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Discussion Starter #1
I am considering purchasing a comms device mainly for calls and music and voice commands, but after going through product reviews it seems like there isn't a clear-cut winner in the space.

I'm fairly new to the bike world, but the two main brands seem to be Cardo & Sena. Most head-to-heads I have come across give the edge to Cardo. They offer voice commands at a better price. So great, Cardo it is right? But I've read that the build quality is suspect, with many reviewers mentioning faulty charge ports across the packtalk line.

Another issue is audio quality. Most reviews give the edge to Uclear but the device(s) themselves are not great.

It would be good to have something with a good build and the audio of Uclear. Is there anything on the market to recommend?

TL;DR - Don't care about mesh. Care about audio quality and call/voice commands "ok google."

Thanks!
 

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For the use you have the $50 on line units from the auction sites will work perfectly okay.
With both Sena and Cardo you are paying for them being class leading products and having class leading features. You don’t need either.
No helmet mounted comms works well or consistently with voice commands only as there are all sorts of issues like how much wind noise is generated inspire the helmet and where the mic is situated in relation to your mouth and how clearly you talk to be considered. What works for one person may not work for somebody else.
I don’t use voice it’s to inconsistent starting and answering phone calls requires a simple tap of a button using my left hand.
 

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I have an 'entry-level' Cardo (FreeCom2). It works fine for what I need from it. It was originally bought to pair with a pillion but that's a whole other story.

Voice commands, I'm with K1W1, don't even bother trying now. The buttons on the Cardo are a bit fiddly at first but you soon get used to how it all works and they hook up to a phone app now which is a lot easier if you're stopped!

You do have the option to upgrade the speakers (in fact you have this option anyway and I believe there are some pretty good speakers out there) but as K1W1 was saying, what with wind noise and other riding kit like ear plugs, helmet padding etc, the sound will never be top notch.

I listen to talk shows and music but very quietly, answer infrequent calls and sometimes call home to issue an ETA, minimal stuff – I don't particularly like silence but I'm not looking to get lost in the music, especially on the twisties, that's just me I suppose, each to their own.

I'm more than happy with it but have no other point of comparison. It sounds like you need something fairly basic, for the money I was happy with the FreeCom but that's all relative too. Let us know what you decide.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I appreciate the input from you both.

If wind noise wasn't an issue would a voice command such as making a phone call or asking youtube music to play a song or playlist be possible?

You do have the option to upgrade the speakers (in fact you have this option anyway and I believe there are some pretty good speakers out there)
This is one of the reasons that led me to post here. I was hoping not to have to buy an upgraded set. Having good sound is important in what I am looking for but if there is no clear winner in all fields then I will upgrade to uclear, unless there is something better out there that I'm not aware of.

Any issues with the the charger port breaking, or battery life?
 

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You are riding a naked motorcycle with a relatively loyd exhaust note and I hope for your future hearing ability you are wearing ear plugs. Hi fidelity sound is not going to happen so save that for the lounge room and the home stereo.
You don’t want the sound to overcome your concentration all you really want is some background music to stay relaxed.
I have no issues with Sena standard speakers with earplugs I can quite easily hear the music without it being overpowering and I can certainly communicate via phone or Bluetooth without problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You are riding a naked motorcycle with a relatively loyd exhaust note and I hope for your future hearing ability you are wearing ear plugs. Hi fidelity sound is not going to happen so save that for the lounge room and the home stereo.
You don’t want the sound to overcome your concentration all you really want is some background music to stay relaxed.
I have no issues with Sena standard speakers with earplugs I can quite easily hear the music without it being overpowering and I can certainly communicate via phone or Bluetooth without problems.
I completely agree. Concentration is my number 1 priority, but I am concerned with audio quality in general - the "tinny" sound that so many reviewers seem to describe.
 

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Any issues with the the charger port breaking, or battery life?
I've had no issues in the couple of years I've had my Cardo + it's had a couple of good soakings when I got caught out, then I've never busted the turn-signal switch on my Icon but many on here have ;). And to clarify, the sound isn't completely shite with the standard speakers, it's just not Bose Surround Sound ;). One thing to note I'm assuming goes for all comms kits; situating the speakers correctly takes a bit of messing around and they need to be in just the right position or they really are crap!
 

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I have a packtalk bold setup and use it on various motorcycles, naked and fully faired. The voice commands work great. You have to give it a pause, but the integration is quite good. I formerly had a SENA 10something, with the large jog dial, and 10 years ago, it blew away the Cardo products, but today, I believe Cardo has the edge. FYI, I use in ear molded monitors, so I can keep volume levels quite low, while isolating from wind noise, etc. I have used it on a 10 hour trip, made several calls using SIRI, volume up and down, etc.
 

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I’ve had a Sena SMH10 for about 6 years. It’s clear, easy to use and the battery lasts ages. It’s a good bike to bike intercom for line of sight, and I take calls on it during my commute.
My mates all have various Sena set ups. They all work seamlessly and reliably. It’s been great value (given its use).
 

