Sena 20S Bluetooth Headset - Dual Pack
Will spend a few minutes on this for any older guys that have been down the in-helmet speaker/comms path, over the years and swore off it.
It's been about a decade since I opened the wallet on anything that included in-helmet speakers. Every year for the last four or five, I try to do a long ride (week or two) with a couple of buddies who are tekkie nerds and, as nerds will, sport their Scala comms devices (all three of us are IT cats). They are newer riders (four or five years experience) and I'm the relatively crusty veteran. Any time the question, "why don't you..." I stopped them and let them know that I was installing speakers in helmets before there were cut outs in the foam and I'm not inclined to get suckered into another false prophecy of stereophonic and/or comms bliss.
Fast forward to 2014. Out riding with my wife in NC and she low sides her Ninjette in a decreasing radius turn, somewhere in the mountains. While I was giving the obligatory hand signal indicating "keep your eyes up and ahead", she didn't see the sign, went in too hot and then, rather than looking up and out, tunnel visioned herself into the woods. (Broken hand, but nowhere as bad as it could have been).
While I was running through the error chain that led to the catastrophic pilot error, one of the things that I couldn't shake was the thought that maybe I could have prevented said lowside if I'd been able to verbally communicate the difficulty of the curve, rather than relying on moto sign language.
With that in mind, the Ninjette was sold, the Spyder was purchased and I ordered a Sena dual-set from Revzilla. Here's my take, 5K miles in:
Packaging - The manufacturer does this right. Everything is in the box, you get extra parts and everything in the box is in it's own bag. Post-install (one Shoei modular and one HJC modular) I realized they did a nice job anticipating the variety of installs that are out there in the marketplace. So, A+ for planning.
Instructions - Solid B+. One of the few bright spots of getting older is that you realize that being methodical pays big dividends, over the long run. Twenty three year old me would glance at the instructions and then plow ahead. At fifty, I read the instructions fully and then reference them while installing the gear. While they were pretty good, I had to do a couple of re-reads and head scratches on a couple of the notes. No biggy, but not an A.
Install - On the Shoei (multi-tech), this was a total no-brainer. Everything was straight-forward and blew through it in less than 30 minutes, including the "old dude pre-read" thing I just referenced.
On the HJC that was "bluetooth ready", it was a little more challenging to a) get the clamping mechanism positioned properly and b) fitting the speakers into the holes. HJC cut outs weren't a proper fit. Since I had the Shoei experience in my pocket, I still got it done in <30 minutes (another Shoei would have taken 10), but I'd say it's best to take your time and make sure you don't force things. Solid A on installation. (A thought: If I were getting a Sena and a helmet at the same time, I'd probably get a helmet that didn't have that bluetooth-ready compartment built in. Not sure)
Operation - Based on the site reviews, I fully expected that the Bluetooth would be a hassle, voice operation would be unused and earbuds would be a must for what were sure to be sub par speakers. I must say, this is where I'm most pleasantly surprised.
Bluetooth - Rock solid, straight forward and connects to my iPhone 6 + the first time and every time I've ridden with the Sena. Dowloaded their app and at this point, I'd say the Bluetooth operation is as good as the system in my CTS. Grade A.
Earbuds/Aux connections - The first few times I rode, I connected an old iPod into the back jack and low-priced earbuds into the front jack (both on the base of the Sena). The best Deep Purple live from Japan experience I've had in years. When I swapped in some decent Bose earbuds, it was like riding with Richie Blackmore on the pillion. Actually, it was much better than that, since Richie was shredding his solos, but wasn't holding on to my belt and/or bumping up against me in turns. Easy A+. (this is the optimal configuration for traveling at hyper-speeds (90+ mph)).
Speakers - Since I'm not an audio engineer, not exactly sure how this works, but I've found that with foam earplugs in and the ipod/iphone cranked with the Sena volume cranked, I can enjoy music. Take out the plugs and it is miserable sounding, but put them in and the sound improves to the point where I was fine in my usual 60-80 mph highway ride. This is so refreshing as anyone who does long rides knows. The ability to enjoy tunes without earbuds in for 500 miles is really nice. While the music quality isn't as good, it is good enough and less hassle than plugging in earbuds with the wires, etc. I find that Pandora on the i6+ blue-toothed to the speakers with foam earplugs is a great, low hassle solution. Since no speakers in a helmet are going to be perfect, I'm giving this an A grade. (Note: As I already mentioned, I'm >50. I ride an old man's Ninja (Concours 14 with electric windscreen (with a Cee Bailey's aftermarket shield)), but the music is still decent with the windscreen in the full down (max wind) setting.
