What Microphone is the best for Speech recognition?

If you buy Dragon Dictate it comes with a built-in Microphone that will do the job, but if you buy the download version you’ll need to buy your own microphone.

Here are some of the options you have.

VERSION 1. An ‘analog’ microphone with a USB adapter. 

This is the most basic option. You need two items: a simple USB adapter that plugs into your mac USB port and a microphone that plugs into the adapter.

This is the kind supplied with Dragon Dictate.
Dragon Dictate comes with a simple computer style headset mic that has a 3.5mm lead that plugs into a USB adapter and then into your computer. You can upgrade the analog part of the microphone later to a better microphone if you want to. Here are some better quality headset mics you might like to upgrade to. I’d rate the built in Dragon mic about a 7/10. I’ve used an SM58 vocal microphone (costs around $300) plugged into an Andrea USB adapter and I’d rate it 9/10, so it depends on the microphone you use.

This Andrea Pure Audio USB adapter is a very good quality USB adapter.


VERSION 2. A ‘digital’ Microphone.





A ‘digital’ microphone is not really a digital microphone at all – it’s just an analog microphone like the one above with a built in USB converter!  The converter can be tailored to the mic however to achieve better results. I’ve used the Andrea NC181VM and it’s pretty good. I’d rate it about an 8/10. It costs about $35-$40 on amazon.com, or about $119 in Australia from hereHere is a list of good ‘digital’ microphones.

3. Bluetooth headset.
There is a version of Dragon Dictate Bluetooth that ships with a bluetooth headset – I’ve never tried it. Voicerecognition.com.au says that the ‘DECT Headset offers far superior accuracy compared to Bluetooth.’  One of the mics that Nuance gives a high rating to is this Sennheiser bluetooth mic available here from Amazon but you need to get two extra parts with it to connect to a mac: part number #094703 and #05374.  I can’t comment, I’m just listing it for completeness.

4. Wireless Microphone.

This is just an analog microphone like Version 1 above plugged into a USB adapter, but  for the microphone you use a good quality wireless vocal microphone – the kind of mic you would use for singing and performing etc. See some examples here.   I use a SAMSON QV wireless headset mic. It is designed as a vocal microphone for drummers so it has excellent background noise rejection. You can buy them from ebay or from any music store. I’d rate it a 9/10.

The wireless mic has an Audio out cable that is plugged into a USB adapter. You may beed an adapter for soem professional quality mics –  a mono 6.5mm to stereo 3.5mm lead, available at any electronics store.  You can get the Samson headset and Andrea adapter from Knowbrainer and they will supply it with the leads.

Microphone lead (left), adapter (bottom) and usb interface (right)  – unplugged
plugged in


1. The easiest option is to use the  cheap headset mic with USB converter that comes with Dragon Dictate.
2. The next sstep up would be to buy a ‘digital’ mic like the Andrea 181.
3. The best option is to use a good quality USB adapter like Andrea PureAudio and a good quality wireless mic (eg Samson QV10  Airline).

For some other reading on mics see voicerecognion.com.au and knowbrainer.com and for some  mic comparisons see here for wireless or here for wiredHere’s another article on selecting the right microphone.

Other posts on Speech recognition:



9 responses to “What Microphone is the best for Speech recognition?”

  1. Speech guy

    Go to http://www.insyncspeech.com – they have some of the best microphones for Macs with integrated noise cancelling technology that is second to none. All USB devices are compatible with Macs.

  2. Shawn

    At $300, isn’t the SM58 vocal microphone a bit too expensive?

    1. it is expensive but dual purpose if you are a singer.

      1. ken

        don’t know where you’re buying your SM58, but it always seems to sell about $100-125 everywhere I’ve seen it. I prefer the share SM7b. $400 or so, but it doubles as an industry standard radio/podcast mic

      2. Yes sorry I just checked they are $200 RRP in Australia, So about $100 -$150 street price sounds right.

  3. JMB

    It seems that this question is clear. According to MacWorld US the TableMikes – http://www.tablemike.com are among the best microphones for Dragon Dictate: http://www.macworld.com/article/1167380/usb_6_in_1_tablemike_great_for_mac_speech_recognition.html

    This opinion is reinforced by MacWelt in Germany: http://www.macwelt.de/produkte/Test-Speechware-USB-9-in-1-Table-Mike-7706095.html?redirect=1

    1. I haven’t tried one, they look good.

  4. Dave

    I’ve been extremely happy with the Sennheiser Deskmate USB wired headset. I bought it through Amazon but from Headsets.com. Their customer service and support has been amazing, both pre- and post-purchase, and they’ve taken a very active interest in how well this headset has worked for my purposes. The quality of the microphone and it’s noise cancellation ability is superb. Great pickup, tone reproduction, and ability to capture quiet speaking. The accuracy from DD4 is superb.

    1. Yes – looks like a nice mic.

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