- 1 Microphone Comparison Matrix
- 2 Wired Microphones
- 3 Wireless Microphones
- 4 Mobile Devices
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 farther 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.
- Be prepared to sacrifice on reliability (relative to a non-open air solution) if you feel that you need an open-air solution.
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 have tested this microphone with speech recognition in Windows and seen variable results. More recent versions of the Kinect SDK (such as version 1.8) have shown better results. Some users have reported very good results with Kinect in relatively quiet environments.
By default, the Kinect sets the microphone input level to 100%. As with all other microphones used with VC, you should turn the input level way down to reduce the probability of false positives. Start with something like 10%, and if the Kinect fails to hear you reliably, then you can gradually raise the input level.
In version 2 of VoxCommando we have introduced Kinect audio streaming functionality, which aims to take advantage of the beam forming of the array microphone as well as the possibility of AEC (acoustic echo cancellation) in some situations. VoxCommandoSP can also use speech engines with language profiles tuned for the Kinect, although these are only available for a few languages, and may exhibit some unusual behaviour (particularly with numbers).
For more information see: Kinect audio
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!
In theory a good quality wireless headset might be the best choice for a hands-free always-on solution.
- All the advantages of a wired headset but with freedom of movement
- Accuracy can potentially be very good even in a noisy environment
- Battery life can be an issue
- Comfort / Cost / Quality -- It's hard to find comfort and quality at a low cost
Several good wireless headsets are listed here: [Microphone Comparison on Google Drive]
Note, also, that as with other wireless 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
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 (personal preference perhaps).
- The microphone only turns on when the remote is held upright (you can have VC switch on at the same time, using events).
- 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 compared to a headset (not as good as a regular "dumb" remote). Typically lasts a week and is easy to charge via USB.
- Functions well as an MCE remote, and works with EventGhost.
- If you download VoxCommando Extras from VC's download page, there is a small utility that sits in your system tray called AmuletUSB. When running it will send on/off events to VC when the microphone turns on and off.
- The cost has come down and an OEM version is currently available for $75.00 (written February 2014).
- Although it has a remote learning function (for controlling other electronics devices), this particular feature is not 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.
A wireless device that you can plug another microphone into. For an example see this forum post: topic
Bluetooth microphones are NOT recommended for use with VoxCommando Version 1. 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.
Version 2 of VoxCommando has an alternate speech engine available that should work better with bluetooth and may yield acceptable results.
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: 
- Both the free and paid versions allow you to run VoxWav in the background. Using your mobile's accelerometer, you can tilt your device up to turn on the microphone, and lower it again to turn the microphone off. Alternatively you can use the on/off button in the app. VoxWavPro also has an "always on" microphone feature.
- For full information and support, check out the VoxWav documentation and the forum.
At the moment we have no intentions to develop an iOs app as it is not cost-effective for us and we have limited experience with the Apple platform. If you are an iOs developer interested in developing an iOs app for VoxCommando, however, we would be happy to discuss this with you.
That said, there are various ways that you can use your Apple mobile devices with VoxCommando.
- 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. One of our users has posted a video demo as well
- 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.