Dragon Naturally Speaking Dictation Software - The Best Voice To Text Software Available

by Jerrico_Usher

Finally, a peice of software for speech to text that actually works if you take the time to properly train the software around your voice

Is it more trouble to "train your dragon" than it's worth? Or does it really work as touted? This was asked of one of Wizzley's finest Night Owl and I responded that it's well worth it. This software is brilliant at taking voice and converting it to text almost error free.

There will always be a few errors here and there because the human voice doesn't always spout out the way we speak in our head but the time you'd save in voicing an entire article (rough draft only) is phenomenal.


Dragon 12Introduction

In this article I'm going to give you a brief but potent history lesson on dictation / transcription software then I'l overview the coolness that is Dragon- the only one in my opinion that actually works the way you expect it to!

Dragon is a powerful time saver and efficiency booster. You simply talk, it types, you proof read your draft and your done.

It makes creating articles a lot faster and much easier. It also saves you from carpel tunnel because you don't have to type as much :)

Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 is speech recognition software that creates text-to-speech very 

easily and very accurately. You can get this for both windows PC's and the MAC. 


Before we get into it, take a moment and watch the video below, it's a great overview of the software. Below the video you can check it out further on Amazon.

Get It On Amazon

(or go there to check out what others are saying about it)
Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12, English
Nuance Communications, Inc.
$199.99  $59.99




This picture is way old :)
This picture is way old :)
Earthlink tech Support


Speech recognition entered the mainstream several years ago when a few popular programs came out. It really excited people and started a huge buzz.

The two main programs that came out first were IBM ViaVoice, Dragon Naturally Speaking 1.0 (or was it .8?), and some innovative titles from a company called Learnout and Hauspie (L&H).

The 3 companies competed practically neck in neck throughout the 1990's. They offered some great consumer friendly software products designed to make things easier.

The underlying technology that converts human speech into text was used not by the average consumer for many years but rather the technology was used and developed specifically for specialized purposes. One major field this was used in was the medical field.

Professionals in some specific industries long had access to this technology in various areas. This was long before the retail consumer versions we now get shrink-wrapped in a CD or downloaded as a software program.


Text to speech was a secondary piece of the puzzle also developed within specialized industries for uses not exactly the same as what we would use Dragon for, for example.

This is where the computer takes text it finds in the clipboard and converts it into synthetic speech.

This sounds a lot like a speak-n-spell toys voice did.

The same companies and industries using this technology and developing it for these uses were far ahead of everyone else in creating a viable speech to text program that worked well.

They were, however, very influential in developing the text to speech technology.

Large corporations like AT&T were among those that participated and also contributed/funded the research.


Development continued...

In the earlier versions of text to speech software/technology their capabilities were truly innovative but a bit too innovative for their time yet. The accuracy of the engine left me wanting more, the extensive training that was required was simply too much for my patience levels. You could make it relatively great with enough training and figuring out how to tweak your software and more voice training to give it more to go on, and this was the only way to get close to accuracy.

The software was moving along and improving drastically each year but had not yet become tolerable. One problem beyond the actual motion of converting text to speech that was highly noticeable was the robotic voice it made, something people think of as low quality when a video uses such a voice/system instead of a natural voice.

Market Penetration

Text to speech and speech recognition software was still relatively slow to gain market share and widespread usage but it was gaining as the technology became more accurate, more useful, and more powerful.

People depended on the mouse and keyboard for their input needs and professionals relied on secretaries to transcribe their recorded voice to text (transcription). It seemed that there wasn't enough of a real market to really take hold and fund innovation of the technology. Three companies were there with no sustainable market to sell to at this stage. Developing software takes a great deal of investment, research, and development costs.

At some point IBM stopped supporting it's ViaVoice program leaving Dragon, a company acquired by Nuance, as the leader in the field.

Today Nuance is the predominant player in the field with more upgrades and development of new versions and major updates/fixes consistently. Of all the speech to text software programs/companies out there Dragon is to speech to text as Microsoft was to software in the 90's.

Enter Dragon Version 12.0! released in 2012!

Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium 12 w/Digital Recorder (Mobile), En...
Nuance Communications, Inc.
$299.99  $179.95

Dragon NaturallySpeaking version 12

Some Charactoristics Between V. 11 & 12

The premium edition of Dragon Naturally Speaking includes some important features like being able to play back recorded speech with the ability to transcribe even digital files (already recorded too!).

Being able to play back your recordings helps a great deal. It gives you the ability to just dictate the entire segment without worrying about accuracy. You can return and listen again to the dictation to give you an idea of how accurate the recording was. You can then fix those areas that were dictated inaccurately (your voice may have become groggier or something which would interrupt the engines ability to "hear" every word). It's a bit exhausting to have to do this the old way (90's software)! The user had to often make corrections on the spot before it would let you continue to dictate.

