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Offline audio2u

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Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« on: August 26, 2015, 03:43:24 am »
As I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum, I am audio engineer by profession. As such, I take my music (and audio quality) pretty seriously.
Like others have mentioned, I'm not particularly blown away by the quality of the TTSE's speakers once you're at freeway speeds. Physics come into play, and the low frequency sounds are masked by the wind noise (which by its very nature is quite broadband in its frequency response), leaving you with a mid-range squark that's not particularly enjoyable to listen to.
So, when I had a small and unexpected windfall a while back, I bought myself a Sena SMH10 bluetooth set. http://www.sena.com/product/smh10/
Now, the bluetooth unit itself is freaking great! I love it.
But the speakers that came with it? Aaarrrggghhhhh.
If you'll excuse the French, they were complete sh#te.
The problem with these speakers is that being a pancake design, they also don't produce anything substantial in the way of low frequencies. And because they are sitting against the outside of your ears, you have to have them turned up quite loud in order to hear your music (or whatever) over the wind noise.
As a guy who makes his living from his hearing, that's not something I wanted to endure for anything more than about 5 minutes.
Solution?
Simple.
I cut the speakers off, attached a female 3.5mm socket, and now ride with my Sennheiser CX300 earbuds. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B000E6G9RI/?tag=next6-20
If you haven't yet tried this particular model of earbud, do yourself a favour. I was pointed toward these about 10 years ago, and I'm now on my 4th set of them. They are awesome. Best bass response of any earbud in that price range. You'll notice that the cable is assymetrical. You are supposed to put the long side around the back of your neck, in case you weren't aware.
Now, before you write off riding with earbuds, allow me to mention a couple of things.
Because these earbuds are noise-ISOLATING, and not noise-cancelling, they still allow you to hear what is going on around you. But that traffic and wind noise is turned down in volume, which is a good thing.
Also, because they fit into your middle ear canal and form a light seal, you don't need to have your music absolutely blaring in order to hear it.
So it's a win-win-win. Music at a sensible level, great bass response, and wind/traffic noise turned down in volume but still audible.

OK, if you want to follow in my footsteps, here's the procedure...

What you'll need:

3.5mm female socket STEREO (not mono)
Soldering iron
Soldering braid
Wire strippers
Pointy nose pliers
Tweezers
A small clamp or vice

Head to your nearest electronics store and pick up a female 3.5mm socket. I suggest the nickel type, not the plastic type. The nickel ones are sturdier and last longer.
Turn your soldering iron on now, so it's hot by the time you get through the next stage.
Cut the two Sena speaker cables so they finish together, about 6 inches out from the SMH10 unit.
Next up, remove the shield from the 3.5mm socket. It unscrews. You'll most likely have 3 parts. The section which has the actual socket (where your earbuds plug in), a short plastic tube, and the outer cover. The part with the socket has three 'legs'. One is about 2cm long and has a couple of wings on it, and the other two legs are quite short and stick out above the longer leg.
At this point in time, you want to slide the outer cover over the two speaker cables. Slide it up to the SMH10 unit.
Next, slide the plastic tube (which was inside the 3.5mm socket) over the speaker cables as well. It's important you do this BEFORE you proceed to the next step.

You'll need to strip about 1/2 inch (1-1.5cm) of the insulation (the black rubber coating) of both speaker cables.
Once stripped, you'll see that inside, there are 2 groups of copper wire. One set has its own insulation, and the other set simply sits in between the two layers of insulation.
The copper that sits inside the inner insulation is the 'ground'.
First though, take the strands of copper wire that sit in between the two layers of insulation, and twist them tightly together between your thumb and forefinger.
In one speaker cable, this group of copper strands carries your left channel, and in the other speaker cable, they carry your right channel.
Once you've done that, grab your soldering iron, hold the tip near to the twisted copper strands, let the wire heat up for a second, then apply some soldering braid. This process is called "tinning the cable".
The braid has a fairly low melting point which means that once you move the soldering iron away from the braid, the braid will solidify pretty quickly.
If you did it right, it'll have left a smooth coating of braid over your twisted copper strands so it now looks like a single thread of silver wire.
Do the same on the other speaker cable.
Once you've tinned both of them, you need to bring the 'ground' wires together.
To do this you need to strip some of the inner layer of insulation to reveal about 1cm of the 'ground' on BOTH of the speaker cables. Using your thumb and forefinger, twist the 'ground' wiring  of each speaker cable so that it doesn't fray (like you did with the copper strands you've already tinned).
Now, you have to wind those 2 bits of 'ground' together into one piece.
Now, heat that joined pair of cables up, and tin them into one piece.
Now, depending on how much insulation you removed, you might now have long pieces of tinned wire.
If that's the case, you might need to use the wire strippers to shorten the tinned sections. You'll want the combined 'ground' to be about 1cm in length, and the two separate tinned wires to be about 1.5cm in length.
Now, mount the 3.5mm female socket in the vice, but don't tighten it so much that you squash the socket!
Remember how there was a long leg and two short legs?
The long leg is where you want to solder the merged 'ground' wire, and the two 'channels' (the other bits of wire we tinned, but left separated) get soldered to each of the two short legs. We could get anal about which one is left and which one is right, but really, are you going to know the difference? :) Probably not.
Now, before you try soldering the wires to the legs, what you want to do first is to apply heat to the legs (one at a time) until the soldering braid melts and adhers to the legs. This WILL take longer than it took to tin the copper strands. That's ok.
Once you have a small mound of braid soldified on each of the legs, you may proceed.
If you're new to soldering, the key here is not to allow the UN-insulated portion of any of these wires to come into contact with any of the OTHER uninsulated pieces of wire. If that happens, your audio will be compromised.
I find that having a pair of tweezers handy during this process helps you to keep the cables away from each other while you're soldering the wires to the legs of the socket.
So, now the legs are tinned and our wires are tinned, we're ready to bring them together.
I find terminating the 'ground' first makes life easier.
One word of warning. Right now, check and make sure that your 3.5mm outer sleeve and plastic tube are still in between the SMH10 unit and the exposed ends of the speaker cable!
OK, now bring the tinned end of the merged 'ground' cable close to the mound of braid on the long leg. Apply your soldering iron to that mound of braid so that it liquifies again. Dip the end of the tinned 'ground' cable into the liquid braid (on the long leg) and remove your soldering iron. Hold the cable there for 2 seconds until the braid re-soldifies.
Woohoo! You're 1/3 of the way there!
Now, repeat that process for the two separate cables, soldering each of them to one of the two short legs.
Once all three are soldered in place, slide the plastic tube up over the wires until it comes to rest against the back of the socket.
You may need to fold the 'wings' (on the long leg) inwards to allow the plastic tube to slide over it. That's ok.
Now, you should be able to slide the outer cover up and screw it on to the back end of the socket as well.
Congratulations on a job well done! It should look something like the attached image.
You should now be able to plug in your earbuds, turn on your SMH10 unit and enjoy some quality toons on your next blast through the twisties!

