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Microphone Test

Updated 9/29/02
Purpose This page provides information on evaluating a computer and microphone to determine the level of performance to be expected when using Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

There are 2 tests that can be easily run to identify potential problems with a particular microphone and computer combination.  It is important to remember that one is always checking a microphone and computer as a set.  A microphone that works well with one computer, may not work well with another and conversely, if a computer works well with one microphone, it may work poorly with another.

It is also important to remember that any test is simply an indication of probable Speech Recognition results.  The real test is how speech recognition works.  It is possible, but not likely,  for a system to fail several microphone tests, but still work well with Speech Recognition Software

Testing with the
The Windows Recorder is a utility that comes standard with the Windows Operating System (OS). This is a very convenient utility to use as it does not require the installation of NaturallySpeaking to test a computers audio recording characteristics.
  1. Start the Windows Recorder.  Usually found in Program, Accessories in a directory called Entertainment or Multimedia.
  2. Set the Recorders Sampling Rate to 11,025 Khz, 16 bit, mono.
  3. Record for about 10 seconds while talking into the microphone, then record silence for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Play back the recording and listen for hiss, static, or other noises.  If the recording sounds clear and crisp, like a digital CD recording, then Speech Recognition should work fine.
If there is digital noise (you can hear recorded noises from the hard drive, etc.), a new sound card or USB microphone may be required.  If the noise is a hiss or hum, a new microphone or updated drivers for the sound card may solve the problem.

NaturallySpeaking contains a microphone utility in the Accuracy Center.  (On the Dragon Bar click" Tools, Accuracy Center, Check your audio settings) This utility tests and adjusts the microphone to the best settings for the computer, microphone, user, and the environment. 

During the test, an audio graph is displayed.  Green is the "good" noise produced by talking into the microphone, yellow is the "bad" noise from somewhere else. The signal to noise ratio provided during the test is an important indicator of probable success.  A signal to noise ration of 20 to 26 will generally produce great results.  A ratio of 18-19 will generally work well.  Ratios of 17 and below indicates that microphone quality problems are likely. 

If the Microphone test fails, try using the Windows Recorder test listed above and check the computer for the recommended requirements.  If you are still having problems, review the issues affecting Accuracy.

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