Dictation software

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Jets737, Nov 19, 2016.

  1. Jets737 macrumors member

    Jets737

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2014
    #1
    I'm considering Nuance Dragon 6.0 for my MacBook.

    Any user out there who can provide some feedback.

    Thanks.
     
  2. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #2
    Honestly, I've tried it and the iOS app. I actually prefer a "free" option that has been far more accurate for me - I just got done dictating a long document and didn't have to correct a single error (and I'm tethered to my iPad Air 2's cellular-based Personal Hotspot.

    I bought into Nuance's "24% better recognition" bit, but they were claiming something like 97% recognition several years ago. :scratching head here: US$300 is a bit of coin for an app that will be updated in *likely* less than a year with an upgrade cost of around $150 (5 was out last November, 6 was out in August - this sniffs out like a subscription thing to me...). IMHO the price is too high, it's a bit buggy and you'll need to fork over for a decent microphone - I have two Plantronics mics - a wired USB mic and a BT Edge UC (both with wideband audio).

    My "solution" that's pretty darned good? I get almost-perfect results using Google's dictation into Google Docs. My aforementioned results were dictating into a rMBP's microphone over a tethered cellular connection (I'm about 20-odd miles from the nearest tower, too), with a fan running in the background. I'm an engineer, and use many technical terms in my correspondence and documents - I did not have to make one correction, not a single one. Yep, I was a bit surprised. And, I'm using a free Gmail account. I do not have wifi available at my current job site, and I've never had to make a correction when dictating into a Google Doc when over wifi.

    Keep in mind that Nuance is behind, in part, the recognition behind Siri. That's one black mark in my book. I sold my Dragon license to a friend a month ago. I'm pretty impressed with Google's voice-to-text conversion, and I'm not a bit Google Services fan... BTW, I dictated this response into a Google Doc (with the aforementioned fan running!) and pasted the results into this dialog. Cheers!
     
  3. minton macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2004
    Location:
    California
    #3
    Nuance has some very good Dragon apps for the PC. They just don't put the same effort into their mac app.
     
  4. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #4
    I'm curious to know how Dragon compares with the Mac's built-in dictation (which many refer to as Siri, but is technically different - can be found in Settings > Keyboard > Dictation under macOS 10.12, although in earlier versions it was its own thing).

    The built-in dictation solution isn't bad, especially for getting started, but I find that every sentence or two I need to correct something. This is relatively easy, as the Mac underlines words and sentences it's not totally sure about, and usually right-clicking the underlined area will reveal an alternate suggestion that matches what I actually said. However, despite using a 2015 5K iMac with maxed out processor and RAM, as well as the offline dictation library, I'll often find that I speak a sentence or two and then need to wait a few seconds for the Mac to transcribe it. I am using a dedicated dictation microphone (Philips Speechmike Premium).

    I've read some comparisons in which Dragon has superior accuracy to the Mac's built-in dictation solution. How about speed? It's just unfortunate about the cost; I don't mind spending $300 if it works well, but there's no trial or demo. Their Windows equivalents are $60 for the "home" version and $130 for "premium." Those prices seem reasonable, but $300 is a lot of money to go in blind. It needs to be far superior to the Mac's built-in dictation solution to be worth that much.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on that?
     
  5. campyguy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2014
    Location:
    Portland / Seattle
    #5
    I'm still sticking with my position that Google's dictation into docs works very well. A more-accurate solution for me was buying a $30 Lumia 640 and installing Windows Phone 10 on it, and using the built-in dictation in the keyboard (like iOS/macOS) and dictating into Word or the Mail app. Cheap solutions that just work IMO, better than I thought they would. I find Google's voice recognition/transcription works better than Nuance's options, this coming from a buyer of both Dragon for OS 9 and ViaVoice. Any of Nuances options work better than any Mac version of their offerings; I use two Nuance apps for Windows in my Win 10 VM - any costs here are cheaper than therapy IMO.

