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Thread: Recommend me a bluetooth setup!

  1. #1
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    Recommend me a bluetooth setup!

    I've previously used an Autocom SPA and apart from having to suffer cables, it was brilliant for ...

    - Rider to pillion intercom
    - Nav instructions (and music) from my Zumo 590
    - Bike to bike via a Kenwood radio using a PTT switch
    - Telephone use for myself via the Zumo

    Importantly the setup enabled nav instructions & music to continue during rider/pillion conversations, after some messing about with the cabling and dip switches I settled on a setup that didn't mute or reduce the volume of the Zumo during rider pillion conversation, this I much preferred.

    However, 12 months ago I took the plunge and went bluetooth with a Sena 10U. Great piece of kit and being wire free was a revelation ... riding solo ...

    - Perfect for nav/music from the Zumo
    - The integrated design with the short mike arm is much better than the Autocom or other bluetooth devices with boom mikes
    - Telephone works brilliantly (via the Zumo)
    - Sound quality for music is very good, nav instructions poor (might be related to the BT output of the Zumo)
    - Better volume than the Autocom

    But, and it's a big but, as soon as I try to add the pillion headset the bluetooth system just doesn't live up to the Autocom. The pillion headset is currently a Sena 3S which is very basic but even so it should have some reasonable functionality. It seems to dislike pairing which has proven to be a pain, plus we need to switch between intercom mode and the Zumo input mode when either is needed, it's not possible to have both together. I did initially think this was the basic nature of the 3S but it appears that the same will occur with my 10U, I understand I'd need to swap both to Sena 20S units to get the "audio multitasking" ability whereby we can chat and listen to the Zumo output simultaneously. I've been really surprised by the limitations of the 10U over the 20S, the integrated design of the 10U would suggest it should be the flagship headset but it falls down on features over it's big brother.

    So before I reinstall the old Autocom system for our upcoming trip to Spain, are there any other bluetooth systems on the market that will do what the Autocom did? I can't see how any others in the Sena range (SMH10 etc) would do much better than the 10U and I'm ideally looking for a more integrated system than the 20S. Or is there another component I need to add in to get the multitasking ability? Or is it that current bluetooth options are still some years away from what the Autocom has been doing perfectly?

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Funny you should say that........

    I went from a wired Autocom system that gave me and my Wife crystal clear comms at any speed (with in ear monitors), and I mean crystal, didn't have to shout, just speak. No voxing from wind noise just a good reliable communications system. The down side was that we had to connect up at every stop, secure the leads behind the jacket zips etc etc, and finally plug in once on the bike. At last years show I bought Cardo Scala Rider Q3 MultiSet Bluetooth intercomms thinking they were the way ahead. And in the event it has been like taking a step back in time to the early days of Autocom. Having to shout to get voxing, voxing with wind, unable to speak with passenger because sat nav has been given priority, even though sat nav isn't speaking. And so far we haven't been able to dial out any of these issues. Personally I think it was money wasted, and I'm considering re-fitting the Autocom kit.

  3. #3
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    You will get lots of complicated responses to this post but the real answer is simple. There is NO bluetooth system that delivers the performance and simplicity of a wired system.

    Yes, there are benefits to bluetooth - no need to wire kit to bike, no cables etc. etc. - but just like CAT5 wiring still beats any wifi installation, cable trumps the ether every time.

    Oh - and just to prove I'm not biassed - I switched to bluetooth on my GS because I got bored replumbing the Autocom every time I changed my bike. I'm sorely tempted to go back.

    I should have known better. On my RT I had a full BT set up and an Autocom. 99% of the time I used the Autocom...

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardbd View Post
    I'm sorely tempted to go back.
    That's two of us then.......

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by KMD View Post
    That's two of us then.......
    Make that 3 of us. The only thing stopping me is that the nav 5 only has BT output, not wired.

  6. #6
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    I've used Sena - SMH10 and now 20S - for several years and as others have said, Bluetooth is not perfect but it is simple to use, install, maintain and easy to transfer from bike to bike. It can be frustrating when reception isn't perfect and it always works better on one to one basis than when there are greater numbers of riders (despite what the manufacturers say) and the terrain has a significant impact on the performance. However, the convenience is worth a lot. When it works well it's bloody good and most of the time I'm happy with it and it can connect with my iPhone and satnav at the same time as maintaining an intercom conversation (20s). That said I've not any experience of a bike to bike radio system other than handheld PMRs with ear pieces - not too impressive, perhaps the properly installed and fitted systems are better.

    As for make, price etc, my club is having a lot of success with the budget equipment from Ebay - for around £60 per rider we are establishing and maintaining good comms between riders so I wouldn't automatically choose an expensive better known brand if your needs are not too complex

  7. #7
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    It is a compromise, you either put up with the wires and have everything, or go bluetooth and lose certain functions. the choice is yours to make, i prefer the wired option but have altered mine from the cumbersome 7 or 5 pin plugs and sockets to 3.5mm jack plugs and sockets, they are of course not as robust, but are much lighter and easier to connect and much cheaper and you can buy them from almost anywhere.

