If you’re anything like me, you love listening to music while riding. It’s the best feeling in the world. I like to have my iPhone connected at all times, playing music, but be able to answer calls at an instant when I get them, so naturally, i gravitated towards getting a Bluetooth headset. After doing extensive research into the best products on offer at the moment, I decided to go for the SENA SMH10.
The SMH10 is a Bluetooth v2.1 class 1 headset. I could explain what that means for the headset, but in simple terms, it features the latest technologies to make it better than ever. The v2.1 class is actually three times faster than the v.10 one, which transfers information at 3 megabits per second. Its range is quoted as being 980 yards from the intercom function, and upon testing it, I can confirm it’s accurate. You can use the headset with other devices connected to Bluteooth, audio devices as well as GPS systems. For the best motorcycle helmet headphones, check out my post via the link.
The SENA SMH10 is a modular headset, meaning it’s customizable with various different mounts, a couple of microphone setups and a few earphone options. What this basically gives you is endless customization and a great degree of versatility, because you can attach the SMH10 to just about any size and shape of helmet. There’s a semi-permanent clamp which attaches to the helmet, and it’s wired with earphones and the microphone, as well as featuring a docking plate for the entire unit. Inside, it houses the battery, the electronics and the controls. What this means, is that you can remove the unit to charge it, without having to take the entire helmet with you to the charger. Very practical.
Charging is done via a wall charger, USB cord or even a DC adapter. When fully empties, it requires 2.5 hours to charge up to full. The battery lasts for 12 hours in talk time (when completely full to being with), and up to 10 days if it’s only in standby. I tested it by leaving it unused for 4 days and it almost reached 50% battery life, so i can confirm the claims. If you have a DC outlet on the bike you can even charge it while moving.
I had high expectations from the SMH10, especially since it comes from a reputable company like SENA, and I have to say I wasn’t surprised. Most headsets are fidgety and cumbersome, especially when you’re trying to set them up, but not the SENA. Initial setup was a piece of cake, and so was the first usage. You immediately get used to it, and the iPhone consistently and reliably connects with the unit without any real issues or delays. Voice dialing was perfect nine out of ten times, and the tenth time it was probably the phone’s fault and not the headset.
The call clarity is something I haven’t experienced before on a headset such as this one. To give you an idea at how good it was, consider this: it was at least twice as good as most in-car Bluetooth systems. Yes, it was better than a premium Bluetooth system developed to work indoors, in a cabin with no air to rush through it. Adjusting the volume was easy thanks to the simple dial for turning it up and down, and so was answer incoming calls. The only small complaint I have is the slight delay present from the moment you press answer to the moment it actually picks up, but it’s just a personal OCD of mine, as the lag is really not that noticeable for anyone else to be bothered with I think.
Motorcycle Helmet Bluetooth Comparisons
I tested it against other headsets as well, and here’s what i found.
SENA SMH10 vs. SENA 20S
The Sena 20S is basically the SMH10’s bigger brother. It offers more features such as Bluetooth 4.1, Crystal-clear HD and Audio Multitasking, but it doesn’t lose any reliability. If anything, it’s even more attractive, partly thanks to the design, partly thanks to the extra features. It’s a luxurious version of the SMH10. If you don’t mind spending more money on a headset, go for it. Otherwise, stick with the SMH10, as it will do just as good of a job 99 percent of the time.
SENA SMH10 vs. Scala Q3
The Scala Q3 is an entirely different beast to the SENA. It offers bike-to-bike Intercom between four different bikers at a massive 1 km range, receives GPS instructions via Bluetooth and can connect to 2 mobile phones with the dual handsfree profile at once. It’s the ideal headset if you’re riding with your buddies, but even on its own, it’s one of the best headsets I’ve tried.
SENA SMH10 vs. Cardo G9
Again, another good headset, but not great. The G9, like the Scala, is used mostly for group rides, but can be used solo. It doesn’t have any faults, but it doesn’t excel in anything either. It’s a good all-rounder, but both the SENA and the Scala do a much better job. The speakers aren’t up to par with the rest and the microphone is slightly worse. Still a decent headset if you’ve got them however.