one guy's review
Gear used:<br>Sena SMH5 with boom mic, model number SMH5-01<br>HJC SyMax helmet, size XL<br>Samsung Note 3 and S4<br><br>Hi there!<br><br>I know little to nothing about these things: smartphones, bluetooth, and helmet comms so I suppose this is a review from a relic.<br>After using earbuds plugged into an audio source, then putting earbuds in, putting helmet on, and if the earbuds don't get knocked loose/pulled out, stowing away the wire and trying to keep the volume control accessible enough to blindly fumble at it later seemed like a giant pain in the butt.<br>It was a pain in the butt just reading that mess, wasn't it? Since bluetooth stereo earbuds are $50-$100 already, I thought I would try this.<br><br>I called revzilla since I had never tried a helmet system before, and the gentleman I spoke to was very patient, even with my stupid questions like "it talks to my phone, right?". he even advised me that since he had never tried it in a Symax, if I didn't feel that it would fit, I shouldn't buy it. I like that kind of honesty, where they would rather have lost a sale on one item than have a disappointed customer. Well, feeling daring I bought it anyway, if I goof it's on me.<br><br>next day it showed up, and took a whopping 5 minutes to install, after which I read the installation guide. it was that easy. In my case, I could run the right speaker wire across the top, under the mesh lining in the helmet. Later I tried running it behind the neckpad as they suggest just to see if that presented any problems, that worked fine as well.<br>Installation is simply a breeze. Wires are long enough to reach where you want to go no matter how you route it, and everything left over fits neatly under the left cheekpad with the boom mic holder. The clamp is very solid, put your helmet on, pick a comfortable spot on the left to mount it where you can easily reach it with your hand, and tighten it down with the supplied allen wrench. It mounts on the helmet closer than a teenage couple at the mall, no giant unsightly gap. clip the main unit in place, and plug in the wire harness. It takes longer to describe it than do it. Both the clamp to helmet and main unit to clamp connections are very very solid, and the wire harness plug has a pretty decent retaining clip that holds the plug in place with a little pressure to help seal the plug<br><br>The main unit has a light rubber texture like some water resistant phones or phone cases. if you want thin shiny plastic that creaks, buy one of the no-name units on ebay from china.<br>The buttons have a tactile click, even when wearing gloves, and the jog feature works accurately. Of course money has to be saved somewhere, and it is on the parts that go inside the helmet. For instance the connector for the mic to plug in with the speakers looks like it would be more at home indoors and may die horribly if it was dumped in water or stepped on. The good news is after installation it's protected between the helmet and the cheekpad. The bad news is, you can't toss your helmet into a lake. Well you could, but you'd have a very wet head going home. The bits exposed to the elements seem to be very sturdy and immune to rain.<br><br>Sound is pretty good considering all factors. The SMH5 now comes with the speakers from the SMH5FM and the SMH10. I have no firsthand experience with the smaller original SMH5 speakers, however common sense will tell you that with tiny speakers, a small increase in size will make a large improvement. Nonetheless speaker adjustment is most definitely the key to getting the most out of this system. experimenting with speaker placement, even just a little, can lead to wildly different results. I tried removing the velcro'd earpads in the helmet, mounting the speakers to the shell directly, but that allowed too much road noise, and the Symax is already too noisy. Placing the speakers under the pads returned what little quiet the helmet has and took off some harshness of the sound. It does however drop the audio volume a little, so you have to turn it up, getting the harshness back a bit at higher speeds, 70-80 mph. what I decided on was sticking the speakers on top of the pad. it brings the speaker closer, but without touching your ear/head at all either wearing the helmet or taking it off/putting it on. Having them closer also allows a lower volume and therefore better sound<br>Moving the speaker placement just a little left/right up/down changes things dramatically. Don't be disappointed when you take your best guess at placement and it sounds weak or awful. move the speakers around. With the helmet on, buckled, ready to ride, take a dry erase marker and mark on the outside of the helmet where you think your ear cavity is. take the helmet off and use that as a starting position. if you get it right on the first try you are one lucky bugger and I resent you. hah! so, for the rest of us mortals, move the speakers around, even a little change in location, a few mm, makes a difference. find what works best for you.