Headset, computer keyboard and alarm clock

The 8 Best Microphones for Dictation: Find the Perfect Voice Recording Device

If you’re looking for a best microphone for Dragon speech recognition (or any kind of digital dictation), there are plenty of choices. It all depends on your personal preferences and what kind of device you need to use it with—either your computer, tablet or smartphone.

Here is a breakdown of the best microphones for dictation, some pros and cons to consider when making your decision as well as the best place to buy each one!

But first, here’s a list of all my choices in one handy spot:

Best Desktop Mic: Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone

Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone
  • Broadcast sound quality
  • 28mm dynamic capsule
  • Windows and Mac compatible
  • Tight Cardioid pattern for superior off axis sound rejection
  • Includes a 10 foot USB cable and stand mount

The Rode Podcaster USB Dynamic Microphone is a great microphone. It’s a desktop microphone that plugs directly into your machine via the USB port and works on both Windows and Mac machines. The sound quality of this podcasting microphone is excellent, as it offers some noise cancelling features to make sure you don’t pick up any background noise.

The best part about this best microphone for dictation is that it records in CD quality, so your recordings will sound amazing!

It also has a headphone jack built into the front of the mic itself, which makes monitoring your recording levels easy and convenient.

This is actually what I use for my home computer. It easily gives me the best sound quality I’ve experienced in best microphone for dictation. There are a few downsides, like not being able to walk around with it, but the sound quality is one of the best you will see on this list.

There are better microphones out there, but most will be unnecessary for an author looking to dictate a book. All you need is something that can plug into the USB, is great quality, and doesn’t require a degree in audio engineering to set up.

Best Budget Desktop Mic: Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone (ATR Series)
  • Handheld dynamic microphone with USB-C digital output and XLR analog output. Durable metal...
  • Usb output connects to your computer (Windows and Mac) for digital recording, While the...
  • Built-in headphone jack lets you monitor directly from the microphone with dial on the...
  • Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of unwanted sounds from the sides and rear,...
  • Sturdy tripod desk stand with folding legs is easy to set up and transport. Threaded stand...

For the best microphone for dictation on a budget, consider this best seller. The Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Cardioid Dynamic Microphone is great for people looking to dictate with their computer and will work well without breaking your bank account! It’s best used with a desktop computer, as well.

Honestly, for the price you pay for this microphone, this is about as good of the quality as it gets.

And while some would argue that it’s not that cheap, it’s important to remember that you can’t skip the quality. If you want good dictation, you need to get something that will record seamless audio. If you want something cheap, go with the inbuilt microphone in your computer or phone.

Best Headset: Plantronics – Savi 8220 Office Wireless DECT Headset

Sale
Plantronics - Savi 8220 Office Wireless DECT Headset (Poly) - Dual Ear (Stereo) - Compatible to connect to PC/Mac or to Cell Phone via Bluetooth - Works with Teams (Certified), Zoom
  • Connects To: PC and Mac via included USB-A cable, desk phones via included cable and...
  • Ideal For: Professionals using a variety of desk phone, smartphone, and PC communication.
  • Audio Performance: Keep background noise out of your call with a noise-canceling...
  • Talk Time & Roaming Range: Work Better, Hands Free, with a roaming range of up to 180...
  • Global Warranty & Wearing Style: 2 years; stereo over-the-head headset.

I don’t know about you, but I love being able to wear my headset and go for a walk, dictating as I go. So I had to make sure that there was a good wireless microphone headset option on this list.

The best option for a dictation headset is the Plantronics – Savi 8220 Office Wireless DECT Headset. This headset has noise cancelling and HD sound, so not only will your voice be crystal clear, but you’ll also have some great quality on those more challenging days of background noise!

This dictation microphone also has a great range, as it uses Bluetooth technology to connect your dictation device. The best part? You can walk up to 590 feet away from the base and still record seamlessly!

It’s best used with tablets and smartphones, but it will work with computers too. However, keep in mind that Bluetooth microphones like this will not work with most voice recorders. This is important if you are looking at any of the voice recorder options below.

Best Budget Headset: Portable Omnidirectional Wired Headset Pro Voice Audio Condenser Mic

Sale
In Ear Back Electric Microphone - Portable Omnidirectional Wired Headset Pro Voice Audio Condenser Mic with 4 Pin Mini XLR Cable Wire and Windscreen - For Shure System - Pyle Pro PMEMS10 (Skin Tone)
  • PROFESSIONAL SOUND QUALITY: With its omnidirectional feature, 2k Ohms± 30% output...
  • COMPATIBILITY: This headset mic also features a 4 pin mini XLR cable wire connector so...
  • COMFORTABLE AND DURABLE: This headset's ergonomic, lightweight, and flexible design gives...
  • ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: The box comes with 2 microphone windscreens. The beige flesh toned...

