Zumo 550 & Scala Rider Review

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by Edder B, Apr 3, 2007.

  1. Edder B

    Edder B Meister Poser

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    A little history before I go into the review. I currently have a ’05 BMW R1200GS, ride about 20K a year and have been riding for about 30 years. My two loves, besides my wife, are riding and listening to music.

    I started several years ago with a CD player in the tank bag. That was OK until it started to skip and listening to the same CD for 200 miles got old (I don’t like to stop unless I need gas). After the CD player I mounted an XM radio to the bike. This was great until two units crapped out on me, would lose reception if I was on the wrong side of a mountain, in some woods, and even in some open flat places. This for a monthly fee to listen to didn’t work.

    I then went to an I Pod which I use in the car, truck, bike and gym. This works great but on long trips the ear buds (ER6) make the ear canal sore. I also have to keep the I Pod in the tank back in order to keep it charged therefore having cables attach me to the bike. I don’t know how many times I’ve almost pulled them out of my ears forgetting that the I Pod was in the tank bag.

    My wife has never wanted an intercom. We’ve traveled two up across the country and she has always said that she has nothing to say to me.

    I have read a lot about the Zumo 450, 500 and 550. I almost settled for the 450 for just a GPS upgrade. The more I thought about it I liked the idea of having Blue Tooth (BT) to listen to music. I found the Scala Rider Team BT headsets and decided to go with the 550. The Zumo 550 was purchased on Ebay for $716 including shipping. I ordered the Scala and TT mount from Cycoactive.com for $225 and $179. Last Friday the items were delivered and I already had the bike apart to hard wire the Zumo to the bike.

    As you can probably already tell, I’m sort of a techie geek. I have had the Garmin III, V and Quest. All have done well but I can’t resist the upgrades.

    I hard wired the Zumo to the auxiliary fuse box I have under the seat. The mount was placed on a TT mount above the speedo in good view. Now, I have not had a BT device so I was skeptical of its performance. The Scala Rider Team was attached to both helmets in about 15 minutes. They had to charge for 5 hours so I waited for the wife to come home from work. I first attached the cell phone to the Zumo and then the headsets to the Zumo. I like the idea of being able to receive calls while on a trip but it wasn’t a must. It is nice though, if you have to call 911 you don’t have to stop. I had a small problem with a quick disconnect braking so I had to wait to get the part before we tried out the system.

    Sunday we took about a 200 mile ride and the wife actually loved the intercom system. She too could listen to the music and we could talk at the same time. I was able to load about 415 songs onto a 2GB SD card. The Zumo plays them at random (an option) and starts at the last song when you restart the system. It takes about 30 seconds for the Zumo to recognize the cell and headset at start up but then everything works well. The sound quality of the music is good, not great. I have not used the phone feature yet. The screen is a little hard to read in the sun light but that was without my glasses. The touch screen is great.

    So, for under $1K I was able to get a GPS, MP3, BT and headset with intercom. So far I’m very happy with the setup.
    #1
  2. erider

    erider erider

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    Hey Ed - Cosmic ! I just purchased the same exact set-up. It was delivered last evening, and I'm going to wire it up tonight. I was a little disappointed when I received the Scala TeamSet - because as I read the instructions it indicates that only the rider (not the passenger) can receive incoming calls. Hence - my thought was that the passenger would not be able to listen to music either. Did you simply pair the Scala with the Zumo - and all goes well ?
    #2
  3. kahoon

    kahoon who's yer daddy??

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    i'm curious on how you can handle the wind noise!? i presume that these speakers fit inside the helmet, with no protection to the ears? also, i thought the Zumo only plays audio through a 3.5mm audio outlet, and that the only BT functions are cell phone comm and GPS prompts.

    can you clarify please... much appreciated.

    :ear
    #3
  4. Edder B

    Edder B Meister Poser

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    I also read that the passenger would not be able to hear music or the phone. We haven't tried the phone but she hears the music well.
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  5. Edder B

    Edder B Meister Poser

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    I have molded ear plugs. The helmet speakers and volume on the Zumo work well enough to hear everything while the ear plugs are in. I actually only have it on 40% volume and I have about a 20% hearing loss. The music, directions, and phone work from the Zumo using the Zumo volume controls. The intercom works through the Scala headsets. Hope this answers your questions.
    #5
  6. edkubiak

    edkubiak Adventurer

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    Thanks for the post. I was just getting ready to spring for the same set-up and it's nice to hear that it works, before I lay down my Grover.
    #6
  7. vfroger

    vfroger Not lost, just misguided

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    Forgive my ignorance. Is the Scala rider headset a stereo setup or mono? If it's mono, how does the music sound?

    I'm quite interested, myself.
    #7
  8. boplicity

    boplicity Adventurer

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    I also just bought a Scala Teamset (but sadly can't afford a Zumo just yet). I'm very happy with it. While the passenger unit cannot receive or make phone calls the unit itself is interchangeable between helmets. So you can clip the drivers unit into the passenger's helmet and vice versa. So when alone you can run the driver unit and when two up you could give phone function to your passenger. It is possible for the driver unit to intercom in the passenger unit during phone conversations and I was imagining that's how you would share your music as well but I haven't yet tested that. Ed in order to share the music did you need to hit the intercom button on the driver unit first?

    Here's my quick review:
    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4381044#post4381044
    #8
  9. johnpitts01

    johnpitts01 Long timer

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    Great post. I have also been looking at this setup.

    Please let us know how the phone works. I nee the phone capability.