Oh, one last thing. What about those times when you don't want to bother with putting earbuds in because you're just ducking down to the shops?
On my Evoline helmet, I'm able to push the 3.5mm socket in between the padding and the shell of the helmet, right at the back of my neck. And it stays there without issue.
My bike history: (1) c.1982 Honda CT125, (2) c.1986 Yamaha SRX250, (3) 1988 Honda CBR1000FH, (4) 1989 Suzuki GSX-R750 Slingshot, (5) 2012 Suzuki Boulevard M90, (6) 2013 Triumph Trophy SE.

Offline plgoddard

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2015, 04:05:52 am »
Dude, is there a YouTube video of you doing this? If I followed these written steps and I didn't end up burning down the house or cutting off my index finger, it would be a miracle.  :020:

Offline audio2u

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2015, 04:10:17 am »
Bwahahahaha!
No, unfortunately not. If I ever have to replace my Sena with a new unit, I'll most likely do it all again, and I'll make sure I video it then!  :002:
My bike history: (1) c.1982 Honda CT125, (2) c.1986 Yamaha SRX250, (3) 1988 Honda CBR1000FH, (4) 1989 Suzuki GSX-R750 Slingshot, (5) 2012 Suzuki Boulevard M90, (6) 2013 Triumph Trophy SE.

Offline w8d4it

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2015, 04:29:32 am »
Like plgoddard I could certainly benefit from a video if you are ever inclined to make one.
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Offline GarminDave

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2015, 08:34:43 am »
Thanks audio2u that is a very detailed description of what to do.  Those earbuds are showing as discontinued?

I too would like earbuds as a while ago I had moulded ear protectors that incorporated speakers and it worked well but was troublesome to get my helmet on whilst fitting the ear piece in but having a 3.5mm male/female jack means ear buds in, helmet on, plug in connector; simple but effective.  Mine were hard wired in so you can imagine the process!

All I need now is someone skilled enough to do this with my Shoei Cardo SHO-1!

Later

Dave
Love, light, and kindness,

Dave

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Offline twowheeladdict

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2015, 10:43:00 am »
I use 32dB contour foam ear plugs when I ride.  They cut the wind noise frequencies and allow me to hear what is going on around me as well as my Sena speakers.

For those that want to follow in audio2u's footsteps, but don't want to cut and solder, Sena makes a helmet mount that takes ear buds.

http://www.amazon.com/Sena-SMH-A0303-Helmet-Clamp-Earbuds/dp/B003YD3O7G

Offline Volfy

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2015, 02:48:21 pm »
That's a pretty cool way of rigging up a hard line connection.

These days, all the lossy compression like MP3 just sound like crap to me.  So the only thing I listen to on the bike is podcast of NPR or PRI.  Uclear bluetooth from my phone is fine for mostly news and voice commentary. 
Converto, ergo sum.       '15 300RR, '15 250XCF-W, '14 K1600GT, '12 VFR1200, '05 GSXR600 (track).

Offline BigD

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Re: Don't just HEAR your music.... ENJOY it.
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2015, 05:31:53 pm »
http://www.plugup.com/motorcycle_stereo_adapters_stereo_extension_cables_s/72.htm

This company will do it for you for less than $40.00.  I had them convert mine several years ago and I use nothing but ear buds.