SENA 30K testing results

Discussion in 'Equipment' started by PittsDriver, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    I've gotten some news from my early adopter friends that the 30K battery life may not be up to the specs listed on the SENA website: 8 hours of mesh intercom and 13 hours of BT intercom. Since I have a brandy new dual pack sitting here I thought I'd do a bit of controlled bench testing on them. I've been riding with them but just using them for music and phone, no intercom and no long rides.

    I have two helmets each set up with a SENA 30K with the speakers installed in the helmet. I also have a set of Sensaphonic ear phones that I will test to see if driving audio to those uses more or less battery than driving the SENA speakers.

    I put a full overnight charge on both of my units; set them up on helmets spaced about 40' apart in my home, and put them both in private mesh mode. They lasted about 6 hours before shutting off.

    I then put a 15 minute charge on both headsets and set them back up in the same test - private mesh sitting about 40' apart in my home. They lasted another 5 hours before shutting off on just that 15 minute quick charge.

    All of that testing was done with no intercom audio present and it makes sense to me that it's going to use more battery when the unit is driving speakers. So today, I've set up the same test again but have placed a small speaker inside one helmet against the mic and I'm streaming some classical music to it. I pick that source because it's sometimes too quiet to activate the intercom transmission and sometimes is louder and comes through on the other unit - trying to simulate something like an intercom conversation. Also, on the unit that is receiving the intercom audio on the private mesh, I've plugged in my Sensaphonics to see if that headset lasts longer than the one driving the SENA speakers. This test is still in progress and I'll post those results later today when the units shut off.

    I'm posting this up here to see if the collective wisdom has any advice or feedback on my testing methodology. If I don't' get 8 hours of talk time out of my 30K in private mesh it's very unlikely that I'll get my friends to adopt this thing - meaning no real benefit to me on our rides together. And honestly, given that we've gotten amazing battery life out of our SMH10 headsets, it would be a nuisance for all of us to start fooling around with having to charge these 30K units during the middle of a day long ride.

    If I consistently get significantly less than 8 hours of talk time out of the private mesh intercom, it'll be hard for me to justify this purchase and recommend them to my riding buddies.
    #1
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  2. dddd

    dddd Long timer

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    > specs listed on the SENA website: 8 hours of mesh intercom and 13 hours of BT intercom
    > They lasted about 6 hours before shutting off.

    Yep, that's typical sena. SMH10 was great (sold for 8h, did more). 20S not so much (sold for 13h, did 8h, that's 5h missing!!!).

    And now yours...
    Probably too long on shelf.

    Good luck with getting a fresh battery, even on warranty. They will do EVERYTHING they can to NOT give you a new one, including lying about specs (even when I can still pull the web page...). And when I left mine for testing, they somehow found nothing wrong and it lasted 12h for them... BS!!!
    #2
  3. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    I don't intend to get adversarial with them. Everyone makes mistakes. It's how they handle it that shows the true character of a business. I've had nothing but great experience with the SMH10 on rides with two other buddies over 6 years of multi-week trips. We talk literally all day long on these trips while taking and making phone calls to home on the go. The battery life on the SMH10 was great - last all day and half way through the next if I forgot to charge overnight. We consistently got 14 hours or more on a charge on them. They worked so well that they would fade out of mind during the ride. The only real hassle with them was when we tried to add a 4th rider on the intercom. It's something that SENA supports but not very well. We constantly had troubles keeping everyone on when we rode with four - hence the interest in the mesh intercom. Other than that, I'm a big fan of the SENA headsets.

    I'd be OK with an 8 hour talk time even though we typically ride longer than that in a day. I am very impressed that a 15 minute charge on completely dead headsets made them good for another 5 hours. But if we have to charge these things every 5 hours - well, that starts to be a real nuisance in the ride. And yes, I know that I can charge it on the go with a backup battery but I don't like having my hat tethered to anything which is why I'm wearing a wireless headset to begin with!
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  4. dddd

    dddd Long timer

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    > with a backup battery but I don't like having my hat tethered to anything

    keep battery in jacket; free to move/stand.
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  5. biggziff

    biggziff Funk Soul Bruvah

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    So Sena is using it's customer base to beta test another product? Good luck with that.
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  6. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    I wear a Klim Badlands so that's certainly an option but then I'd still have that extra wire hanging around. I already have that problem with my earphones - an extra wire that I tuck into my velcro jacket overlap in the front. Given that the quick charge works so well, I'll probably just do that when I stop. I keep my Mophie battery bricks charged on the go so it'll be easier to just plug in my headset while I'm taking a break during the day - 4 - 5 more hours on a 15 minute charge.

