KnowBrainer Speech Recognition
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Topic Title: Microphone recommendations/assistance
Topic Summary: Pro audio upgrade
Created On: 07/05/2014 02:39 AM
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 07/06/2014 06:08 PM
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Donald Clements
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What forum might that be? Also, I would not consider this topic foolish.  I have outlined repeatedly that my purpose isn't to upgrade to prosumer grade audio for Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but rather to ensure that any equipment I get for other purposes also works with it. Is there something wrong with that that I am unaware of? One could say that in this instance I am focused more on the compatibility issues and people’s personal experiences with the devices I have been looking at.

 

Do you happen to have an english translation of the following btw?

http://dragon-spracherkennung.forumprofi.de/forum8-wie-mache-ich-das.html



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“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”  Albert Einstein

 07/07/2014 11:36 AM
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Nelson
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Donald:

 

 

I have a number of professional grade microphones, which include the Sennheiser MD 431 II, Sennheiser MKH 50, the Gefell M930ts, and the Schoeps CCM 41s. They were chosen primarily for DNS, but also serve recording functions that do not relate to speech recognition. I have also tested numerous other professional grade microphones in reaching a decision which microphone was best for my use. The bottom-line if you purchase a microphone that is dedicated for speech in most instances it will be suitable for DNS or other uses, like radio, film and voiceover work.  But you will have to do your homework to determine which microphone is best for your uses. 

 

In shopping for a microphone it is important to get past the hype and myths promoted about microphones used for speech recognition.  In my opinion, there is no special class of microphone that is required for DNS.  Rather, all that is required is for the buyer to look at speech or vocal microphones and determine the features they want.  In my instance, since most of the time these microphones are used with DNS or audio recording, I usually purchase a microphone with a tight supercardioid polar pattern (rejects noise from the rear); low sensitivity; low self-noise; and high SPL.  Important for my purposes is the clarity of the speech.  The clearer the speech reproduction the greater likelihood DNS will understand the dictation.  Another important feature in my microphone selection is the ability to dictate or speak from a distance.  But for the Sennheiser MD 431 II, each of the microphones gives me the ability to dictate between 10-20 inches away from the microphone.  With the Sennheiser MD 431 II (which is regarded as a close speaking microphone) coupled with my Sound Devices USBPre 2, with the adjustment on gain the dictation distance is between 8-10 inches. 

 

In my opinion, whether shopping for a professional grade microphone or a consumer microphone the starting point is to define: (1) your principle use for the microphone; (2) the type of environment where the microphone will be used; (3) the distance the dictation will occur; (4) the form factor desired; and (5) the monetary outlay.  By doing this, it will allow for the selection of the best microphone for your purposes using the microphone specifications, frequency responses, and polar pattern charts provided by the manufacturers. Once you have short-listed the microphones that would be suitable for your needs, I normally check out the microphone opinions and reviews from users and sound experts in the audio-film industry forums, like Gearslutz, TaperSection, Recording Hacks and Sound on Sound to name a few. Even when the reviews and specifications look great on paper, it is my practice to rent the microphone or test run it with the retailer to ensure the microphone is the right choice for my particular needs.

 

There has been a fair amount of debate in this forum about the value of professional microphones.  I firmly find myself in the camp that would advocate the use of a professional grade microphone for DNS, if the price of the microphone is not a significant factor.  I quite accept reasonably good dictation accuracy can be achieved using the microphones recommended on this forum.  But, if you are interested in nudging that accuracy up in DNS, or you have more demanding audio requirements then a professional grade microphone is the way to go.  In the context of this, there are a number of professional grade microphones that are.  In my review of microphones, I was impressed with the Gefell M310, which is about half the price of their standard microphones, like the Gefell M930, but their sound quality and clarity is remarkable.  This microphone could be bought for about $850 dollars, whereas others are pushing near $2,000.

 

Whether you decide to purchase a professional grade microphone, it needs to be understood no microphone is perfect or capable of giving 100 percent accuracy all the time.  Equally, as others have mentioned, there exists diminishing return on the accuracy factor in DNS. In other words, it does not follow that purchasing a more expensive professional grade microphone will improve the accuracy factor substantially or exponentially when using it with DNS.  Rather, what is achieved, if the microphone is chosen carefully, are a number of improved factors that bear upon the purchase of these types of microphones that are not readily quantifiable, but are factors nonetheless.  As examples, the form factor, directionality, dictation distance, and speech intelligibility all form considerations whether more money should be spent on a microphone. 

 

The best of luck.  I know from personal experience trying to choose the best microphone for your uses and budget is difficult, especially if you do not come from a sound expertise background.  Interpreting polar patterns, frequency responses and specifications takes some time to understanding what they mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 



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DPI 15.3, Knowbrainer, VoiceComputer, Lenovo Thinkpad P50, Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon, Sennheiser MD 431 II, Microtech Gefell MD 300 and Sound Devices USBpre 2.



