Softnet Systems, Inc. Speech Recognition Specialists

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Microphones

Microphones for Dragon Naturally Speaking (and other audio applications)

Choose Your Microphone Type

There are many different microphones that work well with Dragon NaturallySpeaking. The Plantronics Audio-610 headset that comes with Professional, Medical, or Legal works OK in a quiet environment if you have a good sound card on your PC. But typically a better microphone results in better accuracy.

There is no "BEST" microphone. Your voice, how you use the microphone, your environment, and your PC are a few of the variables that determine what is a good microphone for you.

Sorry, but we can not tell which microphones you will find comfortable, as that is a personal preference, much as trying on shoes. So if you have a local Dragon or microphone reseller who will let you come and see and try various microphones, contact them and buy from them!

On the phone, we can discuss microphone alternatives and provide the microphone along with the software. Or, if you are in metropolitan Phoenix and need a microphone in a hurry, we keep a variety of top-quality microphones on hand. You can even feel them on your head before you buy if you visit us!

You'll have a tough time finding these microphones in retail stores. For more information about microphones, see our Microphone Hints.

USB Audio Adapters

The USB Audio Adapters substitute for a high-quality sound card. Some PC's have high-quality sound built-in. These are getting more common, but in our experience no more than 20% of the PC's bought commercially today have such sound cards built-in. Most persons have no idea how to tell the difference, so you may have to try your audio system with NaturallySpeaking (or any other speech recognition product) to determine if it is "good enough". The typical test is to record, then play back and listen to the sound. If it is crystal clear, better than a telephone sound, then it should work OK. OR, buy one of these USB Audio Adapters with your DNS Professional, Medical, or Legal Software and if you decide you don't need it then ship it back and we'll refund the cost of the adapter.

We carry 2 different brands, Andrea and Buddy. VXi makes good adapters too, and we'll sell you theirs if you prefer it for some reason but it may take extra shipping time. The Buddy 7G Audio Adapter has a mute switch and comes in two styles, distinguished by the length of the USB cable. It is a full-duplex Audio Adapter, so both headphone and microphone jacks go into it. It is our preferred adapter. We prefer it to the Buddy 6G USB adapter due to its better noise-filtering capabilities. The Buddy 5G model is good too,unless using the Sennheiser ME3 microphone in which case the 7G, 6G, or the Andrea adapter is required.

If you don't have the physical ability to use the mute switch that is included on the Buddy adapters, then the Andrea adapter may be preferred. But keep in mind that the mute switch can be handy during training or other sessions with someone who may be able to use the mute switch.

ItemPrice
USB Audio Adapter, Buddy 7G with Filtered Audio
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$44
ItemPrice
USB Audio Adapter, Andrea USB-MA A mic-only (no USB speaker) audio USB adapter. Mainly used with mic-only headsets such as the Sennheiser ME3 and the Audio Technica Pro 8HEMW. $33
Other USB Adapters: Andrea full-duplex, VXi full-duplex adapters. Some Sennheiser headsets come with a Sennheiser USB adapter.

Microphones for Best Accuracy

Microphone accuracy can vary based on many factors. The following are ordered based on our perceived accuracy of these microphones when used with suitable sound cards or USB Audio Adapters.

ItemPrice
Sennheiser ME3 Headset Microphone (Modified Connector for Computer Usage) PLUS Buddy 7G USB Audio Adapter with FilteredAudio
Mute switch on the Buddy 7G USB adapter, the mute switch will be next to the PC.
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$189


ItemPrice
Sennheiser ME3 Headset Microphone (Modified Connector for Computer Usage)
No Mute switch
A USB adapter such as the Buddy 7G or Andrea USB Audio Adapter or equivalent is almost always required for use with computer audio systems. The Buddy 5G USB adapter does not work with this headset.
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$159
ItemPrice
Buddy HeadsetMic 7G Headset Microphone (USB) with Programmable Buttons
3 Programmable buttons, one typically for mute and two others for keystroke or other control, USB connection
High-quality mono headset, great for Dragon NaturallySpeaking/Dragon Medical.
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$99
ItemPrice
Philips SpeechMike Premium (Push-Button) LFH3500

Includes trackball mouse functions, 12 programmable buttons, speaker
(US Sales Only)
$335

Most Portable Microphones

Many people must transport microphones, either from room to room or pack them up into laptop bags. These microphones are relatively easy to transport. The Buddy Stylus is by far the lightest of these microphones and is aimed at the Tablet-PC market.

