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School me on Communicators

  1. #1
    Lifer nt650hawk's Avatar
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    Question School me on Communicators


    I am to be in the market for a pair of communicators:

    Some things I am thinking of:

    Pairing with the Garmin Zumo 590 - primarily me but possibility for Kate as well.
    Talking/Muting Kate
    no wires between riders
    pairing with phone (Android) to listen to Slacker Radio
    Kate will want her iPhone connected to listen to her music
    love to get something internal to the helmet (Arai) Kate will be getting a new helmet. Not sure of what brand yet.
    I ALWAYS wear earplugs to mute wind noise
    used for TTD for personal instructing

    Maybe:
    FM stations
    Phone calls

    i'm aware of the Sena 20S and probably the U10 as this is integrated into the helmet but do in need to spend over $500 if I just want to talk to Kate? Can I get one with all the bells and whistles and one simple one for her that allows me to talk to her and she can play her music?

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    Gino
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  2. #2
    Soul Rider Paul_E_D's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    Well, talking to Kate, and doing a 1 on 1 are very different parameters. I'd just suck it up and get a higher end setup. Only issue I see with the senna is the button is so easy to bump that it's annoying constantly disconnecting, etc. But it is the standard these days. I do like the interphones we have, but they can be tricky to use all the features.

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  3. #3
    Lifer RyanNicholson's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    I have a pair of SMH-10R's and they work perfectly. They're lower profile than most units so you don't have to deal w/ any bulky buttons. Talking on the phone, people can't even tell I'm on the bike. There's a bit of a learning curve since they only have three buttons that control a lot of features, but general use can be picked up pretty quick. I like that each person can pair to their own phone for music, or I can send music from mine to both units (or visa versa so passenger can DJ). They also come with a million different attachments to install with pretty much any helmet on the market.

    Can be had for under $300 for the pair.

    Sena SMH10R Bluetooth Headset - Dual Pack - RevZilla

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  4. #4
    Lifer nt650hawk's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    should also mention i've been starting to look into custom earplugs that have speakers. so a universal connector may be important down the road.

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    Gino
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  5. #5
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    Sena user here. I have an older SMH5 and upgraded to an SMH10 for myself a while back. The 10 rides on my primary street lid. I have had it on my dirty-lid (for Sausagefest) in the past too. Recently I dusted off the trusty -5 and put that on Emily's helmet. We used it for a ride just last weekend.

    The Senas are easy to use, work very well, and are fairly helmet agnostic. The -10 and -5 interop just fine. Although I believe both are interoperable with almost any Sena plus a lot of non-Sena units nowadays. Some sort of (finally!) open spec. The old -5 required a firmware upgrade, but it was promising that they put out the firmware update to enable this. Solid support, even for the older units.

    I had some trouble installing the -5 on the Bell RS1 I got for Emily. The RS1 has a molded in neck bit that goes almost all the way around the helmet. Getting the wires through this was tricky. And I could not use the traditional clamp-on mount. Fortunately they include a stick on mount as well that gets the job done.

    Range on the Senas is pretty good. I'm reasonably sure they'd work for your coaching. I've had slightly-better than line-of-sight performance out of the units when riding with my (slow!) cruiser buds. More if we both flip up the antennas.

    90% of the time my Sena is paired to my phone and pumping tunes my way. But switching from intercom to music/phone is one-touch and pretty easy. I think one or both of these units has an FM receiver but I never use it. No feedback there.

    Before the SMH5 I had a Scala unit. It sucked. Audio quality was way worse. Max volume was too quiet for inter-slab use, especially with ear plugs. And the thing was a nightmare to work; change modes, interpret "beep" codes, etc.

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  6. #6
    Awesomeness, Inc. MattR302's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    The majority of BORN uses the older Sena SMH10 (with the jog dial), a few have upgraded to the SMH20. With the 20 you get FM radio and the ability to pair headsets using a smartphone app.

    I use my SMH10 for listening to music through my iPhone, chatting on 2up or group rides, directions through iPhone, and an occasional phone call. I also always use earplugs, no issues hearing. A few years ago the SMH10's sold for $225/pair.

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    Last edited by MattR302; 07-20-17 at 10:18 PM.
    -Matt

  7. #7
    Lifer
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    I believe pairing with both the GPS and a phone to stream music is one of the uniquer requirements in this list. I don't think all comms can do this, and I forget what they call this feature in the lists.

    Some offer music sharing, so what you're listening to gets piped to someone else in case that's a feature you want. Some of the higher end Sena's offer a feature that uses a microphone on the outside of the helmet to pass audio in to you. Is that something you'd want for the track environments? I know I usually have to remove my helmet and ear plugs before talking with people more than a few words.

    Keep in mind what you're looking for is on the upper end of complexity/use cases. Modulate your expectations. I see people familiar with the wonderfully capable smartphones and computers we all have get frustrated when trying to have the same expectations with comms devices.

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  8. #8
    Burns retinas nhbubba's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    I think they can. I think it's just another bluetooth device, like a phone. The issue is the type of device. Most automotive GPSes act like hands-free receivers. You pair your phone with it and then have a hands-free mic/speaker setup. Motorcycle GPSes like the Zumo let you listen to the GPS through a headset, like the Senas.

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  9. #9
    Senior Member Spooler's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    We love our sena smh10's. The 20's do FM, I think.

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  10. #10
    Lifer
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    Quote Originally Posted by nhbubba View Post
    I think they can. I think it's just another bluetooth device, like a phone. The issue is the type of device. Most automotive GPSes act like hands-free receivers. You pair your phone with it and then have a hands-free mic/speaker setup. Motorcycle GPSes like the Zumo let you listen to the GPS through a headset, like the Senas.
    I meant being able to use both the GPS and the phone simultaneously through the headset. I think some headsets can pair to multiple devices, but that doesn't necessarily mean they can be actively connected to both at the same time.

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  11. #11
    Lifer jasnmar's Avatar
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    Re: School me on Communicators

    I don't know when audio mux started with the Sena line up, but the s20 has it. In addition it checks all of the boxes you mentioned.

    That's said I really expected it to be like a mixer, and combine inputs. It doesn't. It selectively picks an audio source for you to listen to. I did a big review of the S20 a couple years ago. It was very early and firmware has improved, but I'll see if I can find the link.

    Found it. SENA 20S

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    Last edited by jasnmar; 07-20-17 at 08:40 PM.

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