Why choose helmet speakers?
Helmet speakers are comfortable and durable.
Helmet speakers are optimized ergonomically for helmet applications. When wearing a helmet for any period of time, even just the slightest pressure in or against the ear can cause excruciating pain and overheating from the audio drivers. Helmet speakers, on the other hand, sit slightly away from the ear and are much slimmer than standard headphones. If installed correctly, you’ll not be able to feel helmet speakers at all.
Some users do prefer to construct “DIY” helmet speakers using cheap headphones that they can take apart and glue or Velcro into their helmets. Be warned, however, that this kind of set-up can be troublesome, flimsy, and may press on the ears. Other people attempt to use earbuds, which occlude the ear canal and cause pressure, discomfort, and overheating in the ear. It is also exceedingly difficult to pull on a helmet over earbuds without ripping them out of your ears or even breaking the wires. Unlike these solutions, helmet speakers are mounted in your helmet without pressing on your ears or blocking the ear canal.
Additionally, many helmet speakers have extra-durable wiring that can withstand the wear and tear sustained during vigorous activities like motocross or snowboarding.
Helmet speakers are specially engineered for in-helmet acoustics. High quality helmet speakers are designed to sit directly across from the ear canal and also have an audio driver powerful enough to provide loud, high-fidelity audio that can be heard above wind and engine noise.
Helmet speakers are safer than earbuds
Wearing earbuds while operating a vehicle is illegal in many US States because they block out environmental sound. Earbuds also rest very close to the delicate eardrum, making it perilously easy to cause permanent hearing damage when turned up to high or even just medium volume levels. Lastly, wires hanging loose from the helmet are easily caught on limbs, branches, handlebars, and other objects, obstructing your movement and possibly causing damage to you and your equipment. Helmet speakers, on the other hand, do not block the ear canal, thereby providing a degree of situational awareness necessary to stay safe.
How to choose a helmet speaker
In choosing a helmet speaker, there are several factors you should consider:
Do you commute on a motorcycle? Race one? Snowboard? Skydive? Different helmet speakers suit different applications. For instance, outdoor activities might require helmet speakers that have thick, water-resistant cabling and volume controls. For very loud applications such as motocross, you might want to look for a helmet speaker that is optimized for volume and sound quality.
While many helmets have built-in pockets or recesses for helmet speakers, not all do. In addition, some helmet brands are designed to fit more tightly over the ears than others, meaning that there is not enough room for the speakers to fit comfortably. Make sure that your helmet can accommodate the helmet speakers you want before purchasing.
Your audio preferences
Just like standard headphones, helmet speakers vary greatly in sound signature and audio quality. Some are bass-heavy while others are turned to sound more natural. If possible, test out the helmet speakers you want to buy to see if you like how they sound.
Lastly, you should try to find a reasonable balance between cost and quality that suits your needs. Most of the cheap helmet speakers are Chinese-made generics that don’t have the greatest sound quality, include limited features, and break easily, but if these things aren’t particularly important to you, they’ll serve your purposes. More expensive models sound better, have much better build-quality, and usually come with some sort of warranty.
Before making a decision, make sure to do your research. This site is a great place to start, but you should also read as many customer comments, product reviews, and forum threads as you need to make the best choice for yourself.