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Sena SMH-10 and SMH-A0301


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This is my review of the Sena SMH-10 headset and the Sena SMH-A0301 Microphone clamp kit. I have read other reviews posted here for the SMH-10 but I didn't feel they addressed some of the things I have experienced on this unit. I purchased mine on Amazon back in 2012 for $250 for two headsets and bought the additional mic clamp kits for $32 each for my other helmets. I have updated the firmware twice since I purchased them.


Overall, this is a very good product that has worked practically flawlessly since I installed it. It is very well thought out and easy to learn and use. I will talk about the intercom function separate from the phone functionality as they really are different. Pairing with phones and other riders was very easy. Installation kits provide plenty of hardware to mount to most any helmet. Microphones work great but are very directional and very sensitive to proximity of your mouth, the closer the better. Speaker wires are long and the speakers sound pretty good - as good as you could expect from something trying to cut through around 80dB to 100dB of noise. Some people claim it is not loud enough, but I would never want something so loud that I couldn't hear anything else on a bike so, for me, it's loud enough. Everything fit in my Scorpion half helmet and Shoei Quest as both helmets have pockets for speakers. You will want to put the speakers as close to your ears as possible without them being uncomfortable. This ensures fidelity of sound and the installation kit comes with everything you need to make this happen. Using the device is very simple. There is basically a big knob and a small button. The big knob is big so you can operate it even with big sausage-finger winter gloves. The button only needs to be pushed so it is much smaller but easy to find and use. Interfacing is done with either knob or button or a combination of both. Battery life is awesome, I have done 8 hour rides on a full charge with music playing most of the time and not worn the battery down to 0. Charging is done via a USB 5VDC cable and I have charged the device while riding in all weather conditions and had no problem with functionality.


I can only discuss iphone paired operation as that is what I have always used. I would imagine Android phones work just as well (if not better than my iphone). There are other configurations integrating separate GPS devices discussed in the manual, but I have never had a need to use them. Pairing with my iphone was very easy and my wife has hers paired with her phone allowing both of us to independently use and control our own device. You can also get analog audio to your ears via a 1/8 inch jack on the mating plate so you don't HAVE to have a bluetooth device to listen to it. With the iphone paired up I am able to make and receive phone calls (from the phone), have navigation (from the phone), music (from the phone), listen to and dictate text messages (via phone voice commands). I mention these features because when this device is paired up with a voice commanded phone, the unit becomes a powerful tool for a cyclist because you can ask for and get directions to places without having to stop and look at the phone or listen to a potentially important text or phone call without having to stop. The SMH-10 also has a voice prompt function but I had to turn it off because it would get triggered by wind noise or a sneeze. But with a full faced helmet, I have done experiments where people told me they could not tell I was on a highway riding at speed on a motorcycle.


Another great feature of this system is the ability to pull the main control unit off and quickly snap it onto another helmet. I usually ride with a half helmet but when I do long trips I use a full face helmet. Putting a SMH-A0301 kit ($32) on each helmet allows me to put the main control unit on any helmet and be ready to go. I have read reviews where people say that the device stops working because the electrical contacts on the control unit or the mating plate on the helmet get corroded. I have 4 helmets and have used them in all types of weather and I can say that as the years have gone by, 'sometimes' you may need to wiggle the main control unit because one speaker doesn't work. But I have never had a flat out failure with either mating plate or main control unit in the years I have used them in all weather conditions. That's just my experience.


The intercom is where I feel the product is a little inconsistent and lacking. Pairing is easy but if you have more than one helmet paired, you need to remember if it was the first, second or third. In order to talk to the first helmet, you tap the knob once, for the second helmet, you tap twice, etc. Also, the actual voice to audio are about 1/2 second delayed, this is not an issue, I'm just pointing it out. Like any wireless device, the range is always a bit of marketing BS (and I don't mean bachelor of science). In order for a consumer, non licensed, FCC approved device to get the range any of the manufacturers claim you would need to be in a completely unobstructed environment, ie, both you and your helmet friend are way up in the air with absolutely nothing around you and even then you may get RF interference that will curtail the advertised range. So, in my experience, in a direct line of sight, this device gets around 250 feet of range. This is usually enough range but once you go around a corner out of sight, it drops to maybe 150 feet. I have found myself having to telephone another rider because he was a little too far away because of traffic. Sena claims 1/2 mile range, I simply have not ever gotten anywhere near that on city, highway or mountain riding ( I have three other friends with Sena devices as well). But the biggest shortcoming on the intercom is that it is not available immediately. That is, when you press the knob to talk to someone, it takes 1 or 2 seconds for the other person to come on (seems to depend on their distance). That may not sound like a long time, but if you are doing 60mph and you want to tell someone to be aware of something ahead, 1 or 2 seconds is a long time. In my opinion, this is way too long to wait and I find myself avoiding the intercom unless it is really necessary. You tap and have to wait for a beep to tell you you're paired. But once it is on and connected it offers excellent full duplex communication between you and up to three other people. I have never communicated with more than one other rider at a time so I can't comment on the conference intercom feature, but it is possible. Another great feature is that your riding buddies do NOT need to have a Sena, as the SMH-10 will pair with SOME other manufacturers, but not all. That's cool!


So, would I recommend this product? ... ABSOLUTELY YES. Excellent communication tool. :thumbsup:

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