Speech recognition is one of the fastest-growing technologies, with more people using this convenient method for a variety of reasons. Choosing a microphone that can identify dictation clearly and accurately is a must.
There are so many great microphones on the market today that it can be hard to differentiate between their qualities and drawbacks. In this article, I will present the best mics for dictation and speech recognition, and explain why they are well suited to this purpose.
Best Mics for Speech Recognition & Dictation
Table of Contents
- Best Mics for Speech Recognition & Dictation
- The Different Types of Speech Recognition Microphones
- Speech Recognition Mics – How to Choose the Best Option
Audio-Technica is one of the leading manufacturers of recording equipment. Their BPHS1 is a headset/mic combo that was specifically designed for capturing spoken words with a high level of accuracy.
This stereo headset successfully isolates the sound source from any background noises. With its over-ear design, external sounds are attenuated, making it perfect for detailed speech recognition.
The closed-back nature of the headset minimizes the amount of spill that occurs, preventing the sound from escaping through gaps in the headphones. This improves the microphone’s ability to recognize words and dictation.
So what about the recording capabilities? There's a boom microphone installed onto the side of one of the headphones, which has a cardioid polar pattern. Cardioid mics are known for their directional method of recording.
The mic boasts great sensitivity at the front, off-axis rejection at the back, and minimal sensitivity on the sides. The result is focused recordings that will hone in on the sound source and thus, make it easier for software to identify the speaker.
The rejection of sound toward the rear of the microphone also solves the age-old problem of feedback and unwanted noise. The boom mix has a gooseneck attachment that can slot onto the left or right side of the headphones depending on your preference.
Another important thing to consider when buying a headset/mic combination for speech recognition is comfort. Because they are likely to be worn for long periods, the Audio-Technica BPHS1 has a padded headband and doesn’t weigh too much.
The fact that the ear pads and cable are both easily replaceable makes the BPHS1 a worthy investment. Headphones and boom mics will inevitably be subjected to a lot of movement and usage, so being able to swap the parts improves their longevity.
Overall, the Audio-Technica BPHS1 is a reliable option when it comes to the recording for speech recognition purposes, and it's not too pricey either.
2. AKG Lyra
The Lyra by AKG instantly caught my eyes thanks to its blend of vintage, radio-mic aesthetics, and miniature dimensions. Made with mobility in mind, this microphone is a portable option that is ideally suited to speech recognition for software like Dragon.
The sound capturing ability of Lyra is especially impressive for such an affordable mic. It is 4K compatible, and runs at a 24-bit resolution, so will have no problems deciphering spoken word.
Thanks to the built-in USB connectivity, an interface isn’t required to record with the AKG Lyra. You can simply plug it into your computer or laptop, open up your DAW and find it in the input channel instantaneously. This is convenient for using it in multiple locations without having to carry other pieces of equipment around.
Another useful feature is the built-in 3.5 mm headphone jack. When you're recording for speech recognition purposes, it's important to hear yourself to get the dictation right. With the Lyra, you can monitor your speech in real-time and avoid external distractions.
The microphone itself has an interesting inner set-up. There are 4 capsules inside the grille, each facing a slightly different direction and forming a cube-like shape. These four polar patterns work together to capture the sound source in its full essence.
Conveniently, the AKG Lyra comes with a removable base stand, so you can simply rest it on a surface and use it in almost any setting. It’s made from durable metal too, so accidentally dropping it shouldn’t cause an issue.
With its stylish aesthetics and durable construction, the Samson Meteor Mic is a pocket-sized option that has a smooth response across the frequency spectrum. Three folding legs mean that there's no need for an external mic stand, simply set it up on any surface and start recording.
The chrome-plated zinc body houses a large-diaphragm condenser capsule that is sure to pick up the articulation of the human voice with clarity and precision. Rotary volume control is smartly positioned on the front of the mic, allowing for real-time adjustments.
There’s also a headphone jack on the microphone’s face, providing instant access to the sound and mix of your recordings. The grille spreads evenly across the font and top of the Meteor Mic, so you don’t need to be in any one position for it to perform accurate speech recognition.
With USB connectivity, you can plug straight into a computer or laptop, press the central on/off button, and start using the Meteor right away. It also comes equipped with a USB cable and a protective pouch for transportation purposes.
The Nuance PowerMic III is a smart USB microphone that doubles up as a PC mouse. This interesting quality makes speech recognition much easier, as you don’t have to keep switching between the mic, to the mouse, to your keyboard.
Designed almost like a landline telephone, this mic is laid out in an ergonomically friendly way. It's designed for thumb control operation and allows you to control diction and speech recognition quickly and efficiently.
With USB connectivity, you can simply plugin and start talking. There's no need for specific soundcards or drivers. Like a USB mouse, your computer will automatically recognize the PowerMic III and it'll start working right away.
