Wireless vs. Wired

Which type of helmet speaker/headset is right for you? There are lots of pros and cons surrounding this topic, from ease of use, sound quality, to each individual’s budget. We’ve got it covered. Check out the new article we just put up!

Wireless vs. Wired

In other news, I haven’t heard back from any of the helmet speaker companies we contacted last month. I did get in touch with this new near-ear speaker brand called O-tus Safe Sounds. It looks different than the other helmet speakers out there, and are designed mainly for mountain biking use.O-tus replied my e-mail about sending us a unit to try on a motorcycle but communication seemed to have stopped there. Why do companies do this, they reply and soon after lose communication? Last I heard from them was March 7th!

Once the weather is a bit warmer, well, as long as the rain we’ve been getting goes away, we are going to take the Sena SMH10 out for a test. Stay tuned!

J&M and Cardo Systems

The snow reared its ugly head here in town so I guess the start of the riding season will have to be postponed for a tiny bit.

Since my last post, we received replies from J&M and also Cardo Systems.

J&M decided they don’t want to send me anything just because I mentioned I use a Shoei helmet, while Cardo offered to send their systems but since giving them my shipping address I haven’t heard back with confirmation. We will have to wait and see what becomes of that.

IASUS Concepts and Sena Arrives!

Since we last posted, we received a prototype of the XSound 3 from IASUS Concepts and the SMH10 from Sena. Great communication by both companies resulted in both products arriving at my doorstep in a matter of a few days.

We’ll get a few photos of both units up in the coming week and put some miles on them once riding weather sets in.

We still haven’t gotten responses from other helmet speaker companies!!!  You would think for the large companies like Skullcandy and Giro they would have someone in their PR department to reply us!

Top Marks to Sena and IASUS Concepts

I hope everyone had a great weekend! I know I did, watching the Seahawks slaughter the Broncos for the Super Bowl!!

I opened up my inbox this morning, and top marks goes to Sena and IASUS Concepts for wasting no time in gathering my info to send their products to review. As well, a representative from MotoComm e-mailed me back but he has nothing to send us in the near future.

Right now I’m still awaiting for ChatterboxGiroJ&M, and Skullcandy to respond. It is a bit disappointing, as we didn’t even receive a “no, thank you”. Makes you wonder if they even have customer service.

Can’t wait to try the new gear… Riding season is just around the corner!

We’re Back!

Hi everyone! As we begin 2014, we are firing this site back up and hope to post reviews as we get new helmet speaker products to test and information about them.

Last week, we’ve contacted a bunch of companies in the helmet speaker space in hopes of getting some of their products to test. And while doing so, it gave us a chance to evaluate their response time. The companies include:

  • Chatterbox
  • Giro
  • IASUS
  • J&M
  • MotoComm
  • Sena
  • Skullcandy

So far, only iASUS and MotoComm decided to reply to us. Hopefully the response time for the others isn’t a healthy indication of how they would communicate with their customers!

If you know of any brands you’d like to see reviewed, please let us know.

~R

Tork Helmet Speakers: Cheap Speakers From China

I admit that this is a LONG overdue post, but frankly, there wasn’t much going on in the world of helmet speakers, and I was getting a little bit bored.  but I finally scoured around on the internet for other helmet speaker reviews and my interests landed on Tork.  I wrote them to see if they would give me something to test and write a review on, but they never got back to me.  Naturally, I did some basic digging around.

Upon some research, it looks like there isn’t much you can find out about the company itself, other than that they are based out of Vancouver, Canada, and that their Tork Mobile is an “award-winning” product (but I can’t seem to find anything that supports that claim.)  This made me even more suspicious.

After looking through some other reviews on their helmet speakers, it looks like they don’t even produce or engineer their own products! I found cheap helmet speakers from China that look exactly like their helmet speakers, and some of the pictures from the manufacturer’s website looks strikingly similar to Tork’s pictures.

Check out the photos below:

Helmet speakers from China: Looks familiar? Click on the photo to go to their website
Tork's Helmet Speaker X-Pro: notice the speakers,the adaptor, the clip, and the volume control: they look exactly like the picture above.
This photo layout is all too telling. What are the chances? Click on the photo to see where you can get this set in China.

 

Notice the not-so-straight line in the red box that they tried to draw to "change up" the picture. With the X-Pro going for so much, they can't afford to take their own pictures?

How can they justify selling their X-Pro speakers at 79.99USD for something like this when there are many other real audio companies out there who put countless hours and thousands of dollars into R&D? And the fact that they don’t even have decent product photos of their own just makes me wonder about their company.  Sure, a good product will be a good product no matter what the packaging or marketing is like, but it’s still a reflection of what the company is about and how much effort and time they put into their products.  And in this case: it’s the bare bare minimum.

You can make the same Tork X-Pro helmet speakers for much cheaper, and it’s quite easy.

Here’s how:

Take a look at the Porta Pro on-ear headphones:

 

You can find them online for 49.99USD.

