Rider Communications - Advanced Class - Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Forum
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post #1 of 32 Old 07-10-2019, 01:29 PM Thread Starter
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Rider Communications - Advanced Class

Having ridden with Comm systems since the SMH10 was launched by SENA a decade ago, myself and my nerdy riding buddies have been pushing the limits of these things, especially since we all switched to CARDO Packtak Bolds.


We all run radar detectors, and each of us have found our own solutions for "radar alerts in our helmets". I am sticking with my H.A.R.D. system, and they have rigged up BT transmitters that pair with their CARDOs, however, they lose the feature of listening to music while talking. I like music too much while riding. We even spent an afternoon with a shit-load of different cabling, splitters sending/receiving units to find a way to achieve getting 5 sources of media in our helmets. Trust me, these guys are way smarter than me and both are audio nerds and one owns his own IT company.



Communications
Music
Radar Alerts
Phone calls
GPS direction



In the end, the only solution was a BT transmitter for radar for them (they give up music) and the H.A.R.D, system for me. We have even looked at industrial MESH technology, radios, everything short of talking to the US military to find a better solution. While the CARDO is superior to SENA in many ways, we all still miss the big dial of the SMH10, but we have all burned an SMH10 on trips when they get wet (not waterproof). The tiny button on the CARDO is a big design fail.



Now I am at a crossroads. At 55 my hearing tests reveal that I have "normal hearing loss for my age", which basically means I lose out on some higher frequencies. "Hear that bird chirp?"......Me: "Um, No". I have been using custom molded In-Ear monitors with Dual drivers for 7 years. They offer excellent fidelity and Noise Reduction. Unfortunately, on long 12 hour day rides my ears are sore as hell from putting the helmet on and off (mostly off as the plugs tend to rip out of my ears).


One fellow rider swears by cheap foam earplugs and speakers, but he doesn't listen to music, just comms. So off I go last week to find a more comfortable solution.


On my desk, standard CARDO speakers, the new JBL speakers, IASUS XSound speakers, Pulse Speakers and and the ones from UClear. I also have 3 different in-line amps with various specs, etc...........I spend a full day doing 80mph burns down the highway testing various configurations, amp settings, music profile settings, different speaker placements, with and without foam ear plugs.


Can I hear a buddy talk? Yes, but I'm straining to hear him. Music? Yeah, it's "there" but at 80-100mph, it is so muted, I'm not enjoying it. Helmet is an RF1200 and a GT-Air.


I get a set of Etymotic ER3XR earphones mated with COMPLY's foam ear tips, and a set of PlugFones (cheap). Both work amazing, don't need an amp (neither do my $300 custom molded in-ear monitors), but the Etymotics do begin to hurt after 6 hours of riding and the Plugphones broke easily when changing the flange tips to their foam tips, sent them back. Other earphones I tried were:


MAXROCK Sleep Earphones
MEE Audio Sport F1-M6 Earphones



90% of the people I have asked for advice, or read their reviews about helmet speakers are basically city riders or speed limit riders. Zero value for me there. Or they are 25 years old and have no clue how windnoise will affect their hearing in 20 years.



I refuse to give up on my quest for comfortable all day hearing protection (Foamies) and speakers.



So...........CALLING ALL AUDIO nerds. What do you know that you can share about helmet speakers?


Also, is there anything from NASA or the Military that can be adapted for bike to bike communications and audio? I'm at a point where I may just fire up a company to develop a proper comms system.
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post #2 of 32 Old 07-10-2019, 03:49 PM
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Fire up your own company and develop a proper Comm. Make sure it's available in the USA. It has to be a system that is Bose-Quality noise cancelling speakers.

Seriously, you've tried it all.

I've had a few comm units too over the years. Right now I'm rocking the Sena 10k and the Cardo Pack Talk (different helmets). I also us BT connectivity to them for my phone and Radar detector. I never leave home without my radar detector. On an N1k, it's absolutely a must.

I wear foam ear plugs. I can hear the radar detector alerts really well even at higher speeds. I can't hear the music above 55 mph. Well I can but it sounds like shit. Screw the music. I don't need it. I listen to music with headphones or big-ass speakers when I'm off the bike. On the bike, I focus on the ride. I find music distracting when riding anywhere except highway and even then there's just too much noise input from road, wind, and engine to really appreciate the music anyway.
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post #3 of 32 Old 07-10-2019, 05:17 PM
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I'm big into audio, especially portable audio and have a ton of different iems, but haven't tried them with my sena yet. I was reading how someone on the internet swapped their sena speakers with headphone speakers. I believe they need to be 30ohm iirc, and read it was a huge improvement. I think wired to iems would probably be better, but I'm going to try anyway.

Don't the etys bother your ears? Yes, Derp. 6 hours my bad. That's a long time for them though. They insert really deep, plus, I need my bass, and they lack in that department. I'm going to try some of my easier to drive iems tonight. Thanks for the motivation. I'm using the Sena 30k. Music is loud enough at high speed, but coms or phone is a huge struggle. Plus, the stock sena speakers are shit. Literally.