    But my first course of action is to see if I just got a weak battery in mine and maybe get them swapped.
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  7. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    I'm obviously not shilling for SENA but in my experience, they've made the best product on the market for BT intercom. There's no reason to believe they won't make this right and continue to improve it. The 30K was originally announced to be available in the spring of 2017 and didn't come out until October. One would hope that they spent that time making sure it was right. The Mesh intercom is very easy to set up and I have no reason to believe that it won't effectively solve our problem of riding with 4 people on the intercom channel without the configuration hassles of the SMH10. I'm really looking forward to trying this out on the road with other 30K riders to see how it works when we get spread out a bit.

    I've done a couple of different tests with it now. In yesterday's test, one headset lasted about 6 hours and the other closer to 7 hours. The one that lasted longer was driving my Sensaphonics instead of the internal speakers so that may have been the difference. That test was done with a constant audio source into the mic of one hat and listening to it as though it were intercom on the one with the ear phones. When the first headset died, I put it on a battery brick and continued the test until the second headset died. I then put a 15 minute charge on the second headset, unplugged the first, and resumed the test. It went close to 5 hours before the 15 minute charged headset quit and the one that I had run for an hour on the backup battery was still going strong reporting medium battery strength.

    That tells me that if I decide to plug in a battery on the go, I don't have to leave it attached for the rest of the day. I can ride with it for an hour and then stow my battery back on its charger.
    #7
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  8. NorskieRider

    NorskieRider Been here awhile

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    This is the "new normal" in consumer electronics: get something to market quickly with flaws, then fix/upgrade later.

    Most consumer-level stuff isn't mission-critical and it is mostly priced as a commodity (i.e. consumers quickly forget experiences and buy based on price and features). However, the complexity of features is increasing. The technology that is available in the Sena's (either 20s or 30s) is astounding, especially for the price. They cannot afford long and expensive development and test schedules and yet remain competitive. They make their profit off slim margins and high volume.

    I say this as a software engineer with merely 20-years experience in the enterprise midrange/mainframe market (most of my peers have 35-40 years experience, I'm the youngest here). We discuss/argue this frequently. Old-school software development focused on longer test schedules to minimize bugs in the field because it was a) expensive to deliver patches and b) bugs were expensive for the customers. Modern software development follows the "agile" approach of much tighter schedules and quicker iterations and less testing because a) it's increasingly easier to provide patches and b) the technology is filtering down to consumers who aren't as financially impacted by bugs (that's not to say that we don't use an 'agile' approach to mainframe development; we just allow for more testing and the software is much more expensive ... like $50k+ for a license). Consider the implications of a hospital records management system having an "outage" for a software update vs your Sena; or if O'Reilly's autoparts POS system in north america stops working for an afternoon. It's a matter of scale, cost, time/cost to market and the implications.

    I hate to say it but ... get used to it. I don't see it changing anytime in the future.
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  9. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    NorskieRider, I hear what you're saying and I too was a career software engineer. But here's the thing about Sena, the software defined features of the product, and they are very impressive, are excellent and work exactly as described in the documentation. That's another pet peeve of mine is poor documentation but SENA has excellent web site support for their products. I'm very optimistic that the mesh intercom will work as described when I get out on the road with it. The thing I'm exploring in this thread is related to if the hardware, specially the battery life. Is it up to the level I've come to expect from SENA headsets. Now, that could very well be software related if the performance isn't up to spec. I can imagine that there are options, like the VOX support, ambient mode, and audio boost, that could affect battery life. If that's the case, then I'd like for SENA to put that information out in the public so that we can make intelligent decisions about how we're using it. If battery life is most important to me, what should I know in terms of options settings?

