Speech Technology and is a simple, very nicely functioning desktop microphone with Filtered Audio technology (to filter out system noise). It is small enough to be easily lifted with your hand and used as a hand-held microphone if you prefer.

Features:

  • High quality, unidirectional microphone
  • Flexible 9 inch gooseneck for easy positioning
  • USB plug& play interface
  • Portable hands-free solution
  • FilteredAudio technology for the ability to record in deafening noise conditions
  • Built-in state of the art sound card for crystal clear voice capture
  • Fully programmable button can simulate keyboard, mouse or Dragon voice commands
  • Cross compatibility means you can use this mic across multiple USB devices
  • Quality materials means this microphone is built to last
  • Backed by a 1 year manufacturer's warranty

Comments: This is a surprisingly good microphone for it's cost. Many users find it convenient to hold in their hand and use it as a hand-held microphone.

MSRP: $69.95

Learn More


Samson Q1U - Balanced Spring Arm Combination

Samson Q1U with Spring ArmAlthough we have this listed last, in many respects this is our most highly recommended desk mounted microphone. The combination includes an extremely high quality hand-held microphone with a USB interface and a mounting mechanism which allows attachment to a distant site on your desk or work surface.

In terms of quality, this is an outstanding microphone. It provides excellent accuracy and extremely high level of external noise rejection. Unique to this set-up is the ability to use the microphone when positioned as far as 12-14 inches from your mouth (we recommend doing the training and sound set-up with the microphone just a few inches from the mouth, but thereafter it can be successfully positioned much farther away during actual use.

Overall Rating:

MSRP: $134.99 (stand and Mic)

Learn More ...

 

 


Microphone Selection Guide:  Special Use Products

If you have a physical disability or other challenges and your computer is an essential tool that you can't compromise, you may be particularly sensitive to issues of attachment site, comfort, and connectivity. You may find some of the following characteristics important when you choose a microphone:

  • The Sennheiser ME3 attaches fairly rigidly to your head. While this results in a very secure attachment and little likelihood of the microphone element moving away from its proper position, some users find it to be slightly stiff and uncomfortable. Another potential disadvantage of the ME3 is that it does not include speakers, so if you're using it for a telephone substitute, recognize that the sounds will be coming from your PC speaker and not the headset. The Sennheiser ME3 is, however, the leader in terms of accuracy and highly durable.
  • The UmeVoice theBoom V4 is highly accurate, lightweight, and comfortable. It takes a bit of manipulation to get it attached properly to your ear, but once in position is secure.
  • The Plantronics CS50-USB has many great features, including excellent accuracy, a wireless connection, and the ability to mount it to your head in a variety of ways. It comes with several different ear mounting schemes and also a traditional "over the head" headset attachment system. As an ear mounted microphone we don't consider it quite as comfortable as the theBoom V4, but the lack of wires is a definite plus!
  • The Plantronics CS55 Hybrid microphone is unique in being compatible with both a personal computer and telephone. Like the CS50-USB, it allow multiple means of attachment.
  • The Revolabs Xtag is the most comfortable microphone we sell and is the only one that does not actually attach to the head. Rather, it sits either in a breast pocket or hangs from a lightweight lanyard which goes around your neck.

For more information, we suggest you visit some of the following sites:


Microphone Selection Guide:  USB Adapters

External Sound Cards:

Traditionally, a PC mic is plugged into the microphone input jack on a computer and the analog signal is sent to the computer sound card where it is converted to a digital signal and then used by your software. On some computers, particularly laptops where the sound conversion circuitry is typically integrated directly onto the motherboard, it is thought that other electrical devices in close proximity of the sound conversion circuitry may lead to interference and degradation of the signal and reduction in accuracy. An external sound adapter accomplishes the analog to digital conversion outside of the computer and imports the signal via an available USB port.

The need for an external sound card is variable and depends upon your equipment, the quality of your PC's sound conversion device (sound card) and the extent of shielding within your PC. In most instances a good sound card will serve you fine and you needn't consider an external device. There are a few exceptions.

First, if you are using a Sennheiser ME3, you are using a microphone that was wired for a different purpose and only a few sound cards can deal with the unusual wiring pattern. We know of only one external sound card which will reliably deal with the unusual wiring of the Sennheiser ME - this is the Andrea USB sound adapter.

The second situation in which an external sound adapter should be considered is if you are not using one and don't feel you are getting the accuracy which would otherwise be expected with your selection of equipment.

When considering an external sound adapter, also consider whether you need a full duplex (sound going in and out) or a monoplex device that simply needs to input your microphone signal into the PC. As an example, if you are using a headset that includes only a microphone (such as the Sennheiser ME3 or Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmV) you are better off with a monoplex adapter such as the Andrea USB adapter which will port sound in via the USB adapter, but leave sound out in the hands of the on-board sound card.

These are the external sound adapter we carry and recommend:

 
Duplex Usage?
Auto-gain
Choice of Normal and Long Range Modes
MSRP
 
Andrea Pure Audio Sound Adapter (SA Version)
Yes
No
No
$49.95
Learn More
Andrea Pure Audio Sound Adapter (MA Version)
No
No
No
$39.95
Learn More
Buddy 7G USB Adapter
Yes
No
No
$75.00
Learn more
SpeechWare MultiAdapter
Yes
Yes
Yes
$139
Learn more


Caveats:

1. The two versions of the Andrea Pure Audio USB sound adapter are extremely similar except that the SA version is duplex (handles sound in and sound out) and the MA version is monoplex and handles only sound in to your computer. They both perform well with speech recognition microphones. The MA version should only be considered if you are using it with a headset or other microphone that does not include speakers, including the Sennheiser ME3, the Audio Technica mics shown on our site, and for use with hand-held microphones such as the Samson Q7, Sennheiser MD431, and the Audix OM2.

2. The 7G is a well performing USB adapter and is an old favorite.

3. The SpeechWare "SpeechMatic MultiAdapter" is the newest USB adapter and is unique in several ways, including employing auto-gain technology (automatically adjusts microphone input volume as the sound changes volume) and also offers the choice of a normal and long-range mode. In the long-range mode it allows much greater distance from any attached microphone and employs a high degree of external noise rejection. Is it worth the fairly high cost? For most users we we say no. But if you are truly striving for perfection in speech recognition accuracy and have no financial constraints, this is the one to choose.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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