Sena 20S Bluetooth Headset
Great potential but difficult to recommend...
I've had very mixed experiences with this Sena 20S system. I had high hopes for a one-time investment for lasting performance but found needing to use the warranty on one occasion, and now facing a second warranty request.
Here are the basic strengths and weaknesses as I perceive:
- Comprehensive instal kit covering many configurations
- Excellent intercom quality (if the connection does not drop)
- Sharp looking design with somewhat intuitive controls
- Excellent noise cancellation features - Callers never ask where I'm speaking to them from or have no idea I'm on the bike.
- Regular SW updates from SENA with a painless upgrade process (I've used both PC and MAC without any issues).
- 1/8" headphone output port on base unit adds earbud compatibility which has become a must have in my use of the unit.
- Universal Bluetooth Pairing works! This is a huge advantage over other BT headsets. Bluetooth is an open protocol, so this should be common to any BT headset yet some other brands will only talk to their own but the Sena makes it possible to pair with them without too much trouble.
- Warranty support is OK if you need to use it. They (Sena) have a long way to go to be as good as some online retailers (like RevZilla) who offer fast, attentive support whenever they're called upon.
- Intercom between 20S units will suddenly disconnect during short range, line of sight use. Most recently, another rider and I were no more than 100ft apart chatting on our 20S units when it would disconnect without warning or notification of any kind. The units would reconnect upon button press, but I was disappointed that we would be disconnected without so much as a beep to inform.
- Software bugs seem to be prevalent:
-- I cannot get the music sharing feature to work between 2 Sena 20S units despite carefully following the instructions.
-- Occasionally the unit will start a loud buzzing noise which can only be stopped by turning the unit off.
-- At times the unit will become completely unresponsive to button presses which can only be resolved by using the pinhole reset switch. I've had to remove the module from the base until I started carrying a paperclip to reset. This should not be necessary!
- Following a SW update, the ambient noise button on the bottom of the base now prompts the voice command system and I can't seem to find how to use the ambient mic feature.
- Sound quality of the supplied speakers becomes very distorted at high volume. Intercom can be very difficult for me to hear while wearing earplugs and increasing speaker volume. (Solution: I use Plugfones brand earbuds which provide crystal clear audio from any source on the Sena 20S. I highly recommend those).
Facing a second warranty request:
Sena has been responsive to the first warranty claim I filed for a mechanical defect where the module would no longer stay attached to the base clamp. In addition, I was experiencing unequal volume between left and right speakers. Sena sent me an entire replacement kit free of charge.
Unfortunately, I now need to file a second warranty claim to address the software issues described above.
*I will update this review based on my experience with the 2nd warranty request.*
The bottom line:
Sena 20S offers the features I wanted in a headset but seems to have problems ranging across the board. I'm having a hard time recommending the product based on the many problems I've experienced. I'll continue trying to use the product I've invested in, but based on this experience I'm now eveb more interested in the latest Cardo unit with Bluetooth 4.0.
May 27, 2015
A happy purchase
I purchased the 20S as a replacement for the SMH-10. I was very happy with my SMH-10 but I am extremely happy with the 20S. The ambient sound mode is very helpful with someone comes up to you at a gas pump or when you are briefly stopped and someone wants to talk to you. I found the speakers slightly flat sounding but when I have ear plugs in they sound vibrant and lively. The app for iphone works well and I have had no connection issues. It's pricey but I'm glad I bought it.
May 26, 2015
Pricey but good
Bought this product a few weeks ago mainly to elimate the ear bud aspect while riding. The first few rides were just about getting the speaker placement right. It seems the cut outs inside the helmet aren't where your ears go at all and once I dropped the speakers down to ear level sound quality increased greatly. Went on a 500 mile ride this past weekend and it worked great. Battery life was excellent. The music was decent even wirh speakers turned all the way up but the intercom was sometimes hard to understand at full volume on the interstate. Any highway roads or cruising under 70 you could keeo the volume down and everything was great. But get on the interstate or up over 70 and you had to go full volume and sound quality really drops. My advice is download the app. Theres so much stuff you can do and the app has a quick guide that is tons of help if you're trying to connect two units or connect to a gps while stopped at a gas station somewhere. Good bang for the buck and plenty of usability. Really my only complaint is sound quality at highway speeds. The recommended course of action from most users is to plug in earbuds to the unit and use those instead of the speakers. My friend did this during our ride and said it worked great. You still had all the functionality without lack of sound quality and like I said at the beginning that was my whole reason for buying it in the first place was to get away from wearing ear buds. Oh and PS get that 1.5 mile range out of your head right away. The most we were able to get with antennas up was maybe a half mile..
May 26, 2015
Easy to operate with gloves
Replaced my Cardo G9 with the Sena. G9 would not get loud in my helmet. Although the Sena gets much louder, I still have trouble with earplugs. The solution was to use earbuds plugged into the Sena, then it works great! controls with gloves are SUPERIOR to the G9's multiple buttons. This one has only two buttons and a wheel which are super easy to operate with gloves. Have not yet tried the intercom. Expensive but seems well made.
May 25, 2015
First Day Out - Review
- Schuberth C3 Pro: Installation was pretty easy although it did take work getting the plate between the shell and styrofoam.
- I installed the wire mic (non-boom) one. The wire is way too short. You cannot lift the face mask all the way. In fact I opened the face mask after connecting mic to velcro. I lifted the face mask and the microphone wire detached (broke it). I didnt even get through my first ride. Pretty bummed out.
- Sound quality: I read a bunch of reviews about the poor sound quality. I agree. Pretty tinny sounding. I found myself turning the volume up to get a better sound. Didnt help. Might try to play with equalizer.
Only my first day with it. Thing is pretty cool. Great to be able to push a button and get to your music or text someone.
Although for almost $300 bucks i was disappointed that mic broke the FIRST DAY!!!. I wish the speakers had a bit more bass.
I will update as i use it more.
May 24, 2015
SENA = horrid pairing and waste of money
Purchased the single unit, as I ride a bit more than my wife. Have an SNH10 that I installed on my wife's helmet and now of the 20s on mine. Well. GOOD LUCK PAIRING THESE DEVICES. Both are upgraded to the latest software and yet neither will pair. If you want to contact the support SENA, you can only "submit a ticket" and wait for them to respond. Glad I am on their time and not mine. What a waste of money. I had the same issues trying to pair my original SMH10 with a riding buddies. As for distance, if we got more then 1500 feet apart, quality diminished significantly. I should have learned my lesson with my first SENA. Now I am out another $250 and will have to use smoke signals and Morris code to talk with my pillon.
May 15, 2015
wireless music,gps commands,and radio com.
Great product for group riding .The many functions are easy to operate.
May 14, 2015
My only disappointment with this product is that it seems like I cannot get it to link up with another, older Sena headset.
May 11, 2015