Now let’s say you don’t have the budget for the Plantronics wireless headset. Don’t worry, there are still plenty of great options out there for you.

One of the best of these is the Portable Omnidirectional Wired Headset Pro Voice Audio Condenser Mic.

This headset option is great because it’s so versatile! It works well as a best budget mic to use at home or even in an office environment. It’s thin and lightweight, so it won’t get in the way of your daily tasks.

While it’s best used with a computer, you can plug this into any device that has a Mini XLR headphone jack. If you have an iPod or mp3 player to dictate to, then all you need is a microphone adapter and this headset will work just fine!

This is one of the better options, if you’re looking for a headset that will connect with a designated voice recorder, as it has that mini XLR port that will deliver better sound quality if used correctly.

Best Lapel Mic: Sony ECMCS3 Clip Style Omnidirectional Stereo Microphone

Another portable options is the best lapel mic for dictation Sony ECMCS-100 Omnidirectional Condenser Clip Style Microphone.

This microphone has a great design and it clips right over your clothes, so you don’t have to deal with any wires getting in your way while you go about your day!

This best budget microphone also comes with a windscreen cover that will help reduce background noise during recording or when using this best laptop mic outside or near a window! It even works well if there’s some rain on the window because of its water resistant ability.

I personally don’t like lapel mics, as it seems like there’s so many ways to get them wrong. But a lot of people do use them, and they can be really useful for dictating outdoors or on the go. So if that’s your thing: give this lapel mic a look.

Best Bluetooth Device: Sennheiser Enterprise Solution Presence

Sennheiser Presence Grey Business (100659) - Dual Connectivity, Single-Sided Bluetooth Wireless Headset for Mobile Devices,Grey
  • Mobile communications: for professionals using Skype for business, who require a...
  • Improved flexibility: connects to two mobile Phones, or a Cell phone & PC, to allow for...
  • Optimized speech clarity: unique speak focus technology with three digital microphones...
  • Advanced own-voice detection technology: When you are speaking, an own-voice-detector...
  • Comes equipped: includes with a USB charging cable, ear sleeves and ear hook, all designed...

I’ve already mentioned the Savi 8220 headset, which uses Bluetooth in its design. But let’s say you want something a little more discreet, that isn’t literally in your face, but can still pick up great audio quality.

The one a recommend for that is the Sennheiser Enterprise Solution Presence UC Binaural Bluetooth Headset, which is just one of the wireless options that are available from this brand.

This option isn’t cheap, but it is comfortable, reliable, and most importantly has great sound quality.

These are also really helpful when you want your hands free while recording or speaking on calls because they stay in place so well without being uncomfortable at all! It’s definitely one of my favorite features.

For wireless headphones I tend to go with the headset above, but this is also a very good option. I would be happy with either of them.

Best Voice Recorder: SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder

SONY ICD PX333 Digital Voice Recorder
  • 4GB Internal Flash Memory, Requires 2 AAA Batteries
  • microSD Expansion Memory Slot, Records Mono MP3s
  • Intelligent Noise Cut, A-B Repeat Function
  • Track Mark Function, USB Cable to Transfer Files to Mac/PC
  • System Requirements: Windows XP (SP3), Vista (SP2), 7, 8 Mac OS X 10.3.9 to 10.8

All right, now we get to the voice recorders. A good voice recorder is far superior to something like an iPhone or Android device, but only if you get a good one.

And in this case, I got the best.

And that is the SONY ICD PX333, by far the best voice recorder in the industry.

There are a lot of good things I could say about this handheld dictation device. For one, it has enough flash memory to store over 1000 hours of recorded speech. That’s a heck of a lot! And if that wasn’t enough, you can expand it with an external memory port.

There is one big drawback of a voice recorder like this one, and that is that it doesn’t sink with a microphone on Bluetooth. There’s a reason for this. In order to get the absolute best audio quality, it’s best that you don’t transfer that audio over Bluetooth, as this can affect the compression and other more technical bits of audio quality. So if you want the best of the best, use a wired headset or microphone, or you can even use the built-in handheld microphone on this voice recorder, which is actually really good.

Honestly, this voice recorder really does give you the best in audio quality and we can’t ask for much more than that.

