KnowBrainer Speech Recognition
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Topic Title: Microphone recommendation for noisy office
Topic Summary:
Created On: 02/10/2022 11:36 AM
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 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - DavidHaugh - 02/10/2022 11:36 AM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - ax - 02/10/2022 02:53 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - Bad_Dog - 02/10/2022 05:32 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - DavidHaugh - 02/10/2022 07:18 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - DavidHaugh - 02/10/2022 06:11 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - Lunis Orcutt - 02/10/2022 07:38 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - DavidHaugh - 02/10/2022 07:59 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - ax - 02/10/2022 08:12 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - MDH - 02/10/2022 08:37 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - Lunis Orcutt - 02/11/2022 02:38 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - Grandslam - 02/11/2022 05:54 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - ax - 02/11/2022 09:10 PM  
 Microphone recommendation for noisy office   - Bad_Dog - 02/12/2022 08:11 PM  
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 02/10/2022 11:36 AM
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DavidHaugh
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Hi all!

 

I'm an office based broadcast engineer for a major sports broadcaster. Due to an injury to both arms a year ago I've been left will alot of issues using a mouse and keyboard. Was hoping it would be a short term thing but 12 months on I still have ongoing issues with no end in sight.

 

Speech recognition is something I've been thinking about for a while although there are a number of barriers I'll need to overcome before it's a viable option for me.

 

Biggest issue IMO will be ambient noise.

 

The office acoustics are terrible, it's all open plan with large hard flat surfaces. You can hear quiet conversation between 2 people crystal clear 50 feet away because of the way sound can bounce around.

 

Other noise sources include;

1. A full size air-con unit in the ceiling very close to me.

2. Desktop intercomms that are at everyone's desk and literally set to a million decibels.

3. Multiple people in the office monitoring various sports audio at thier desks at the same time (also at a million decibels) Mostly Soccer, NFL, horce racing etc but could be anything.

 

So I'm thinking noise filtering is prority number 1. Very close to pulling the trigger on a Speechware flexymike DEC and a Speechware USB soundcard.

 

Wireless would be an advantage so I'd consider a "Sennheiser MB Pro 2 UC/ML" or "Philips speechone" if I wasn't missing out on much noise filtering?

 

Price isn't much of a consideration as work will be paying for it. The hassle of getting work to buy something on the hand means I'd prefer to get the best product first time round.

 

Any thoughts or opinions are welcome



 02/10/2022 02:53 PM
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ax
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You will definitely need input from the pros, quite likely outside of this forum.

Superficially, it sounds to me as though you are asking for a hardware/software combo to allow for "hands-free" operation in an essentially "hostile" environment.  Judging by your description of the "environmental variables", I'd say overcoming all of the challenges will be quite a feat, even with your work's willingness to pony up the resource.

Hands-free use of voice-recognition is the "highest form" of speech recognition, IMO.  Most of us don't and can't get to this level (also for many it wouldn't be as efficient or practical, thus not as necessary).

It also depends on whether your main goal is to control hardware/software (i.e. more along the lines of issuing commands), or to dictate prose.  The former might be easier to pull off in a noisy environment, unless you have to use short commands, simply because the permutations are fewer.  The latter is challenging if the goal is doing so hands-free, even with a conducive, quiet environment.  This alone requires a committed user and considerable effort, noise-blocking aside.

You might be better off going straight "white glove" with Knowbrainer offline, and involve your workplace's accommodation specialist or equivalent.  The other resource I'd highly consider is Lindsay's PCByVoice outfit, in the UK.  He goes by the call sign of Monkey8 here.  Both he and Lunis are essentially "hands free".

Your variables seem daunting for any definitive forum recommendations.

All the best and hope a solution works out for you!



 02/10/2022 05:32 PM
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Bad_Dog
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DavidHaugh is making an important inquiry. Many of us on this forum may face work environments that are similar, having to put up with noisy background conversations.

I understand that there are several microphones that can overcome loud background noises - but not other voices.

So I would also like to know if there are specific microphones that can provide accurate speech dictation results - in noisy offices with background voices.
 02/10/2022 07:18 PM
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DavidHaugh
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Originally posted by: Bad_Dog DavidHaugh is making an important inquiry. Many of us on this forum may face work environments that are similar, having to put up with noisy background conversations. I understand that there are several microphones that can overcome loud background noises - but not other voices. So I would also like to know if there are specific microphones that can provide accurate speech dictation results - in noisy offices with background voices.

I've seen some pretty impressive noise rejection from directional headset mics in the music industry so I have faith that it's possible. Pro stuff is stupid expensive and Lunis steers people away from pro audio gear for many good reasons. Google "DPA 4088" and have a look at the price!

