Many riders now have Bluetooth intercom units in their helmets to talk to other riders, take and make phone calls and listen to music, but the sound quality isn’t great.
Others think it is ridiculous and unsafe to have music or conversations while riding. They ride to enjoy the “solitude”.
If you do like some entertainment and need to stay in touch, you’ve probably found that most Bluetooth units offer fairly average sound.
However, here are five cheap and even free ways to improve the sound of your helmet’s Bluetooth system.
Improve your sound
- Move the speakers closer to your ears. This sounds like a simple thing to do, but not all motorcycle helmets have the recesses for speakers in the right place. The speakers need to be right over your ear canals for the best sound. Helmets with built-in speakers are therefore not suitable unless your ears are in exactly the right position as you can’t move the speakers.
- Replace the speakers. The stock speakers in most Bluetooth systems – even some of the most expensive – are not great. They are too small, so the bass is limited and they are often distorted at top volumes. You can buy aftermarket speakers that lift volume, improve bass and are less distorted from about $50 to $150. Obviously, you get what you pay for. Many intercom units come with a socket to plug in auxiliary speakers. If they don’t, you’ll need to be handy with a soldering iron.
- Wear filtered earplugs. Putting music on top of wind noise is a recipe for deafness. Do your ears ring, especially after a long ride with music playing? Then you really should be riding with ear plugs all the time, even if you don’t listen to music. Wind noise is a much louder and more dangerous sound than even the loudest exhaust systems. I wear Alpine MotoSafe filtered “race” plugs which dramatically filter out the wind noise. Yet they still allow me to hear important sounds such as sirens and traffic noise, as well as music. In fact the music is even clearer and I don’t have to play it as loud to drown out the harmful background wind noise. It’s like magic! We swear by them so much we decided to stock them in our online shop.
- Change the music settings on your device. If you are using a smartphone, they often have an equaliser which can improve the sound, but may reduce volume. You should also click “sound check” which compensates for loud and soft tracks so they are about the same. It means you don’t have to fiddle with your Bluetooth volume control. Also, click volume limit “off”.
- Get a volume and bass-enhancing app. If you are wearing a set of filtered earplugs, you may probably not be able to get enough volume from your music. I only find it’s a problem with really noisy helmets at highway speeds. If you need more volume, these apps will improve bass punch and volume, but be aware you could be doing damage to your hearing. It will also drain the phone battery faster. They are fairly cheap at about $2-4.