Boosting USB mic or best mic choice



  • Hi folks, just writing to ask if you have any ideas about boosting microphone input volumes, or whether there is a good mic choice for this sort of project. I have a USB mic installed at the moment, and it works fine. I have MMM-Voice up working and so on, but I’m a bit bothered by the range of the mic. I have the Pi mounted behind the screen, and it cannot pick anything up from in front. I have to be more or less chewing the microphone for it to recognize what I’m saying and it’s making the voice modules struggle profusely. Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


  • Module Developer

    @joe84maiden said in Boosting USB mic or best mic choice:

    Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    I use MMM-voice with Hello-Lucy exclusively so I know the limitations you’re dealing with.

    • The microphone behind the mirror won’t do at all.

    I suggest drilling a hole in the frame to expose the microphone, or have it exposed at one of the edges of the mirror is you want a better response.

    • Don’t expect it to perform as well as a far-field microphone.

    You just won’t get the response that is typical to an Amazon Alexa or Google Home. They employ the use of far-field microphones that can hear you across the room. You may or may not be able to use one with a Pi and the cost may be prohibitive.

    • USB is the downfall of voice modules on a Pi.

    No matter how good your microphone is, the response of the Pi will always exhibit some latency. The Pi simply does not have the processing power and now add to it having to process the USB information for the microphone.

    • If you want superior response

    I use laptop boards now. The Pi is nice but I want my mirrors to be spectacular. The integrated microphone of laptops perform wonderfully. Alternately, a 3.5mm jack microphone works just as well as the board doesn’t have to process any USB information.

    • A quiet environment is important, too

    In a quiet room, my laptop mirrors run voice nearly flawlessly and the range of the microphone is significantly increased.

    This has been my experience. I hope it helps you.

    Peace!



  • Hi Mykle, Thanks for the info. I have been pretty extensively reading your posts, and it was some of the posts from you and cowboysdude that persuaded me to try out the MMM-voice. I’ve spent so long trying to get the Alexa integration working with the MirrorMirror skills and just can’t get it running. Hello Lucy installed really nicely so thanks ever so much for your work on that. The latency isn’t really an issue, but some combination of my accent, the mic and the code mean that it takes me several attempts to get a voice response. I had read some info about being able to use a software boost through ALSA for a USB mic, but I’ve been struggling to find the way of really doing it. I would agree I’d like the mirror to work well so I’d be happy to upgrade the mic if I could be sure of a result. The mirror will ultimately also be ‘frameless’ and so I will mount a mic somehow on the glass edge. Again, my thanks for your advice. Perhaps I’ll contemplate a laptop board.



  • Hello,

    I have a very good result with a sony ps3 eye webcam.
    It contains 4 pickups so picks well even with a significant distance. (up to about 5 to 7 meters).
    I use it for google assistant and she captures the key word even when the ambient noise is present (television, people talking in the room, etc …)
    Regards,



  • Thanks for that, that might also be an option. I thought a webcam might be the answer and I’ve tried out a few of my logitech versions, but there’s something about running it through ALSA that makes the sound really crummy. This isn’t a multiple pickup type of affair though, so maybe this is the answer. Regardless, many thanks for your advice.



  • Just a quick note here, I tried a Logitech 9000 series webcam today and it is superb with MMM-voice. Not a cheap solution, but really worthwhile. The audio recognition is excellent, and actually the response from MMM-voice is much, much faster. I think the clarity of the audio going in greatly reduces the processing time down to near-instantaneous. I don’t know if it helps that the webcam is described as being a ‘fast’ webcam. Really good!