Best recording option for dictation in a moderately noisy environment?
September 11, 2014 6:23 AM   Subscribe

I would like to dictate memos and documentation when away from my Mac, and then use Dragon to transcribe the recordings. This is in a somewhat noisy environment, similar in volume, tone and variation to a car traveling at a reasonable speed on the highway (HVAC equipment one room over, lots of random rattles and whirs and steady hums.) Not loud, but notable.

I've tried a "noise cancelling" Plantronics bluetooth earpiece and DroidDictate on my phone, but the background noise is fairly pronounced - haven't tried to transcribe anything with the combo yet, but I have to imagine the results won't be good.

Do standalone recorders do a better job at cancelling noise? Should I look into a wired headset for the smartphone?
posted by Slap*Happy to Technology (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I think "noise-cancelling" tech can only do so much, and sound waves through air follow the inverse square law - for every doubling of distance between the source (your voice) and the receiver (the microphone part of the headset), the force on the microphone is decreased by a factor of four.

IOW, the first step to getting less background noise in your recordings is to get comparatively "more" of your voice on the recording in the first place, because physics.

So if you're using a bluetooth earpiece that just one of those little rectangles, try an earpiece that has the little extension that puts the mic halfway down your cheek, or the kind that puts the mic directly in front of your mouth.

I can't claim much familiarity with the tech & specs of audio over bluetooth, but wireless audio in general does tend to rely on a certain amount of futzing with the signal in order to make the wireless transmission feasible, so yeah, a wired headset might work better.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:26 AM on September 11, 2014

An option would be to go with a professional headset like an Audio-Technica BPHS1 (or something like it but without headphones) and an adapter for your phone or a standalone recorder with a balanced input like a Zoom H4n.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 12:29 PM on September 11, 2014

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