Microphone Selection Guide: Desktop Microphones
Some users would prefer to avoid wearing or holding a microphone. For some users with disabilities, particularly with problems related to use of your hands the concept of a desktop microphone works quite well. In general these microphones work well, although they share the susceptibility of accuracy falling off as your distance and angle of approach to the microphone vary.
Overview of Desktop Microphones
*The telescoping 16-24 inch boom which is standard on the SpeechWare 9-in-1 can be purchased separately as an option for the 3-in-1 and 6-in-1 (booms are interchangeable).
We give the entire SpeechWare TableMike series our "Best in Class" award. While there are important functionality differences between the 3 models, they all share characteristics that set them apart from all other table-mounted microphones on the market, including: 1) Auto-gain technology allowing automatic mic volume adjustments when changing distance from the mic, 2) outstanding digital signal processing to eliminate noise, 3) unique ability to use this microphone from distances between 10 and 20 inches and 4) a highly intuitive and functional "TableMike Configuration Application" which allows simple programming of accessory buttons.
SpeechWare 3-in-1 TableMike (TK03)
This "second generation" TableMike from SpeechWare is the result of more than a year of the best Belgian engineering and input from a number of experienced speech recognition users/resellers including Chuck Runquist, Larry Allen, Lunis Orcutt and Speech Recognition Solutions. While the first generation product was good and clearly on par with other table-mounted microphones, the subsequently released "second generation" 3-in-1 is proving to be nothing less than extraordinary.
Unique to this product is an auto-gain or "equalizer" function in the microphone input volume which will automatically increase the gain as you move further away from the microphone element and allow a workable distance between 10 and 20 inches. Also unique is a digital signal processing built into the circuit board which does an extraordinary job removing external noise. The result is a microphone with a high level of accuracy over a great variation of distances and relative immunity to external noise. In our opinion this is the best table mounted microphone for speech recognition users, unless you need the features contained in the 6-in-1 or 9-in-1 microphone (these offer the same quality with speech recognition software, but other helpful features).
Like the other microphones in the TableMike series, this microphone can be used in one of three modes:
- Speech Red mode (auto gain employed; maximal noise cancellation; working range 10-20 inches; speaker not operational in this mode)
- Normal mode (most realistic sound and noise rejection but auto-gain not operational and working range 2-4 inches; speaker operational in this mode)
- Accessory microphone mode (a separate headset microphone of user's choice can be plugged into microphone jack)
SpeechWare 6-in-1 TableMike (Tk06)
This microphone has undergone re-design with the best Belgian engineering and is currently in production in Taiwan. It uses the same microphone element and circuit board as the 3-in-1, so i5 provides identical performance with speech recognition software.
Features this microphone has over the 3-in-1 TableMike are the following:
- a longer boom (18 inches)
- integrated speaker with volume controls
- a jack for integration with an optional foot pedal
- an accessory USB jack
SpeechWare 9-in-1 TableMike (TK09)
This is the "grande" of the SpeechWare TableMike series. It uses the same microphone capsule and circuit board as the other members of this series, so it will exhibit the exact same accuracy, noise cancellation, and working range. Unique to this product is a number of additional features, including:
- A unique telescoping boom which can vary from 16 to 24 inches
- Two accessory USB ports
- An integrated SD/SDHC/MMC/MS/MSPro/MSPro-HG card reader
- A programmable button which can be used to control other applications
Like the 6-in-1, this product includes a built in speaker, and foot pedal jack to use with an optional foot pedal to control the microphone's on/off functionality. Like the other members of this series, the 9-in-1 includes an accessory microphone jack and a sound out jack. This microphone truly has it all!
Audix USB12 Desktop Microphone
The Audix USB 12 is a plug and play desktop USB microphone. The Audix USB-12 records in high definition with a 16 bit sample resolution and supports 44.1k and 48k sample rates for both playback and recording.
The Audix USB12 features a push-to-talk button with the option of ‘steady on’ or ‘momentary on’ as well as a headphone jack for real time monitoring and a bass roll-off filter to control unwanted low frequency signals. The Gooseneck is 11".
The USB 12 is perfect for Speech Recognition with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, podcasting, Skype or other VoIP and chat programs. We find that the Audix USB12 has moderate noise canceling and performs as well as the higher priced Buddy Desktop microphones.
- Flexible gooseneck design
- Records directly into computer via USB port
- Studio quality sound
- “Plug and play”
- Mac and PC compatible
- 16 bit sample resolution
- Supports 44.1k and 48k sample rates
- 12 mm high resolution condenser capsule
- Push to Talk-- ‘steady on’ or ‘momentary on’
- Bass roll-off filter
- Headphone jack for real time monitoring
Buddy USB Desktop Microphone
This is a considerably better desktop microphone than the inexpensive ones seen in electronics stores. We don't consider this to have the accuracy of our better headset microphones, and falls short of the Speechware microphone shown above. It is, however, considerably less expensive than the Speechware microphone and it is notably better than the average desktop microphone sold at your local Best Buy. For those seeking a reasonably priced microphone and needing to keep their hands and heads free, this is an excellent choice.
Important features include the following:
- USB plug-and-play microphone
- Built-in noise-canceling microphone designed for speech applications like dictation and transcription
- Includes FilteredAudio™ technology for highly effective mechanical noise cancellation (Selected Models)
- Configurable microphone buttons:
Push-To-Talk to hear sound only when button is held or set for mute toggle
- Direct control of the microphone On/Off function in Dragon NaturallySpeaking
- One programmable button simulates keyboard or mouse input for repetitive tasks or to insert text.
- Once programmed, Buddy DesktopMic 7G retains its configuration
- Free MyBuddyMic™ software download allows you to customize advanced tasks to control Microsoft Speech and Dragon NaturallySpeaking
- No need for additional drivers -- MyBuddyMic is optional for most normal operations
This is a new offerring from InSync Speech Technology and is a simple, very nicely functioning desktop microphone with Filtered Audio technology (to filter out system noise). It is small enough to be easily lifted with your hand and used as a hand-held microphone if you prefer.
- High quality, unidirectional microphone
- Flexible 9 inch gooseneck for easy positioning
- USB plug& play interface
- Portable hands-free solution
- FilteredAudio technology for the ability to record in deafening noise conditions
- Built-in state of the art sound card for crystal clear voice capture
- Fully programmable button can simulate keyboard, mouse or Dragon voice commands
- Cross compatibility means you can use this mic across multiple USB devices
- Quality materials means this microphone is built to last
- Backed by a 1 year manufacturer's warranty
Comments: This is a surprisingly good microphone for it's cost. Many users find it convenient to hold in their hand and use it as a hand-held microphone.
Samson Q1U - Balanced Spring Arm Combination
Although we have this listed last, in many respects this is our most highly recommended desk mounted microphone. The combination includes an extremely high quality hand-held microphone with a USB interface and a mounting mechanism which allows attachment to a distant site on your desk or work surface.
In terms of quality, this is an outstanding microphone. It provides excellent accuracy and extremely high level of external noise rejection. Unique to this set-up is the ability to use the microphone when positioned as far as 12-14 inches from your mouth (we recommend doing the training and sound set-up with the microphone just a few inches from the mouth, but thereafter it can be successfully positioned much farther away during actual use.
MSRP: $134.99 (stand and Mic)