    I have been considering the Scala and my phone only (without the Zumo) so I can ride more.

    Also curious about the sound quality and stereo / mono.
    #9
  10. rockies-GS

    rockies-GS Been here awhile

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    I am a little sceptical about the audio quality on a bike. Is it really worth it or do we just have to accept the ear and headache? Has anyone experience with the Audiocom system? I have been told it is good.
    #10
  11. OldSchool750

    OldSchool750 Old Rider

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    I believe the Scala is mono....and I believe the Zumo can only output mono out the bluetooth connection. If you want stereo you have to go with the hardwired outputs on the mount......which means you need an outboard bluetooth unit that connects to these outputs and in turn pairs with a "stereo" bluetooth headset.....which ain't available yet...soon maybe. In this case the bluetooth in the Zumo would only be used to pair with the cell phone.

    Now to make it more complicated....figure out how to tie in a bike to bike radio without an intercom box. :huh :eek1

    edit: I am using the Zumo paired with a Sprint 700P phone...works great. My headset is hardwired as above with speakers (not earplugs). Lets just say Bose is in no trouble. Consider that at highway speeds a helmet is already noisy. The Zumo must overcome the wind/motor/whatever sounds and even with speakers can do so. Earbuds would make a big improvement but might cause a safety issue. You really need to normalize your music so that you don't have any really low volume songs or you will be diddleing with the volume constantly.....no AGC in the Zumo. Lo-fi at best.

    Some states only allow speaker/earbud in one ear and others (Mass. and Ct.) forbid using or POSSESSING any helmet speaker. Probably best to check your states rules.

    Jim
    #11
  12. motoshane

    motoshane I really don't care!

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    I have the Zumo with a Autocom Active 7-Sport. I have my LG VX8300 phone connect bluetooth to the Zumo. I use both mp3, and the GXM-30 XM radio receiver that plugs directly into the Zumo Mount. I have full stereo. I had to connect the Zumo to both the phone and music ports on the Autocom to achieve stereo. I connected audio out from the Zumo to the music port on the Autocom, and the mic in on the Zumo to the phone port on the Autocom. I had to add a noise isolator on my mic/phone cable. It only cost me $15 to do so, but you can buy a isolated phone cable from Autocom. I didn't use Autocom part 1300 retro cable to connect between the Autocom and Zumo, because it's only mono on the older model Autocoms, and I wanted stereo. The new Autocoms will support stereo and mic audio with cable part 1299 plugged into the stereo phone jack on the Autocom.

    I use the standard Autocom helmet speakers. They work for my taste. The quality is good, but at higher speeds you hear wind noise, but this doesn't bother me. I can turn it loud enough to overcome the windnoise if necessary. Everyone will tolerate different levels of quality. If you used the Autocom headset that allows you to use molded earphones the quality would be topnotch.

    Phone audio isn't the best, but phone audio is very basic in nature anyways. I have no trouble communicating with others over the phone though. I'm pleased with the phone communications.

    Satellite radio quality is better than what I expected, and the mp3 works well.

    The only complaint I have is the volume control on the Zumo. I wish when I am in the mp3 or XM menu that the plus and minus on the left side of the Zumo controlled the volume immediately. I have to press the bottom volume button first, then I can adjust the volume with the plus and minus buttons. Even a touch screen volume control would be better.

    Overall, I'm very happy with my set up, and would do it again if I had to start all over.

    motoshane
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  13. Edder B

    Edder B Meister Poser

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    I'm pretty sure the Scala is stereo. I put on the helmet the other day and one of the headset speakers moved away from my ear. I could tell that I was not getting a channel of music as loud as the other. I could hear the instruments but not the singing in certain songs. The sound quality is OK, not great. What I do like is that I can hear traffic around much better than the ER6, which had better sound qaulity but then I had to deal with wires. I'm sure BT is in it's infant stages and that quality will improve over time. Right now I'm happy with it. I'll post updates at time goes on to see if it continues to work out.
    #13
  14. johnpitts01

    johnpitts01 Long timer

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    Ed:

    Thanks for the prompt responses. You are really helping my decision process.

    Be sure to let us know how the phone works out. For my purposes I really need the phone to work well.


    John
    #14
  15. erider

    erider erider

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    The Scala is not stereo. It's a mono system. I attempted to 'pair' mine last night with the Zumo and phone - but no go. Also couldn't get any appreciable volume from the headsets. Back to the drawing board again tonight.
    #15
  16. erider

    erider erider

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    I talked with the Cardo and Garmin Tech Support folks today. Here's what I'm being told: The Scala TeamSet is in fact a 'mono' system. The BT profile for transmitting stereo is A2DP - and there is no way to alter/change the output on the Zumo. The Zumo is a stereo - hence, the Scala and Zumo ain't supposta work. Hey thread starter - first poster: How did you get this stuff to work ?
    #16
  17. Edder B

    Edder B Meister Poser

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    Hey last poster, as stated I paired the phone to the Zumo as in input and then the Scala as in output. It sounds pretty much stereo to me but then who am I. I just have one weekend so far on the bike with it. I really use it a lot at work in the car and the phone works great over the Zumo. Will add comment, be they good or bad, as I find them, stay tuned.
    #17
  18. ylexot

    ylexot Super Genius

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    Does the Scala have two speakers? I thought it only had one.
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  19. erider

    erider erider

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    Two speakers.
    #19
  20. gigmike

    gigmike Long timer

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    Ed- Great review so far you've just about got me convinced to buy one, but what do you think of the Garmin's function as a GPS. Thanks in advance.
    #20