Andrea Electronics C1-1022500-1 model NC-185 VM High Fidelity Stereo PC Headset with Noise Canceling Microphone and Volume/Mute Controls (No USB)
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- Analog PC headset (no USB)8 foot long shielded cable to PC. In-line digital volume/mute controls. Power on / data transmit LED indicator.
- Andrea noise cancellation microphone technology with highest voice recognition industry rating.
- Pro-Flex wire microphone boom for accurate microphone placement- 40mm Speakers with CD quality deep base sound and large comfortable ear cushions.
- Stainless steel adjustable headband- Windsock for minimal breath popping- Reversible for left or right side usage.
- Free download of Andrea's AudioCommander software Suite
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Andrea Electronics C1-1022500-1 model NC-185 VM High Fidelity Stereo PC Headset with Noise Canceling Microphone and Volume/Mute Controls (No USB). Stereo Computer Headset with Noise Cancelling Microphone & Volume/Mute Controls for Voice Recognition and VoIP Applications NC-185VM
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I bought this headset predominately for a high quality microphone for my audio dictations that I frequently do. My last microphone that I owned worked okay with my desktop computer and the new sound-card that I've bought specifically for recording audio dictations. But as the years went by my desktop computer became weaker and weaker in comparison to today's new applications and their need for a high powered CPU.
So I switched my computing over to new high-powered laptops. The problem is laptops have a very poor quality internal sound-card that is built-in. My old microphone that used to work okay with the desktop, now worked very very poorly with my new laptops.
My old microphone was analog with one Jack for the microphone and another Jack for the ear-piece. Now my dictation accuracy with Dragon naturally speaking diminished so much, that it was no longer feasible to use Dragon as I spent much more time repairing the mistakes, than any possible time savings of speaking out loud my dictation instead of typing with all 10 fingers.
Since I am an amateur audio engineer, it was easy for me to look at the sound waves of my recordings and see the performance reductions and realize it was due to the laptops sound-card and the analog performance of my old microphone. It was now time to buy a new microphone that processed the sound and digitized it before it even entered into the laptop. I did a ton of searching and reviewing before I made my purchase decision.
According to the reviews and the fact that so many people that bought this USB headset microphone, use it for audio dictation and with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, it strongly looked like this would be the product that would accurately fulfill my needs. Since several reviews warned me that I would have to go to Andre electronics website, to download their software which would then add the ability for noise cancellation, I went to their website before buying this headset to see what their software was about.
Their website had a video that showed their software in use, and its capabilities so that I could see what it was all about, and how it would operate and what I should be able to expect from it. I was decently impressed that this level of quality software was available with the headset purchase. As most other headsets for sale do not include any software specifically designed to improve their performance.
One thing the website did make clear to me, is what type of noise canceling ability that it would offer. There are two different kinds of noise cancellation available. Let me explain both of them for you.
1. Real noise cancellation will have a separate microphone aimed away from your mouth so that it is picking up the noise in the room. This is a junk noise. It will also have a second microphone that is specifically picking up what is intentionally intended to be recorded. This is quality noise. Now it has two separate audio files available. Now that it knows what junk noise is, and what quality noise is, it can further separate the two of them. Now that it can identify what is junk noise coming from the room or atmosphere, it will look for that same kind of noise that the quality microphone is accidentally picking up.
It will now reverse the wave form of the junk noise, and now include it into the quality noise. The reversed wave form of junk noise that is being added to the quality noise, will now cancel out any junk noise that the quality microphone has accidentally picked up. This was invented by the military for use around jet planes and other extremely noisy environments. The junk noise microphone was frequently mounted on the headset outside of the earmuffs.
So the junk noise microphone would predominately only be able to pick up the environment noise, and would be unable to pick up the quality noise that was being spoken by the operator wearing the microphone in front of his mouth. This is the real definition of real noise cancellation. It mixes two separate recordings so that one recording will cancel out the noise in the other recording. This requires EXPENSIVE high tech hardware and this ability comes with a considerable cost that is typically justifiable only by true professionals that need this ability in their eight hour working day.
