Best Headsets (all Categories) for Dictation and Speech Recognition Software.
Here it is guys and gals. The review for some of the best headsets for dictating with dragon professional individual (formerly naturally speaking,) or any other speech recognition software.
This review is divided into different subsections you can jump to from here.
2. Wireless mono and stereo headsets for dictation.
3. Tiny over-ear headset headsets for dictation
I use dictation on a daily basis to create content for my websites (this very page was dictated as well), respond to emails and comments, control my computer functions etc, so I fully understand the immense benefits of dictation. I hope to help point you in the right direction to a headset that will bring you accuracy and satisfaction.
I have done heavy research on speech recognition forums like the knowbrainer forum, dictation groups like Dragon riders and combed through hundreds of amazon product feedback from real users, as well as my own personal experience, in a bid to find you the top-recommended headsets you can buy for accurate dictation.
Table of Contents
- Best Headsets (all Categories) for Dictation and Speech Recognition Software.
- In a hurry?
- Here are the wired headsets I found highly recommended by speech recognition users online.
- 1. Andrea Communications NC-185VM USB Headset (Dual Ear Stereo & Single Ear Mono)
- 2. Plantronics 85619-101 BlackWire C320 (Dual Ear Stereo & Single Ear Mono)
- 3. Logitech USB Headset H390 (Dual Ear Stereo)
- 4. Executive Pro Overture USB Headset. (Dual Ear Stereo & Single Ear Mono)
- 5. Koss Communications CS100-USB (Dual Ear Stereo & Single Ear Mono)
- 6. Jabra Evolve 40 Stereo UC (Dual Ear Stereo & Single Ear Mono)
- Best Wireless headsets for speech recognition programs like Dragon.
- Best over-ear headsets for speech recognition programs like Dragon.
- How to choose the best dictation headset for you.
- – Headset weight and overall comfort
- – Single or dual ear headsets?
- – Length of the headset cord
- – Noise-cancelling microphones.
- – Make sure to have a flexible microphone boom arm.
- – Left or Right side use of microphone boom.
- – Make sure it’s a USB headset
- – Make sure it has a foam screen over the microphone capsule.
- In conclusion.
In a hurry?
Here is my personal recommendation for a wired headset I believe ticks all my top dictation headset boxes.
- Light sturdy build,
- Comfortable to wear the whole day,
- Great audio sound quality and most importantly,
- a great noise-cancelling microphone (which can be covered with a wind muff or windscreen for cleaner recordings outdoors) with adjustable boom.
It’s MY headset that I’ve been using every day for close to 5 years now
* Jabra UC Voice 750 Duo
This is my own personal headset. The Jabra UC Voice 750 (link to price at Amazon.com) is what I’m currently using right now to dictate this review. I have been using this headset for over 4 years now with Dragon Professional Individual and as you can see from the pictures, it’s a well-worn headset. I even turned the cord into a spiral with a DIY method by twisting it around a pencil and then heating the cord with my wife’s hairdryer.
Dictation accuracy with this headset has been very good. Especially when you consider that I don’t have a standard English accent. I used this headset from morning till night and its build quality, soft leatherette ear-pads and very lightweight all combine together to give me a very comfortable user experience.
Unfortunately, like many other lightweight headsets, after a couple of years of use, I had to tape up a couple of points on the headset band just above the speakers. I have also had to glue back the foam pad cover because, with years of use, the material over the pads started to slowly open up at the seam.
Even with its known fragility, I just recently bought another one to keep as a spare for when this finally breaks down and can’t be repaired anymore. The temptation to use the new fresh headset is high, but my original one still works fine and has all the DIY modifications I need already done to it.
The voice quality from the microphone is quite good and I regularly use this headset for voice overs in my video tutorials for YouTube.
– Noise-cancelling USB microphone
– An adjustable flexible boom with 180° rotation allowing for left or right side use.
– Long USB cable
– In-line controller with volume rocker buttons, call, microphone mute button.