 

Pretty sure something like the SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC is as good as it gets with wires and a resonable price. Phillips SpeechOne is supposed to be the best wireless option so I'm just curious as to how they compare in terms of noise rejection.

 

 



 02/10/2022 06:11 PM
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DavidHaugh
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Thank's for that ax, I'll look into some of what you've said. I should have stated that I don't need to go full "hands free" as I have some use of my left hand for a mouse and some ability to type using both hands.

With the variety of software and tasks my job requires it wouldn't be feasible to go hands free. I just need speech recognition to take care of email, instant messaging and writing reports. Anything that reduced mouse usage would be a nice to have but not necessary.

I should also say the level of noise in the office is pretty variable depending on time of day, who is working, etc... but I fully expect the place to go worst case scenario every time I want to dictate an email because that's just my luck!

There are probably very few people in the world who could advise me on flexymike v speechone noise rejection but I bet there's a few people hanging around here that can.
 02/10/2022 07:38 PM
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Lunis Orcutt
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While we are big fans of the SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC, the Sennheiser MB Pro2 UC/ML Bluetooth headset and the Philip's SpeechOne, we are not certain they will be noise filtering enough in your open office environment. If you want to go wireless, we recommend the Sennheiser Presence UC but if you don't mind an around the back of the head bulletproof wired option, that is almost good enough to use on an active gun range, consider the Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmW microphone (w/KB PLUS PACK). This microphone allows you to sport a Fedora while the Big Haired Lady yells in your face. This microphone can handle a lot of noise but not the Big Haired Lady blowing cigarette smoke into your face.

You'll find a 30 day trial of KnowBrainer 2020 in our signature tag. We believe going verbally hands-free would make your life easier and considerably more efficient.



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 02/10/2022 07:59 PM
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DavidHaugh
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Originally posted by: Lunis Orcutt While we are big fans of the SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC, the Sennheiser MB Pro2 UC/ML Bluetooth headset and the Philip's SpeechOne, we are not certain they will be noise filtering enough in your open office environment. If you want to go wireless, we recommend the Sennheiser Presence UC but if you don't mind an around the back of the head bulletproof wired option, that is almost good enough to use on an active gun range, consider the Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmW microphone (w/KB PLUS PACK). This microphone allows you to sport a Fedora while the Big Haired Lady yells in your face. This microphone can handle a lot of noise but not the Big Haired Lady blowing cigarette smoke into your face. You'll find a 30 day trial of KnowBrainer 2020 in our signature tag. We believe going verbally hands-free would make your life easier and considerably more efficient.

 

Sold! I'll put an order in soon.

 02/10/2022 08:12 PM
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ax
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I see David. If "hands-free" is not a pre-requisite, then what you have in mind is clearly viable.

In fact, I would go so far as to say "don't worry too much about it". By being a broadcast engineer, in all likelihood you have way more knowledge on the ins and outs of sound equipment than most frequenters of this forum, myself included.

From my own practical experience, moderate noise is no real problem these days. My ER colleagues use voice recognition to produce their notes, oftentimes in the middle of a busy ER, on a laptop. In such environments, I am now tempted to think that the limiting factor due to ambient noise/voices would be own brain's inability to focus, rather than Dragon itself.

This is not to say your recognition success doesn't decrease in a noisy environment. It does. Just a bit less than I would have thought myself.

And as "Bad Dog" alluded to above, monotonous background noise such as loud fans in the OR, or even a vacuum cleaner, are easy to "erase" with today's DSP. Zoom and Teams can do it with no seat. See also the thread on Nvidia "RTX Voice" noise cancelling technology, as but another example.

In my immediate environment, folks just use the run-of-the-mill PowerMic III or (IMO) better constructed SMP (which you are already looking into).

Moreover, to any extent that you could modify your environment, you could achieve significant mitigation. I know that once they erected those huge plexiglass shields (which was just a 180 degree flat "wall" and not even a 270 degree partial "enclosure"), our ER colleagues were already getting a better experience.

Finally, many of those cardioid-this-or-that patterned microphones take advantage of a "proximity effect", which others would know/explain better than I could. Basically the voices from a distance that enter your ears relatively clearly don't really get picked up by such mics that much.

As far as I know, some of those so-called "noise-cancelling" microphones don't actively "cancel" any noise. They are noise-isolating or passive noise-reducing. To get active noise cancellation based on directionality and timing of sound arrival, one would need at least two mics, preferably an "array". The details we will leave to real engineers.

Some of those more expensive, "call-centre grade" headset mics have dual mics with some active noise-cancellation. I am not even sure whether the SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC has any active cancellation. My guess is that it does not. But does it matter in your environment? Hard to know without testing.

But bottom line, in a moderately noisy environment, non-hands-free use of voice recognition with today's Dragon is eminently viable. It is done throughout your neighborhood hospitals every single day. 24 hours a day.

