The SpeechMatic USB Multi Adapter / USB TravelMike is a USB audio interface with microphone designed for improved speech dictation, VoIP (internet telephony) and voice recording. TableMike makes portable voice dictation not only possible, but practical.
Incorporating innovative noise cancellation, together with AGC (Automatic Gain Control) and Speech Equalization technologies TravelMike is capable of enhanced ‘long range’ voice capture and speech dictation.
TravelMike is ideal for voice dictation applications, but will also perform effectively as a vocal capture mic for applications such as Skype/VoIP or podcasting.
Packaged for traveling
TravelMike comes packaged in a PVC travel box, which has neat cutouts for each of the parts that make up the TravelMike. This handy case makes sure you always have a safe place to store all the parts.
The box content consists of:
- 1 x Short USB extension cable
- 1 x USB angle bracket
- 2 x Foam windshields
- 1 x Angle poise mini boom microphone (with standard jack connection)
- 1 x SpeechMatic USB Multi Adapter.
Build quality & operation
Each of the parts supplied with the USB TravelMike have a professional, robust and well made feel to them. They certainly feel like they would stand the test of time under normal travel usage.
The main USB unit is encased in moulded rubberised plastic, and the microphone is mounted at the end of a flexible mini boom that can be angled in the correct orientation.
Operation of TravelMike is easy. A single mode selection button on the front of the device doubles as an indicator making mode indication clear and unambiguous.
LED indication states are:
- Red = Mute (Short press once to mute/unmute)
- Green = Long range mode (Press and hold to toggle capture mode)
- Blue = Normal mode (Press and hold to toggle capture mode)
The two standard mini jack connections on the top of the TravelMike unit allow you to plug in a pair of headphones as well as the bundled angle poise mini boom microphone. These connections also allow you to plug in you own microphone and headphones or a mic headset such as Speechwares own Flexymikes.
One of the most important things when it comes to speech dictation accuracy is the position of your microphone relative to where your voice is coming from.
Thanks to its ’Long Range’ technology the ideal distance for TravelMike is between 10 cm and 50 cm (4″ to 20″). This of course also depends on factors such as ambient noise.
TravelMike’s makers have clearly thought about this placement when designing the unit.They have ensured that the TravelMike can be used in such a way that the microphone is angled to get as close to where the user is speaking as possible.
The angle USB bracket can be plugged into your computer, the multi adapter then plugs into this, which in turn accommodates the angle poise microphone, which can be adjusted so that it points in the direction of where you are speaking.
Initially I thought this concept looked a little clumsy, but it actually works very well. Allowing you to maintain a good distance from the mic while in a comfortable sitting position. For me an optimal distance of around 25cm was easily achievable.
Embedded award winning technology
TravelMike incorporates several technologies similar to those within their award winning range of USB TableMikes.
Unlike some microphones, that require you to maintain a fixed distance from the mic to maintain a consistent volume, TravelMike incorporates AGC (Automatic Gain Control).
AGC adjusts the gain of the microphone to maintain a constant volume to ensure that modest changes in the distance of your voice from the microphone do not unduly effect what your computer hears.
This is a great help for ensuring consistent voice recognition, whilst accommodating degree of head movement.
The Speech Equalization technology embedded within the TravelMike tailors the ‘EQ’ or frequency balance of the captured audio to best suit the type of signal that voice dictation software such as Dragon Dictate wants to hear in order to produce good recognition results.
Wideband and 20kHz High Definition VoIP
This provides HD VoIP audio when used with VoIP applications such as Skype. Ensuring that the audio is best suited for clear and intelligible VoIP operation.
A quick tip for voice recognition setup
When using TravelMike with speech dictation software such as Dragon Dictate you’ll need to ensure that you wait a moment for dragon dictate to normalize its volume before beginning the learning process. This ensures that the gain optimization is maximized with relation to any ambient noise when you do start the learning process.
The TravelMike is a very neat and effective portable audio capture solution. Clearly borrowing from experiences learned with Speechware’s design of the 6 in 1 USB TableMike (which we reviewed on this site a while ago), the TravelMike is capable of achieving excellent results.
For someone on the move who wants to use voice dictation software with their laptop TravelMike offers a unique and convenient solution. It’s certainly portable, fitting neatly in your laptop bag so it will travel with you just as easily as your laptop.
Anyone who already uses a desktop-based voice dictation system will probably find that TravelMike can help make their voice dictation or recording needs portable in conjunction with their laptop.
Potential users may want to ensure that the USB port configuration of their laptop is suited to TravelMikes design. Laptops with USB ports on the side are ideal. For laptops with rear USB ports, there is small extension cable to allow you to lead the unit around the side of your laptop.
It may also be worth taking a look at Speechware’s USB docking port hub which allows even greater placement flexibility. Overall the TravelMike provides excellent audio capture and voice recognition results, with a unit that is small extremely portable.
A final word
Whilst testing this unit I did have one issue resulting in clicking noises when using TravelMike with my 2009 Macbook Pro. However I could not repeat this issue on any other computer I tested with.
The unit functioned perfectly with my iMac desktop computer and also my partners PC laptop.
I have to conclude that this issue was a problem isolated to my computer only (it is a second hand computer, so I suspect it has it’s own hardware issues!). If any other users out there have experienced a similar issue we’d love to here from you in the comments below.
It’s also important to point out that we talked to the manufacture in Brussels (SpeechWare), who told us they practice a full customer satisfaction policy, with a two years warranty for all their audio products. So if any readers experience a similar issue with TravelMike, or other Speechware products, they should contact their customer care who will immediately collect the unit and provide a refund.