2. Software noise cancellation. While it can deliver the effect of noise cancellation, it is not true noise cancellation. It is pattern removal. It uses only one microphone instead of two. It can not compare two separate audio files to determine with pin point precision what is junk noise. However the effect it delivers, can be quite good in quality in certain situations. Software noise cancellation looks for small, fast, continuous repeating patterns in the single audio file that is being recorded.
These patterns that are continuous without deviation, are almost always junk noise that is not wanted. This is known as static, hissing, line noise, and other trash that is almost always picked up in a recording with low tech equipment such as anything used outside of a recording studio. An air conditioner, a fan, a heater, an air compressor, and most other operating equipment, will produce the repeating continuous pattern that does not deviate.
Software is able to identify these non-deviating patterns and remove them out of the audio recording. What is left is your voice sounds that is never the same from one word to the next, from one breath to the next breath. Even music will have too much deviation and will not be identified as junk. True junk noise has a very specific fingerprint and is pretty easy to remove with software.
I've been doing it for years with an inexpensive audio engineering program called GOLD WAVE. I would go into any recording that had junk noise, and I would find one second worth of this junk noise that did not have anything of value. I would copy this one second of junk, and turn it into a filter. This filter is an identified pattern.
Now that GOLD WAVE had an identified pattern, I could have GOLD WAVE use this identified pattern filter and go through the entire audio file and remove any noise that fit this pattern. Typically it works outstanding. However I could only do it with a audio file after it was done being recorded. I could not do it with an audio file while it was in the current process of being recorded live. So it was worthless for voice recognition.
Andre electronics has modified their software so that it can go in and identify the junk noise patterns, and remove it live while you are in the current process of making that recording. They called this program audio commander. It has many other valuable capabilities besides being able to remove junk noise.
Go to their website and watch their video. The junk noise filter that audio commander runs upon the live recording that is in process, works very well. It does remove 95% of the noise at a minimum, and in the right situations, it does appear to remove 100% of the junk noise. I was truly quite impressed that they had designed a filter that could operate live, and be so accurate as it was, and use so little horsepower.
While the audio filter is being used, the CPU usage for that process, fluctuates from 1% to 2%. I was very pleased with the low CPU usage. Because I want to leave as much free CPU available as possible, for Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12.
I was very happy with the physical quality of the headset, the included wires, the USB connection fit tight and right, the microphone boom was as flexible as I wanted it, yet as stiff as I wanted it to be, it was long enough to be positioned anywhere I needed it. Another reviewer had complained that the microphone boom was too long. I did not find this to be the case.
I also liked how the two speakers can rotate so that the headset can fit flat inside of a laptop case for transport. And this rotation ability also tremendously reduces the chances of the headset becoming broken, as it is allowed to be flexible and rotate to avoid some situation with excessive pressure.
The ear pads on the speakers were nice and thick so that it's comfort upon my ears was very nice. I could easily wear this headset for many hours at a time without becoming annoyed with it. The clarity of the two speakers was completely satisfying. Each speaker was adjustable in length from the headset and could be made longer or shorter so that it fit properly over the top of your head and would still position upon your ears as you would choose to have it.
Most headsets seem to be made of all plastic in a very cheap fashion. This one however, had much chrome plated metal, or perhaps stainless steel so that certain components were much stronger and they conveyed a sense of confidence to me that they would be very long-lasting.
The value of this headset and microphone, is typically in the $125 range. But yet I only paid $40 for it. And that this included a decent software bundle that was a free download was even more bonus. Instead of me telling you all of what the software can do, just go to Andre electronics website and look at their descriptions. It turns out their descriptions are very accurate and honest.
The audio commander program would easily be worth and another $10-$20. And yet it was included free of charge. You get an incredible amount of quality and value in this purchase and the cost is much less than what it is really worth. I don't believe it's possible to buy this forty dollar package and be disappointed, assuming that you remember you only paid $40. If you want better quality than this package, then be ready to put down $150 or more on the counter in order to get something better than this.
