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Poll: Why headset? Isn't a microphone better? (lots of answerswelcome)
Thread poster: Leena vom Hofe

Leena vom Hofe  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 18:40
Member (2005)
English to German
+ ...
Sep 30, 2008

Dear Collegues,

I am thinking about buying DNS 10 Preferred for German in combination with a headset. Now, I was wondering why it should be a headset. Isn't a microphone I can put on my desk better?

I guess, having to wear a headset for hours might be quite uncomfortable (i.e. warm etc.).

Does anyone work with a microphone instead of a headset? And how do you proceed, when reading out loud the sentence you want to translate in the source language for better understanding? Do you switch off and on the microphone all the time?

Thanks for many of your opinions.

And a nice day to you all.

Leena

[Edited at 2008-09-30 10:06]


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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
For me, headset Sep 30, 2008

Hi,

I routinely work with Dragon and I definitely would recommend a headset with a long microphone arm. (The one that came with the software was unusable for me; it was impossible to obtain the right sound level with it).

Why do I prefer a headset?

1. I need my hands - Note that I use Trados, and I use my hands to open/close segments, switch between applications, check terms... It may be different for you.

2. Voice input is more stable even during long hours - You will notice that after some learning time, Dragon recognizes your voice under very bad conditions, but as far as I have experienced, the stability of your speech helps a lot with difficult terms. You can recline a bit on your chair or turn your head to a reference or a second monitor while you dictate without any problem. If you use a headset you can stay for hours, make a break, go back to work and "never" get tired of it. I'm not sure that a micro allows you to do the same.

Note that I spent a money in the headset, an ENORMOUS one with big pads and an additional head band so that it does not hung over my ears. I already had used a similar one while working in a very noisy laboratory and was used to it.

To be honest, I have air conditioning in my studio, so that I cannot say wether it's too warm in summer. It's ok at 19 ºC in winter, 25 ºC in summer

I don't read out loud many often, but I DO discuss playing/making noise rules around my desk with my 3 years old very often. So I learned the shortcut to on/off the microphone very fast. Just hit the "/" bar in the numeric pad, and (hop!) it's done.

Good luck with it. I just love that DNS thing

Ruth @ MW


[Edited at 2008-09-30 09:48]


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Spiros Doikas  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:40
Member (2002)
English to Greek
+ ...
The good thing... Sep 30, 2008

with the headset is that the mic is close to your mouth. I use my headset's microphone (just like using a stand-alone mic) and speakers. I find that much more comfortable.

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megane_wang  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:40
English to Spanish
+ ...
Look, something like this Sep 30, 2008

Mine is something very close to that.

http://www.headsets.com/headset/Plantronics-.Audio-770-USB-Binaural-Virtual-Surround-Sound-Headset/

My son loves them

Ruth @ MW

[Edited at 2008-09-30 09:56]


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Richard Walker
Local time: 01:40
Japanese to English
It's a matter of preference, but... Sep 30, 2008

There is no right answer to this question, so if you like having a microphone on your desk, by all means buy a good one and enjoy.

There are, however, a few reasons why headsets tend to dominate this market. The advantage in terms of accuracy is that the headset maintains the position of the mic relative to your mouth. You can wiggle, shake, recline and fidget all you want without sound quality being affected. That translates into fewer mistakes, which means more efficiency, which means more euros in your bank account. If it's a wireless headset, you can also stand up, pace, answer the door and consult a book on your shelf while still being able to dictate. Other factors include the ease with which headsets can be taken on the road, the generally cheaper prices, the freedom to use your hands.

For me, desktop/handheld microphones don't offer any advantages that would trump the obvious attractions of headsets, and for all the extra hardware, expense and restrictions on use, they're not necessarily any more accurate. But that's entirely a personal preference.