If you can modify your environment, such as by putting up some plexiglass barriers on 2 or 3 sides (make them as tall as they will allow, beat the Covid horse to your "advantage" ... after all, it beat us for 2 years), I'd say you are ready to tackle your goal.

The other piece of advice. Make your noise-dealing/minimizing endeavour SEPARATE from getting Dragon work for you. Tame the Dragon with the help of this forum in a quiet place at home first, possibly using just an "average" microphone. That way you'd know what to benchmark against.

 02/10/2022 08:37 PM
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MDH
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I use the BOOM O when my partner is in and sharing our 10 x 10 office. I can even use it with laryngitis suprisingly well. It also has great external noise reduction and is quite accurate. But when he is gone, I use my Twist Mike, which is so much nicer in terms of not dealing with a headset.

 

MDH



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 02/11/2022 02:38 PM
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Lunis Orcutt
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theBoom "O" would likely be adequate (noise filtering and accuracy) but we had to discontinue carrying the line because of shoddy manufacturing. Too many of our customers had to deal with microphone replacements which often took more than 6 weeks. Otherwise, we would have been happy with this line. The Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmW is even more noise filtering and very rugged because it was designed for entertainers.

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 02/11/2022 05:54 PM
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Grandslam
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As someone who uses dragon on a daily basis in a noisy open plan office, in my opinion a certain level of ambient noise is more a friend than an enemy. I just use a Jabra Biz 2400 (corded). It's good if there is some ambient noise so your colleagues can't hear every word you are saying, and at the same time the noise cancellation will filter it all out so your dictation is unaffected.

If anyone else here is successfully using Dragon in an open plan office I'd be interested to know what microphone you use. I would like to go wireless but when I tried the Sennheiser MB Pro it just wasn't sensitive enough - I need something that can pick up my voice when I speak very softly. 



 02/11/2022 09:10 PM
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ax
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Originally posted by: Grandslam

 

... I just use a Jabra Biz 2400 (corded). ... when I tried the Sennheiser MB Pro it just wasn't sensitive enough - I need something that can pick up my voice when I speak very softly. 

 

 

 

The Jabra Biz 2400 II is exactly what I had in mind when I brought up the relatively premium "call centre grade" headset mics.  I have the monaural USB version (Jabra 2496-829-309), which currently sells for ~US$200.  It is not as comfortable as either the binaural Sennheiser SC260 or the binaural MB Pro2.  But it is the best headset for my voice by my own objective testing.  

 

Biz 2400 II is for me appreciably more accurate than SC260, and considerably more accurate than MB Pro2.  FWIW the first headset I tried was the CA$50 Plantronics Blackwire C3210 - definitely subpar.  It would seem to me then when it comes to "call centre headsets" at least, price gradient reasonably separates out quality.

 

I did not specifically test the noise-cancelling oomph of Biz 2400 II in a hostile environment.  But given its selling point, it would hardly suprise me that folks are getting good mileage in loud places.  In fact our hospital Call Centre agents use these.  So its telephone and VoIP qualities are high, too.

 

Some side observations from me based on others' forum feeback: FlexyMike DEC is considered super sensitive, i.e., "hot", on its own.  Thus it should handle soft voice superbly.  Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmW is rather the "opposite" and quite insensitive, thus reckoned to be advantageous in loud places - but it requires you to speak a louder voice into it.  Neither has any "active noise cancellation".  

 

Is either above better than the Biz 2400 II or the Boom O in meeting OP's requirement?  Who could know with certainty without testing and head-to-head comparison?

 

Anyway, back to the Biz 2400 II mono, the extendable part of the headband is rather short.  If I had to buy it again, I'd go with the binaural version.

 

Currently I use mine mainly for VoIP calls.  But I could use it for Dragon without much concern.  However, when I am by myself at home or in the office, I am kind of in the MDH camp as in finding that an unencumbered, close-talk "table mike" style of setup is still the most ergonomic.

 

That SpeechWare TwistMike in fact still interests me.  My current "steampunk" setup is a bit too "in your face" for when we receive patients back into the office (I use an AT2005usb in the office, mounted on the same Lamicall LS05 gooseneck).  The TwistMike would look decidedly less over-the-top.

 

P.S., it seems as though the Biz 2400 II comes in variants that are either "medium-noise-cancelling" (e.g., the one I have) or "ultra-noise-cancelling", with a few other permutations thrown in, plus a bunch of marketing buzzwords.  Such is the state of things.



 02/12/2022 08:11 PM
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Bad_Dog
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Lunis - thank you for taking the time to share your professional advice. Your detailed recommendation convinced me to buy the Audio Technica Pro 8HEMW KB and Andrea sound card - from Knowbrainer - earlier today.
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