While my audio recordings with this microphone sounded fantastic, and a close-up examination of the wave forms showed that it was very clean and devoid of junk noise. To me it's real test of value would be in the performance that Dragon naturally speaking would deliver while using this microphone. So it was time to put it to the test. I was very impressed with the increase in my dictation accuracy from Dragon NaturallySpeaking.
My dictation accuracy increased two fold which now brought my accuracy level up to 99%. This was a major improvement. I had very high hopes for this microphone and headset, and Andre electronics delivered everything I hoped for so that I was 100% satisfied and convinced that my money was well spent.
I'm actually convinced that I got a great bargain via this purchase when I consider all that I got and how little that it cost me. I had considered another headset that was only $23, Plantronics Audio 478 Stereo USB Headset (Audio 478)and it had fantastic reviews like this headset does.
However I did a search on the word "microphone" in the reviews. Nobody talked about how great the microphone was for a voice recognition program, but they did mention that it worked very well in Skype. And that lower priced headset microphone did not mention that it had a noise canceling feature. I believed it would work okay for voice recordings where the recipient of that recording was a person and not a software program. You see, people understand other people very very easily.
However, a voice recognition program has a much harder time understanding the words that you speak because it does not understand the context of the subject that you are talking about. So therefore for a voice recognition program to be accurate, the audio quality of the words spoken must be incredibly high in order for the program to accurately recognize them.
That is why I paid almost double the money to buy this headset and microphone. When I searched the reviews for the word microphone in the reviews relevant to this headset, I discovered many many people were commenting how good this microphone was for a voice recognition program such as Dragon naturally speaking.
And this headset advertised a noise canceling feature that will reduce the line noise trash in your audio dictation. And this headset came with a decent free, stable, software package which further enhanced the value of this headset and microphone system.
So that is why I bought this one and not the lower priced headset that also had great reviews. If my speech recordings were only for other people to hear, then the lower-priced headset probably would have been okay. Besides my speech recordings were for the purpose of the voice dictation program, I easily realized I would need the higher-quality available that this one apparently did have, and after I bought it and tested it, I verified that my researched opinion was correct.
If you want a fantastic microphone for a voice recognition program, then this one is the one that you will want to buy. After all, you probably never regret buying high quality. But it is very easy to regret later, buying products that are low quality and low price. So the real cost is not determined by what you really pay for it, the real cost is determined by will you be happy with the money you spent later, or will you regret that purchase later that you made.
If you later regret that purchase, and then doesn't matter how little money that you paid for it if you can't be happy with what you've got. If you end up being happy with your purchase and later you are still glad that you got it, then it doesn't matter how much that you did pay. Think about this, do you agree with me?
Another added bonus to buying this particular Andre electronics product, is another program that you can download for free that I have not mentioned yet. They have another program called voice notes. I haven't tried it yet however sometime later this week I do expect to give it a try. According to the description of voice notes, it will let you make a quick audio recording and attach it to any document or window such as you might do with a sticky note.
Then the next time you open that document or window, the audio note will pop up and play for you upon demand so that you can be refreshed of what that note was for. Another fantastic feature to this audio notes system, is you can turn any audio note into a automatic scheduled reminder with an alarm feature. Now for me, this will become very valuable as I like to make scheduled reminders with an alarm feature that will pop up on the appointed day and time forcing me to remember what that note was all about. Some things are too important to forget, but so far away its easy to forget them.
I have actually hunted for a program with this type of reminder feature and alarm built in, and was very disappointed what had been available. But now Andre electronics seems to have this covered with their audio notes program. I am very much looking forward to using it and may update this review after I actually test it out. But considering the audio notes program is a free download from Andre electronics, for me that definitely adds even more value to this headset purchase.
This entire review was written while I used this headset and Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition. Other than a minor correction, my fingers did not touch the keyboard for this entire written review.
I hope this information that I am sharing with you, helps you make a proper informed purchase decision that you will later be happy with.