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Upgrading Autocom Speakers for $10


UberXY

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I have had Autocom speakers in my Nolan helmet for the last 18 months or so. I have heard that there is a sweet placement spot that make them work well, but I was never able to find it.

 

I bought a set of Koss earphones on Amazon for $9.95. They have over-the-ear clips that come off easily, and the speakers are basically the same size as the Autocom ones. I cut the wires to the Autocom speakers and cut the wires to the Koss speakers, and then soldered the two together. All you need is a razor blade, a soldering iron, and some heat shrink tubing.

 

Three improvements I noticed at 70 mph:

 

1. Volume - the Koss speakers are much louder. I had to turn to volume down from its previous setting.

 

2. Bass - I can hear bass tones now, which I could not with the Autocom.

 

3. Clarity - I can actually recognize what song is being played, and what the announcers are saying. This is a big improvement.

 

So more volume, more bass, more clarity - well worth $10 and a half hour.

 

415DBNZVTPL._AA280_.jpg

 

 

 

Koss head phones

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I like your solution and especially the price. thumbsup.gif

 

Are the Koss also the same thinkness, and I'm assuming you used velcro to keep the speakers in place.

 

Chris...

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I like your solution and especially the price. thumbsup.gif

 

Are the Koss also the same thinkness, and I'm assuming you used velcro to keep the speakers in place.

 

Chris...

 

About the same thickness, and I use some square velcro pads to hold the speakers in place.

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I'm about to install a pair of Autocom speakers into my and my SO helmets, now will go and find the Koss replacements. BTW, did you worry about polarity?

 

Chris...

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I'm about to install a pair of Autocom speakers into my and my SO helmets, now will go and find the Koss replacements. BTW, did you worry about polarity?

 

Chris...

 

I didn't because I am virtually deaf in one ear and the phasing would be unnoticed by me. I guess from an acoustic view yes you should preserve the polarity; from an electrical view it makes no difference.

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maxfrankel

I dare say any rider who could hear the difference between a correctly phased and out of phase (reversed polarity) speaker while cruising at 60+ mph has to be part canine!

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  • 1 month later...

What's sad is if these headphones are being sold for that, the speaker cost is like $2 (max). And the megabuck stock Autocom speakers can't outperform that? How sad is that?

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I used to have a Starcom unit, then changed to an Intaride. Whilst I am happier with the Intaride unit as a whole, the speakers on the Starcom were far better. I just unsoldered and swapped them over.

 

It is sad that the makers of these expensive systems (read Autocom) can't supply the highest quality speakers possible for the prices they charge. Then again I suppose it comes down to bottom lines on the balance sheet...

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Suppose you wanted to skip the Autocom and just install the Koss speakers in your helmet:

 

How would you wire up a microphone to match?

 

Is there a good microphone source, to mate with the Koss speakers?

 

Clearly, my knowledge of these things is limited, so any suggestions are much appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well, I did the upgrade.

 

Notes: The Autocom speakers are even worse than you might know- remove the foam cover, and you find that it's not a big driver at all, it's a tiny one and it just pops into the big oval plastic ring to make it look bigger. What a joke.

 

If ear space in your helmet is critical, the Koss is a little thicker. It's also a lot larger in diameter than just the Autocom speaker w/o the plastic ring around it.

 

The sound is better. The speaker has higher apparent efficiency, yielding a little more volume. Was it night and day? No. I also got a weird resonance in one of the Koss speakers at real world volume levels. You may have to snip off the little nub on the back of the Koss that clips it to the ear clip to make it fit in your helmet well. I did.

 

This fix did not solve my inadequate sound levels problem. I'm using my ER6is now. Dammit. I didn't want to have to, but the system leaves me no choice.

 

I went back to the Autocom speakers, but without the big plastic ring- they will be backup to earbuds, or for times I don't want to screw with inserting and removing earbuds. I went with the smaller speakers to maximize room for my ears in the helmet.

