Microphone Comparison Matrix
We are working on a spreadsheet that compares the features of many microphones that we have tested. Take a look, and feel free to share your experiences. [Microphone Comparison on Google Drive]
If you have an Android device we urge you to check out VoxWav for Android which turns your Android device into a Wifi Microphone. It's perfect for VoxCommando, has a lot of extra features that you don't get on an ordinary microphone, and is easy on your Android device's battery!
Please note: You can find more information on the Microphone board on our forum
- A good wired microphone properly set up will achieve great results as long as you are not too far away from it, and your environment is relatively quiet.
- As with any microphone, the further it is from your mouth, the higher the input level will need to be, and the more it will pick up other sounds. If you are watching movies or listening to music this can lead to false commands.
Analog connected to mic input
Depending on the microphone you may require a pre-amp to get the signal level up. Most sound cards have a "mic-boost" option that may help, but can sometimes introduce too much noise (static).
- Inexpensive USB microphones can be plugged directly into your computer and can also be extended with USB extension cables of 15 feet or possibly longer. They generally achieve good results and do not suffer from the noise that can sometimes be an issue if you plug a microphone into the 1/8" mic jack on your motherboard or sound card.
- USB microphones may occasionally disconnect, which can cause problems. VoxCommando does have a feature that allows it to check periodically for the microphone and reinitialize it if necessary. Of course if it disconnects while you are talking it won't recognize your command. Even if you do suffer from these disconnects, it is usually quite infrequent, and not a show stopper.
A user has posted a nice review of the "CAD Audio U7" USB boundary microphone to the forum here: http://voxcommando.com/forum/index.php?topic=591 Boundary layer microphones are often used for conferencing and pick up sound over a fairly large area. This of course has its pros and cons. Good if you want to use voice recognition from anywhere in the room without using your hands. Bad because it will pick up other sounds too.
- Best quality / accuracy
- No issues with battery life
- A wired headset (even if inexpensive) will usually provide excellent results. If a wired headset is suitable for your situation, then we highly recommend to try this first. If you are wearing a headset with good noise cancelling features then you will get very good results, even in a noisy environment
- A wired headset is also an excellent choice when you are setting up / customizing / experimenting with VoxCommando, even if you plan to use a different microphone in practice.
- You are tied down by the wire / it may not reach where you want to go
- It's not practical for multiple users since you must remove the headset and pass it to the other person
- Most headsets can become uncomfortable after wearing them for an extended period of time.
In theory a microphone array is the perfect choice for VoxCommando. It offers the freedom and comfort of an open microphone, and the accuracy and noise cancelling properties of a headset. Unfortunately these microphones can be very expensive. We have not tested any of the high end array microphones. The low end options that we have tried do not achieve good results, especially in noisy environments.
PS3eye Array Microphone
The PS3eye features a 4 microphone array but the microphones are very close together. The results we have experienced have been reasonably good in a quiet environment if the microphone is only about 5-6 feet away from you. It does not seem to achieve good results at greater distances and its noise cancelling qualities are pretty poor.
We had high hopes for the Kinect as a microphone for speech recognition but so far it has fallen short of expectations. We have tested this microphone with speech recognition in Windows and the results were very disappointing. Some users have reported good results with it in relatively quiet environments, but for the price we don't recommend it unless you already have one lying around. It is possible that a more mature SDK will yield better results but it's not likely.
http://www.acousticmagic.com/ These microphones look promising, but they are relatively expensive and we have not tested them with VoxCommando. If anyone has more information on these products please share your insights on the forum!
Wireless USB Headsets
See the note below about Bluetooth headsets!
- All the advantages of a wired headset but with freedom of movement
- Accuracy can potentially be very good even in a noisy enviroment
- Battery life can be an issue
- Comfort / Cost / Quality -- It's hard to find comfort and quality at a reasonable cost
Tested wireless headsets that yield good results:
I found both of these headsets to be large (unattractive) and uncomfortable to wear for extended periods. I still have the Plantronics 995 and the accuracy is very good. I still use it for testing sometimes and for Skype.
Note, also, that as with other USB devices, different products will have different ranges that can be disrupted by walls, etc. Its best to read reviews/specs for each product, and some experimentation may be necessary.
Wireless / Remote / Other
If your mobile device has a microphone and wifi you can probably use it as a wireless microphone for VoxCommando.
VoxWav Free and VoxWav Pro
Android users can take advantage of the VoxWav app, specifically created to be the perfect microphone for VoxCommando.
- Get VoxWav from the Google Play store here: 
- Documentation can be found on the VoxWav wiki.
- For more information and support, check out the forum.
- To use Apple mobile devices as a wifi microphone, try the Mobiola app called Headset.
- User experiences with this app can be found on the forum.
- When using the Headset app it is important to use the "music" setting and not the "voice" setting in the app. The voice setting uses a lower bandwidth / lower quality than the music setting.
Devices that will work with Skype include (but are not limited to):
- Android devices
- PSP (Playstation portable)
The Skype option might be especially useful if you wish to access your system when you are away from home, but otherwise should be considered a last resort.
A wireless device that you can plug another microphone into. For an example see this forum post: topic
Amulet Devices Remote
More info about the Amulet is on the forum: topic
Pros: If you don't require a hands-free solution, this is the best all-round solution that we have found so far.
- The microphone (and VoxCommando) only turn on when the remote is held upright;
- Because the microphone is held close to your mouth, it works quite well even in a loud environment;
- Optionally, system volume can be reduced when the microphone is on / further reducing problems with background noise;
- Battery life is good;
- Functions well as an MCE remote, and works with EventGhost.
- Price is a bit high if you are new to VoxCommando and just want to experiment, but if you are serious about using VoxCommando for a home theatre setup, it is a good investment;
- Although it has a remote learning function (for controlling other electronics devices), this particular feature does not seem to be very reliable;
- There can be a short delay when you lift the microphone before the connection is made. This is not a problem once you get used to it, but it can throw new users off a bit because they start talking too soon and VC doesn't understand the command;
- Ships only to the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Bluetooth microphones are NOT recommended for use with VoxCommando. The quality of the sound is such that recognition accuracy will be too low. While it may work "well enough" for certain situations, most people will be disappointed and frustrated with the results.