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An Introduction To Speech Recognition Microphones



This microphone article is going to reveal my secret inner geek qualities. I’m going to show a part of myself that never is revealed to anyone other than my family. It may border on appearing as though I use a pocket protector. Yes, unfortunately, I am a closet microphone freak. I’ve tried to hide it from the world and here I am today publicly acknowledging it to all of you. I recognize that the first step in recovery is acknowledging a problem. I just don’t know if I want to recover.

Over the years I have acquired, thrown out, given away, used as a doorstop and done many other things with microphones. I am always on the eternal quest to find the perfect microphone. I have had some that I have loved and some that I have despised, but all have left an impression upon me.

I have been an avid reader of all the details about these microphones. I hardly understand any of the mechanical properties of microphones, but I know a good one when I use it.

Obviously, there is a reason for my passion over microphones. Speech recognition works well. I know that to be a fact. I hope you are starting to believe that it works well also. But, speech recognition works poorly with a poor microphone. Speech recognition works okay with a good microphone while speech recognition can be positively mind blowing with an excellent microphone.

The debate about the perfect microphone has been endless in the 10 years that I have used speech. People have been vehement that they have found nirvana. Others will verbally strike back stating that the person does not know what they are talking about.

Here is my first rule to prepare for when using speech recognition and researching microphones: No microphone is perfect for everyone!!! Do not be tricked into thinking that the microphone which is perfect for me will be perfect for you. Many microphones will work well for a number of people. Trial and error is required to find the best microphone for your unique set of circumstances.

Financial cost for a microphone? It can be high. Emotional cost? Not really at all when you have the right microphone. However, there is a high emotional cost with the wrong microphone. A poorly suited microphone will bring out words from my mouth that would have me arrested in Kansas. I could just scream over the amount of times I have said one thing and had something else show up on the screen. Sometimes, it is because I did not enunciate well. Other times, it has been from a poor choice of microphone.

I have a Motion 1600 tablet that I use daily in my office.. For several years I used the built-in array microphone. It worked great. Approximately 96% accuracy. My problem began when I acknowledged to myself that my history of having 98% accuracy with a hand-held microphone would not allow me to be satisfied with 96% accuracy. I struggled with this knowledge for several months. I loved not having a microphone. I loved speaking directly into my computer and I hated how the Motion would miss the small words.

Months ago, I went back to my "Gold Standard" microphone. It is the Sennheiser M.D431. This microphone is openly acknowledged to be the best microphone for speech recognition . True speech recognition experts use this as the standard to which all other microphones are compared. It makes the 2% difference that saves me from going crazy. It gets the small words such as a, and, an, in, the.

One of the most peculiar things about speech recognition for a beginner is finding out that speech recognition actually can and easily understands many complex words. Most corrections occur as a result of missing small words or words that are a plural. This is why the microphone becomes such an important feature. Without a good quality microphone the small words will constantly be misinterpreted. No amount of training will solve the problem. Only a great microphone can save the day.

Let’s go into the cost of the microphone. Unfortunately, excellent microphones cost significant amounts of money. My Sennheiser microphone was almost $500. Then again, it is the "Gold Standard." Many other high quality microphones will not cost anywhere near this amount but may cost several hundred dollars. Inexpensive microphones that use the term "speech recognition" on the box may not actually be proficient for true speech recognition.

Do not be misled when it comes to buying a microphone. This is one of the very few times when I think the only place to buy a microphone is over the Internet. There are several websites dedicated to high quality speech recognition microphones. is the first site I would suggest. I have found them to be ethical and extremely knowledgeable about speech recognition microphones. Secondly, I would suggest Knowbrainer. Knowbrainer is perhaps the most knowledgeable site when it comes to speech recognition. However, I would place this site second when it comes to microphones. Others may disagree with my priorities; but I have found several reasons not pertinent to this article to support my belief.

I’ve begun to contact several Internet microphone sites and have been successful in obtaining evaluation microphones that are relevant to speech recognition and tablet computers. I’ve also contacted several manufacturers and they have agreed to send microphones that are relevant for tablets.

Now I want your help. I’m hoping some of you have specific requests of microphones that you would like to see evaluated. Who knows, I may have already ordered some of these microphones, but I am hoping that others may have ideas that I have not thought about. All suggestions are greatly appreciated.

Those who are interested in speech recognition as a primary input device should find the next several months exciting! I am about to start assessing tablet computers and specific microphones to see how they interact with each other.

Don’t forget, I too am an interested party with what works best. I promise you I will give unbiased opinions. I’m on a quest. I want to replace my tablet computer with something that gives me even greater accuracy.

Maybe I can find with your help the perfect tablet that has an array microphone that allows 98% accuracy. Maybe together we can find a wireless microphone with a tablet that offers 99% accuracy. Perhaps nirvana at 100%. Don’t be afraid to offer your suggestions. Collectively, we should come up with the 2008 ultimate power user, state-of-the-art, speech recognition/tablet combination.

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