 07/07/2014 02:38 PM
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Donald Clements
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>>>Nelson<<<

(1) your principle use for the microphone

I have no doubt that it will primarily be used for Dragon NaturallySpeaking; however, the “principle use” as defined by that use one is primarily acquiring it for, that driving factor behind the purchase, is for vocal clarity. Specifically, as a vocal mic I can use for recording audiobooks and do voiceovers for my own projects.  As such, knowing that audio interfaces like the 2i2 also integrate with Dragon is beneficial to choosing audio equipment that meets my needs as a Dragon User. No one has confirmed the 2i2 is compatible, but I am noticing a trend in the audio interfaces that have been suggested like the X2U, CEntrance MicroPort, and USBPre.  They are class compliant and require no additional drivers to function.  In fact, the MicroPort was recommended only on the addendum that one does NOT install the optional driver.

(2) the type of environment where the microphone will be used

The environment will be in an untreated room (ie it will have sound pollution from my computer and playing kids), and as such I focused in on Mike’s that were dynamic and also had a super cardioid polar pickup pattern.

(3) the distance the dictation will occur

I prefer handheld close talk microphones in the dictation will probably occur at one to two inches from the mouth or closer. However, I’m not opposed to acquiring a stand for the microphone at some later date.

(4) the form factor desired

The desired form factor is a handheld close talk microphone.  I currently own a side address stereo USB condenser with a switchable pickup pattern ranging from omnidirectional to cardioid. However, whether or not it side or end address does not matter to me, the polar pattern and type do. The condenser mic picks up too muc. It integrates with Dragon NaturallySpeaking extremely poorly, and I have to manually switch a lot of things in order to get it to work correctly. However, I have dictated this entire thing mostly error-free so I have the settings down for it to function. Unfortunately, those same settings do not work with what I need this microphone to do in other situations, and I would like a dynamic mic on hand for that.

(5) the monetary outlay

I have budgeted no more than 450 for this project, that’s a reasonable investment for a decent low-grade vocal microphone, and all of the connection gear required to hook it up to my PC.  Finding a workable prosumer solution at that budget for my stated goals should not be a problem, and many on this forum have helped give me dirrection.



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“I know quite certainly that I myself have no special talent; curiosity, obsession and dogged endurance, combined with self-criticism, have brought me to my ideas.”  Albert Einstein



 07/07/2014 03:35 PM
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Nelson
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Donald:

The Focusrite 2i2 does not need to be compatible with DNS.  It is an audio interface which appears to have an XLR to XLR connction.  All you need to do is have your microphone cable setup with an XLR-M and XLR-F to connect your mcrophone to this device.  I cannot tell whether the microphone connection offers a TSR option.

With you having an audio interface, probably your best cost-benefit would be for you to consider the Sennheiser MD 431 II, which is a great microphone. The audio interface will enhance its performance at a reasonable price point, which is within your budget.



-------------------------

DPI 15.3, Knowbrainer, VoiceComputer, Lenovo Thinkpad P50, Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon, Sennheiser MD 431 II, Microtech Gefell MD 300 and Sound Devices USBpre 2.



 07/10/2014 12:34 PM
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Tiger Feet
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Originally posted by: wheelstb You're absolutely right, there are a lot of reasons for getting a new microphone. So far, I think that I like the use of a handheld microphone much better than a headset. Thanks



This statement is an absolutely true concept.  Many people like the use of a hand-held microphone and some like a headset.  What if you are a quadriplegic?  There is no question of a hand-held microphone then unless you have to spend valuable time getting someone else to plant it in exactly the right position every time you want to use Dragon.  Many of the people on this forum are quadriplegics.


I got caught up in all the microphone hype when I first joined the forums and was a little green.  I ended up successfully fundraising for a Sennheiser MD 431 II because I was told that this was the best microphone to have if I wanted to avoid a headset, which, as a quadriplegic, I hate.  Fantastic microphone but absolutely useless for my use as I could not physically get near enough to it for it to be used the way it should be.  The physical size of it for starters made it impossible for me to use it the way it should be.  I always use a laptop so that type of microphone that has to be right in front of your mouth, covered all the screen!


6 years down the line and for the past 4, I've settled with an over the ear Plantronics Wireless Handsfree Microphone CS60-USB.  Relatively cheap, relatively accurate for what I want it for (I had no problem dictating this post) very light and I completely forget that it's over my ear for the duration of the day.  So it all does depend on the individual's setup and circumstances.


Regarding microphones these days to use with Dragon, I do think that sometimes it is just a case of the expression "The Emperor has no clothes."


