Battle of the_handheld_microphones


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Battle of the_handheld_microphones

  1. 1. 1October 8, 2012Introduction:While preparing to review the new Philips Premium SpeechMike LFH-3500, itoccurred to me that the most effective way to do so would be in the contextof the top rated handheld speech recognition microphones.The following reviewconsists of 3 parts:(1) My personal take on the evolution of speech recognitionmicrophones(2) A general consensus of8 we went with speech recognition expertson the pros and cons of what we believe to be the top 5handheldmicrophones(3) My personal assessment of what the numbers meanIf you wish to skip past the brief microphone history, click Pros and Cons. Ifyouwish to skip further ahead to myconclusions,clickrecommendations.Evolution of Speech Recognition MicrophonesWhen we first began using DragonDictate speech recognition software in the1980’s it seemed to be incredibly impressive technology. Never minding thevery deliberate pause after each and every word, we waited with baitedbreath to see another (hopefully correct) word miraculously appear on oursomewhat blurry little screens.It was fun! It was frustrating! It was not verypractical. Back then, the couple of wired headset microphone choicesavailable to us were more than adequate.In 1996, NaturallySpeaking continuous speech recognition was released.Withthe emergence of this new technology, we had a viable tool forHANDHELD MICROPHONE FACE-OFFDictaphone PowerMic II, Philips Premium SpeechMike,GrundigDigta SonicMic II&Olympus DirectTrec
  2. 2. 2professional as well as personal use. That being the case, we neededmicrophones designed to better utilize this increasingly more sophisticatedsoftware and microphone manufacturers have responded.Hand Held Microphone History:Around the turn of the century, Philips dominated the handheld microphone marketby introducing the 1stnon-USB SpeechMike which combined programmablebuttons with a rollerball handheld mouse/microphone. The 1stunits even included a3 level volume control for various environments (a feature we really could haveused on the SpeechMike II and III). One of the main problems with theSpeechMike II was the daily necessity of having to remove oil from the plasticrollerball with rubbing alcohol. Some end-users even resorted to cutting off thethumb from a pair of latex gloves so that they didn’t have to clean the ball so often.Eventually Philips replaced the SpeechMike with several USB models of theSpeechMike II which kicked everything up a notch. The plastic ball was coatedwith mother-of-pearl to resist oily fingers. A number of other handheldmicrophone manufacturers, like Grundig and Olympus, additionally took a shot atthe handheld marketwhich remained firmly in Philips grasp until about 4 years agowhen Nuance upped the ante by releasing the Dictaphone PowerMic II. As themanufacturer of both Dragon Medical and the PowerMic II, Nuance enjoyed theadvantage of being able to embed the PowerMic II application right into DragonMedical but another advantage was the introduction of idiot proof programmablebuttons that not only allowed you to program the usual dozen or soNaturallySpeaking hotkey commands but additionally permit the end-user toprogram any NaturallySpeaking, personal or even a third-party macro by simplytyping the name of the command into the button field. Within a few months afterthe PowerMic II’s introduction, it literally took over the market that Philips haddominated for over a decade. Philips answered that challenge by introducing theSpeechMike Air and the SpeechMike III about 2 years ago. Although Philipsdidn’t market the 1stwireless handheld microphone (that distinction belongs to theGrundig Digta CordEx) Philips made it work. Although the SpeechMike IIIintroduced a new look and feel, including an antibiotic housing, it was unable torecover the market share it lost to Nuance so Philips went back to the drawingboard and came up with the SpeechMike Premium LFH 3500 (think of it as theSpeechMike IV) which introduced additional programmable buttons, large
  3. 3. 3playback speaker, automatic mute (when you lay the microphone down on a flatsurface), integrated pop filter, precision stainless steel laser scannedself lubricatingremovable trackball, improved signal-to-noise ratio, completely redesigned moresensitive extended-range jar proofmicrophone element, higher accuracy, polishedsurface(to reduce unwanted fingertip noises), motion sensor, ergonomicallyimproved and most importantly…SIGNIFICANTLY IMPROVED noise filtering.This is the 1sthandheld microphone that can effectively be used in a crowdedEmergency Room. In my opinion, the greatest problem with other handheldmicrophones is noise filtering. Fortunately, Philips seems to have found a solution.A handheld microphone just might be your best option if:You find headset microphones to be uncomfortableYou are self-conscious about wearing a headset in front of othersYou like the idea of using a hand-held microphone with programmablebuttons that additionally doubles as a mouse controllerYou dislike having to continuously don and remove your headsetYou need an easily portable microphone that you can take from placeto placeYou take the time to arrange your hair just the way you like it andTHAT IS HOW YOU WANT TO KEEP IT!Below is given a general consensus of 8 speech recognition experts onthe pros and cons of what we believe to be the top 5hand heldmicrophones, followed by our ratings.Pros& Cons
