All posts by Roland

UClear 2016 Products

UClear sent us some of their new products for this year to review. Check back soon as we give each product a go and see what we think of them.

  • Force HBC200 Dual-Pack (Intercom)
  • HDS10 Helmet Speakers
  • Pulse Plus Helmet Speakers
  • Pulse Pro Helmet Speakers (Upgrade for the Force HBC200)

UClear 2016 Products

 

IASUS Concepts Stealth Pilot Program

For you motorcycle riders and snowboarders out there or anyone that needs a Bluetooth headset to go with their helmet speakers, IASUS Concepts has their Stealth Pilot Program going on right now.

Basically this is almost their final Stealth Bluetooth Throat Mic but they are looking for people to evaluate it before they go into final production. From the photo it looks like you can get their Stealth with a pair of their XSound 3 Helmet Speakers (we reviewed them just recently).

IASUS Concepts XSound 3 Reviewed

IASUS Concepts has recently released their XSound 3 Helmet Speaker. I’ve actually gotten my set a few weeks ago to review, but I just haven’t had much time to do the write-up.

From the time I’ve had with them installed, they sound amazing when used with my iPod Shuffle, currently my go-to music player on rides with helmet speakers or ear buds.

The XSound 3 offers crisp highs and nice lows. They’re thin and they slip into my Shoei RF-1000 helmet without any problems. If I had to compare the audio quality, they are not muffled in any way, and even with any type of EQ off, they sound very much like my Audio Technica ATH-M50, a highly recommended professional studio monitor headphones. The audio quality it produces for music in general is simply astounding.

Features:
-Acoustically-tuned chassis from CNC Aluminum
-Extremely light
-Thin design (0.39″/1cm thick)
-Kevlar braided wires with a 1.3m extension
-Foam Pads and 3M Velcro
-Angled stereo connector (ideal for Bluetooth headset use)

I feel they are definitely worth the $99USD they retail for. The attention to detail, the thinness, and most importantly the sound they offer is tremendous value. Coming fresh from the Sena SMH10 helmet speakers, I had no idea helmet speakers could sound this good… like a set of real headphones.

You may find XSound3 at IASUS Concepts authorized resellers such as IASUS Logistics.

Sena SMH10 On-The-Road Impressions

Sena SMH10

I’ve finally had some time and nice weather to try out the Sena SMH10 on the road, mounted on my Shoei RF-1000 helmet.

The control unit, dock (clamp kit), helmet speakers, and microphone were easy to mount, but the clamp kit the actual control unit docks into needs a bit of extra care to mount onto the helmet properly without scratching it. Click here to read about my initial impressions.


As for the shape of the control unit with regards to wind noise and drag, its alright at lower speeds and doesn’t seem to have an effect. However, at higher speeds, it will come into play.

Testing

To test the SMH10, I rode around the city with traffic, and also on the highways reaching “speed limits”. I made a few phone call and listened to music.

Controls

All the controls are integrated into 3 buttons, which I suppose its good but can be a bit confusing at times, considering there are so many functions.

Normally I don’t like to refer to instruction manuals so I can try to figure out the functions on my phone. As you can see below, this isn’t one of those products… its too complicated:

Answer/End Call – Quick press of the jog dial
Volume Up/Down – Turn the jog dial
Play/Pause Music – Press jog dial for 1 second
Next/Track – Press jog dial and turn
Voice Command – Double press the jog dial

And here are are the stuff I did figure out:

Powering on/off – Press the jog dial and also the phone button on the back of the unit for a quick second
Pairing – Holding the phone button for 5 seconds

Overall, the jog dial is innovative and easy to use.

Ease of use

I would say the jog dial is useful, such as adjusting the volume, answering and ending phone calls, playing and pausing music. As for the helmet speakers, they were small and fit well in my tight fitting Shoei RF-1000. The Sena also comes with foam pads for adjustment if your helmet has more space, such as an Arai.