    I have noticed that the built-in macOS dictation has improved somewhat, but I speak clearly with very good enunciation. My rMBP is mounted on an arm and it's located at about my face level, and I also use a UC headset with wideband audio. The random cutoff for dictation can be a PITA.

    Also, I have noticed a large amount of RAM (generally just over 1GB) reserved for dictation; I used to use dictation in two user accounts, and that allocation was persistent even after a restart and not using dictation - for each user account, whether I had logged in to either account (I have 4 user accounts on my Macs), so that was 2GB of RAM that was being "reserved" for dictation whether I used dictation or not. I noticed the same behavior on my office iMac. If you opt to use macOS dictation, I'd offer keeping an eye on this. I've disabled macOS dictation when I'm not using it. My 2¢.
     
  6. Ledgem macrumors 65816

    Ledgem

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2008
    Location:
    Hawaii, USA
    #6
    So, after posting on this thread, I made a bit of an impulse buy. I suppose the Nuance website has an interesting system in place, in which if you go partly through the purchase process but stop near the final steps, and then returned to the website at a later time, they will offer you a time-limited discount. Because of that discount, I bought Dragon dictate professional.

    Again, remember that I am using a high-end, dedicated, Dictaphone style microphone. Using that microphone, the accuracy is incredibly impressive. The error rate is hardly comparable to the dictation feature built into Mac OS. I think I mentioned it above, but with Mac OS, I would have to make a correction seemingly once every sentence or two, at least. Yet with Dragon, making corrections is very, very rare.

    Unfortunately, some of the downsides that were present in the Mac OS dictation software are still present with Dragon. For example, after speaking a sentence, it still takes a little while for the sentence to appear on screen. My impression is that Dragon is slightly faster at this, but I have not timed them. Another downside is the capitalization of certain letters. If you're continuously dictating and are not jumping around what you have written, then Dragon seems to work perfectly; however, if you try to insert a word within a sentence, Dragon will frequently capitalize the as if it is starting a new sentence. The Mac OS dictation feature would do this in certain applications, but in Apple-based applications, or applications that heavily used the Mac OS framework, it was able to intelligently identify what part of the sentence it was in and either capitalize or make lowercase appropriately.

    On the other hand, one of my major uses for the software would be in Citrix environments. I'm happy to report not only that Dragon works in these environments. But that it seems to thrive. If you've ever tried doing this with Mac OS, then you'll know that the computer seems to quickly scramble words and sentences as it tries to determine the best sentence. This is scrambling process is barely noticeable when using a native application, but when remotely virtualizing over Citrix, it slows things down and is highly noticeable. When Dragon lays down words and sentences, it seems to be the finalized version. Thus, using Dragon with Citrix, those delays are not an issue.

    So, to answer the question of "is Dragon worth it?" The answer is that it depends. Dragon's accuracy far outclasses the Mac built-in dictation software. Perhaps someday it won't be like that, but this is how it is for now. I can close my eyes while I dictate and even speak a little bit more quickly, instead of babysitting what I'm saying and watching as the Mac transcribes it, usually with a number of errors. Yet Apple has one small advantage in correcting errors, which is that it will often recognize if it has a word or sentence wrong. in those instances, it will underline the sentence, and right clicking it will bring up alternate suggestions, one of which is usually exactly what you said. Dragon does not offer such a capability, although you're arguably better off anyway because the error rate seems to be so low.

    My advice would be that for anyone attempting to get into dictation, use what is built into your Mac, and use what is built into your iOS devices. If it seems like it's working for you, and is something that you enjoy using, then I would think that the Dragon software package is worth it. Yet I can imagine that for many people the built in options are sufficient, and purchasing Dragon would be a rather large waste of money. All that I can say, is that I do not regret my purchase.

    This entire post was dictated with Dragon. I think I made two or three errors that I fixed, many of which were due to my own enunciation issues. I hope this is helpful to somebody else, and if you have any questions about the software, I can try to answer them.
     

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