Being able to transcribe digital files (sound files), including wav, mp3 and various format, means you can simply carry a recorder around with you and dictate into it and transfer it to your computer when you get home. When you get home you can boot up the computer which should boot up Dragon too, and you can just tell the software to listen and convert to text what was in the digital file. Simple as that!

You can also just dictate into your noise canceling (important for any speech recognition technology) headset (with mic and headphones) right to your computer in real time and see the text type right before your eyes. If your a blogger this software is a godsend once you figure it all out and become accustomed to it. There's so many scripts you can create to do just about anything voice related or text related (even use your voice to command fully your computer!).

The microphone and computer hardware, all play a part in the quality as well. You will want a computer with lots of memory and a fast CPU to really take advantage of the real time power of this software. It will work on any computer (within the  minimal requirements) but faster is better. You want a powerful CPU for this as there will be a lot of real time calculations going on. Older computers may not be suitable for this as it may freeze up or just not work as expected. By older I mean pre year 2,000.

The features of taking a recorded mp3 file, for example, should dictate to text every bit as well as sitting in  front of the computer dictating through your headset. This is provided you actually recorded it with attention to nuance, background noise, and have a crisp, clear, noise free recording. 

I found this worked incredibly fast and with astonishing accuracy. Always check your work- nobody, not even software, is perfect but Dragon comes a close second!


Perfection is now 20% More accurate!

What may really make you want this software is that although it's one of the most accurate, powerful, and user friendly peices of transcription software out there, they've made it (they claim) 20% MORE accurate than version 11.

They've even boasted that with the right training (taking your time and patiently doing everything right) you can reach 99% accuracy- that's incredible! Star Trek "Hello Computer" is here now... As you go along, keep in mind also that this software has a bit of AI built in (artificial intelligence)... it actually learns from your speech and corrections. As you go it gets more and more accurate!

I already had a profile on my v.11 of the software that I'd spent a lot of time developing but I decided to start fresh from v.12 as it may offer a much better experience and a more accurate initial training experience. It only takes 5 minutes to train.

I started using it right away for my writing work and found it actually was a lot better than 11. I thought 11 was the greatest thing since sliced bread but this 12.0 version (professional) is so much better.

That 20% is a lot actually, you can feel the difference right away. It makes less mistakes and catches a lot of the old mistakes I used to make on 11 in dictation. Version 12 also seems to run better. I tested it on my XP machine, Vista, and Windows 7 machine. Although vista was faster than XP it still showed improvement, but the best was Windows 7. I don't use MAC do I didn't test it.


I have always loved Dragon (I started using it in version 9.0) and it's definitely improved over the years. Each new version is not a few background fixes we don't really use directly but rather a suite of new features, improvements on speed, accuracy, and even boot up time. Version 12 doesn't disappoint even the loyal users of the software!

Text to speech and dictation are ONLY A FEW features of this robust powerhouse of a software package. It's well worth the money and a godsend to writers. We tend to talk much faster than we type (and I type at 100 wpm with 98% accuracy). It's also a nice rest for the eyes and exercise for the voice, something most of the time online we're not using! (other than to yell at the PC). 

Dragon 12 has a lot of great ways to help YOU improve your accuracy beyond just training, you can even manually record something, then tell the computer what to type. You can correct what it dictates to text and the software will actually remember it. This is an example of one tool, and with some patience you can truly bring accuracy to 99%. The initial trouble is well worth the result. Eventually your software will "know you" pretty well- at least your voice! 

Another interesting feature that's also in previous versions is the engine that can (at your request) go out and read emails in your outlook, IM's you have stored, and other text- it does this to get a feel for your writing/speaking styles... pretty brilliant if you ask me! It dictates in email and any other form you can type into!

For me, the accuracy, speed, and ease of use and even training makes this a great peice of software. 

The cost of the software is well justified for the price (usually 150-200.00).

Good Luck Transcribing!

Dragon Naturally Speaking Dictation Software - The Best Voice To Text Software Available
Dragon Naturally Speaking Dictation Software - The Best Voice To Text Software Available
Updated: 08/22/2012, Jerrico_Usher
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


katiem2 on 09/06/2012

I love Dragon naturally speaking software. The first time I used it, installed it I was amazed as to how simple it was and how amazing it was. It is so easy to use. I love Dragon glad to know you've created this page so I can come here for new mics as I'm sure I'll wear mine out. Love this product. It's the best kept content providers secret. :)K

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