Best Mic for dictation to text

I’m looking for a mic which will be accurate for dictating to my desktop Mac(s). This is for translation to text. I am in the medical field.

Background, I had used Dragon with Windows for 20 years. With a wired Sennheiser mic which attaches to your head. I have completely switched to Mac a few years ago. I dictate to my iPhone and iPad easily into Dragon medical built into our software. This works well. I’d like to be able to dictate directly to my 2019 Mac mini (currently intel).

Wishes (in order of priority) for this setup include:

  1. accuracy for spoken word
  2. stable location on my desk near the screen (not attached to head)
  3. simple start/stop recording interface (ok using keyboard hotkey…and I do have a Streamdeck)
  4. simple physical presence on the desk (small footprint …eg not a tripod stand)
  5. ability to speak at a variety of distances from the mic (primarily within 1-2 feet, but would like also to be able to dictate from 10ft)
  6. spend <$200

This would be used in a primarily quiet environment. Door closed. private room…might have music playing in background (without words).

This particular Mac is a Mac mini which of course has a limited number of ports. I might need to use this through a usb hub…although if that sacrifices accuracy or speed, I’d try to use a dedicated port directly from the mic

Thank you in advance,
TJ

I was a previous Windows user of Dragon, many years back. On the Mac, I was always searching for the holy grail of dictation without a headset, but always fell back to using a wired Sennheiser mic. Probably not what you are looking for if you want just the mic, but lately I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the outstanding accuracy I get with dictation in the Drafts app using the Studio Display’s microphone array.

Evan,

I too have been impressed with Drafts for dictation. And sometimes I’ll dictate into my iPhone into Drafts and then pull it up on the Mac…amazing how fast Drafts syncs…

For my work though, I need the medical vocabulary, so I typically dictate directly into Dragon Medical which thankfully is built into parts (but not all) of our medical software where I would dictate. So I no longer use Dragon desktop software. Actually, I just got a new M2 MacBook Air…and it works fairly well with the built in mic

I can try plugging the Sennheiser into the headphone jack on the Mac mini…but I have no idea if it will work with Mac…Plus, I’m really wanting to shift to a mic that sits on my desk…not on and off my head…

Looking at Amazon I like these form factors:

  1. Amazon Basics Professional USB Condenser Mic
  2. Logitech for Creators Blue Yeti USB
  3. HyperX QuadCast S
  4. AUDIOPRO Computer Condenser Gaming Mic
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Does Dragon has some special requirements regarding the Mic?
Otherwise I would assume, that every Mic, you can use for a good Podcast/YouTube/Zoom etc. would do the job.
There are a lot of Mics with an Arm on the market, that are used in those areas.

I’m watching this thread avidly as I am shopping around for exactly the same thing. Anecdotally I feel that dictation on iOS, and especially on Drafts there, is superior to dictation on the Mac (and I am not sure if Drafts for Mac uses the same system dictation engine, or has its own baked in?). I am not sure whether the bottlenecks are due to my aging laptop, or because the speech is processed in different ways. Work recently presented me with a USB-headset for chatting over Microsoft teams (sigh) but I did not discern any immediate improvement in the quality of the output of dictated text. I am with you that something on the desk, not worn on the body, is by far the most preferable solution.

I imagine that dictating medical language is about as troublesome as the non-standardly spelled medieval and renaissance poetry that I deal with (which I am forced to key in – sadly there’s no Dragon package for that). Let me know if you hit on a good mic that improves speed/accuracy. My sense is also that one’s dictation technique and enunciation plays a big role (and I’m only just starting out with this, so am still learning what works and what doesn’t).

Ulli,
Since the medical vocabulary is now embedded in the software that’s in the cloud, any decent microphone should be able to work fine.
For this specific purpose, the audio that is used will not be heard by anyone else, merely translated to text. Even my old iPhone 6s does a decent job of this as long as it has the proper software/app running.

SebMacV
Yes, I agree with you that out of the box, dictation into drafts and iOS in general seems to work better than in MacOS… I had thought that I simply did not have the right piece of hardware to make it work well. When I got my first Macs in early 2020, I got beachball for almost all my use on my Mac mini, but not my less powerful MacBook Pro…Apple people could not figure out why… I finally did. It was that I had turned on dictation on the Mac mini but not on the MacBook Pro. The moment I turned off dictation, the Mac mini worked fine and has continue to until this day. I gave up on dictating to either device because of that poor experience.
So then recently I got my first MacBook Air, my first silicon (M2)… The MacBook Pro and Mac mini were both Intel… I figured I would give it a try. Turned dictation on on the MacBook Air and voilà it works great. With a built-in mic…
So I went back to my Mac mini and tried dictating with a simple pair of Bluetooth headphones are used. And it actually works pretty well. But I know it would work much better with a better microphone. So here I am trying to decide which kind to get.
I’m thinking I really don’t need to spend much money on this. I’m thinking of going with the HyperX Solocast for $50 from amazon… Initially I had been leaning toward the more expensive HyperX quad cast at $115.
I’d like the device not to take up much space on my physical desk.
I have a 32 inch 4K screen that takes up a good chunk of real estate on my desk. Trying to decide whether to put the microphone in between me and the screen which might obstruct some of the view of the screen, place it to the left or right of the screen, or get a boom arm and put it above the screen. Perhaps it would even work lying on its side if I can detach it from the stand. Not too worried about vibration as I really don’t type that much. At least not while speaking.
Tomorrow I might try plugging in my old Sennheiser headset into the Mac mini. Those are over 10 years old but were still working on my Windows machine. They connect through an audio jack. I’m just not sure if it will work with the Mac.

I also do telemedicine visits. For these, I connect through my iPhone 6s, which actually works pretty well. Although I’m not sure the quality of the audio from my patients end… Has complained about that but I’m not sure if that’s because of the device, or their poor Internet connection where we live… I would have to get a video cam to attach to my Mac mini to do telemedicine visits with that. Of course with the upgrade in iOS, I will eventually be able to use my iPhone in conjunction with the Mac mini for this purpose. However, I’m not sure that will be any better than the set up I already have directly with the app that’s on the phone.

TJ

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I use a Sennheiser with USB & a wired connection. Can’t be beat.

So the Mac mini does not recognize the Sennheiser. The Sennheiser connects via audio jack. Not USB…

So today I’m using AirPod pros which seem to be working pretty well. I think I would still prefer hardware on my desk not ones intermittently connected to my head… However the potential benefits of performing other activities on the desktop through voice commands with Siri are interesting.

The easy, simple on/off button for recording on the HyperX series seems nice… I wonder if that button activates the mic without having to use the keyboard shortcut to activate the mic. I’d rather not leave the mic on all the time. Also would prefer not to have to do two separate things to turn the mic on and off for recording.

I have a HomePod here… I wonder if there is a way to use it as a microphone for dictating. I doubt it would be as accurate or fast as a dedicated microphone.

Nuance speechmic or Phillips speechmic

Thanks but I am skeptical of hardware geared for Medical. Everything is way over priced typically.

I’ll bet podcasting microphones are a better quality.

I’m looking for hands-free.

Also, I think A lot of the functionality of Dragon is watered down in the browser-based version EMR I’m using… i’m basically simply dictating. Not using commands.

I’m actually quite impressed with AirPod pros connected with Mac mini for dictating. I can use them to be listening to music while working. When I intermittently want to dictate, simply use one hot key. And can use Siri.