Dictation Equipment For Any Budget

Dictation can be very frustrating if you don’t have the right dictation equipment. 

Equipment can be as cheap or as expensive as you can afford and mileage varies by user.

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When you are starting with dictation, you may not be able to afford the very best software or hardware, but it is in your best interest to upgrade both as soon as you can.

There are only two things that you need to get started, and I will go more in-depth for each of them and discuss them, ranging from free to more expensive.

Some writers have no difficulty with the free equipment, but I have found that by buying better dictation equipment and dedicated software, I get a much better accuracy rate and therefore the money spent was worth it.


The most important investment for your dictation needs will be your microphone.

After all, you can’t dictate without it.

Some writers might not put much thought into the microphone because they rarely use it.

If, however, you are going to change to dictation, you must have a good microphone to get started.

Here are a few different microphones that you can use ranging in price from free to more expensive alternatives.

I asked a few of my blogging friends to help out with some recommendations and I mentioned them with their replies.

 1. Built-in microphone

Your laptop or computer probably has a built-in microphone that you can use when you don’t want to splurge on a new pricey upgrade.

While this will work for a while, it will decrease your accuracy rate to such a point that I am willing to bet you will want to upgrade quickly.

Most built-in microphones do not do a good job of buffering out background noise, and this can make your dictation that much harder.

The other thing worth mentioning here is that the closer you are to the microphone, the better the software will pick up your words.

That makes the built-in microphone somewhat awkward to use efficiently.

My friend at Green as a Thistle tells me that she uses her built-in mic and phone along with voice-to-text and dictates all the time with it with good results. Results may vary depending on the sound device and microphone capabilities of your built-in microphone.

I have been told that the Mac does a better job of this with their built-in microphone as long as you use the enhanced version of the dictation software for Apple.

2. Stand Alone Microphones

This type of microphone will be connected to your computer through a USB port. 

These types of microphones have a wide cost range.  There are some you can get for under 20 dollars up to the hundreds of dollars depending on how much you want to spend and how you will be using it.

Amazon has a basic stand-alone mic here.

This microphone would allow you to get started, but later you would want to upgrade for better quality.

Another popular stand-alone microphone is Blue Snowball Microphone seen here.

This microphone was recommended to me by the owner of Flipflop Weekend.  She says that it works very well for her.

The Blue Yeti Microphone seen here can be a great addition to your dictation equipment list because it would allow you to branch out into podcasts or YouTube videos with decent audio quality.

I have seen this microphone on YouTube videos being produced and the sound is fantastic.

My friend at Best Body Health has done podcasts and recorded Audiobook voice-overs and had several suggestions for microphones. If you want to get more mileage from your equipment and multiple different operations along with dictation, then you might consider the following, which was one of his suggestions.

He also recommends a few other microphones that I will mention briefly but be aware they are very pricey, and if you don’t intend to do Audiobooks or voice-overs, you may want to look at less expensive alternatives. His other mentions were Neumann U87 Ai, CAD Equitek E100S, Charter Oak E700, and Audio Technica AT3035.

I may go into the details on those at a later date when discussing equipment for making your own Audiobooks. If you intend to do Audiobooks, you could give them a look.

If you are looking for a top of the line Bluetooth microphone then I suggest Phillips SpeechMike Premium Air seen here.

I use it and the accuracy rate of my dictation hits about 99%.  You will always get better accuracy rates with a higher quality microphone.

3. Headphone microphones

If you want to get more from your dictation equipment, then you might consider using a headset.  This setup can help you filter out background distraction so that you can fully concentrate on your dictation.

The price ranges are similar to the stand-alone microphones, and you can get decent inexpensive ones or high-quality sets that will cost considerably more.

A basic headphone/microphone set can be seen here.

As mentioned already, this set will get you started, but you should consider upgrading when you can afford to so that you will get better quality.

A decent mid range headset you might consider is seen here.

I have not personally used this set but the reviews show it to be a recommended product for you to consider.

For a good wireless alternative, I recommend this next set. I have used this in the past and got amazing results with it.

I found the sound and audio to be above average, and the range was a definite plus.  If you don’t want to be tied to your desk and prefer to work while you do other things in the room while you are dictating, this is the way to go.

Now that we have discussed the microphone choices, we can move on to the second thing you will need to get started with dictation.


There are a lot of software programs on the market and the advice I can give you is that you may need to experiment to find the one that is right for you.

I will recommend a few here but by no means is this an extensive list.

1. Free Apps

Google docs have built-in voice dictation, but according to its website, it only works while you are in Google Chrome and only in google docs.

The owner of BackYard Scape recommends Audacity and Otter.ai.  She dictates to Audacity and then uses Otter.ai to transcribe the document.  She reports that you can then use your recording for podcasts to post on a website or with a slideshow.

If you are a Mac user, my friend at Treats And Tails recommends using Apple Dictation.  She uses her built-in microphone and says that it works well. You would, however, need to use the enhanced mode because basic mode only allows 30second snippets of recording.

Since everyone has a cell phone, another alternative is the built-in voice to text features of your cell phone. 

My friend at The Savvy Chaos used her phone to write her college papers and said that while it did require more editing afterward, it was much faster than typing.

While you can use these dictation software programs for writing, they are very limited in what they do.

2. Nuance Dragon Home v15 or Dragon Professional Edition

For an all-around better alternative, I highly recommend Nuance Dragon dictation software as an important part of any dictation equipment discussion.

It integrates with other programs so that you are not limited in which word processing document you use.

Not only is it versatile with different word processing documents, but it also has commands that allow you to do other work on your computer such as email or surfing the web.

I have used it in Google docs, Microsoft Word, Notepad, and Scrivener with no los of accuracy no matter the platform.

This option can be a bit pricey. However, you will be more productive all around so to me it’s worth the price.

Putting It Altogether

You can use any combination of microphone and software that fits your needs and price point.

Dictation is a great way to get your work done fast and regardless of whether you use any of my recommendations, I do advise you to get started.

Upgrade your dictation equipment as you can afford, and I promise you will not regret it.