You ask about comfort, but this is a function of the individual mic. I've never liked the big over-the-head units that combine headphones with a microphone--sweaty ears aren't my idea of ergonomcs. But there are lots of more petite offerings out there. Among the wired units, the Sennheiser ME-3 is very comfortable in prolonged use. Among Bluetooth units, the Jawbone is very accurate while being as small and lightweight as you're likely to see. There's also a new kid on the block from Belgium call the FlexyMike that is worth checking out:

http://www.speechware.be/en/hardwareFlexyMike.php

I've been meaning to write a full review of it, but to give you the digest version: it's an incredibly comfortable, lightweight microphone that can either be plugged into the computer or connected via Bluetooth and provides top-class accuracy in either mode. The company claims 15 hours of battery life for its Bluetooth transmitter, and while I have yet to put that claim to the test in a marathon translation session, I have been able to use it full work days without needing to recharge. Accuracy is as good as any of the zillions of mics I've used. The only real downside is the price. Having stumped up the cash, however, this has become my new microphone of choice. It's that good.

Hope this helps.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:40
Member
English to French
Headset good for multitasking Sep 30, 2008

A good headset is not that inconvenient when wearing it for long periods of time. While dictating, you can move you head about, look through the window, read the paper, etc...
If you mean a mike with a base that stands in front of your screen, so that your hands are free, I am not sure how good it is for your neck over an extended period. I suggest you should first try with the headset included and see if it suits you.

Dictating needs getting used to, you have to remember not to talk except to translate (don't forget to switch it off before answering the phone). If you are used to reading the source aloud, then you may have to change habits, or switch on/off the mike through the system tray or via your mike controls.

My own headset is monaural because I want to hear my environment while working, and you can switch it on/off without clicking the icon. I am switching shortly from an ageing Plantronics (already repaired with glue and missing its torn earpad) to a Sennheiser one-sided mike-earplug combo.

My dream would be a wireless (Bluetooth, IR?) monaural headset, with volume control and on/off, but I haven't found any. With such a thing I could even dust my office a bit further from the screen while working!

Happy dictating,
Philippe

PS: I work with a headset with office temperatures up to 32°C (no air conditioning for millions of reasons). 2008 was fairly cool with peaks at 29 only in my office.


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Michael Barnett
Local time: 12:40
English
+ ...
Headset vs desk microphone Sep 30, 2008

First, let me say that one cannot overemphasize the importance of a good microphone for speech recognition accuracy. You can find a selection of outstanding microphones at http://www.knowbrainer.com.

All other factors being equal, the advantage of the headset over a desk or hand held microphone is that the distance from the microphone to the mouth and the relative acoustic axis remains constant.

I use a headset, (Plantronics DSP 400 USB) in my back office with excellent results. In my examination rooms, though, in the presence of patients, I don't like the "cyborg" look, so I use a hand held Shure SM 58 connected to the computer through an Andrea analogue-to-USB converter. This is a popular microphone with professional singers and knowbrainer.com has never tested it for voice recognition, but I can assure you, my results have been excellent.

Another microphone I enjoy is the wireless Revo xTag. It is a little canister that dangles from a cord around the neck. This provides excellent results in a quiet environment, but breaks down where there is lots of ambient noise. The maximum talk time per charge is about eight hours which is less than I need for some of my shifts. I use it primarily at home for medicolegal reports.

I tried out the wireless Bluetooth Plantronics microphone that was bundled with DNS version 10 as a promotion last month. It's not bad but can't compete with the xTag.

I am sort of a microphone geek and am always looking for something new and exciting.

Regards,

Michael


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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bluetooth Sep 30, 2008

I just upgraded to DNS 10 and got the Plantronics Bluetooth that Nuance says was designed to go with software. It is comfortable to wear, and since there are no wires, I can get up and go to another room when needed. The design is such that if I want to take a sip of coffee or water, I can do that, too.

If I had a microphone on the desk, I'm sure that the noise my three dogs are constantly making (panting, barking, dreaming out loud when they sleep, running around) would muck up the dictating, so a headset is definitely the way to go for me!