 

Of note, here - I contacted Autocom about just wiring a 3.5mm jack into my helmet wiring instead of having their big interface box thing dangling. The support rep's email was "We don't recommend it, and it will void your warranty, but it should work." I specifically told him that the 3.5mm jack in question has common grounds in my query.

 

So, I did it last night - got about 5 minutes from home this AM, and the right side went to pure static. Eek! My factory radio (which supplies tunes to the Autocom from Sirius via FM modulator and cassette adapter for my MP3 player) was at 15 volume- trying to run it where I'll need to for the pillion to hear through her helmet speakers...

 

I shut down and restarted the bike, set volume at 10 and it was fine all the way to work, but I'm concerned long term so I'm going to buy the stupid $50 cord - I note the pinout on the plugs has independent grounds for each speaker, and they wouldn't have done that if the amp design didn't care, I'm guessing...

 

So now I have a new Autocom problem brewing - she's going to complain it's too quiet in her helmet due to the drastic difference between the volume I'll get from my Etymotics and what she'll get from the Autocom speakers (I guess I'll stick the Koss speakers in her helmet and see if that helps her out). I've heard this problem is unsolvable and if I use an analog volume control to turn down my volume, the amp's going to be running so hard I'll hear the distortion through the very clear Etymotics.

 

My wife's going to be mad at me about her music being barely audible and when she yells at me about it it's going to be loud in those ER6is.

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The $52 Autocom cable w/ a box on the end has resistors in it that attenuate the headphones somewhat, so balance won't be an issue - Hooray - it works well.

 

The resistors can be changed to further alter sound levels as your install requires.

 

The literature with the cable also specifically says it's needed to adapt the Autocom independent ground wire system to the common ground system used by headphones - I guess the tech support guy hadn't read it?

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I'd been using a pair of thin helmet speakers I found online for about $40 for the past several months... they worked fair, but had no low end, and in the last couple weeks I'd noticed the left speaker sounded like it was failing. Right about that time I saw this thread, so I bought the Koss speakers and installed them today.

 

These are great... and the price can't be beat. I'm just piping my iPod straight to them... at full volume they could handle 95% of my songs w/o distortion... and full volume was way too loud for my ears, and WAY too loud to be safe while riding. Low end was actually audible, and was the only distortion I heard when I cranked up the volume.

 

Only complaint would be the thickness... but even with my huge melon, they only 'touch' my ears and don't put any pressure on them.

 

My previous pair came with sticky-backed cloth holders that I stuck inside the helmet. This time I noticed that I could neatly tuck them inside the cheek pads, between the foam and the cloth cover... works great, and required no glue/tape/other to keep them in place.

 

Thanks for posting about these! Wish I had known about these right from the start.

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  • 2 weeks later...
markgoodrich

This Koss idea looks good, but I've another idea (actually, two), perhaps some of you more knowledgeable folks can comment on it. I've got an Autocom system, and have never been able to get the helmet speakers to work, plus they press uncomfortably on my ears. I wear custom earphones, but have problems with irritation, and want to switch to speakers which produce enough volume to be heard clearly while using soft foam earplugs.

 

My first idea is to remove the itty Autocom speaker from the large housing they hide it in, and cut out a small bit of foam in the helmet, recessing it, but frankly I'm skeptical it will work, as the elusive 'sweet spot' is so darn hard to find.

 

My second idea is really the one that I'd like expert comment on. I'm on the verge of chucking the Autocom and switching to Baehr, but noticed this evening that one can purchase just the helmet bits, including mike, for about $120. I'm wondering if I couldn't simply wire the Baehr speakers, which appear to be MUCH LARGER than the Autocoms, in place of the Autocom speakers, as the Koss deal was done, again cutting out foam to mount the speakers flush with the helmet liner, and get great sound without having to make an entire system switch? [Yes, yes, I know, I can try the Koss method, and if I don't like it, step to the Baehr, but if the Koss doesn't work out, I'll have a very large hole cut into my helmet foam.]