  4. 4. 4Dictaphone PowerMic IIPros:MSRP: $499/$399 StreetAccuracy: 99%Noise Cancellation: 7 out of 10Overall Rating: 9 out of 1099% AccuracyOfficial Nuance Dragon Medical Practice Edition microphoneRugged construction and extra thick cablingNo other handheld microphone comes close when it comes to the easeand flexibility of programming the buttons. The PowerMic II is also thefirst model to introduce the ability to program any NaturallySpeakingmacro, third-party macro or personal command. Note that this featureis now included with the Philips SpeechMikesThe perfect microphone for network deployments because thePowerMic II application is automatically installed with Dragon Medical90 day manufacturer warrantyDictaphone PowerMic IICons:90 day warrantyOnly works with Dragon MedicalMoreexpensive than competitive unitsBarcode Reader option is high pricedPhilips SpeechMike AirPros:MSRP: $499 (wireless) & $309+ (wired)Accuracy:99%Noise Cancellation: 7 out of 10Overall Rating: 10 out of 1099% AccuracyVery well constructed including lots of informative lightsThe only handheld WIRELESS microphone in this groupVibrates to signal when you were wondering out of range and chirps ifyou go completely out of range
  5. 5. 5Doubles as a desktop microphone and can be used from a distance ofup to 14 inchesIncludes AC adapters for use in other countriesUse on multiple computers by leaving the base station and relocatingthe removable Bluetooth dongleLFH-3200&LFH-3215 are lower priced wired versions of theSpeechMike Air that additionally include a micro antimicrobial skin1 year manufacturer warrantyPhilips SpeechMike AirCons:Cannot be pared to more than 1 Bluetooth adapterPhilips SpeechMike Premium LFH 3500 Pros:MSRP: $335Accuracy:100%Noise Cancellation: 9 out of 10Overall Rating: 10 out of 10100% AccuracyDoubles as a desktop TableMike that can be used from a distance of upto 16 inches when combined with the complementary KnowBrainerTableMike adapter (KnowBrainer Website Store Exclusive)Recipient of Nuance’s highest 6 Dragon ratingVery well constructed including lots of informative lightsMore sensitive than any other handheld microphone (longer-range)Improved signal-to-noise ratio over other Philips handhelds2 additional programmable buttons over the LFH 3200 seriesJar/bump free-floating decoupled microphone elementAntimicrobial housingLike the PowerMic II, the LFH 3500 allows you to program anyNaturallySpeaking factory or end-user commands into theprogrammable buttons but extends this functionality to all versions ofNaturallySpeaking. The PowerMic II limits this functionality to DragonMedicalBuilt-in high precision “CLICKABLE” stainless steel laser scanned selflubricating removable trackball
  6. 6. 6Largest playback speaker in its classAutomatic microphone mute when setting on a flat surfaceIntegrated pop filterProgrammable buttons can be used to program any NaturallySpeakingfactory or end-user personal macro (like the PowerMic II)Auto volume control (increases or decreases volume input as youmove in or away from the microphone)1 year manufacturer warrantyPhilips SpeechMike Premium LFH 3500 Cons:n/aGrundig SonicMic IIPros& Digta CordEx:MSRP: $299(wired) & $499 (wireless)Accuracy: 99%Noise Cancellation: 7 out of 10Overall Rating: 9 out of 1099% AccuracyIncludes weighted desktop standDigta CordExmodel is wirelessDoubles as a desktop microphone with a 15 inch rangeDoesnt need to be held close to your mouth like most handheldmicrophonesYou can program 3 functions into each button (single click, double-click and long click)1 year manufacturer warrantyGrundig SonicMic II Cons:Included configuration utility may not be obvious to new end users butwe include a KnowBrainer pictorial step-by-step guide
