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Music - ear buds vs helmet speakers

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by GunSlingerAU, Mar 19, 2015.

  1. Hey guys

    Firstly, yes, I've done a forum search, but haven't found a definitive answer. Hence this post.

    So, I love to listen to music while I ride. I'm currently using my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as a music player/GPS, and have a handlebar mount for the unit, along with a power outlet so the batter never goes dead. I'm currently using Sennheiser ear buds, and the sound quality is great.

    However, I hate the ritual of putting the ear buds in, then putting the helmet on - half the time the buds dislodge, and I have to do it all over again. Plus there's a wire running from my handlebars to my helmet for the earbuds, which is of questionable safety. Sometimes I manage to get my arm tangled in the wire, pulling my buds out, causing me to pull over to get it all sorted. It'd be a gazillion times easier to just have speakers in my helmet

    I'm wondering if there's a set of Bluetooth speakers that I can mount in my helmet that will sound as good as ear buds? I've asked a few riders and they all swear that earbuds are vastly superior for sound quality than helmet speakers. As you guys are the fountain of all bike knowledge, I figured I'd asked the same question here - can you recommend any in-helmet speakers with a Bluetooth kit that will keep a music lover like me happy? Even better if I can answer phone calls/listen to GPS directions.

    Thanks for any advice you can give.
  2. You need a unit like the Sena 20s.
    No Bluetooth speaker will provide the same fidelity of good in ear wired buds or wired speakers such as those from Autocom, but the Sena are rated pretty well.
    You will also gain use of your phone.
    Its a trade off, lower wind/road noise for higher quality sound, lighter, no batteries eye with the in ear buds Vs cordless freedom and access to the phone with higher ambient noise levels with in helmet speakers.
  3. WHS, PLUS if you get the Sena 20S you can still plug your buds into it ^_^.
    The 20S clamp has an ear bud socket built in, plug in buds - helmet speakers go quiet. talk to others if you want even, start/stop/next track repeat from helmet control
    PS I know where you can get one :whistle:
  4. I've got the sena 10r and you can get an adaptor for ear buds. I found that speakers just sound crap and add to all the noise that's going on around you. IMO if you like listening to music, ear buds are the only way to go
  5. #5 iClint, Mar 19, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
    Intercom unit will solve your tangled wires problem such as something from the Sena range.

    The speakers are surprisingly good but you need to have them setup correctly - with the foam covers attached to the speakers they need to be lightly pressed against your ears and this is why in the kit they come with a few padded velcro spacers to achieve the correct placement in the helmet. They also need to be correctly positioned in the helmet, everybody's head is different and sometimes the pre-cut pockets for speakers aren't where they need to be.

    If the speakers do not contact your ears the sound won't be good

    I personally prefer to use Earmold audio plugs to protect hearing and listen to audio, they won't dislodge from your ear, and are very comfortable as they are moulded to fit in your whole ear not just the hole.

    If you are the kind of princess who isn't happy with bluetooth audio most the Sena range also comes with a Line-in for Auxiliary audio sources, and a device like an iPod can be controlled with an inline remote on the cable.
  6. As usual, you guys have the definitive answer. Looks like I'll be grabbing a Sena 20S twin pack, and sticking with my quality ear buds. Thanks guys.
  7. As strange as it sounds, I get better audio from helmet speakers while using ordinary safety earplugs. The plugs cut white (wind) noise leaving mostly just the pure frequencies getting through.
    Ear buds would also do the trick.
    I wouldn't ride without hearing protection now.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Yep, same here. Counter-intuitive, but it works.
  9. When planning this last big trip (4600km) I decided to change my audio setup from the Autocom helmet speakers to a Scala G4. I had modified the G4's with an 3.5mm stereo output jack so that I could plug in ear buds, the later model G9s come with the ear jack I believe.