My thoughts on the Jabra UC voice 750
Being a Jabra headset, you get to feel the premium materials used and nice soft construction. Jabra is just one of those fancy brands who take pride in their designs and this headset, which I believe is currently discontinued, is one of those good old products. I can’t recommend it enough. Look for the mono single ear variant on amazon if you need a lighter headset or if you need one of your ears uncovered at all times.
Here are the wired headsets I found highly recommended by speech recognition users online.
Let me preface the section below by saying that, ANY USB HEADSET, will perform well with speech recognition software. The list below simply contains headsets that are proven to work and tested by myself as well as others online.
Here below, in no specific order, are the current top wired mono and stereo headsets (ALL UNDER 10 OUNCES) online for speech recognition software:
The Andrea NC 185VM USB headset (link to price at Amazon.com) from Andrea communications is an upgrade refresh of the very popular NC 181VM headset which became one of the most popular speech recognition headsets for dragon naturally speaking. It has a long 6 inches microphone boom which provides a lot of room for adjustment and you can position it directly to the side of your mouth where it will collect the best quality sound for your dictation software.
The Andrea NC185VM headset also comes in a mono, single-ear headset variant (link to price at Amazon) as well. This is the version that you need if you want to keep the overall weight down or you need to have one ear uncovered at all times. Because of its clear quality of sound, it’s not just good for dictation but also good for office work, zoom, video or Skype calls as well as voice-overs for your tutorials.
Members of the Dragon riders dictation Facebook group claim to have very good dictation accuracy with this headset. The microphone is noise-cancelling, it is relatively lightweight and comfortable to wear for long periods. This is very important if you’re going to dictate for long periods of time. Padding on the earmuffs is good hence the majority of the reviews I read about this headset on shopping sites had no problem wearing this headset all day long.
I don’t like that the cable comes out of both speakers and so might be uncomfortable to quickly put on or take off the headset. Overall the build quality lacks a little bit and it’s not the slimmest of designs so it’s something to pay attention to as rough handling this headset may result in breakage. Mostly made of plastic (with the adjustable band in metal), it’s not the most premium headsets out the look and feel, but it does get the job done.
– Binaural USB headset with 40 cm / 15.7 inch diameter speakers.
– 6″ / 15cm flexible microphone boom.
– under 5 ounces / 150 gr of weight.
– long 8 foot / 240 cm shielded USB cable.
– Works well with Mac and Windows computers.
My thoughts on the Andrea BC-185VM
Not the best looking, slim design type of headset, but it is a good cheap headset with clear voice quality that gets the job done.
The Plantronics Blackwire C320 (link to price at Amazon.com) is a sturdy lightweight headset from the well-known Plantronics brand. It one of the most recognised and recommended headsets for speech recognition software like Dragon Professional Individual (formerly known as Dragon NaturallySpeaking). The Plantronics C320 headset also comes in a mono, single-ear headset variant (link to price at Amazon) as well. This is the version that you need if you want to keep the overall weight down or you need to have one ear uncovered at all times.
This is a USB headset with relatively nice build quality even though most of the parts are made from plastic. The headband, however, is metal and lightweight. The microphone boom while long is not that flexible and adjustable at the tip, so you have 2 pay attention to this if you intend to buy this microphone. The boom is bendable but doesn’t offer the same adjust-ability as other headsets that allow you to position the microphone capsule right beside your mouth.
The Blackwire C320 works well with WebEx, Zoom, Skype and even recording video or audio from your computer. It is also important to note however that the microphone boom doesn’t have a foam screen covering the microphone capsule, so your voice may not sound as clear. If you look at pictures online for this headset, you will see that most people have resorted to actually putting some DIY foam or screen over the microphone capsule to help limit the pop and crackling sounds.
Audio quality from the speakers is nice and rich. Obviously, it’s not as good as the higher tier headsets available for much more money, but good enough.
– Binaural USB On-Ear headset.
– Inline indicator lights and call, volume, mute controls.
