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  • Offline Mystical Cat

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    Offline Mystical Cat

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    Helmet Comm Comparison
    on: Aug 16, 2016, 03.23 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 03.23 pm
    Hi all,

    Years ago we bought a set of Sena SMH10 units, and while they weren't the greatest sounding audio delivery system, they were loud enough for me to listen to the news on my way to work, clearly hear phone calls, and also clearly hear chatter from other Sena units.

    A few months ago we "upgraded" to a pair of Sena 10S units, and that turned out to be a huge mistake.  They have a new physical design that's better, but that's where the "improvements" end.  The speakers are still crappy, and for some unknown reason they made these units so that the volume doesn't go up nearly as high as the SMH10.  Now when I'm at speed I can barely hear anything.  Below is the review I left on Amazon about the 10S.

    My question is this - can anyone recommend an in-helmet comm system that's loud enough, and actually sounds good?

    Thanks in advance!


    My Amazon review of the Sena 10S:

    I've been a Sena fan for years and got a lot of mileage out of a set of SMH10s. They worked well, they connected to whatever devices we had, and even though the fidelity was pure garbage, they made talking with others easy, and having tinny-sounding music was better than none for longer trips. When I discovered that the 10S was available I thought I'd give them a go because they're supposed to be better than the SMH10 in every conceivable way. Spoiler alert: they're not. I will give credit to the physical design as it is indeed better than the SMH10, but that's where the improvements end.

    For some reason Sena felt it necessary to spent R&D dollars on things like adding an FM radio. Yep, you read that right, an FM radio. I can't speak for everyone, but I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in never even once thinking, "Man, this trip would be so much better with a corporate playlist created by a consultant that lives a thousand miles away, and more time per hour dedicated to advertising and branding than actual music."

    You know what would have been far more useful than an FM radio? Better speakers. Once again, the included speakers are just as terrible as the speakers on the SMH10, but now they have a chrome-ish trim ring, and scientific studies show that the level of fidelity added by the trim ring is exactly the same as the level of horsepower added to your vehicle when you put an Edelbrock sticker on the rear window. One thing they DID do correctly was make it so the new speakers have individual connectors (instead of being hard-wired like the SMH10) so I'm hoping that someone comes along and builds better speakers that can be swapped into the system.

    Another issue, and this is a serious one: the 10S doesn't get anywhere near loud enough. I wrote to Sena and asked what's up with the low volume compared to the SMH10. They said, and I quote, "Did you make sure to adjust the volume during the phone call? We haven't really had any complaints about this issue. When I tried calling the volume was fine for me. But then again, it could be subjective. Some people think the old SMH10's were too loud that it was deafening." Really? Did I try adjusting the volume? And read that last line again: "Some people think the old SMH10's were too loud that it was deafening." Seriously? You're not only going with that poorly-written sentence, you're actually passing that ridiculously silly idea along? Pro tip: you can always turn the volume DOWN, you can't make something louder once you reach the top.

    What's worse is when the volume is all the way up the music and/or navigation prompts are so distorted they're simply not listenable.

    These things are completely useless, and I'm kicking myself for not packing them right back up and returning them before the window to do so closed.
    "Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle." ~Unknown

  • Offline Dan66

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    Offline Dan66

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #1 on: Aug 16, 2016, 05.07 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 05.07 pm
    I have Senna's and have no complaint about volume (just the SMH10).  Their support is lacking but a couple of comments:

    The speakers suck and will also suck because of the limited thickness available and the distance needed to cover.  Placement in the helmet is really critical with these things.  Mine sound OK....

    Comment about volume that Senna support made.  Ensure your bluetooth device (phone, mp3 player, etc.) is turned up to full volume.  My wife fell for that one.  She had the headset turned all the way up and the volume on her phone not very high - complained about the listening volume...