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Last edited by skootin; 07-10-2019 at 05:26 PM.
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post #4 of 32 Old 07-10-2019, 05:29 PM
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What about a portable headphone (iem) amp? I'm considering using one of mine. The smallest one I have is an arrow 5tx,which is a great amp. Size of a credit card. Would definitely give you a huge boost. Fiio has some small, reasonably priced options as well. I have to charge my arrow up, been a while since I used it, the volume knob is in need of repair. It still works, but it's finicky.

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post #5 of 32 Old 07-10-2019, 06:22 PM
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Different strokes...I have close to $10k in my home audio/video system but on the road I prefer silence. I finally got a Packtalk Bold because guys I ride with insisted and, I admit, it's good for communications. I have not and will not mate it to my phone. I admit, it might be nice to mate it to my radar detector. I don't hear it at triple digit speeds where I really NEED to be hearing it. Actually, with the puig screen I don't hear it. With the National Touring screen I hear everything fine.

Not quite true: at 70 I've lost much hearing in my left ear and have fairly severe tinnitus. Chalk it up to younger "I don't need no stinkin' ear protection" me and open expansion chambers on 2 strokes. Got great earplugs in the army and have been using them ever since. I wear them with the speakers in the helmet maxed and hear everything fine.
As for music on the road...I know from a great sound system in my car that my speed is song dependent. So's my attention to driving details.

I certainly hope with all your distracted riding you don't end up as a statistic.
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post #6 of 32 Old 07-10-2019, 07:28 PM
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Probably not the wisest thing to do, listening to music while riding, but hearing music while on my bike... One of the best, most satisfying, freeing, mood lifting experiences I've ever had. I've experienced a lot of interesting things in my life, but this has been one of the most rewarding things ever for me.

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post #7 of 32 Old 07-11-2019, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by kenors View Post
I certainly hope with all your distracted riding you don't end up as a statistic.

Thanks for the concern
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post #8 of 32 Old 07-11-2019, 10:05 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by skootin View Post
What about a portable headphone (iem) amp? I'm considering using one of mine. The smallest one I have is an arrow 5tx,which is a great amp. Size of a credit card. Would definitely give you a huge boost. Fiio has some small, reasonably priced options as well. I have to charge my arrow up, been a while since I used it, the volume knob is in need of repair. It still works, but it's finicky.
I tested a couple of the Fiio mini amps, they didnt boost much. The one amp I did most of my road testing was the Topping NX1



https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B07...?ie=UTF8&psc=1



As I am NOT an audiophile, I can't say I understand Ohms and all that stuff, perhaps you guys can help? Maybe I just chose poor amps. I could not find the Headstage Arrow 5TX for sale anywhere. It's critical that whatever I buy I can return for a refund, hence why I was limited to Amazon.ca
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post #9 of 32 Old 07-11-2019, 11:40 AM
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Topping isn't bad at all. All speakers have ohm ratings, so technically you don't need to understand how it works, but just match the right load for the amp. Ohms will effect the power output of the amp. The stock Sena 30k speakers are about 30ohms, so buying a speaker that matches it helps, as long as the amp has enough power to drive said speaker. You also have to check the sensitivity of the speaker, as some may have the right impedance, but not enough sensitivity, putting you right back in your original spot, it being too low. Most consumer headphones, I.E. Sony and other reasonably priced ones are reasonably easy to drive. I'll see if I can find that specific video and/or headphone I was talking about earlier.

Also, fiio has some newer amps, not sure if you tested one in their newer range.

For good information you can learn about portable amps at Headfi.org (just watch out for the hype) or superbestaudiofriends. The latter has less hype, is definitely less active, but I find the people and reviews their to be a bit more realistic, they also don't promote wasting money foolishly.


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Last edited by skootin; 07-11-2019 at 11:44 AM.
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post #10 of 32 Old 07-11-2019, 11:51 AM
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I have tinnitus, more in left than right but in both. Doc says I can hear the grass growing outside though, which means noises annoying me, especially wind, so music actually helps me focus and keeps me calmer.

Tried various helmets, shields, comm units. Currently use a Cardo g9x which is bluetooth. Friends all use the Cardo Packtalk so they complain when they have to switch to bluetooth to pair with me. They like to talk the entire time we are riding which I find exhausting.

I either use some concert ear plugs I ordered that are supposed to suppress level without muffling, or foam. The concert plugs do well but I have an air leak around my visor that I just cannot seem to get adjusted out so little too noisy. I prefer riding with foam plugs but they do muffle sounds so have to keep Cardo on full volume.

There are different db ratings on the foam plugs so maybe try 1 step or 2 down and see if that works better?

I've also read that adjusting the placement of speakers or even padding them so closer to ear will improve sound greatly.
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