Finally had a chance to play with it for a while. It took a while to figure out how to install it in my Scorpion EXO 900 modular helmet. It want easy as pie in my fiance's HJC modular. After about an hour of worked and some nicely poked holes in my finger from my cutting tools I had it installed.
First of what a PITA to get the boom mic snaked under the chin bar each time. I have the XL version of the helmet and I don't think the boom is long enough. It always ends up not directly in front of my mouth. People complain I am very quiet when talking on the phone. Maybe if it had some sort of mic gain control I could compensate. I have the device moved as far forward as I can on the helmet. They need a model with a longer boom for the mic. Every time I flip the chin up or down I have to reset the mic, It would also help to have a stiffer boom.
Pairing went easy as pie. My Blackberry Curve 8900 paired right up with it. Seems to work great and as a bonus, the track controls work while using the bluetooth connection. I can easily move forward or back with the jog dial on the helmet. Way cool! It just took a little bit to get how I actually had to touch the jog dial to make it work.
I also did an extended ride and I got about 10.5 hours of continuous use before the battery tuckered out. Not too bad as its only been through one power recharge cycle and might get slightly better. I left my fiance's on continuous play while hooked up to the MP3 player and it went for 9.5 hours on its very first charge while at max volume.
As for the sound quality this is obviously impacted by where you mount the speaker drivers. They are very directional so try and mount them directly across from your ear canals. Take the time to play with it and get them even as there is no balance control. Slight variations can/will affect the apparent volume in each ear. Mine where off about an 1/8 inch and I could hear the difference in volume.
As mentioned sound quality isn't the greatest but what did you expect for the size drivers... Bass is definitely lacking. However the absolute volume is quite impressive but not quite enough for what I needed but I need to explain.
On my bike for this test, it was a V-strom with Arkapovic exhaust so a bit louder than stock. Ok, maybe a bit more than stock but not Harley loud. I headed out to the local expressway where the speed limit is 75 mph and most people are running 85 mph. This was a pretty good high speed test. There is a long uphill section that loads the motor nicely and at fairly high altitude, 6000í above sea level.
I did a couple bursts to 100+ just to test everything out. First thing I noticed was NO additional wind noise or turbulence around the helmet. Kudos to Sena! I was concerned about that and nobody mentioned anything about that from what I read.
Second was these things can definitely play loud. Even in excess of 100 mph I still could hear the things but base was so non-existent that all I had was sort of a harsh overly saturated mids and highs. I pulled over and decided to ďtuneĒ my setup a bit. I tried moving the drivers around in the helmet and this didnít help too much other than when I moved them the volume decreased when not lined up as accurately with my ears.
So I popped in my ear plugs. The first set has 32 decibel noise reduction rating (NRR). They are the foam ones you can find at WallyWorld for example. They are disposable and work pretty well. Quick blast up through the gears and bike and road are very quiet. They did a great job muting the exhaust, wind and road noise. They also muted the Sena too much as well. One major plus was they attenuated the high frequencies apparently more than the lows. Overall sound quality at high volumes markedly improved for me! I thought now I am on to something. Only problem was with the volume maxed out it wasnít quite enough to clearly hear the music.
I went home and chopped down a pair of these. My thought was to reduce their effective NRR. Went for another test ride and much better. Almost there I thought. Downside was I didnít have enough foam left to stay well engaged in my ear. They started to slip out of my ears after about 20 minutes of riding.
I drove back home and dug around for my other ear plugs. These were the reusable ones that have a little leash that Home Despot sells. They are yellow with three concentric rings of decreasing diameter. They have a 25 NRR. Downside for me is they arenít quite as comfortable for an all day ride. Anyway off for a test ride. Bingo! We have a winner!!! OMG, the difference in the sound quality was amazing. The highs were attenuated enough that the music sounded much more balanced. I could hear pretty well up to about 80 mph. Above that is where I would like just a touch more volume.
I took the ear plugs out while riding around town and the sound was horrible by comparison. In real terms it isnít terrible but the ear plugs really helped everything out at higher speeds. I cranked the volume up and I was really surprised at how loud they really are.
I bought an extra mount that has just the earbud connector and no speaker driver for the helmet. I donít know if Iíll go that route but sound quality would be better. I must say that with the ear plugs in it they did sound pretty good. I may trim one concentric ring off my last set of ear plugs. That may get me where I want to be for a long trip.
Around town and at lower speeds the stock drivers arenít that bad. They do the job and get louder than any other Bluetooth headset Iíve used. I think lack of base is always an issue with these types of systems and is to be expected. If I could have just a bit more volume to use with ear plugs Iíd be thrilled. They are very loud stock when mounted correctly. Perhaps your bike is quieter than mine so this may not be an issue but not all the noise is from the exhaust. Some is wind and pavement. I have Metzeler Tourances on this bike.
If anyone wants to know more about how I fitted it on the EXO let me know and Iíll try and explain in detail. It is very securely mounted and I was able to use the clamp bracket rather than resorting to the stickon version.
Overall Iíd give this system an 8.5 out of 10. Seems very solid and not ignition/radio interference. Bluetooth and wired are equally as loud. It does a good job with the source material. I did connect the earbud version up to a good set of earbuds and no issues there. I tried it on another helmet I have but I didnít go as fast. I just canít stay to wear my good earbuds more than about an hour. They sound great but arenít that comfortable. I wish they made a version where you could switch between drivers in the helmet or earbuds. They could add another port on the main base to allow this. I donít always have my earbuds with me and this would give me the best of both worlds.
Sorry about the long post but I wanted to be as thorough as possible.