The Philips LFH3500 SpeechMike Premium is the best of these in moderate noise environments based upon our preliminary testing in September 2012. It has many other features justifying the higher pricing, including an excellent trackball mouse and programmable buttons. It can be set so the microphone turns off when you put the microphone down and the microphone turns on when you pick it up, saving precious seconds.

ItemPrice
Philips SpeechMike Premium (Push-Button) LFH3500

Includes trackball mouse functions, 12 programmable buttons, speaker
(US Sales Only)
$335
ItemPrice
Philips SpeechMike III (Push-Button) LFH3200

Includes mouse functions, 9 programmable buttons, speaker
(US Sales Only)
$309
ItemPrice
Philips SpeechMike III (Slideswitch) LFH3215 with Philips SpeechExec Pro Dictate

Includes mouse functions, programmable buttons, speaker
(US Sales Only)
$399
ItemPrice
Insync Buddy Stylus USB microphone
Includes Tablet-PC Stylus, mute switch
For Systems supporting Wacom Stylus
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$299

Other microphones that can be easily transported include the Buddy Flamingo series of microphones and the Nuance PowerMic II. Lightweight headsets may be lighter than some of the above microphones.

The SpeechWare FlexyMike is a very lightweight ear-mounted headset that has a case and is easily transported.

Most Commonly Prescribed Microphone

For general dictation purposes, we find that the VXi TalkPro microphones are excellent headsets. Comfortable to most persons though some must bend the metal band so that it doesn't pinch the head, many models have a mute switch, and these produce clean audio in most office environments. 2-year warranty from VXi if you register it upon receipt.

ItemPrice
VXi TalkPro UC1 Headset Microphone
Mute switch
$95

If you are using a system where commands such as "Next Field" or "Show Dictation Box" are common, then a headset with programmable buttons will be more productive. To our knowledge, the Buddy HeadsetMic7G is the only microphone in this category. It combines the buttons available primarily on much more expensive microphones with a solid headset.

ItemPrice
Buddy HeadsetMic 7G Headset Microphone (USB) with Programmable Buttons
3 Programmable buttons, one typically for mute and two others for keystroke or other control, USB connection
High-quality mono headset, great for Dragon NaturallySpeaking/Dragon Medical.
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$99

Wireless Microphones

If you want a wireless microphone, beware! There are good, expensive (hundreds of dollars) ones with fixed base stations. If you are just looking for one of these, talk to one of the companies that only sells microphones as they will serve you better. Several of these work well, but all are more difficult to set up than wired microphones. There are models with fixed base stations (receivers, with antennas) which work fine and produce quality audio. If you will have multiple users, beware as some of them suffer from interference once you have multiple people in an office using these. The better ones can handle multiple users simultaneously.

Bluetooth microphones can be obtained. If you are moving a PC from place to place several times per day, the convenience of a Bluetooth microphone is attractive. (If your computer stays at the same place all the time, by all means look at conventional wireless microphones before even thinking about Bluetooth!) The best of breed of the Bluetooth microphones today seems to come from Sennheiser, in 2007 the best seemed to come from VXi, but neither is solid enough that we choose to sell it, except under the condition that YOU will deal with problems, YOU will deal with the vendor for resolving problems, etc. Some people report they work fine, so if you have a high value for being wireless, it may be fine for you. We'll advise you to order two of them so you'll have a spare while the other is being repaired. You'll have to ask us via email to supply these.

The inexpensive (under $100) Bluetooth microphones that are used for cell phones DO NOT WORK WELL FOR SPEECH RECOGNITION! That is, unless you consider 80% accuracy "well" in which case your standards are low enough that you could consider them. I've tracked Internet newsgroups every day for years waiting for someone to find such a microphone and it hasn't happened yet.

I strongly urge you to think about why you want to get rid of the wires. Are you allergic to wires? Do you just want to look cool? Do you trip on the wires? Are the wires too heavy to carry? Do you have your own audio engineer on the payroll who needs something to do? Unless you have a strong reason to go wireless, I'd advise against it. Look at it this way -- go into a recording studio and ask what wireless equipment they have. They will likely laugh and tell you that wireless is for stage/performance usage, not for usage where quality is of utmost importance.

Desktop Microphones

Late 2011/early 2012 has brought us several new desktop microphone models that work well with Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Dragon Medical. These Buddy and SpeechWare microphones add to our options for dictation.

Most are microphones that sit on a desk, ready to be used. They work best in very quiet settings. Many lawyers, doctors, and those working at home have such quiet settings. If debating between these and wireless microphones, we recommend desktop microphones as they are more reliable. All but the Buddy Gooseneck microphone have buttons for turning the microphone on/off.