Highly compatible with Dragon and other similar dictation softwares, this Nuance product has a unidirectional microphone built-in with good noise-canceling properties, so it will pick up your words from all angles at close quarters.
5. Rode NT-USB
The Rode NT microphones are used by musicians and recording engineers all over the world, and now they've designed a version specifically for broadcasting, podcasting, and speech recognition.
This all-in-one condenser microphone requires no setting up – simply connect to your PC or MAC via the USB port with no need for external hardware. With onboard A/D conversion, there’s very minimal latency and the sound quality is pristine.
I like that Rode includes a smart surface stand and an attached pop shield to stabilize the microphone and minimize the presence of plosives. The tripod base eliminates the need for a bulky mic stand and improves the transportability of the NT-USB.
There's a built-in stereo headphone jack so you can get an instant representation of your speech, without having to go through the DAW's channel.
The AT2020USB+ provides you with all of the main qualities found in the AT2020 standard condenser mic, now with easier connection options. You can connect to your computer with no need for software downloads or a digital audio interface.
With newly updated sample resolutions, a headphone output for real-time monitoring, and mix control, the AT2020USB+ is a great choice for your dictation requirements.
Like the renowned AT2020, the USB version has a low-mass diaphragm that has been specifically chosen for its wide and extensive frequency response to ensure that it picks up all of the timbres and tones of a human voice.
The capsule within the microphone is side-addressable, so you could, in theory, have two people speaking into the microphone from parallel sides and still get good speech recognition results in Dragon or a similar program.
7. Shure MV5
The Shure MV5 is an intriguing microphone, with its retro announcement mic aesthetics and flexible stand. Operating the MV5 is incredibly straightforward – secure it to a surface, hook it up via micro USB, and you’re good to go.
It features a medium-sized microphone capsule that captures a range of instruments and voice styles proficiently. The forward-facing grille design is ideal for speech recognition as it focuses the capsule toward a singular sound source.
A discrete headphone output takes care of your monitoring needs, and the DSP preset modes that are built into the Shure MV5 allow you to quickly toggle between ready-made settings tailored to podcasts, instruments, spoken word or dictation.
The finishing touches are made by the removable aluminum stand that can easily be mounted to a flat surface.
This affordable pocket-sized USB mic is designed for maximum portability, fitting into a backpack with ease.
With a handy headphone output and two individual polar patterns, this tiny condenser can be used for multiple recording purposes. It's available in either black or white and comes with a USB cable and protective zipper bag.
The two-pickup patterns included in the Samson Go are omnidirectional and cardioid. For speech recognition purposes, you'll probably use the cardioid pattern mostly, because it produces an accurate and tightly focused sound.
Having the option to switch to omnidirectional is still a useful attribute, as you may feel the need to record something other than speech at some point in the future. When it comes to recording, the more the options, the better!
The Different Types of Speech Recognition Microphones
There are numerous varieties of microphones that are fit for speech recognition. The most common types are:
- Table Mounted Mics
- Wireless Microphones
- Headset Microphones with Wiring
Choosing the right one for you depends on the environment you intend to use the microphone in. If you need a mobile option that is quick to set up and can be easily transported from one place to another, a table-mounted mic is probably the best bet.
If you know that the microphone will stay in one set location, it might be wiser to consider a wired headset microphone, as these work best in a consistent setting with one person using them.
Hand-held and wireless microphones are convenient for moving around, but the focus of the capsule is usually compromised by the lack of a stable base.
Speech Recognition Mics – How to Choose the Best Option
Speech recognition microphones must have specific capabilities so that they can effectively identify the words that you speak into their capsules. Before you decide which mic is best for your needs, consider some of the following points.
Every microphone has a frequency response which underlines the pitch of the sound that it is capable of recording or receiving. For example, a microphone designed specifically for a kick drum would need to have a frequency response of around 700-1000Hz.
Speech recognition microphones must have the capacity to capture the prominent frequency range of the human voice. The fundamental speech tone is around 100-120 Hz for males and 165-255 Hz for women.
It’s imperative for the microphone you choose to be able to capture these frequency ranges with clarity. Mics designed for speech recognition should have a frequency response of around 0.1Hz to 140kHz.
Another variable of speech recognition microphones is the polar patterns they use. Some mics have switchable polar patterns, which allow you to choose between several different modes via an onboard button or switch mechanism.
The most common polar pattern used for speech recognition microphones is cardioid. This polar pattern results in the microphone picking up most of the sound from the front of the capsule, while significantly less sound is picked up from the back and sides.
If you intend to use your microphone for speech recognition with more than one person, you might find that a bidirectional, or figure-of-eight polar pattern is best suited.
This means that equal amounts of sound are picked up from the front and back, while the sides pick up minimal sound.
Creation & Dictation
The great thing about purchasing a microphone for speech recognition is that you can also use it for other recording purposes. Each of the options on this list are versatile and capable of performing several functions, so they make a worthy investment.