  7. 7. 7Olympus DR-2300/2200/1200 Pros:MSRP: $249+Accuracy: 98%Noise Cancellation: 7 out of 10Overall Rating: 8 out of 10DR-1200 is push button. DR-2200 includes a slider control and the DR-2300 adds a barcode scanner to the DR-2200Very well constructed and durableHigh quality metal rollerballAuto volume control (increases or decreases volume input as youmove in or away from the microphone)Considerably less expen$ive than the competition1 year manufacturer warrantyOlympus DR-2300/2200/1200Cons:Doesn’t include the usual DVD to install the button configuration utilityNo manufacturer user guideNote:We felt that the absence of a user guide and configuration utility wereunacceptable so we are including a complimentary DVD with the DirectTrecconfiguration utility along with a pictorial step-by-step on how to programthe buttons along with setting up your microphone for use withNaturallySpeaking.Conclusions:1st Place ~ Philips SpeechMike LFH-3500(Click to See)Philips and Nuance currently dominate the handheld microphone market butPhilips raised the bar by introducing significantly improved noise filtering (farbeyond any other handheld microphone), antimicrobial housing, automaticmute, the best accuracy of any handheld microphone, flexible long range jarproof microphone element, largest playback speaker, desktop stand forhands-free use(KnowBrainer exclusive)and an integrated pop filter. The LFH3500 is also less expensive than the Nuance PowerMic II. Additionalmanufacturer information available at
  8. 8. 82nd Place ~ Dictaphone PowerMic II (Click to See)Unlike other handheld microphones, the PowMic II doesn’t require installinga configuration utility because it is already built into the Medical versions ofDragon. Our favorite feature is the idiot proof button programming tab.Programming is as easy as typing the name of the command you wish todeploy and you are not limited to a handful of Dragon functions or hotkeys,as with all other handheld microphones. While we appreciated the versatilityof the programmable buttons, we had to subtract points for Nuance limitingthis microphone to just the medical versions of NaturallySpeaking along witha90 day warranty.Additional manufacturer information available atwww.nuance.com3rd Place ~ Philips SpeechMike Air(Click to See)Philips introduced the 1stwireless handheld microphone that can double as adesktop microphone with a 14 inch reach range. This microphone evenwarns you if you move the microphone too far from the base. Additionalmanufacturer information available at Place ~ Grundig Digta SonicMic II(Click to See)The 2 most compelling reasons for choosing the SonicMic II over otherhandheld microphones was price (although slightly higher than the OlympusDR-2200) and the fact that the Grundig microphone doubles as a desktopmicrophone with a 15 inch range.The notably more expensive SpeechMikeAir is the only other microphone that can double as a desktop microphone.Even though the SonicMic II only has 3 programmable buttons, we liked thefact that all 3 buttons can be programmed with single click, double-click andlong click functionality enabling you to program up to 9 functions. Additionalmanufacturer information available at www.grundig.de5th Place ~ Olympus DR-2200(Click to See)Although not quite as accurate as other handheld microphones, we wereimpressed by construction and pricing of the DR-2200. If youre looking forhigh quality and affordability, youll get the best bang for your buck with theOlympus DR-1200 but if you require a barcode reader, nothing comes closeto the price break on the DR-2300 model. Although its common formicrophone manufacturers to omit proper instructional guides, I wassurprised that Olympus didnt include a button programming utility.Fortunately, I was able to download the Olympus Directrec configurationutility from the Olympus website. Note that if you decide to purchase this
  9. 9. 9microphone from KnowBrainer, we additionally include the OlympusDirectrec configuration utility on DVD along with pictorial step-by-stepinstructions. Additional manufacturer information available atwww.olympusamerica.comI feel its important to point out that all 5 of these microphones workedexceedingly well in Dragon with the only limitation being that the PowerMicII can only be used in the medical versions of Dragon.This review was dictated with the new Philips SpeechMike III LFH 3500Previous Reviews:If you would like to see some of our previous reviews check out the following:KnowBrainer TableMike Face-OffKnowBrainer Headset Microphone Face-OffKnowBrainer Telephone Microphone Face-OffKnowBrainer Digital Recorder Face-OffKnowBrainer Wireless Microphone Face-OffKnowBrainer USB Soundcard Face-Off (coming soon)Current Gold Standards:The following is a list of microphones that we consider to be #1 in theirmicrophone categories we:Best Wireless Microphone = Samson Airline 77Best Combo Telephone Wireless Microphone = Jabra Pro 9470Best Handheld USB Microphone = Dictaphone PowerMic IIBest USB TableMike =Speechware3-in-1,6-in-1&9-in-1Best Wired Headset Microphone = Audio-Technica Pro 8HEmWBest Bluetooth Wireless Microphone = VXi BlueParrott XpresswayBest Digital Recorder = Olympus DS-7000
  10. 10. 10Best Speech Recognition Application = NaturallySpeaking 12&DMPELunis Orcutt - Developer of KnowBrainer 2012and founder of KnowBrainerSpeech Recognition Forums (the worlds largest speech recognition forum)Chat Live w/a Nuance Gold Certified Speech Recognition SolutionsProvider©KnowBrainer 1996-2012