 

Here, by the way, is some pretty good pictorial advice on installing the Baehr speakers in helmets, courtesy a Danish site:

 

http://www.baehronline.com/default.asp?Action=Menu&Item=105

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Mark -

 

If you recess the speakers, you will move them farther from your ear, making it more difficult to hear them. There is a comfort trade off to be sure, but I never got to a point where I had a comfortable helmet and audible music with helmet speakers.

 

The larger speakers are not necessarily louder. The main advantage is fidelity and more bass from the larger driver. Even if they are more efficient, say 101db (actual for the Koss) as compared to 98db (a guess on my part) the difference of 3 db efficiency is just beyond perceptible. This rating is the sound pressure at 1 meter with 1 watt of input, and is standardized, so unless you could find a set of ear speakers that were 110db or better efficiency, you will not hear a major difference in volume. Run through headphone specs of models on Amazon- there are some w/ really high efficiency ratings like 113db.

 

Now, a larger increase in volume may be realized if the larger speaker diameter increases the amount of the speaker that's over your ear canal, but in my experience these factors did not combine to give me enough of an increase in volume to avoid the inevitable when I tried the Koss...

 

Which led me to noise isolating earplug speakers.

 

 

They work 3x better than helmet speakers unless you are doing 30 mph.

 

 

 

Another factor that is not measured in specs is how that 113db efficient speaker sounds - is the frequency response crap, is it breaking up?

 

I wish there was a helmet speaker that would allow me to use regular plugs and have decent volume and fidelity, but I haven't found one and frankly I don't think I will. The noise floor is so much lower with in-ear plugs, and they don't have to overcome the ambient noise AND attenuating plugs for you to hear them.

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If you can wear soft ear plugs, why not buy a set of Etymotic ER6i that come with foam plugs that you insert the speaker into?

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markgoodrich

Ah, see, this is why I posted the query, figuring someone with actual knowledge would reply, as Fugu did, with excellent information. Thanks.

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markgoodrich
If you can wear soft ear plugs, why not buy a set of Etymotic ER6i that come with foam plugs that you insert the speaker into?

 

Good question. I was hoping to disconnect my ears from wires, simplify all the connections I have to deal with. Failing that, and Fugu makes it pretty clear I'm not going to find what I want, if I can't get my custom earphones to fit better, your suggestion is my next attempt.

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I am wearing Etymotics now, and the problem is clearance between the helmet shell and my ear. The helmet liner presses on the ear and deforms it and rubs on the end of the earplug, which gets real uncomfortable.

 

Foam plugs don't stick out as far as the Etymotics do, (the difference being the length of the driver element) and custom plugs don't seem to stick out as far either, being molded only to the end of the ear canal and then ideally having the wire/ air hose exit in such a way as to not cause additional interference.

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I was looking at the speakers at a local store.

Can someone let me know the Koss model number for this model.

The one I was looking at had a round cord. Is the round cord has

two leads in it? How difficult is to separate the round cord so it

can be soldered to the split parallel Autocom cord.

 

Thanks, Miklos Shoreline, WA

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bakerzdosen
I was looking at the speakers at a local store.

Can someone let me know the Koss model number for this model.

KSC75

 

I doubt this will help, but the SKU is 2129914857

 

Mine were under $15 shipped. The price on Amazon seems to fluctuate depending on the vendor and the date.

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The Autocom helmet speakers terminate in a male JST connector. These also seem to be used for radio control models. Using these means you don't have to destroy the Autocom item to achieve connectivity to the Koss phones, which leaves you a little less committed!

 

You can buy these JST connectors, complete with leads, from www.component-shop.co.uk

 

Four of these leads cost me $5 including postage within the UK. No doubt mailing to the USA would cost a tad extra, although doubtless this item is also available in the USA.

 

Great service, arrived 2 days after order.

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