Patricia


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:40
English to French
+ ...
I've tried, could not stand it Sep 30, 2008

I had the same feeling that a desk microphone could free me from the constraints of a headset. Actually, it was worse. To be at a fixed distance of the microphone proved quite difficult, very tiring. You have to watch yourself carefully for that.
Plus, there are some very lightweight headsets like the Plantronics DSP 400 USB that I love. I don't always have my headset on the head, sometimes just on the neck, as long as the mic is (acceptably enough) near my mouth.


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Alexandra Scott  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:40
Member (2006)
Italian to English
+ ...
Headset need not be worn on your head Oct 1, 2008

As others have mentioned, a headset is best for voice recognition as the microphone has to be within a centimeter or so of your mouth.

I have found though that the headset need not be worn on your head, as also mentioned by bohy, you can just wear it around your neck and swing the mike boom up until it is at the right distance to the side of your mouth.


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Tom Hamilton
Local time: 10:40
English
My opinions Oct 1, 2008

There are many choices out there but here are my personal picks after testing dozens of mics-


1. My first pick for a traditional headset mic is the Sennheise ME3 https://www.knowbrainer.com/storefront/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=33. The mic is rugged, high quality and produces high accuracy with superior noise cancellation.


2. My first pick for a desktop mic is the Buddy Desktop http://www.knowbrainer.com/ShopOnline/images/KB/hardware/KB0600109.jpg . It has more noise cancellation than the other desktop mics that I’ve tested, has a very good built in sound card, and it also features a very robust mute switch on the base witch came in handy for me as there are other people in my office. With this mic do not make the mistake of putting your mouth right on top of the it as it’s not necessary. 6 to 9 inches away from the mic will do just fine.


3. My first pick for a wireless mic is the Hybrid Samson Airline 77 https://www.knowbrainer.com/storefront/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=83 and it is also the most accurate and noise canceling microphone I have ever tested. The secret is in the noise gate. The only unfortunate point of this mic is the battery housing on the back that can be uncomfortable with a collared shirt.


4. My favorite budget mic is the Olympus ME52W https://www.knowbrainer.com/storefront/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=81 and can be found for as little as $15.00us. A 6 ft. shielded cable should be added to this mic as it does not have a wire of its own. This mic can only be used in completely quiet environments as it has NO NOISE CANCELLATION at all period.


5. My first pick for an external soundcard is the Andrea-pureaudio http://www.knowbrainer.com/ShopOnline/index.cfm/product/110_22/andrea-pureaudio-usb-sa-usb-pod.cfm]PureAudio simply for its physical build as it has no wire at all and looks just like a thumbdrive. In other words all USB pods perform the same but I like the portability of this particular unit.


6. My recommended sources of information for SR microphones are the Microphone Comparison Matrix https://www.knowbrainer.com/storefront/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=18 where you can compare mics head to haed and the Microphone Forum mhttp://www.knowbrainer.com/PubForum/index.cfm?page=viewForumCategory&categoryId=7 where you can read about other peoples experiences and tests with different mics.

Tom Hamilton - KnowBrainer support staff


[Edited at 2008-10-01 04:00]

[Edited at 2008-10-01 15:01]


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Tom Hamilton
Local time: 10:40
English
FlexyMike interest Oct 1, 2008

Richard Walker wrote:

There is no right answer to this question, so if you like having a microphone on your desk, by all means buy a good one and enjoy.

There are, however, a few reasons why headsets tend to dominate this market. The advantage in terms of accuracy is that the headset maintains the position of the mic relative to your mouth. You can wiggle, shake, recline and fidget all you want without sound quality being affected. That translates into fewer mistakes, which means more efficiency, which means more euros in your bank account. If it's a wireless headset, you can also stand up, pace, answer the door and consult a book on your shelf while still being able to dictate. Other factors include the ease with which headsets can be taken on the road, the generally cheaper prices, the freedom to use your hands.

