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Microphone Selection Guide:  Microphones for the Advanced User

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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
SpeechWare FlexyMike DEC $189 2-year
Audio-Technica 8HEmV $159 1-year
SpeechWare FlexyMike SEC $149 2-year



Sennheiser ME3-II

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 include an exclusive "ME3 Plug adapter" with each ME3 we sell and this converts the non-standard plug with a locking ring into a strandard 3.5 mm plug.

We recommend using the Sennheiser ME3 with the Buddy 7G USB adapter since t appears to work best with this device.

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: $165.95 (mic alone)
MSRP: $219.99
(our complete "combo" with storage bag and Buddy 7G USB adapter)

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FlexyMike Dual Ear Cardioid

The FlexyMike Dual Ear Cardioid – DEC, is a lightweight (about 25g.) stainless steel headset microphone for professional Speech recognition, and other voice dependent applications. Manufactured in the style of a traditional headband, the frame is covered with injected rubber protectors that covers both ears for maximum working comfort. An extremely flexible gooseneck and cardioid microphone, enables the consistent positioning of the microphone capsule and superior recognition accuracy with Dragon NaturallySpeaking®.

The FlexyMike Dual Ear Cardioid – DEC has an unidirectional cardioid polar pattern which provides excellent isolation from ambient noise and effective noise control from adjacent sound. Breath and pop noise is reduced to minimum with its optimum sound pick up at the front of mouth position. Its distinguishing clarity in close talk operation and excellent gain before feedback make it suitable for all mobile situations.

The FlexyMike Dual Ear Cardioid – DEC has a polished 1m/40” long cable sheathed with durable transparent plastic, along with a standard 3.5 mm gold-plate jack. It has a very high performance and noise rejection microphone capsule which is acoustically matched for maximum performance with the SpeechMatic USB MultiAdapter and Speech recognition or VoIP applications. An additional 2m/80” extension cable
is also provided for greater functionality.

Specifications & Features:

  • Back Electret Condenser Element
  • Unidirectional Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Range, 50Hz ~ 18,000Hz
  • Sensitivity: -66dB ± 3dB (0dB=1V/μbar@1KHz)
  • Impedance: 1.500Ω ± 30% @ 1KHz (RL:2.2K, DC:1.5V)
  • Operating Voltage: 1V – 10V
  • Connector: standard 3.5 mm stereo gold-plate plug

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 2-year

Price: $189

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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

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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

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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

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