<br>Adjusting the boom mic is faster, place the mic at the 12 o'clock in front of your lips, almost if not touching, hold it there and bend the end with the holder to the left side. stick it in place under the cheekpad, put the extra wire length for the speakers and connector in there with it, snap the left cheekpad back on, done.<br>The mic is designed to be as close to your lips as possible to help pick up only your voice and make it's job of filtering out ambient noise easier. You will not sound like you're eating the mic or yelling on the other end of a call, even though it seems like you would with the mic that close. noise cancelling does work on this product, so does the auto-volume adjust stuff. both are pretty transparent, nobody<br>has known I was on my bike calling so far, and my bike is anything but quiet. The automatic volume adjust with road/wind noise is almost seamless, it's unnoticeable until you suddenly close the throttle after cruising and there's a split second before the volume turns itself down.<br><br>Intercom I have not tried because I don't know anyone with one. for what it's worth, in the box is literature that says the SMH5 can now communicate with other brands after the firmware update. The firmware update is simple as well, the website will guide you through few clicks on the computer and done<br><br>Ease of use, well, all I did was turn on the SMH5, select it on the phone's screen, and bam it was done.<br>Controls! a bit confusing at first if you haven't used this sort of device before, probably around ride #2 I had it down instinctively. Phone button is a bit misnamed, it's more accurately your general "hey phone, wake up I have something for you to do" button. Push it, say "call xxxx" or "play music", whatever you would normally say when using your phone's voice command and it does your bidding. I've even sent/recieved texts while riding. Jog control for moving between tracks and volume control are both easily controlled manually with the jog wheel/button, and I find that easier than waking up the phone with voice command every time I want to change it.<br>spin turn it to change volume, press and turn it to move between tracks. I've tried the SMH5 with Samsung's Note 3 and S4. I'm assuming most if not all "droid" phones would work the same. Sorry, I have no apple products.<br><br>what I would change:<br>1: add a 3.5mm input on the harness for people who have earbuds that work well under the helmet already. personally I prefer the speakers for simplicity, especially taking the helmet on/off, but the option would be nice.<br>2: I'd pay the $22.50 for the FM model. Sure most FM radio stations pretty much sucks these days, but where else are you going to find a FM radio that fits in your existing system for 20 bucks. I didn't think that one through.<br><br>I'm taking one star off for ease of use because I'm a guy who loves manuals on paper, but I have to admit putting it online must be a lot cheaper than printing thousands of manuals, and I'll take the savings.<br><br>Taking one star for sound, because while my helmet is noisy, it also turned out to have room for a deeper speaker and better sound all other factors being the same. Your helmet may not. Speakers measure 1.68" in diameter (including molded nipple for the wire) and 0.29" deep.<br><br>Taking one star off durability simply because I've only had it a few days. It seems very sturdy, but only time gives a solid 100% answer.<br><br>and lastly, I wish I could give it MORE stars in Bang for the Buck<br><br>Overall, I'm a happy camper. It not only delivered what I expected, but more. I'd recommend this to anyone getting a first comm system, or anyone replacing a unit that's getting a bit long in the tooth. It's not often you find something at a bargain price that actually works as you hoped, and better. Is it perfect, no. You'll never mistake this for your home theater dolby surround 5.1, 1000 watt twin turbo flame breathing system at home. But I would hate to see what a comm system that completely eliminates road and wind noise costs. If you're content with listening to the radio in your dad's old pick-up truck like when you were a kid, it's for you. That's about where the sound quality is at, and that's enough for me.<br>I'd upload some pictures, but the website isn't accepting any right now.<br><br>Hope this helps, have fun and keep the shiny side up!