Sound

As mentioned in my initial impressions, the helmet speakers sounded like they were designed for communication and no more. When listening to music, the lower range is missing. The sound is very high, trebly, translating to phone conversations being very high pitched when the volume is turned up high. For instance, when I am going at higher speed and need to boost up the sound and then coming to a stop only to have it louder and hurting my ears.

On a stock motorcycle with stock exhaust, any music or phone conversation worked well up to 65mph. With more wind and engine noise, the sound does start to drown out meaning the volume needs to be cranked up, which means, higher pitch sounds. I’m surprised how loud I could turn up the volume actually, which is both a good thing and a bad thing.

One huge gripe I have is after finishing one of the calls where I had to crank up the volume, the notifying beep for ending the call was TERRIFYINGLY LOUD.

Another gripe of mine is when there is no music being played or phone call being made, it has a no activity digital sound that is always humming in the background. Perhaps this is because of the constant Bluetooth connection.

As mentioned before, the helmet speakers cannot be changed out for better ones because they’re hardwired right into the clamp. I did some research and it is possible, but requires an optional but expensive 3.5mm helmet clamp kit, so there is the extra expenditure for better sound.

Speech

As I rode, I initiated a few phone calls with different friends. I had attached the microphone into my helmet and velcroed it right in front of my mouth per the User’s Guide and even though the microphone is small, it had a thin foam pad on it which was just thick enough for my lips to rub against at times. My friends said they could hear me ok with distortion and I had to start yelling into it as noise around me picked up.

When the speeds picked up to about 65-70mph, it hit a barrier where it was difficult for them to hear me. It seems like this is pretty much the threshold for communication for the SMH10.

Conclusion

The Sena SMH10 wasn’t designed for music, but for low speed communication, it does the job. The controls once you figure out how to use it is one of its strongest selling points. The Sena SMH10 is a good communication device.

Upon testing the Sena, I would assume that all the other brands like Cardo Systems, Interphone, J&M, Midland, Nolan, O-tus (basically all the ones that didn’t got back to me for testing samples) would perform in a similar fashion as they are based off of the same technology. However, the Sena controls is a superior design to all the others in the category.

App: Ulysse Speedometer

The Ulysse Speedometer is an in-car informational dashboard (you can use it for your bike too of course). Very nicely laid out and customization interface, it can show your speed (current, average, max), miles travelled (by day, trip meter), GPS functions (navigation, compass, altitude), music and phone calling functions, and custom functions such as defining speed limit alerts, grabbing 0-60 times and more. Best of all, it’s free!

However, it looks like its only available for Android phones at the moment. Download it and give it a go!

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.binarytoys.speedometer&hl=en

Sena SMH10 Initial Impressions

Sena recently shipped us the SMH10 Bluetooth Headset & Intercom package to review. Upon opening the very nicely printed box I was presented with a neatly packaged headset along with its mounting accessories, cables, and instruction manual.

I usually like to hook up everything without going through any instructions to see just how intuitive a product is. I was able to install the mounting hardware and helmet speakers, route its cables, pair with my smartphone HTC One and also a 7th Gen iPod Nano without the need to go through the manual.

Doing a dry run of using its two control buttons (one jog dial and button combo, the other a power button) to listen to music and making phone calls with my helmet on in the living room I quickly took note of a few pros and cons.

Pros:
-Good rubbery tactile feel on the big combo dial button (However, I can see this wearing out over time)
-Controls can be easily accessed using riding gloves
-Preset foam spacers and velcro to adjust distance between speakers and ears (See Cons)
-Enough length of helmet speaker wires for routing inside the helmet
-Auxiliary 3.5mm jack for directly connecting an audio source (ie. iPod)

Cons:
-Helmet speakers sound quality were designed for just communication and didn’t produce full range sound. They were especially lacking in bass even with the foam spacers
-Mic is unidirectional and has a foam cover but I doubt it can handle high speed engine and wind noise
-Proprietary 2-pin mic connector – cannot use with any other type of microphone, for example a throat mic
-Bluetooth signal for audio not very clean when listening to music
-Mounting hardware, if not careful, can damage finish to the helmet
-Foam spacers are of one thickness and not stackable discs to really customize fit

On-the-bike impressions to come soon.