Best Budget Voice Recorder: EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder

EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder Voice Activated Recorder with Playback - Upgraded Small Tape Recorder for Lectures, Meetings, Interviews, Mini Audio Recorder USB Charge, MP3
  • Upgraded Recording Quality: new design digital voice recorder, dynamic noise cancellation...
  • Voice Recorder Easy Transfer File to Computer : this mini recorder device can set...
  • Simple & Powerful Recording Device: easy to figure out, press REC: starts to record; press...
  • Voice Activated Recorder: set the AVR voice activated function, record only when teacher...
  • Easy File Management: recordings with time stamp, easy to find out when you recorded, what...

You may have noticed that the voice recorder I listed above is a tad pricey. Personally, I’m not willing to shell out that kind of dough for something like that when my phone will do just fine, never mind about the decrease in quality.

However, there are a lot of budget options for voice recorders, most of which will do the job quite well.

And in this case I chose the EVISTR 16GB Digital Voice Recorder.

This digital dictaphone has a lot of features that are perfect for someone who just wants to record some audio on the go and doesn’t want or need anything too fancy.

That said, the fact that this microphone has dynamic noise cancellation is really impressive, considering the price. Normally you have to pay a lot more for a feature like that. Plus it plugs easily into the computer to transfer files, which is one of the more important features for me.

Overall, a solid buy.

Buyer’s Guide – What to Look For in the Best Dictation Microphone

Let’s say none of these microphones above work exactly for you, or you want to know a little bit more about why I picked them. If so, then read on, because I’ve got a full list of the most important features (in my opinion anyway) that you should watch out for if you are an author looking to dictate a book.

Microphone Type

First off, is the microphone type. You can kind of get an idea of what I mean by this, by looking up at the options above. Here are a few of your options:

  • Desk Mics: these microphones are typically the best in quality, but must remain in a single place, so if you’re looking to be mobile with your dictation, you might want to look elsewhere.
  • Headset: these are extremely popular because they allow you to be more mobile, but get the microphone right up by your mouth to get the best quality.
  • Lapel Mics: these are also great for mobility, but are also more discreet, and are usually pretty good at picking up the sound of your voice and only your voice.
  • Voice Recorders: and of course there’s the voice recorder, which is a device dedicated to…recording your voice. These are great if you plan to transcribe your dictation after the fact, instead of at your computer as you dictate.

Noise Reduction

If you’re recording outside or in a room with lots of ambient noise, then you might want to look for dictation microphone that has some sort of noise reduction feature. That way the sound quality won’t be as affected by external sounds such as wind and traffic.

This is especially important for dictation, as the clearest, most isolated voice recording is the best for accurate transcription.

Sensitivity

This is another feature that can affect the quality of your dictation by either picking up noise in a nice way, or not doing so at all. You might want to look for something called “crystal” sensitivity when it comes to this microphone, which means you get best sound with less ambient noise picked up on the recording.

That said, some microphones pick up everything in the room. This may not be what you want, when transcribing. You want it to pick up just your voice. So making sure you know the difference between a dynamic and a condenser microphone is key to understanding which one is best for you. Incidentally, this is why I don’t recommend the Blue Yeti, because it picks up too much.

USB or XLR?

Generally speaking, a microphone that uses XLR will have better quality audio than the audio that is transferred via USB. On the flipside, USB is far more convenient for most people, as you can just plug it in and go.

Which one you use will depend on your circumstances, but I don’t think that the increased quality of the XLR is worth it for most authors. XLR is better if you’re having a professional recording session, or if you are trying to connect two microphones and record them at the same time.

So for most authors I recommend trying to find a good USB microphone.

Price

Obviously, price is a big factor for a lot of people. On this list I’ve tried to list what are truly the best of the best, in my opinion, with a few budget options out there. If you’re serious about dictation, I recommend not pinching your pennies too much. You get what you pay for, as long as you are smart about it.

To Bluetooth or Not to Bluetooth

Like the debate between USB and XLR ports, it’s generally accepted that recording via Bluetooth is not good to have the best quality, but it is super convenient.

I found that recording over Bluetooth is slightly less quality, and sometimes it does result in inaccurate dictation, but the difference is not big enough to be a huge issue.

In other words, if you want the best, avoid Bluetooth, but for most this will not be an issue.

Are You Using Dragon?

Dragon Professional Individual is the speech recognition software that I use for my dictation, and what I would recommend for most authors. But it is expensive, and many authors probably don’t have that kind of money.

There are, however, several free options like the built in tools for Windows, Mac, and Google Docs. These work great, but if you want them to shine, you need a good mic to work with them.

A good microphone will improve your dictation no matter what program you’re using, but it’s especially important if the quality of that program is subpar.

What Will You Choose?

And there it is! My top recommendations on the best microphones for dictating a book, for authors who want to get best results.

I hope this list has found the perfect microphone option for you! And I’m curious to know what you use. Feel free to leave your questions or comments below.

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