By Owen Quarles
Sena SMH10B-10 Review
This is a review of my new Sena SMH10 Bluetooth Headset and how well it functions for my particular application. Spoiler alert! It works extremely well! The Sena is a replacement for a three year old Scala Cardo Q2 headset. I considered a new Scala 4 but the reviews were not stellar. I have tried several different wired systems over the years but have a need to go wireless for some of my activities. I have used starcom, kenedy, rider and a couple others. Basically I need connectivity between the headset and the following items: 2 GPSs, phone, MP3, intercom, ham/wx band radio. Why so much stuff? I have only one motorcycle and it needs to meet all the requirements for its intended duties; pleasure rides, long distance endurance rides (IBA), touring, bicycle charity ride escort (Motorcycle Marshal), and anything else that comes to mind. The idea is to throw my leg over the FJR1300, turn on the headset and go. No fuss, no hassle, just go. I will not discuss the installation and set up of all this equipment here. Only the bluetooth connectivity and headset operation.
Here are the general equipment specs:
Headset - Sena SMH10B-10 FW V4.1, BT V3.0
GPSs - Garmin Zumo 550
Ham/WX Radio - Yeasu FTM10R Transceiver, AM/FM/VHF/UHF, Dual channel Bluetooth
Phone - Apple iPhone 4
The Sena SMH10 allows several connection profiles including Headset Profile, Hands-free Profile (HFP), Advanced Audio Distribution Profile (A2DP), Audio Video Remote control Profile (AVRCP). I have yet to try all the possible profile combinations but have already found that by simply using HFP and A2DP everything works as I need. With the multiple connects and the availability of the SM10 Dual Stream Stereo Transmitter (dongle), which allows wired audio connections, the connectivity is nearly limitless. The basic helmet mount comes with a single stereo 3.5mm input. My particular needs have been meet without having to acquire the SM10 dongle.
The old Scala Q2 worked pretty well but two major problems were the short battery life (3-4hrs) when connected to the ham radio, and the fact that it could not be paired to anything else when the ham radio was in use. When not using the ham radio, it was paired to another headset (intercom) and the GPS which also paired to the phone and those worked well also. Battery life was then extended to a more realistic 6 hours or so. The Sena allows for multiple connections via HFP profile and allows me to connect to the ham radio, GPS, and intercom at the same time. I use A2DP profile for the GPS to allow stereo MP3 streaming. Another plus for the Sena is the available volume is 3x that of the Scala. Instead of straining to hear, I am able to run it at about 75% volume at highway speeds. The audio is clearer and has more bass than the Scala even though the speakers are only slightly thicker. With the helmet on, I can fill up with gas at the pump, walk inside the store while still hearing and talking on the radio or phone. While assisting a down or injured rider, I can stay in contact via the ham radio with out having to carry a separate hand held radio on my belt. Audio reports from the phone and ham radio have been very positive. Audio prompts from the menu system are nice.
I found this SMH10 on ebay for about $160. Not bad when comparing to other available units.
I have a Sena and by and large I'm happy with it. The Garmin bluetooth
stack is garbage and very 6 hours or so I have to reboot it and then it
I do have one tip for the LD crowd. I have a battery that is designed to
recharge cell phones, it has a USB connection on it. I put that in my stich
chest pocket and recharge the Sena. At every fuel stop I alternate and put
the battery on the bike to charge. This way I never have a wire from me to
the bike, and never forget and try to get off the bike still attached.