    Anyway, just a couple of thoughts

  • Offline Mystical Cat

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    Offline Mystical Cat

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #2 on: Aug 16, 2016, 05.18 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 05.18 pm
    Yep, I did every possible bit of troubleshooting before contacting Sena, and I'll tell you, there's nothing more frustrating than reaching out to a support team with a detailed email outlining all the steps I took to resolve the issue only to have them come back and ask if I tried "these steps"  - steps I already told them I tried.  Goes to show they don't actually read the emails they get.

    The sound quality from the SMH10 to the 10S is identical, it's just that the 10S can't get anywhere near as loud as the SMH10.  I can't believe they claim people complained that the SMH10 was "too loud" because that's user error, not a faulty product.

    The enclosed space of a helmet is the perfect environment for decent fidelity; there must be SOMEONE out there who's taken advantage of that.
    "Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle." ~Unknown

  • Offline Dan66

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    Offline Dan66

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #3 on: Aug 16, 2016, 05.29 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 05.29 pm
    Understood but actually the helmet is not a perfect environment for high fidelity.

    The shell is made from composites that resonate quite easily and provide little sound dampening.
    The interior material is typically a styrene product that does more to reflect sound than properly absorb it.
    To top it off the helmet is open at the bottom, has vents and limited space for a driver.
    Lastly, larger drivers require more power and more power means less battery life.

    Helmet audio is a very limited market; I don't see anyone investing in high efficiency driver design for interior helmet placement where those drivers may actually provide some bass

  • Offline Mystical Cat

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    Offline Mystical Cat

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #4 on: Aug 16, 2016, 05.39 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 05.39 pm
    I tend to disagree.  With a decent speaker placed inside the ear-cup of a helmet, that little bit of enclosure will help shape the sound better than if the speaker were just tacked to the side of a flat surface with ears hovering over them.  I've seen videos of people who have replaced the stock speakers with higher-quality drivers, with excellent results, so to me this is a no-brainer and lost business opportunity.  Crappy speakers will always sound bad in every environment, however, a good speaker will go a long way toward improving any environment.
    "Most motorcycle problems are caused by the nut that connects the handlebars to the saddle." ~Unknown

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    Offline azccj

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #5 on: Aug 16, 2016, 10.28 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 10.28 pm
    I have the SMH10 and I have no complaints about the volume or sound quality they produce. They are one of the few products I have ever owned that has delivered as advertised. Plus most of the additional little pieces like helmet mounting plates and speakers are very reasonably priced and easy to get. I never ride 2 up but have 2 SMH10s that are each paired to the one of the Trophy's Bluetooth channels. After 8-9 hours after the battery dies in one SMH10, I clip in the other SMH10 and plug the dead one into a USB charger either in the side fairing glove box or in the trunk. This way I can continually ride while always listening to whatever I want to. On my other bikes I use a Sena SM10 dual channel Bluetooth transmitter which acts just like the Trophy's Bluetooth system, but has a volume boast included. I love Sena.
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  • Offline Michel1960

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    Offline Michel1960

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #6 on: Aug 16, 2016, 11.01 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 11.01 pm
    I had a pair of SMH 10 and when one died out we tried Sena 20s and they are a bit louder-better audio but the big difference is the range , it's close to double compare to SMH10. Is the difference worth the big price jump!? Depends on your needs I suppose. BTW , on last trip , we were 3 bikes , 2 with Sena 20s one with SMH 10 and we had no trouble with intercomm at all!
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  • Offline trophied   us

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    Re: Helmet Comm Comparison
    Reply #7 on: Aug 16, 2016, 11.21 pm
    Aug 16, 2016, 11.21 pm
    I don't know if the Sena 10 has earbud capability or not, or if it is legal in your state, but that is one option.  The other is a Tork amplifier and Tork speakers.  There is a review at Webbikeworld on both that gives the volume increase over a standard unit (not sure if it was a Sena or not).  Even with earbuds I find I still hear outside sounds ok, but I don't crank up the volume enough to block it out.  Still using old SMH10's.
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