  8. #8
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    In the early days of rider to rider comms when I took my test I was told by the examiner to tap my helmet if I couldn't hear his instruction. I spent half an hour doing mostly that, bashing my helmet like some demented Monty Python character riding where the hell I wanted as I couldn't hear a thing. Passed first time with a suggestion from the examiner to join a circus

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by stever1 View Post
    Make that 3 of us. The only thing stopping me is that the nav 5 only has BT output, not wired.
    This is why I changed too. I chose the new Cardo Freecom because it's waterproof rather than water resistant like the Sena which I know folk have had issues with. I was also hoping that the latest iteration would have overcome previous connectivity issues they all seemed to suffer.

    Certainly I have no issue with the sound quality or volume at any speed, whether Nav instructions, music, radio, intercom or phone (where, like my Autocom, the other party has no idea I'm on a bike at motorway speeds). It also seems to connect flawlessly when the Nav V comes live, which is great, and battery life is so good I certainly don't miss the 'plumbed in' Autocom power supply convenience.

    What I haven't worked out how to do yet is share Nav instructions with my pillion so, annoyingly, the Nav V does interupt conversations. To be fair, I haven't really tried very hard to fix that and I know that the Freecom will share sources so it ought to be possible. Trouble is, the unit seems to be a bit too new for anyone to have worked out this stuff and share it yet (but if anyone has, I'm listening!). That is the only thing I'd like to change though and everything else is so good that I won't be reverting to the Autocom.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the responses, I'm glad it's not just me! Riding solo I'm more than happy with the Sena 10U, it's trying to intercom with a pillion that just causes so many compromises enough that I'm definitely considering going back to the Autocom. It's a shame that there isn't an Autocom option that retains all the brilliant features of the Autocom fully installed setup with a simple BT connection from each headset to the Autocom unit, that really would be utopia.

  11. #11
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    Used a starcom digital for years (same as autocom)and loved it after trying Bluetooth (Nolan and schuberth) and neither doing what I wanted.
    As others got sick of taking off and refitting to new bike everytime so took plunge and went Bluetooth as newer systems meant to be better.
    Senna 20s duel unit purchased and does it do what it says on the tin.???? YES
    Sound far better quality than Starcom was first thing I noticed, must admit setting up is a bit of trial and error but got it how I want it
    Sat nav instruction but intercom can still be heard over it . Music is good quality sound and volume ,very easy to adjust on the go with the wheel on the unit .
    bike to bike good range and quality ,either in helmet speakers or in ear speakers built into ear plugs (great perches)which when plugged into sena unit auto turn off helmet speakers.
    Would not go back to hardwired now as Bluetooth has equaled it to my needs. PS never gone flat good battery life

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by madmechanic View Post
    Used a starcom digital for years (same as autocom)and loved it after trying Bluetooth (Nolan and schuberth) and neither doing what I wanted.
    As others got sick of taking off and refitting to new bike everytime so took plunge and went Bluetooth as newer systems meant to be better.
    Senna 20s duel unit purchased and does it do what it says on the tin.???? YES
    Sound far better quality than Starcom was first thing I noticed, must admit setting up is a bit of trial and error but got it how I want it
    Sat nav instruction but intercom can still be heard over it . Music is good quality sound and volume ,very easy to adjust on the go with the wheel on the unit .
    bike to bike good range and quality ,either in helmet speakers or in ear speakers built into ear plugs (great perches)which when plugged into sena unit auto turn off helmet speakers.
    Would not go back to hardwired now as Bluetooth has equaled it to my needs. PS never gone flat good battery life
    Does it do everything without having to mess with any buttons, ie. chat to the pillion and simultaneously receive nav/music without adjusting any settings .... a la Autocom? Having a helmet integrated Sena 10U it does feel like a backwards step to go to the 20S and have to suffer the big cockroach fastened to the side of my helmet.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobbin-Man View Post
    Does it do everything without having to mess with any buttons, ie. chat to the pillion and simultaneously receive nav/music without adjusting any settings .... a la Autocom? Having a helmet integrated Sena 10U it does feel like a backwards step to go to the 20S and have to suffer the big cockroach fastened to the side of my helmet.
    Dont have to mess intercom auto over sat nav , adjust music , phone and sat nav volumes on navigator 5 settings if a music track comes on too low or too high scroll wheel on send unit very easy and quick to adjust
    Auto pairs with pillion when turned on if pillion or rider turns on separately just press send centre button and it pairs quickly.
    Was a big fan of Starcom but just as happy with Sean 20s kit only thing could fault it was Quite expensive but there again so is Starcom
    Also great benafit of Sena Bluetooth sometimes my son in law comes on my bike pillion other times if he is on his 125cc bike you can use it both ways with hard wire you cannot use it bike to bike

  14. #14
    I use a Cardo Smartpack mostly for the phone and I bloody hate it.

    Every time I sneeze or fart either the radio comes on or it rings my mate....

    only use it for Blood Bike stuff now and leave it off the rest of the time...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davel View Post
    I use a Cardo Smartpack mostly for the phone and I bloody hate it.

    Every time I sneeze or fart either the radio comes on or it rings my mate....

    only use it for Blood Bike stuff now and leave it off the rest of the time...
    User error ! Turn the VOX off or alter the sensitivity.

  16. #16
    Done that.

    Must be sneezing far too loud.

    If I turn the Vox sensitivity off then I won't be able to answer it I guess.

    Is there an option to turn the radio / music off permanently?

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