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Microphone Selection Guide:  Hand-Held Microphones

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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 PowerMic III

The PowerMic III is the successor of the very successful PowerMic II which historically has been our best selling hand-held microphone. The major advantage of the both the PowerMic II and PowerMic III are their high level of integration with medical versions of Dragon. In fact, when a user profile is set up with this device as the sound source, there will be a tab dedicated to programming of the buttons on the Dragon "Options" menu. No other hand-held microphone enjoys this degree of integration with Dragon. This microphone is also integrated with the newer cloud-based "Dragon Medical One".

Although functionally similar to its predecessor, the new PowerMic III has some important improvements, including:

  1. The option of purchasing it with either a 3 ft. cord (laptop users) or 9 ft. cord (desktop users) - the version listed here includes the 3 ft. cord.
  2. A newly designed mini-trackpad for cursor control which replaces the former pointer stick and which can be pushed for left-click functionality.
  3. A larger, horizontal "mic on" indicator near the top of the microphone indicating when the mic is live

If you are new to use of a hand-held USB microphone, this is a great solution for many Dragon users and preferred by most medical providers who like to avoid the constant mounting and unmounting of a headset microphone.  By virtue of the included analog to digital circuitry, this product bypasses the on-board sound card, attaches directly to an available USB port, and this greatly reduces the likelihood that speech recognition performance will be hampered by a bad on-board sound card.  The 10 programmable buttons allow you to toggle the microphone on and off, navigate forward and backwards through navigation fields, and accomplish a variety of other functions with a quick push of a key.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 90 Days

MSRP: $424

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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

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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).


  • 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:
MSRP: $349
Our Price: $249 (save $100!)

Note: we no longer carry this microphone although consider it a good product!

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.


  • 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

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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


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

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