For me, desktop/handheld microphones don't offer any advantages that would trump the obvious attractions of headsets, and for all the extra hardware, expense and restrictions on use, they're not necessarily any more accurate. But that's entirely a personal preference.

You ask about comfort, but this is a function of the individual mic. I've never liked the big over-the-head units that combine headphones with a microphone--sweaty ears aren't my idea of ergonomcs. But there are lots of more petite offerings out there. Among the wired units, the Sennheiser ME-3 is very comfortable in prolonged use. Among Bluetooth units, the Jawbone is very accurate while being as small and lightweight as you're likely to see. There's also a new kid on the block from Belgium call the FlexyMike that is worth checking out:

http://www.speechware.be/en/hardwareFlexyMike.php

I've been meaning to write a full review of it, but to give you the digest version: it's an incredibly comfortable, lightweight microphone that can either be plugged into the computer or connected via Bluetooth and provides top-class accuracy in either mode. The company claims 15 hours of battery life for its Bluetooth transmitter, and while I have yet to put that claim to the test in a marathon translation session, I have been able to use it full work days without needing to recharge. Accuracy is as good as any of the zillions of mics I've used. The only real downside is the price. Having stumped up the cash, however, this has become my new microphone of choice. It's that good.

Hope this helps.



Richard,

You have spiked my intersest in this microphone. If you get a chance to do a detailed review of this mic I would love to read it. A perfect stick to measure it against would be your ME3. You could even call it the Flexymike vs. the Sennheiser ME3.

Tom Hamilton - KnowBrainer support staff


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Tony M  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:40
Member
French to English
+ ...
Audio engineer's perspective Oct 9, 2008

I have zero experience using microphones specifically for speech recognition, but as a general point, I can say that as an audio engineer, a headset-type mike is to be preferred, for all the reasons stated above:

proximity to the mouth — trying to get as close to a desk mike is almost impossible, and staying consistently in the right position is almost bound to lead to tiring contortions (a mike on a short boom stand, as used for example by singers seated at a piano might be one solution, but is still quite restricting)

Closeness to the mouth is important in helping to improve signal-to-noise ratio, as the voice is that much louder compared to any ambient noise.

consistent mouth / mike position, and hence volume and sound quality; relative movement of the axes of the mouth and the microphone are likely to lead to quite dramatic changes in audio quality, which I would imagine would be disastrous with any learning-based system that surely must rely heavily on the consistency of the audio quality.

I use just the mic part of my headset, as others have said, simply dangling round my neck (I listen using the speakers on my PC), and find that I am soon completely unaware of wearing it — to the extent that I sometimes get up and dash off, nearly ripping the poor thing out of its socket!

Of course, all these positioning considerations aside, there is still no excuse for using a poor-quality headset mike — though in my experience, you don't have to pay a small fortune to get adequate quality, and these items are sufficiently fragile and/or vulnerable that you sort of need to regard them as 'consumables'.


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Claudio Porcellana  Identity Verified
Italy
Why headset? Isn't a microphone better? Apr 24, 2009

Hi all

I bought a Sennheiser ME3 headset 3 years ago and I'm very happy with it

the device is very light, cosy and indestructible

furthermore, even with a Deep Purple CD playing at at full blast 50 cm away, you'll have a perfect dictation ;-D



Claudio


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Berni Armstrong  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:40
Member
English
+ ...
And that is an advantage? Apr 24, 2009

Claudio Porcellana wrote:
.... even with a Deep Purple CD playing at at full blast 50 cm away, you'll have a perfect dictation ;-D


I hate wearing headsets. I use a boom stand and a good singer's microphone that feeds into a fire-wire solo digitizer from M-Audio.

However, I certainly couldn't play heavy rock music and still expect accurate recognition using my set up.

Mind you, I have never understood how people can multi-task like that anyway. I need silence for translation. I'd be useless in a busy office!

Of course, being a musician doesn't help. I find it impossible to juat let music "slip into the background". Good luck to those who can, though.


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