Softnet Systems, Inc. Speech Recognition Specialists

Dragon Medical Microphones

Microphones for Dragon Medical (and other audio applications)

Choose Your Microphone Type

There are many different microphones that work well with Dragon Medical. The Plantronics 610 USB headset that often comes with Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2 works OK in a quiet environment. But typically a better microphone results in better accuracy, particularly if there is background noise. Clearer audio also results in slightly faster Dragon responses. Between accuracy and faster responses, it is easy for a microphone replacement to save a minute or more per day, which amounts to several hours per year.

There is no "BEST" microphone. Your voice, how you use the microphone, your environment, and your PC are a few of the variables that determine what is a good microphone for you. For doctors, there are a few common scenarios that strongly influence microphone selection.

  1. Some doctors dictate almost entirely in their private office. Typically this is fairly quiet, though sometimes it is a shared office where another provider may sometimes be dictating. In this scenario there are few constraints on the microphone selection. Some prefer a desktop microphone so that both hands are free. Others who dictate a couple of times per day prefer a headset as it leaves both hands free, provides highest accuracy, and is generally lower cost. Others prefer a handheld microphone (Philips SpeechMike, Nuance PowerMic) as their dictation device.
  2. Some doctors have a computer in each exam room plus a computer in their office. As a practical matter, handheld microphones are the primary choice for this scenario though a few have successfully used desktop microphones and others are willing to use headset microphones in this situation. By far the most common microphones used in this scenario are the Philips SpeechMike's and the Nuance PowerMic's.
  3. Some doctors carry a computer from exam room to exam room. Handheld microphones including the Phlips SpeechMike and the Nuance PowerMic are by far the most common. The Buddy StylusMic 7G can be considered if you have a TabletPC, a Speechware TravelMike is another specialty option that works well in this "carrying" scenario.

Sorry, but we can not tell which microphones you will find comfortable, as that is a personal preference, much as trying on shoes. So if you have a local Dragon or microphone reseller who will let you come and see and try various microphones, contact them and buy from them!

On the phone, we can discuss microphone alternatives and provide the microphone along with the software. Or, if you are in metropolitan Phoenix and need a microphone in a hurry, we keep a variety of top-quality microphones on hand.

You'll have a tough time finding these microphones in retail stores. For more information about microphones, see our Microphone Hints.

USB Audio Adapters

The USB Audio Adapters substitute for a high-quality sound card. Some PC's have high-quality sound built-in, some don't. Most persons have no idea how to tell the difference, so you may have to try your audio system with NaturallySpeaking (or any other speech recognition product) to determine if it is "good enough". The typical test is to record, then play back and listen to the sound. If it is crystal clear, better than a telephone sound, then it should work OK. Or buy one of these USB Audio Adapters with your Dragon Medical software and if you decide you don't need it then ship it back and we'll refund the cost of the adapter.

We carry 2 different brands, Andrea and Buddy. VXi makes good adapters too, and we'll sell you theirs if you prefer it for some reason but it may take extra shipping time. The Buddy 7G Audio Adapter has a mute switch and comes in two styles, distinguished by the length of the USB cable. It is a full-duplex Audio Adapter, so both headphone and microphone jacks go into it. It is our preferred adapter. If you are buying a microphone listed as a "USB" microphone, then you do not need to buy one of these adapters.

Other USB Adapters: Andrea full-duplex, VXi full-duplex adapters, Buddy 6G USB adapter, Buddy 5G USB adapter. Some Sennheiser headsets come with a Sennheiser USB adapter.

Microphones for Best Accuracy

Microphone accuracy varies based on many factors. Of all the microphones we offer, the Sennheiser ME3 is the most accurate for most persons. Some don't find it as comfortable as conventional over-the-top-of-the-head headsets, others find these more comfortable. As a handheld microphone, the Philips SpeechMike Premium and the Philips SpeechMike Premium Touch are the best in its class for accuracy with a handheld microphone as of June 2017. The Nuance PowerMic III is a worthy competitor and is slightly easier to configure and maintain.


Most Portable Microphones

Many people must transport microphones, either from room to room or pack them up into laptop bags. These microphones are relatively easy to transport. The Buddy Stylus is by far the lightest of these microphones and is aimed at the Tablet-PC market.

The Philips SpeechMike Premium (model LFH3500) is the best of these in moderate noise environments based upon our testing in September 2012. The LFH3700 shares the same microphone technology. It has many other features justifying the higher pricing, including an excellent trackball mouse and programmable buttons. It can be set so the microphone turns off when you put the microphone down and the microphone turns on when you pick it up, saving precious seconds.

The Nuance PowerMic III is another common handheld microphone used with Dragon Medical Practice Edition. Read a comparison between the PowerMic III and the SpeechMike Premium.

Philips SpeechMike Pro Manufacturer Information

Wireless Microphones

If you want an inexpensive and accurate wireless microphone, beware! There are good, expensive (hundreds of dollars) ones with fixed base stations. If you want one of these, shop elsewhere. They may work well, but are far more difficult to set up than wired microphones.

Bluetooth microphones can be obtained. If you are moving a PC from place to place several times per day, the convenience of a Bluetooth microphone is attractive. If your computer stays at the same place all the time, look at conventional wireless microphones before thinking about Bluetooth. Some people report they work fine, so if you have a high value for being wireless, it may be fine for you. We'll advise you to order two of them so you'll have a spare while the other is being repaired. You'll have to ask us via email to supply these.

Think about why you want to get rid of the wires. Are you allergic to wires? Do you just want to look cool? Do you trip on the wires? Are the wires too heavy to carry? With wireless microphones you must carry a transmitter which has batteries that weigh more than most wires. Unless you have a strong reason to go wireless, we advise against it. When you open the packages, wireless microphones normally have more wires than wired microphones, just in different places.

Desktop Microphones

There are microphones that sit on a desk, ready to be used. They work best in very quiet settings. Many lawyers, doctors, and those working at home have such quiet settings. If debating between these and wireless microphones, I'd choose these as they are much more reliable.

The Buddy DesktopMic 7G ($199) is one choice of a basic desktop microphone with simple on/off which can be switched to a push-to-talk button.,

Speechware has its 3-in-1, 6-in-1, and 9-in-1 microphones which are excellent for speech recognition.



Low-Cost Microphones that work well with Dragon Medical

Cost is often a factor. Some microphones are used in environments where they get damaged faster than normal (e.g. schools). Others are used where infection control is a factor (e.g. dentistry) so the microphones need replacement often. Whatever the reason, some need to consider cost first and get a good microphone at low cost instead of paying for a better microphone at a higher cost.

Our favorite in this category is the Andrea VM181-USB, $44


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