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I have several Sena units and they are excellent but expensive. I can make a phone call at 60 mph and the person on the other side cannot tell. I have the SRL2 and SMH5. I'll be purchasing a set of the 50R this winter to upgrade the second set of helmets that are using the SMH5 headsets. I wear earplugs and crank up the headset. This protects my ears while allowing normal volume communications. For good music, I use Bragi headsets to seal off my ears from road/motorcycle noise (have the Termignoni race exhaust), but the Sena speakers are in the helmet cranked up, which gives me normal volume comms. I plan on using in-ear headphones with the 50R instead of the helmet speakers, which gives me the best of both worlds. I also use a Sena SM10 and SR10 (different bikes) to send wireless audio to my helmet for a radar detector.

You can protect your ears and have excellent sound with motorcycle communications and music, but the cost is higher.

-0260
 

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I’ve used Sena units for years now. Not particularly out of loyalty but my friends and family now use Sena too, so best to stick with the same.
I’ve had the smh10, 20s and now a 50r

All of them have been great for taking/making calls and listening to music. But not without some effort on my part.
It takes some trial and error to get the best spot for the speakers and mic for sound quality. I’ve fitted units to probably 9-10 helmets, for myself and others. It’s always a faff and I rarely get it perfect first time.
The quality of the sound you get will depend on your willingness to do this leg work and it depends a lot on the helmet itself.

As for the best unit... for your requirements, only the latest units support voice only activation of phone assistants.
Older units have voice controls but they do not allow you to trigger Siri or Google assistant via “Hey ___” and I suspect are pretty tragic, as are most voice assistants not developed by the very richest IT companies.
My older Sena units, it was a single button press to activate Siri though, easy but I do really like being completely hands free with my new 50R.

I wouldn’t recommend it though. Expensive, hard to install and you can’t detach the unit to use with several helmets.

The Cardo Freecom 4+ seems a cost effective way of getting the latest “Hey ___” ability and decent features.
It’s got some of the best speakers, it’s quite slim, has a jog wheel (which is easier than buttons) and you’re not paying for MESH connectivity you won’t use.
It’s what I’d have bought if my girlfriend, Dad and friends didn’t already have Sena units.
 

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I have used the cheap comms units, Sena, and now have the Packtalk Bold with JBL speaker "upgrade". They sound terrible and NONE of them sound impressive using the included earphones, partially because it's so tricky to get them positioned exactly over your ear canals.

If you want the best sound, you need to get a set of small, wired earbuds that will double as earplugs. My wife and I use the AGPTEK "Sleep" earbuds from Amazon, ( Amazon.com: AGPTEK Sleep Earbuds, in-Ear Earphones for Sleeping with 3 Sizes Ultra-Light Soft Silicone, Noise Isolating Headphone Perfect for Sleeping, Insomnia, Side Sleeper, Air Travel, Meditation & Relaxation: Home Audio & Theater ) and they allow us to actually hear each other clearly at speed, and the music audio is very impressive for the size/price. The connection for the headphones on the Cardos is a standard headphone mini plug, so I just unplug the helmet-mounted headphones, (I leave them in there for emergency use in case I forget my wired headphones) and then plug in my wired headphones. It does mean taking a moment before hopping on to sit your helmet down in front of you, put in the earbuds, then pop on the helmet and drop the wire down the front of the jacket, but it becomes routine very quickly and is totally worth it if you want decent audio.

Hope that helps some. Let me know if you have any other questions.
 

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They sound terrible and NONE of them sound impressive using the included earphones, partially because it's so tricky to get them positioned exactly over your ear canals.
It depends what level of sound quality you are expecting... Any speaker inside a helmet is going to be limited in audio fidelity, just because there is so much wind and not a lot of space.
Without sealing off most external noises, you're right, you'll never get car hifi quality sound.

Personally, I HATE faffing around with cables and in ear pods. It was the motivation behind buying my first Sena. Before that, I used a decent pair or bluetooth "wireless" workout headphones.
Worked well for music but making a call was impossible as you need a mic right in front of your mouth and really aggressive noise filtering. Also the buds would often come out of my ears, or go flying when I took my helmet off.
The worst was if one earbud comes out a little and not the other. Your brain can't adjust to the difference in wind noise and it's deafening in that one ear.

There's also sometimes a question of legality of using in ear headphones . It varies country to country and no doubt state to state in the US. It's legal here in the UK but illegal in France as an example.
If well setup inside a decently quiet helmet, the Sena and Cardo units are plenty good enough for making calls and for background music.

The improved speakers in my 50R are noticably better than the older ones and the JBL ones for the cardo are reviewied as being about the same. They manage to keep a bit more of the bass and distort less at high volumes. I listen to podcasts no problem and enjoy having a soundtrack to ride to but see the music as more of a background thing, than a proper listening experience.
Wearing earplugs massively improves things. Most of my riding is a city commute now, so I dont bother with earplugs but on longer rides, you lose a lot less of the bass to wind noise with plugs in.

I happily settle for passable audio quality, in favour of removing any cables or extra steps needed when putting my gear on. I also find in ear headphones or most ear plugs block too much noise for my liking, but thats personal preference.
If you want to make calls while riding though, you'll need a comms unit, to get a mic placed right in front of your mouth on the chin bar.
 
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