– Cable length totals just over 7 feet. 2ft. 1” from headset to inline volume control and 5ft 1” from inline volume control to the USB.
– Works well with Mac OS and Windows computers.
My thoughts on the BlackWire C320
Good speech recognition headset with reasonable audio quality and price. A headset with multiple online testimonials of its good performance with dragon professional individual. When I tried it on my head, it was very rigid and uncomfortable on the ears and scalp (I have very short cut hair). So while it is a decent performer with speech recognition software, using it in real life just felt “cheap and plastic”.
The Logitech USB headset H390 (link to price at Amazon.com) is one of the most popular headsets for speech recognition as well as office work. With over 5000 online reviews on Amazon alone, this is a tried and tested product.
The overall build quality nice but fragile so you’ll have to take care of it to avoid it breaking (especially on the headband). The on-ear pads are made of soft leatherette and well-cushioned enabling you to use this headset comfortably for long periods of time.
With a noise-cancelling microphone, you’re able to dictate to your speech recognition software and get very good accuracy even if you are not in the most silent of places.
Audio quality from the speakers is okay so you won’t be disappointed with this. The microphone boom is quite long and wraps around to the front of your face but has very limited adjust-ability. Mostly just up or down. Due to its length, the microphone reaches close to your mouth and is able to capture your voice for speech recognition.
If you have a large head, this headset may not be for you due to its limited adjust-ability and rigid construction. It’s more than likely to put a squeeze on your head so pay attention to this if you’re looking for a comfortable headset to buy.
– Binaural USB soft padded On-Ear headset.
– 32 Ohms impedance noise-cancelling microphone.
– Inline controls.
– Long cable length of approx. 7.64 ft (approx. 233cm)
– Works well with Mac OS and Windows computers.
My thoughts on the Logitech H390
A cheap headset from a reputable company. Lacking a little bit in build quality and toughness but works well for speech recognition and dictation. If you just getting into dictation and you’re looking not to spend too much, this is a nice entry-level headset to start with.
The Executive Pro Overture (link to price at Amazon.com) headset is thin and light. With a long and flexible microphone boom that is very adjustable and soft leatherette pads. The executive pro overture headset also comes in a mono, single-ear headset variant (link to price at Amazon) as well. This is the version that you need if you want to keep the overall weight down or you need to have one ear uncovered at all times.
Whenever I look for dictation headset that I know I’m going to use for a very long period of time, I want them to be thin and light. This headset is thin and light but that also means it’s delicate.
When it comes to the microphone, it’s noise cancelling, allowing you to dictate in less than ideal conditions. This is the reason why it gets a lot of praise on the Internet for the accuracy that it provides whenever you’re dictating with it. I have included it in this list because of its price, weight, the soft ear padding that makes it very comfortable to use and because of that accuracy you can get with it while dictating.
Bear in mind that the build quality is weak so you will have to pay special attention to it whenever you’re using it.
– Long flexible and adjustable microphone boom.
– Noise-cancelling microphone.
– Long cable length of approx. 6.5ft (approx. 200cm)
– Works well with Mac OS and Windows computers.
My thoughts on the Executive Pro Overture
Great accuracy specifically with Dragon Professional Individual speech recognition software. I really wanted to like this headset. Unfortunately, the biggest weakness of this headset is its feeble construction. If you don’t take good care of this, it’s more than likely to break after some months or heavy usage.
The Koss Communication CS 100 (link to price at Amazon.com) USB microphone is simply an all-round ok headset. Ok build quality (a bit bulky for my liking), ok noise cancelling and audio quality. The Koss CS 100 also comes in a mono, single-ear headset variant (link to price at Amazon) as well. This is the version that you need if you want to keep the overall weight down or you need to have one ear uncovered at all times.
The construction is sturdy and it looks good. Personally, I think the yellow/gold-dish colour makes it not too discreet, but if you’re okay with that, then it’s a good headset.