Cheers



-------------------------

Tiger Feet

| DPG 15.6 | KnowBrainer 2017 | Windows  10 Professional /64 Bit | Intel® Core™ i9 Ten-Core Processor i9-10900K (3.7GHz) 20MB Cache |  32GB RAM. | 250GB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 3500MB/R, 2300MB/W) Boot Drive | 1TB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 3500MB/R, 3300MB/W) Storage Drive |

 07/11/2014 08:49 PM
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wheelstb
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Tiger Feet,

I completely agree. Picking the right microphone for the right person is essential for having a positive experience with speech recognition. Not only do you have to pick the right microphone for your situation but, sometimes differing voices work better with different microphones.

I can appreciate how the Sennheiser 431 might have been difficult to use in a situation like yours. The heil PR 35 might be a viable alternative for someone in a similar situation. The noise cancellation is fairly good and I can comfortably use it from about 3 to 4 inches away.

It would be a question of mobility. It might be a good microphone for someone with a disability that does not like wearing a headset. You could put the microphone in a stand and then, leave the stand in the same position all of the time. Then, depending on your mobility, it would just be a matter of positioning your self in front of the microphone. It's pretty forgiving so, you can position it on an angle relative to your mouth and still be successful.

I could see this being potentially helpful in certain situations.
 07/13/2014 12:26 PM
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Tiger Feet
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Wheelstb,


Thanks for your recommendation but once again for my situation anyway, the microphone you recommend is far too big and unnecessary.  Plus, as you say, I'd have to have a stand and have it moved into the right place each day.  This is creating more work and adding unnecessary hardware as the bed is often moved all around my room.  I already have one stand and that is for a different application altogether.


I look at it this way; a person will go through life looking for the right job or vocation.  He or she will eventually settle upon the one that suits them best.  It's the same with microphones to be used with Dragon.  (I know that may sound a tad philosophical) :-)


Lunis hit the nail right on the head when he said, 'Keep in mind that no one microphone is perfect for everyone.' 


Now I have had questionably one of the best headsets at the time being the Sennheiser ME 3, The Sennheiser MD 431 II & the Buddy Desktop.  All good microphones in their own right with their own advantages and disadvantages. 


In the end as I said in my previous post, the mic I have now is great for comfort, cost, ease of setup (automatically putting the microphone by the side of my mouth), good accuracy and relatively good noise cancelling (I can have the television on in the background at a reasonable volume and still use this mic). 


The one I have settled on and have no reason to change is the Plantronics Wireless CS60-USB that I not only use for Dragon, but Skype as well for phone calls.  I have two of these and I use one virtually every day.


Call me old-fashioned but this is the mic that suits all my needs.  It keeps everything simple and works in my case so there is no need to change at the moment.


Cheers



-------------------------

Tiger Feet

| DPG 15.6 | KnowBrainer 2017 | Windows  10 Professional /64 Bit | Intel® Core™ i9 Ten-Core Processor i9-10900K (3.7GHz) 20MB Cache |  32GB RAM. | 250GB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 3500MB/R, 2300MB/W) Boot Drive | 1TB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 3500MB/R, 3300MB/W) Storage Drive |

 07/13/2014 01:23 PM
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wheelstb
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Tiger Feet,

I'm sorry, I don't think I was clear in my last post. I wasn't recommending the microphone for you specifically; it just doesn't seem like it will work that well for you. For other folks in other situations it might be a real asset. I'm glad you found the Plantronics microphone it seems like a perfect fit

For example, I use a power wheelchair. I cannot use my left hand very well which, can cause problems in certain situations. I also find it a little bit challenging to position headset microphones correctly consistently. I can do it, it just takes a little more effort. For me this microphone is perfect.

I can use it on a stand fairly close to my monitor and it does not cause any problems. I can also get good accuracy while I have the TV on in the background. I can also work at a comfortable distance from the microphone.

I don't mind lifting the stand out of the way on occasion. The microphone does not block my view of the computer monitor and doesn't really get in the way of anything. Based on my experiences, I could see where it would be handy for a lot of people.
 07/13/2014 01:57 PM
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Tiger Feet
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Sounds like you found the perfect microphone for your situation also.


Just proves the fact that not one microphone fits all.  :-)


Cheers



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Tiger Feet

| DPG 15.6 | KnowBrainer 2017 | Windows  10 Professional /64 Bit | Intel® Core™ i9 Ten-Core Processor i9-10900K (3.7GHz) 20MB Cache |  32GB RAM. | 250GB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 3500MB/R, 2300MB/W) Boot Drive | 1TB SAMSUNG 970 EVO PLUS M.2, PCIe NVMe SSD (up to 3500MB/R, 3300MB/W) Storage Drive |

 07/13/2014 04:16 PM
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wheelstb
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I think I did find the perfect one for me.

Absolutely, speech recognition is not a field with a one-size-fits-all solution.
KnowBrainer Speech Recognition » Microphones and Sound Cards » Microphone recommendations/assistance

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