Voice Commands - You tap the unit with your left hand and you get to speak with Sena. I haven't mastered the tap yet (sometimes I get Sena and sometimes she just tries to initiate intercom because I whacked the button), but when I get it right, the voice commands work like a champ. Note: All that good stuff I said about the music from the speakers with foam ear plugs? Downside is that sometimes you cannot hear Ms. Sena to interact via voice.
Phone - All the comments on audio and bluetooth carry over to phone conversations. Mic works and while I don't do a lot of calls from my helmet, the ones I've done progressed flawlessly.
Unit is sturdy, you have back ups and options in the box and everything works as advertised.
In practice - Rode around Big Bend National Park with my wife on her machine and me on mine. The intercom was excellent within the line-of-sight horizon and because we were both behind relatively decent wind protection, very little unplanned activation from wind noise. I also appreciated the fact that it automatically picks the partner until back up on intercom, when it recognizes both units are inside the useable range.
Needless to say, I'm a believer. This product is pricey, but I'm really digging it. Also, I'd say this is a must have capability for those of you playing rider/coach with a new or low experience rider, especially loved ones.
March 27, 2015
Best System Out there
I use this with my iPod(Bluetooth) and Android phone (BLuetooth) and with my Dre Beats headphones. The speakers it comes with are OKAY. Nothing an audiophile would tolerate, and depending on your bike and helmet it will be difficult to hear at high speeds. With the earbud option its absolute magical, and thats the main reason I got this system. Besides the fact i can have intercom convo's with my music lightly overlay-ed in the background, seameless phone calls..its a must.
March 23, 2015
I love all of the product features.
All though choosing the right helmet is a factor in this product, because I have a modular helmet and wind noise effects the sound quality at 65mph. You can still here a person talking and the music. I would recommend a standard full face helmet. I tested both types of them and found what best works for me. I would highly recommend this product for anyone.
March 23, 2015
This product works very well with cell phone and communication between drivers.
Only flaw is lack of integration with Harley Davidson blue tooth.
March 23, 2015
I know Im getting my moneys worth
Ill keep it short. I like everything about this headset with two exceptions. Voice commands dont seem to work while Im in motion, and it can sometimes be hard to hear people talking.
I cruise at average speeds of 70mph-80mph on the highway and can still hear my music just fine.
If you have the money you should buy this.
March 21, 2015
I did some research before buying the -20 and everything I learned was affirmed after purchase. I installed one unit on my Shuberth c3 Pro and the other on a Nolan. I used the adhesive plate method and it was quite easy on both helmets.
Pairing is quick and I have paired to iphone 6, Zumo 550 with no issues. The Zumo turn by turn only worked if I paired it before pairing the iPhone,no big deal. Remembering all the button commands took me a while but I have all the basics down after one ride. I'm having custom molded ear buds made in order to listen at lower volumes but honestly the stereo stream from the iPhone was very good quality.
Revzilla is simply the best for customer service, price and support! I recommend the Sena.
March 16, 2015
No more engine whine
My wife had been commenting on spotty connections on the hard-wired J&M units in our Arai RX-Qs wired into the Goldwing system. She also didn't like having to listen to music at the volume I would choose. Bought the dual pack but had one unit that would start buzzing loudly after listening to music for about two minutes. Got an RMA from Sena and returned the main unit and mounting clamp. They replaced it with a complete single unit so I have a box full of boom mikes and usb chargers. New unit worked no problem. Have not tried all the features like FM radio or phone and GPS paired at the same time. Sound quality from my phone at 65-70 is great. No pulsing bass output, but I also have the speakers inside the cheek pad covers. The sound is clear and doesn't require the volume as loud. Will keep tweaking the sensitivity on the VOX intercom. Have it at 5 on both and it is sometimes a bit slow to engage. However, at freeway speed, there must be enough wind noise to activate my wife's intercom. My music was regularly paused as if she was starting to say something even though she wasn't. Once I tapped the intercom off, the connection was rock solid. Absolutely no engine whine which was always in the background when hardwired to the Wing. Even with my phone on a USB charger tied to the bike's electrical system.
Pricey, but even not using all the features, I think it is worth it. Passenger agrees with great clarity and separate volume adjustment. The app is not terribly feature packed, but it is convenient.
March 11, 2015
So far so good
This is by far the best sound quality intercom. I love having long phone conversations on the freeway and then telling the caller that I'm on my bike. They have no idea everytime! Could be a little easier to navigate, but with each firmware update it is improving. Love this product.
March 4, 2015