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Microphone Selection Guide:  Entry Level Microphones

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For those new to speech recognition software, particularly the user planning to dabble with this technology but not necessarily use it regularly or in association with his/her occupation, any of the inexpensive entry level microphones should be fine. The difference in accuracy between these "low end" mics and more expensive microphone is not huge and for the cost savings, these are very effective. And after all, should you decide to upgrade, you have not made a huge investment in that first microphone. Inexpensive microphones that we recommend and carry are shown below.

Comparison of entry-level speech recognition microphones:

Microphone MSRP Accuracy Noise Cancellation Durability Warranty Overall Rating
Andrea NC 181 $24.95 1-year
Andrea NC-181 VM $29.95 1-year
Andrea NC-181VM USB $49.95 1-year
Buddy DM101 $49.99 2-year
Buddy DS102 $59.99 2-year

Cyber Acoustics AC101

$14.99 1-year
Cyber Acoustics AC201 $19.99 1-year

Andrea NC 181 and 185 Series Microphones: This is a series of microphones released by Andrea to replace its prior NC series. The 181 series has a speaker for one ear and the 185 has a speaker for each ear. Each series comes in 3 versions.

  1. A simple version with simple 3.5 mic and audio plugs (NC-181 and NC-185)
  2. A slightly fancier version with a microphone mute switch and speaker volume control (NC-181VM and NC-185VM)
  3. A higher end version which includes both the mute/volume controls and also a built in Andrea Pure Audio USB sound adapter (NC-181VM-USB and NC-185VM-USB)

For more information on the differences between the microphones in this series, please refer to the comparison table below:

 
 
Mono
Stereo
3.5 mm connectors
USB Connection
Volume & mute
Active Noise Canceling Circuitry
NC 181*
x
-
x
-
-
-
NC 181VM
x
-
x
-
x
-
NC 181 VM USB
x
-
-
x
x
-
NC 185**
-
x
x
-
-
-
NC 185VM
-
x
x
-
x
-
NC 185VM USB
-
x
-
x
x
-
ANC 700
x
-
x
-
Mute only
x
ANC 750
-
x
x
-
Mute only
x
 

This is a series solidly performing microphone series and in the years that they been around we have sold many thousands of these and virtually never get a return or call with a question. Do we consider this microphone series to be worthy of the "5 Dragons" that Nuance provides in their quality evaluation? Not really. Although the native accuracy of this microphone series is quite good, when it comes to noise cancellation (rejection of external noise) they fall short in our opinion. But they are cost-effective work-horse microphones.

The addition of the Andrea Pure Audio Adapter included with the 181VM-USB and 185VM-USB means that you will not be using your on-board sound card, but rather the included USB adapter. This provides a greater level of certainty that the microphone will be compatible with your PC and also offers the theoretical advantage of doing the analog to digital sound conversion in a more "electrically quite" environment (not inside the less "quiet" confines of your desktop or laptop). Again, this is a theoretical advantage.

Overall Rating:
Warranty: 1 Year

Learn more or order an Andrea Product

Andrea NC-181
Andrea NC-181 VM
Andrea NC-181VM-USB
Andrea NC181 Andrea NC181VM Andrea NC181VM USB
Andrea NC-181
MSRP: $24.95

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Andrea NC-181VM
MSRP: $29.95

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Andrea NC-181VM-USB
$49.95

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Andrea NC-185
Andrea NC-185VM
Andrea NC-185VM-USB
Andrea NC-185 NC-185VM Andrea NC-185VM USB
Andrea NC-185
MSRP: $29.95

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Andrea NC-185-VM
MSRP: $34.95

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Andrea NC-185-VM USB
MSRP: $54.95

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Buddy/Insync

Note: we no longer carry these Buddy headset mics, but only because the company (InsynSpeech) changed their distribution model which focuses on direct sales through Amazon and other sources. It no longer became cost effective for us to carry these mics. They are, nonetheless, good microphones.

Insync Speech Technologies makes a series of microphones under the name "Buddy" and these are all well-constructed and solidly performing microphones. Shown below are similar microphones that are both analog (3.5 mm connectors rather than USB) and which differ only in the presence of one versus two speakers. The Buddy HeadsetMic DM101 is a single-speaker headset and the DS102 is a stereo headset. Both feature a stainless steel headband and reinforced cables. 3.5mm audio connectors makes it ideal for pairing with the Buddy 7G USB sound adapter.

Features:

  • 3.5mm audio connectors
  • Connector colors match with Buddy USB 7GTM Sound Pod and Buddy DesktopMic Pro 7GTM
  • Unidirectional microphone for noise-free voice capture
  • Designed for speech applications including dictation, transcription and VOIP
  • Shorter boom rotates 270 degrees for easy and effective positioning over either ear

Include in the box:

  • HeadsetMic DS102 or DM101
  • Replacement windsock
  • Replacement foam earpads
  • Microphones Carrying Bag
Buddy DM101
Buddy DS102
Buddy DM101 Buddy DS102
Buddy DM101
MSRP: $39.99


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Buddy DS102
MSRP: $59.99


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CyberAcoustics

Although we were reluctant to carry these microphones simply on the basis of their incredibly low cost and sense that "they couldn't possibly be good at that price", over the years we had enough customers tell us they had used these microphones and noted good performance that we had to try them out. Our thoughts? These are perfectly good microphones and for the cost, a great value. The only difference between the two models we carry is the presence of one versus two speakers. The microphone element and performance with speech recognition is identical.

Cyber Acoustics AC-101
Cyber Acoustics AC-201
Cyber Acoustics AC-101 Cyber Acoustics AC-201
CyberAcoustics AC101
MSRP: $12.99

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CyberAcoustics AC201
MSRP: $16.99

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Overall Rating:
Warranty: One year

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