Dragon NS non-USB headset microphone doesn't work

Discussion in 'Windows Virtual Machine' started by wldojnr, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. wldojnr

    wldojnr Bit poster

    I'm having a microphone issue with Dragon. Here's the basics of my setup

    Program: Dragon Naturally Speaking 9 (preferred edition)
    Parallels 3.0
    Windows XP Professional
    MacBook Pro, 2.6Ghz, 4GB RAM

    The problem is this: the included headset microphone, which plugs into the line in and headphone jacks (not USB) isn't responding. I get no levels on either Windows or OS X, and no real indication that either OS realizes that the microphone is working. I plugged the same headset into an XP Machine, which had no trouble with input, so the headset functions. Also, in XP and OS X the headphone works, but never the microphone.

    In the mean time, I can use the laptop microphone (with pretty poor accuracy, but enough to play and learn this new program), and I've ordered a Plantronics USB microphone, but I feel a bit disappointed. Has anybody else had this problem? Is there a solution? Maybe my line in is defective, but when it plugs in there is a level jump for a moment, which makes me think it is functioning. I will also look for something to plug into that (maybe a headphone cord from line out to line in with iTunes).

    Thanks for any feedback,

  2. JonW

    JonW Bit poster


    Your problem is a common one. The microphone that comes with Dragon, typically an Andrea NC91 or something similar, won't work by itself on a Mac. This doesn't represent a microphone or sound card failure but just a voltage incompatibility between a Macintosh and most headset microphones designed for PCs.

    You have two choices, or perhaps three:

    1. Get an inexpensive pre-amp or battery box (the Andrea Electronics APS-100 Auxillary Power Supply does the trick and costs about $17) which will boost the voltage to your microphone. Unfortunately the power supply is probably more expensive than your microphone and there are better solutions.

    2. Get a USB sound adapter which will power your mic and allow the signal to enter directly by a USB port on you MAC. The added advantage of using such a device is that the analog to digital conversion takes place outside of your computer and is less susceptible to interference generated by the computer. These generally provide a very clean input into the computer and are compatible with most headset and wireless microphones used with Macs and PCs. So if you upgrade to a better mic, your USB sound adapter will still be a great asset.

    3. If you're serious about using Dragon on your Mac, get a better microphone. The inexpensive microphone that comes with the software is really just a starter and isn't known for either it's accuracy or noise cancelling qualities. You can find some ideas for other mics that will be compatible with you system on a Compatibility Guide I put together on my site. The best, in my view is the Sennheiser ME3 used with an Andrea USB Sound adapter, but there are a variety of other good options, including some wireless systems.

    After years on the "dark side" I recently went back to a Mac and I'm trying to gather resources for Mac users on my site. I'm using Dragon extremely effectively on my MacBook Pro.

    Best of luck.

    Jon Wahrenberger
    Speech Recognition Solutions
  3. wldojnr

    wldojnr Bit poster


    Dear Jon,

    Thanks so much for clarifying this issue, as I've been beating my head trying to figure it out.

    As a musician, I do have a variety of high end solutions available to me, but most require more gear (converters, bulkier mic cables, etc.) than I am hoping for with Dragon. I think that the next step will be to try out a USB microphone. Thanks for the compatibility guide, answers, and commitment to helping others through this forum!

    Best wishes,

  4. stephtara

    stephtara Bit poster

    USB microphone weirdly stopped working

    Parallels 3.0
    OX 10.4.10 and XP
    Macbook 2Gb Ram
    DNS 9
    Plantronics USB headset (can't remember model)

    I used to have DNS running fine on Parallels 2.0. Haven't used it for a few months, now upgraded parallels, and here's the situation:

    - usb mic doesn't work in osx (recognized, but no sound comes out; tried Garageband, Skype, and finally Sound Pref pane, where the input level does not move at all as I speak)
    - usb mic works (badly: crackling sound) in sound recorder (win) after selecting the headset by clicking on the little usb icon in the parallels window
    - dragon seems deaf.

    Extra info:

    - the microphone has travelled, so could in theory have been damaged
    - I didn't make sure everything was still working before I upgraded parallels, unfortunately

    Any ideas? I'm thinking of maybe getting a better mic (I had an Andrea years ago I was very happy with) but I suspect that this is not just my microphone being broken.

    Lausanne, Switzerland, http://climbtothestars.org
  5. Hugh Watkins

    Hugh Watkins Forum Maven

  6. kat

    kat Product Expert


    I have DNS and had the same headset issues. I am using the Altec Lansing AHS433 usb, There is also a AHS302usb. They are headsets with a usb adaptor. I plug it in after I have already started my VM. The first time I used it I did have to slecte it in mac os before starting parallels.

    hope this helps
  7. wldojnr

    wldojnr Bit poster

    Plantronics works

    Hi Everyone,

    To update my own situation: I went with a Plantronics USB headset. I believe the model is the DSP-400. I went with this because Nuance rated it "5 dragons" in terms of accuracy, and it was $40 on Amazon.com.

    The headset works great. I even get very good accuracy in my office, where there is a very loud intake fan (old building's AC). I guess the noise-cancelling works!

    Good luck to everyone else. I am very satisfied and getting more excited with Dragon by the day (and Parallels works well, too!).



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