Improving Dictation: Adjusting Microphone Levels

This week’s tip comes from David Clark in support. This tip comes in response to a question we received about improving dictation techniques. We are still trying to work out this particular individual’s dictation issues but we felt these tips might help other doctors who are experiencing dictation problems.

When dictating there are many variables that can affect the quality and accuracy. Some of the more simple and obvious solutions to achieving better dictations are microphone placement and ambient sound.

When dictating, if the recording meter moves to the red, try moving the speech mike further from your mouth. If the meter is in the yellow, the microphone may be too far away. If you do not want to adjust the location of microphone, you can adjust the recording device levels. Ambient noise can be monitored easily by turning on the microphone and observing the recording levels. If they are in the yellow you should be good. If ambient noise is apparent it will be green and recorded. In which case, find the source of ambient noise and do your best to stifle the noise. Another form of ambient sound is breathing into the microphone, make sure you aren’t breathing too heavily into the mic.

The below tip is specific to Dragon dictation  and is useful when running the Quick Training does not give you the results you want in regards to recording levels. Typically, the Quick Training will provide an adequate level. The optimal level is somewhere between 25 and 30, I have seen levels at 0 and 99 which are way too extreme and will severely degrade accuracy.

Whenever you run the Audio Setup Wizard, the Audio Setup Wizard computes what it thinks is the optimal volume setting to your sound card. This volume setting is saved in the registry with the other Dragon NaturallySpeaking variables. And whenever you turn on the microphone, NaturallySpeaking resets the volume of your sound card to match the settings computed by the Audio Setup Wizard.

If you want to use a different volume than that computed by the Audio Setup Wizard, you’ll find that every time you turn the microphone back on, Dragon NaturallySpeaking will restore the setting saved by the Audio Setup Wizard, requiring you to change the volume again.

But there is a way around this. If you decide that you want to use a different setting for your microphone volume than the one computed by the Audio Setup Wizard, complete the following steps.

(1) First run the Audio Setup Wizard. Stop when you get to the last screen where it gives you a rating of the quality the sound card.

(2) Start the multimedia mixer, and adjust the volume setting of the microphone input on the recording page. You can leave the Audio Setup Wizard on the screen, and test the microphone volume with some other application.

(3) Once you have adjusted the volume setting the way you like it, click Finish on the Audio Setup Wizard. The Audio Setup Wizard will then save the manual setting of the microphone volume rather than the computed setting.

When you complete these steps, then Dragon NaturallySpeaking will restore your manual microphone setting whenever you turn on the microphone. If you are using Basic dictation just turn up the level to an optimal level.

Novarad posts helpful hints from our support staff here on the blog. These could reference some questions frequently asked by our customers or could be about new product features. If you have a question you would like answered in this feature, or if you have come up with your own simple fix please email schatwin@novarad.net.

Posted in Blog, Radiology Software

4 Responses to Improving Dictation: Adjusting Microphone Levels

  1. Don says:

    I guess you guys compress the audio too much that the audio output no matter on any mike is too bad and the Novarad will never correct it to save pennies on space. This is one the bad idea and it is affecting the quality of the reports

  2. Cameron Gay says:

    Unfortunately this technique would appear not to work in Dragon professional 14.

    It doesn’t matter what level you set, or are you set it, the moment you click the microphone to dictate it reverts to the value that is calculated.

    The problem that I have is that the microphone I’m using (Sennheiser ME3) does not generate enough volume for Dragon to recognise accurately.

    Has anybody else encountered this problem, and if so do they have solution?

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