How To Check Your Microphone for NaturallySpeaking

Many a slip happens between the PC and the lip. Following are some of the problems NaturallySpeaking may be having on the microphone end of things, and what to do about them:

  • Your microphone needs adjustment: Make sure the microphone is off to the side of your mouth, about a half-inch away from one corner of your mouth. You may have to bend the plastic tube that holds the microphone into an S-shape to get this right.

  • You have chosen the wrong sound system in the Audio Setup Wizard: Run the Audio Setup Wizard and choose the right sound system that your mic is connected to.

  • You’re trying to use the built-in microphone in your laptop computer: These rarely provide enough quality, and they pick up lots of extraneous noise from the laptop and the surface it lies on. Nearly half of all laptops present an audio input problem to NaturallySpeaking because of their microphones, sound hardware, or both. One good solution is a USB microphone.

  • You’re trying to use the cheap microphone that came with your PC: Give it up! Use the one that came with NaturallySpeaking, or buy a serious microphone from the list of Nuance-certified devices on its website in the Support Area.

  • The microphone connection is loose: Look at where the plug fits the jack in your PC; make sure it isn't wiggly. If you have NaturallySpeaking Premium or higher, try playing back some of your dictation. (Select text and say, “Play That.”)

    If it has loud, scratchy noises, you may need to replace the microphone or get someone to test and fix its cable. Some background noise also comes from the PC (not exactly a high-end sound system) and is unavoidable.

  • The microphone cable is plugged into the wrong jack in the PC: If the microphone is plugged into a really wrong jack, like the speaker output, it won’t work at all. If you have no alternative but to plug it into the IN or LINE-IN jack on your PC (you have no microphone jack), it may work, but the volume may be low.

    If it’s plugged into the IN or LINE-IN jack and doesn’t work at all, run a complete setup in the Audio Setup Wizard as the preceding section describes. Volume may still not be high enough, but at least you tried.

  • A battery is failing in the microphone or adapter: The microphones that come with NaturallySpeaking don’t have batteries, but some microphones do. Battery-powered adapters do, too.

Should you get a better microphone than the one that came with NaturallySpeaking? Many voice-recognition professionals swear by getting a better microphone, which can run up to several hundred dollars. A better microphone will generally improve your results, but only up to the limits of your PC’s sound card.

Both microphone and sound card are links in the chain that brings your voice to your PC, and whichever is the weakest link will limit your sound quality. Those professionals who recommend better microphones also tend to have very good sound cards. Your results will probably not improve in proportion to the money you spend.

Check the list of Dragon-certified microphones on Dragon’s website for options. But before you go laying out big bucks for a new microphone and sound card, read up on USB microphones.

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