The Buddy DesktopMini 7G is lightweight and can be used as a handheld microphone as well. It packs into a laptop bag easily, unlike the other desktop microphones. It has a shorter (lighter) boom than the other desktop microphones.

I am stocking the white Buddy DesktopMini microphones. Black is available on special request.

ItemPrice
Buddy DesktopMini Microphone (USB)
Mute switch on base, USB connection
Small, can be handheld easily in addition to serving as a desktop microphone. White.
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$59

The Buddy DesktopMini16 7G is different from the DesktopMini in that it has a longer boom, 16 inches instead of 9 inches. This makes it suitable for taller people as the boom reaches closer to the mouth. Only available in black, limited quanties are available for immediate delivery.

ItemPrice
Buddy DesktopMini16 Microphone (USB)
Mute switch on base, USB connection
16 inch long gooseneck, 7 inches longer than the Buddy DesktopMini. Limited supply. Picture does not show the longer boom. Gooseneck length should be mainly vertical, not horizontal as the microphone can become unstable if the gooseneck is stretched out horizontally. Two-sided tape can be used to stabilize the microphone.
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$89

The Buddy Desktop 7G is a larger (longer boom) and sturdier microphone with a heavier base that will "stay put" on a desk. As such it is better for persons who have limited use of their hands.

ItemPrice
Buddy Desktop Microphone
Mute switch on base, USB connection

This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$169

The last of the traditional desktop microphones is the SpeechWare 3-in-1. This microphone has an equalizer built-in so that your distance from the microphone element isn't as important as with most microphones. As you move away, it increases the volume to compensate. $279, I special order these when appropriate. There are closely-related models as well, a 6-in-1 and a 9-in-1 at higher prices.

The next two, the Buddy Gooseneck microphones, clamp on a desk or table. They have a longer gooseneck boom (32 inches) and are commonly used where one needs to be using the microphone while seated at a wheelchair.

ItemPrice
Buddy Gooseneck Microphone
Attaches with 2" C-clamp, typically to the edge of a desk or table.
Allow 1 week extra delivery time.
$159

Often a Buddy 7G USB adapter is used along with a Buddy Gooseneck microphone. The following model includes a Buddy 7G with a long cable.

ItemPrice
Buddy Gooseneck USB Microphone
Attaches with 2" C-clamp, typically to the edge of a desk or table
USB Connection
This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$199

Special situations sometimes demand a different clamping mechanism. While I don't stock them, Buddy Gooseneck microphones are available without the clamp in both 18" and 30" lengths. Be prepared to attach your own clamp to fit your needs.

 

Low-Cost Microphones that work well with Dragon NaturallySpeaking

Cost is often a factor. Some microphones are used in environments where they get damaged faster than normal (e.g. schools). Others are used where infection control is a factor (e.g. dentistry) so the microphones need replacement often. Whatever the reason, some need to consider cost first and get a good microphone at low cost instead of paying for a better microphone at a higher cost.

These microphones work well in quiet environments. They may be the best for the money for some applications.

If in doubt, choose the USB microphone if this is for speech recognition. If you need stereo, choose the Buddy HeadsetMic Stereo. As for the Andrea ANC-181 vs. the Buddy HeadsetMic Mono, we can not tell you which will be more comfortable. If used with a quality sound card they both work OK.

ItemPrice
Andrea NC-181VM USB headset microphone
Includes Mute switch

$44
ItemPrice
Andrea NC-181 headset microphone
No Mute switch
$29
ItemPrice
Buddy HeadsetMic Headset Microphone - Mono
Headset microphone with 3.5mm color-coded audio connectors to plug into sound card jacks.
Unidirectional, boom rotates for either left or right ear use. Includes carrying case and extra windsock. A foam earpad is included, you can put it over the leatherette earpiece if you prefer the feel of foam. 1 year warranty.
This pricing is limited to stock on hand.

This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$24
ItemPrice
Buddy HeadsetMic Headset Microphone - Stereo, DM102
Stereo (2-ear) headset microphone with 3.5mm color-coded audio connectors to plug into sound card jacks.
Unidirectional, boom rotates for either left or right ear use. Includes carrying case and extra windsock. Foam earpads are included, you can put it over the leatherette earpiece if you prefer the feel of foam. 1 year warranty.
This pricing is limited to stock on hand.

This product will not be shipped until July 31, 2014
$29

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