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Audio and Prompts Discussions

Microphone questions
User: kmaclean
Date: 9/24/2007 12:18 pm
Views: 5151
Rating: 41

Cross posted from Re:

Hi Ralph,

I have a question in that was rather hard to answer using information on websites, but perhaps you can. I have a Sennheiser headset (pc146) and starting Monday I will work with Dragon Naturally Speaking. I think there is also a headset included with the program, so I was wondering whether I should use my own headset or that one. some people say that the included headset isn't very good, but obviously Nuance says that it is good. I just wonder whether mine is just as good or better in which case I will probably use mine.



--- (Edited on 9/24/2007 1:18 pm [GMT-0400] by kmaclean) ---

Re: Microphone questions
User: kmaclean
Date: 9/24/2007 12:20 pm
Views: 1771
Rating: 32

Ralph's reply (cross posted from: Dragon headset, Sennheiser PC 146, Andrea USB soundcard):

Hello Robin,

Short version: You should continue to use your Sennheiser headset PC 146.

Long version: When you start using NaturallySpeaking, NaturallySpeaking will make an adjustment of the loudness of your microphone.  So NaturallySpeaking can adjust the loudness of your Sennheiser PC 146 headset.

After NaturallySpeaking has adjusted the loudness of your headset, you can start using Audacity 1.2.6.  Audacity will use the same loudness as previously adjusted by NaturallySpeaking.  So the setting for the loudness of the microphone should be optimal.

Then you can record your own voice with Audacity (after making the adjustment of the microphone level by NaturallySpeaking).  Record your voice with your Sennheiser PC 146 headset.

Afterwards, make the same procedure using the Dragon headset.  Adjust the volume setting with NaturallySpeaking using your Dragon headset.  And then make a record with Audacity.

Compare both recordings (the first one with your Sennheiser PC 146 headset and the second one with your Dragon headset) you made with Audacity.  Probably, the recording with the Sennheiser PC 146 headset is a bit better.

What is the reason for the assumed difference of quality?  In my opinion, the main reason is probably the quality of the sound card.  Your Sennheiser PC 146 headset has an integrated USB soundcard, which is probably better than your onboard sound card.

If you want to use your Dragon headset, you should consider to buy the Andrea USB adapter (here one offer at eBay's auction house: - the price is about 25 €).  I am using this Andrea USB adapter.  And it is worth the price for speech recognition enthusiasts like we are.  

The Andrea USB adapter works under my Ubuntu Linux operating system.  They don't advertise that the Andrea USB adapter is working under Linux, but in my case, it is working.  So this might be an additional reason to buy the Andrea USB adapter.  It has a good compatibility and a good quality for speech recordings.

But once you have started using NaturallySpeaking, you probably won't use Linux anymore because you don't want to miss NaturallySpeaking anymore.

An alternative to the suggested Andrea USB soundcard might be the following soundcard "Buddy USB 5G™ Sound Adapter" - take a look here:

Before you buy the Andrea USB adapter, you might want to have a look at this discussion:

If you don't want to buy the Andrea USB adapter, you should take a look at what soundcards Dragon NaturallySpeaking is officially recommending.  They do recommend some specific soundcards.  This information should be written on the package of NaturallySpeaking.  You can buy one of those soundcards they are referring to.  But don't buy any other soundcard, the result might be disappointing.

The third alternative would be to buy a completely new mainboard with a good onboard sound card.  Probably, the quality would be sufficient.  Because new mainboards tend to have a much better sound quality than older main boards.

In my opinion, a soundcard for speech recognition shouldn't cost more than 35 €.  There are professional recording cards available (example: M-Audio Audiophile 2469, price about 80 €).  But I'm not sure whether such an expensive sound card is necessary.  I wouldn't spend more than 35 € for a soundcard that should be used for speech recognition.  I am sure that it would be a waste of money to buy a recording card for 80 €.  But I haven't tested it.  But I have read a lot, and I think that the maximum price for a recording soundcard for speech recognition is 35 €.

You see, this is a complex topic. I have read a lot about it in the Internet to find the best solution.  In my opinion, you should focus on the soundcard, not on the microphone.  And a good choice is the Andrea USB adapter, I am using this Andrea USB adapter, you can listen to my recordings to get an impression of the quality.  There is little background noise, you can live with that background noise.

The Andrea USB adapter has the advantage that you can buy different normal headsets with no integrated USB soundcard.

You can have the best microphone, but without the appropriate soundcard you won't get a good result.

You can forget USB soundcards that cost about 10 €.  They are too bad.

So an optimal price/quality solution should be a headset for about 35 € and a soundcard (PCI or USB) for not more than 35 €.  It shouldn't be more expensive.  And it shouldn't be less expensive.  If you would pay more, you would waste your money.  If you would pay less, your results might be too bad.

One additional question: Which version of NaturallySpeaking are you using?  The standard version or the preferred version?  And which languages are you able to use?

And don't forget to update NaturallySpeaking!  NaturallySpeaking 9.1 (Windows XP) is much better than NaturallySpeaking 9.  If you're using Windows Vista (I don't use Vista), there should be NaturallySpeaking 9.5 available, which is probably a bit better than NaturallySpeaking 9.1.  It is necessary that you update to the newest version via Internet to get the best recognition results.

If you have questions, concerning soundcard, microphone or NaturallySpeaking, please ask.  I am very interested in this topic and I would like to find a better solution for myself than I am having today.

You can test the Dragon headset in the combination with the Andrea USB adapter.  And compare the result with your Sennheiser PC 146 headset.  I am not sure which solution would be better.

You see, it is really difficult to find a good answer.

Greetings, Ralf

--- (Edited on 9/21/2007 12:24 pm [GMT-0500] by ralfherzog) ---


--- (Edited on 9/24/2007 1:20 pm [GMT-0400] by kmaclean) ---