Week 18, 2017: Voice-to-text with a Mac computer, LectroFan micro Wireless Bluetooth speaker/sleep sound machine

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 18, 2017

Q. I read your column in the paper today about voice-to-text on my iPhone. I’ve been doing that regularly with good results. I want to use voice-to-text on my MacBook Air but there is no similar microphone button. Do you have a suggestion for my laptop that gives as good results understanding me as my iPhone does?

-E.S., Piedmont, CA

A. Voice-to-text, called “Dictation” on a Mac computer, is supported by the operating system itself and you may even be able to use it without an Internet connection. First, the feature must be enabled in System Preferences under Dictation and Speech. If you select Enhanced Dictation the computer will download a dictionary. Once the dictionary is downloaded you will not need an Internet connection to use Dictation. After everything is set up, push the Fn key twice to use Dictation, just like using your microphone button. You will now see text appear as you speak.

Some versions of macOS can enable Dictation simply by telling Siri, “Turn on Dictation.” If you have a Mac, research your OS version and you will find the best way to enable it on your computer.

LectroFan micro Wireless: This $35 Bluetooth speaker with hands-free call capability is also a sleep sound machine from industry leader Adaptive Sound Technologies. The LectroFan micro Wireless is about the size and shape of a small jar of cold cream, has a rechargeable battery and can play ocean soundscapes, fans, and other sounds optimized for sleep support. No phone is necessary to use the sleep sound function, and the speaker head rotates and tilts to make it travel-friendly and to allow optimum sound distribution in any room.

Sleep sound machines are used by many people to help them sleep better. I have a lot of energy and sometimes it is hard for me to fall asleep, or to sleep soundly. Sometimes I wake up and can’t fall asleep again, so I was anxious to see if a sleep sound machine made a difference.

I selected the ocean soundscape (my favorite, along with the fan sounds) put the LectroFan micro Wireless a few feet away and adjusted the speaker angle and volume until it seemed correct for me and my room. I turned off the light, put down my head and concentrated on the soothing sounds as they lulled me to sleep.

Five hours later I woke for a bathroom break, but as I walked back to bed I found myself anticipating and craving the ocean sounds and the peace they brought and I fell back to sleep again easily. At times I felt like I was back in Cancun, reliving a vacation when I slept peacefully at a seaside resort as the waves lapped on the shore. I am sure it is different for everyone, but in my case it was definitely effective.

The claims of “ultra high-fidelity audio” for music playback seems to be a bit of a stretch. Given it only has one speaker inside, the sound is not stereo and maximum volume is limited. My own estimation is that it sounds much better and gets much louder than a phone’s built-in speaker, and to me, that is enough given the product’s intended purpose, tiny size and low price. Think of it as a tiny, travel-friendly and extremely affordable sleep sound machine that can also play music and make phone calls, and you will understand the essence of this product and its very high value equation.