Looking all over the Internet for peoples experiences with this headset, I found out that when it comes to dictating with speech recognition software especially Dragon Professional Individual, this headset performs very well. Users of this headset also claimed it to be very good with Rosetta Stone software. So if better accuracy with the dictation is what you’re looking for, then the Koss communications headset may be worth a try especially when you consider the very low price.
What I liked about this headset is the long and flexible microphone boom which can be positioned right beside your mouth. The position of the microphone capsule is what is most important with dictation (certainly, after good and clear speech).
Audio quality from the speakers is fine. The typical sound and quality of audio that you can get with these low tier headsets.
– Long flexible and fully adjustable microphone boom.
– Noise-cancelling microphone.
– Long cable length of approx. 6.5ft (approx. 200cm)
– USB plug headset
My thoughts on the Koss Communication CS100-USB
This is a decent headset for the price. Excellent with speech recognition as well as Rosetta Stone software. A good all-rounder with a bit of “bling”.
6. Jabra Evolve 40 Stereo UC (Dual Ear Stereo & Single Ear Mono)
The Jabra Evolve 40 headset (link to price at Amazon.com) is a very stylish professional headset with its black and red themed design. With Jabra, you can count on good build quality with premium materials. The headband is well-padded and the speakers are covered with very soft leatherette ear pads that enable you to use it for long dictation sessions. The Jabra Evolve 40 also comes in a mono, single-ear headset variant (link to price at Amazon) as well. This is the version that you need if you want to keep the overall weight down or you need to have one ear uncovered at all times.
It’s great for office use as well but I feel the headset is a bit bulky/heavy when compared to skeletal designs like the Jabra UC voice 750. The headband is sturdy but I have a feeling that if you have a big head, very long use sessions may prove to be a bit uncomfortable. The soft ear pads, however, help alleviate this to a degree.
This headset has a nice party trick. It’s adaptable for use either as the USB headset or you can unplug the 3.5 mm, TRRS jack, from the inline controller in the middle of the cable and plug it directly into your smartphone for dictation on the go.
This puts it in a whole different league of headsets. Headsets that can be used with a digital voice recorder, a computer as well as with 3.5 mm jack smartphone.
Most online reviews are pretty on the fence when it comes to this headset. It is supposed to be a very good performer if you consider it’s a Jabra, but most critical reviews of it state that it’s not very good at cancelling noise and easily picks up your breath if you don’t correctly position the microphone capsule. There is no foam screen covering the microphone.
With the correct microphone boom position, it performs very well with Dragon Professional Individual or other speech recognition software. The microphone boom can attach to the top of the headband via magnet to discreetly keep it in place when not in use.
Audio quality from the speakers is rich.
– Headset weight of 171 gr / 6.03 ounces
– Control cable length 95 cm / 37.4 inches, headset cable 120 cm / 47 inches
– USB plug as well as TRRS 3.5 mm Jack for smartphones
– Noise-cancelling unidirectional microphone
– Control pod in-line with cable.
My thoughts on the Jabra Evolve 40
A good-looking headset built with premium materials with a good performing microphone and rich audio from the speakers. Overall the Jabra evolve 40 is a good headset but a bit heavy/bulky for very long use.
Best Wireless headsets for speech recognition programs like Dragon.
Wireless headsets are usually not recommended for use with speech recognition software because of the inherent problems that come with having to send the audio signal over the air. From dropouts of voice, to static interference, to the strength of the connection between the host and the headset, there are just too many factors that can work together to greatly reduce your dictation accuracy.
Combine this with the high price most of these headsets go for and you start to weigh if it’s even worth it to buy and try these types of headsets.
That said, there is nothing that beats the freedom that these headsets provide, especially for those who just can’t be constrained to a chair for their dictation sessions. You can get up at any time to pace around the room and gather more inspiration from a nearby window for example.
Most wireless headsets use these connection methods:
- Bluetooth connection
- 2.4Ghz connection with a dongle receiver/transmitter.