Now look at what some people have done and shared on a forum about DIY helment speakers:

DIY Helmet Speakers on www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=577676

In the above picture, notice the highlighted area in the red square: part of the plastic on the speaker is cut/snapped in this DIY post.  You simply snap the speakers off the Porta Pro, and then apply your own velcro or adhesive of your choice, and viola, you have a decent pair of helmet speakers.

Now, I found a pretty in depth review on the Tork XPro helmet speaker on webBikeWorld.com with a very clear picture of the back of the helmet speakers.  If you look closely at the red box, right on the outer edges of the white circle, you can see the plastic edge has been snapped at the 2:00 and 8:00 positions.  Looks like it’s been ripped off something just like the Porta Pro headphones.  And people are paying 79.99USD for this.

I guess my main problem with this is that Tork doesn’t seem to be a real audio company that produces anything, yet they try to pretend to be a company with a goal “to produce, distribute and market innovative motorcycle communication products” (as found in their company bio.)

Save yourself the extra $30, and you’re better off with your own DIY helmet speakers using the Porta Pro than with the Tork XPro.

 

Summer’s over…

Sorry for the long hiatus everyone!  Hope you enjoyed your summer because I sure have!  I will be back to blogging, hope you like the new look (I personally think it’s much cleaner now.)

Just putting this out there, but I am super excited for the new iPod Nano, it will be the perfect size to fit inside my pocket when I ride, and my old one is dying on me! I’m thinking of even buying a new pair of helmet speakers to go with it.

The New iPod Nano

I can’t ride without my music.  What devices do you ride with???

 

DIY Helmet Speakers

DIY helmet speakers are a common helmet audio solution for cash-strapped music enthusiasts who, for better or worse, fancy themselves rugged individualist do-it-yourselfers. There’s a lot of merit to the DIY spirit, and so we’re here to take you through a step-by-step guide to basic DIY helmet speakers.

It is worth noting, however, that while DIY helmet speakers might be an extremely cost-effective solution, they are unlikely to provide the high-quality sound some listeners might be looking for. They can also be a bit flimsy, so be prepared to go through this process every few months of so, depending on how heavily they get used.

You will need:

– A cheap pair of headphones that you won’t mind tearing apart…don’t use your $200 Sennheisers.

– If your helmet doesn’t have zipped earpads, you’ll also need two round Velcro patches with tape on one side and a hot glue gun

Simply break the headband and as much of the speaker frame off of the headphones as possible so that you are left with little more than a driver, a thin casing, foam cover, and a cord. Glue the “hooks” side of the Velcro patches to the back of each speaker and allow to dry. Remove the paper backing from the other half of the Velcro patches and attach the sticky sides to the interior of the helmet where you want to position the speakers. Tuck the wires up into the lining of your helmet where they will be secure and out of the way.

To this simple DIY helmet speaker construction you can add additional features and modifications as you please, including inline volume control, cable extension, or a portable headphone amp. We’ve even seen motorcycle riders who have fixed an iPod Shuffle bracket to their helmet, removing the need for wires to extend into their pockets.

Have you ever tried DIY helmet speakers? We’ve never been particularly successful with them, but have heard from several people that DIY is a great solution for budget riders. What do you think?

 

 

 

Bicycle Helmet Speakers

Two companies have recently released new bicycle helmet speaker solutions…must be that time of year! Cycling season is here, and as any cyclist knows, no ride is truly complete without a soundtrack. The Cardo BK-1 bicycle communications system and the O-tus bicycle helmet speakers are brand new releases that promise to provide exactly that.

Like motorcycle riders, the audio requirements of cyclists are unique and not adequately met by earbuds. Anybody on the road needs to remain aware of their surroundings, but earbuds tend to occlude the ear canal, blocking out important external audio cues. Helmet speakers are a good solution, but bike helmets, not having earpads, are not compatible with most helmet speakers on the market. The two systems below are interesting solutions that we look forward to trying out.

CARDO SYSTEMS BK-1

Cardo Systems is best known for their Bluetooth helmet communications systems for motorcycles and snowmobiles. Their first entry into the cycling market is the BK-1, a Bluetooth communications and entertainment system specifically designed for bicycle helmets. It can be paired with any Bluetooth-enabled phone, media player, or GPS device, and also allows simultaneous intercom communication between BK-1 headsets.

The most interesting feature of the BK-1 is the “hovering” speaker design. These helmet speakers do not actually touch the rider’s ear, leaving situational awareness intact.

cardo bk-1 helmet speakers
Cardo BK-1 "hovering" bicycle helmet speakers in action

 

O-tus Safe Sounds Helmet Speakers

O-Tus bicycle helmet speakers might look a bit like earbuds, but they’re actually tiny, velcro-mounted speakers that attach to the underhang of a bicycle helmet, right above the user’s ear. This design allows the cyclist to remain aware of their surroundings while enjoying audio. The O-Tus speakers can be plugged directly into a media player, or into an optional Bluetooth receiver to stream wirelessly.

o-tus helmet speakers
O-Tus Helmet Speakers

 

We’d love to hear from anyone who has tried these out, particularly regarding audio quality. The “open-audio” design for bicycle helmet speakers is a good concept, but we’re curious to see how it actually plays out on the road, so to speak.