    I also bought a Radian DIY earplug kit (two part mixture that you mix up and make your own earplug molded to your ear chanal). During the curing process you insert your ear buds into the semi-soft mixture and you end up with a custom set of molded ear monitors. Just google Radian earplugs and you will see how to make these. They worked pretty good, but when i make the next set I'll put a little more material around the ear-bud itself to help it stay in when putting on or taking off my helmet.

    This is because I still had the issue of the buds sometimes getting dislodged putting on my helmet. The simple solution during the trip was to wear a very light weight balaclava, this allowed my helmet to fit on smoothly and surprisingly it did not get hot or uncomfortable.

    And of course with the Scala G4 I have it bluetooth paired to the Zumo 650 GPS that is then bluetoothed to the Samsung G5 phone. Even though the Scala can pair with two devices, they recommend to daisy chain if you can. I didn't use the built-in FM radio, but did use the stereo in jack connected to a small MP3 player.
  10. Thanks for the tips - I'll be using my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 as a GPS unit and Spotify streaming music player. I assume I can simply pair this to the Scala kit via Bluetooth, and be able to answer calls as well? I'll definitely look into that custom ear bud kit - i just got a quote from Melbourne audiology centre, and they wanted $720 to do it!
  11. I use Earmold audio plugs,there are a couple of issues though.The wire and tube kit seems to last only a couple of years for me.The sound quality has been great but lately its been cutting out and I found a broken connection last week .Hopefully I will get another kit at The Barry Sheen classic races on Sunday.One odd thing was with the cable outside my jacket it would allow a howling wind noise to come through the audio,fine inside the jacket.Even with the issues I like this kit connected to the FM radio in my phone.
  12. I was asking a similar question in another thread. I know that there are bluetooth ear phones designed for athletes who hate wires.
    • Like Like x 1
  13. The Radians Custom Ear Mold kits are about $30 delivered from the US, there is enough in the kit to make one practice and two more ear molds. I'd suggest watching some of the You-tube videos and then do a practice run. They take about 10 minutes to set, you stick the ear-buds in not long after you have the mold in your ear.

    I'm going to make another set, I didn't leave enough of the "putty" to grab fully around the ear-bud, it fits but could be better.

    Your ear canal changes shape depending on how your mouth (actually your jaw) is placed. The videos suggest having your mouth open when the mold is setting, but this is for singers. I reckon that for normal listening, keep your mouth closed during the setting period - I found the mold a little uncomfortable after 2 or 3 hours and I think it is because I followed their instructions and I ended up with a mold that isn't exactly how my ear canal is shaped "at rest".

    Here a good blog that also shows you how to make them, they finish up looking like this (BTW I got flesh coloured ones):


  14. Very interesting, thanks barry.
  15. If it's just listening to music, the sena is overkill.

    Look at bluetooth buds e.g.

    or a bluetooth receiver and use your current buds
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Yeh, the Sena will be for my bro and I, as we ride together and need an intercom system.
  17. earmolds + sena = win!
  18. I was looking at the Sena units today... then I had a look at my shark helmet,
    It really has no room for speakers no ear cutouts like my dirtbike helmet does (made my own system up using small old laptop speakers years ago was awesome!).

    I'm also thinking my helmet would be around 6-7 years old so its about time to replace it.
    I've been googeling and from what I can gather there are helmets that have Bluetooth built in already.
    Not sure what to do yet I'm thinking I'll buy a new helmet in summer when I buy my new bike.
  19. A lot of helmets nowadays have extra room around the ears for speakers or just big ears. And there are a lot more bluetooth systems available. In fact a lot of big helmet brands have their bluetooth systems that you can buy in addition to the helmet.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. I recently had a set of moulded earplugs made with speakers in them. Still have wires so probably not what your looking for but prior to that i bought a set of bluetooth headphones online for $40 pulled them apart and mounted them in my helmet have an Arai Vector2 which had recesses for speakers. They lasted 12 hours on one charge had good volume and worked very well but as i have bad tinnitus they weren't quite loud enough for me hence the change. But for the money sound quality was very passable and as an experiment to see if you like it maybe a good starting point.
    • Like Like x 1