- 5Ghz connection
- Radio transmission
Of all the above-mentioned connection types, the most proven and reliable is the #Ghz connection. As long as the receiving dongle is not hidden behind a PC or obscure location, this connection method keeps a strong bond with the computer to provide a constant flow of audio signal that then passes it on to your speech recognition software.
If you are willing and ready to forgo some dictation accuracy in exchange for the aforementioned freedom, then here below are some of the best wireless headsets for your speech recognition.
Jabra – The Jabra line of headsets are some of the most recognized in business today. They are proven to get the job done well and in comfort.
this section is currently under construction.
Best over-ear headsets for speech recognition programs like Dragon.
FlexyMike speech. This is a tiny over the ear headset designed and created my speech mike the creators of the table mike style of microphones.
How to choose the best dictation headset for you.
Here below are some very important consideration is to have while searching for the perfect speech recognition headset.
– Headset weight and overall comfort
It’s very important to consider the total weight of the headset. You going to be wearing this for long hours of dictation/office work and so it is very important that the headset doesn’t put strain on your head and neck. You want to be able to wear a headset and almost forget it’s there.
The overall comfort and padding of the headset are also very important. Cheap materials used on cheap headsets are only going to cause discomfort, pain, warming up of the ears, sweating etc. Sometimes it’s better to spend just a little bit more on a well-known brand headset built with better materials.
– Single or dual ear headsets?
If you are going to need the headset for listening to music etc then you’ll benefit more from a stereo dual ear headset. If this is going to be strictly a dictating headset then, the biggest benefit to having a single ear headset is the reduction in weight hence, increasing comfort over a long period of use. Seconded very closely by the benefit of having the other ear free which will enable you to pay attention to other things and other sounds coming. This type of headset is very popular in office work and call centres. It is also popular with drivers who by law (in some parts of the world) can’t have both ears occupied by a headset.
– Length of the headset cord
Depending on your dictation style, if you like to pace around, a longer USB cord may come in handy. It could however also become a nuisance as you always have the cable wrapping itself around things simply hanging around weighing down your headset.
– Noise-cancelling microphones.
If you’re going to be dictating with speech recognition software like Dragon Professional Individual, you need a headset with a very good noise-cancelling microphone. This is going to filter out noise around you and isolate your voice for your software. The better the noise cancelling, the higher the accuracy of your dictation.
– Make sure to have a flexible microphone boom arm.
The microphone capsule has to be placed on the side of your mouth not directly in front of it. Placing the microphone directly in front of your mouth is going to expose it to breathing sounds from your mouth or nose, plosives etc. You want a headset that allows you to position the microphone capsule correctly by adjusting the flexible boom.
– Left or Right side use of microphone boom.
While this is not one of the most important points, it could come in useful to be able to use your microphone boom on the left or right side of your mouth. Wherever it’s more comfortable. Oddly enough, I get better accuracy with the microphone boom on the right side of my mouth. My Jabra UC voice 750 headset enables 180°+ rotation so I can choose which side of my face I want to have the boom on. Consider this when looking for your next dictation headset.
– Make sure it’s a USB headset
For speech recognition, you definitely want a USB headset. It’s actually a necessity. If you don’t buy USB headset you will be forced by very low accuracy, to buy a USB sound card to convert 3.5 mm jacks into digital output via USB.
The reason you want a USB headset is to bypass your computer’s 3.5mm analogue input and internal sound card which are always affected by the various computer internal noises, vibrations and other static frequencies.
– Make sure it has a foam screen over the microphone capsule.
You want to make sure your headset microphone has a foam screen over its capsule. This is to help smoothen out your voice as well as keep out wind noise. It also helps to limit the intensity of vocal plosives in your recordings. Some headsets, even of well-known brands, come without this foam screen so pay attention to this.
I hope you found some help in this review. My main goal was to do the necessary legwork that will push you in the right direction as you are searching for a good headset for dictation.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding dictation in general and please share with us your experiences with any of the headsets above all the one you’re currently using for dictation.
As always, I wish you the best in your endeavours.