    I'm still a fan of SENA. The extras like the app for configuring the units now, and ambient mode for hearing someone that's trying to talk to me at a gas pump, and they fact that I've been a heavy user of their SMH10 product for 6 years; all kinds of weather; 14 hour days for multiple weeks at a time including some pretty gnarly rides in the dirt. These things work great in all conditions. My only complaint with them was that while they worked great for 3 riders on the intercom, adding the fourth didn't work as well because of the star topology they use for bluetooth intercom. We have four on our big annual rides. This 30K unit looks like the perfect solution for us if we're not taking any steps backward on battery life.
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  10. lacofdfireman

    lacofdfireman Long timer

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    I’ve owned about every Model of Sena except for the 30k. Never even considered a Cardo until my cousin said there group used them because of the Dynamic mesh and how easy it was compared to the Sena. The Sena were always such a PITA to get a group up the. To have one guy I the middle of your group drop off and screw up the entire group. I took a leap of faith so to speak and tried the PackTalks. After a 2 week ride with my boys I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Sena. The PackTalk was better in every way. Speakers DMC mesh etc. but then again I haven’t tried the 30k. But the reviews on the Sena 30k have confirmed I made the right choice.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
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  11. jkeesaman

    jkeesaman Adventurer

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    Today we rode in a small group of 3 Sena 30K’s and 1 Sena OEM DWO-5. Everything seemed to work fine except one reboot was required of the 30K that was acting as the bridge between the DWO and mesh, that was also running the older 1.0.1 software, the other two that worked fine were running the 1.0.2.
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  12. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    Our group of riders has adopted the Sena 30K. We’ve found the battery life acceptable if we are all on mesh. If one of us is on both mesh and BT, that unit drains quicker.

    We love the mesh intercom. Almost no noise. Always connects. We had Sena 10 units in the past and they were ok for 2 or 3 riders but didn’t work well with more. Very noisy, popping, etc. Continually had to pair units. Mesh is good for 5-6 riders, although the voice quality seems to degrade with more users. Mesh is a big improvement.

    My personal review, a definite upgrade. The controls are a bit confusing. 3 different buttons. Hold 2 seconds for this, 5 seconds for that. But, I am learning it. FM radio is ok, but speakers suck for music. Probably true for most intercoms.

    Figuring out how to pair with both phone and gps took some time. Manual is good, just need to read it more than once. :D
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  13. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    Exactly. Good observations. Time to market is huge in consumer market. Miss early release and miss big sales $$. Spent a lot of time on AS400 myself. Different world. You can’t shut down a production line running at $50K an hour.
    Still, seems like ease of upgrade has changed attitude to “let the customer test it”.
    #13
  14. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    Sensaphonics?
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  15. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    These are the ear phones that I have:

    https://www.sensaphonics.com/2x-s

    All day comfortable, great passive noise attenuation, audiophile sound.
    #15
  16. scfrank

    scfrank Old farts riding club. Supporter

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    Very nice. Must be a vast difference. Do they just plug into sena?

    I’m having a hard time with helmet speakers. Barely acceptable for voice. Music is horrible.
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  17. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    I've done extensive research on this and I'm obsessive over protecting what hearing I have left - as everyone should be. Nothing sucks worse than being in a crowded room and not understanding what anyone is saying. Helmet speakers are the enemy of good hearing protection even if you use ear plugs with your speakers. You're just cranking up the volume on your audio to blow past the passive protection you have in your ears. There isn't a helmet made that provides adequate hearing protection if your ride lasts more than 30 minutes.

    It is universally a good thing to ditch those speakers and use proper hearing protection and get your audio at a reasonable, safe, and comfortable level. The price of these in ear monitors and practicing good ear hygiene to use them safely is absolutely worth the quality of life you're preserving by protecting your hearing.

    Yep, these use a standard audio plug that connects directly with the Sena.
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  18. MelissaToBeMe

    MelissaToBeMe Been here awhile

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    Cardo is 2 years ahead of Sena in the Mesh field with Packtalk. We are early adopters of Packtalk when it came out, good to see people are starting see how awesome this system is!
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  19. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Does anyone have any comparitive information about the range of the Cardo Packtalk vs Sena 30K solutions? I'm not asking about the advantage of mesh intercom - just the point to point range limit.
    #19
  20. jmckeown88

    jmckeown88 Been here awhile

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    Custom in-ear monitors make these systems really work. I have FutureSonics (my day gig is as a musician) and they make intercom so much clearer and the music so enjoyable to listen to. I know it’s a large investment, but I think if most people had a chance to ride with custom molded ear plugs before they bought they’d be all in.
    #20
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