Page 1 of 2

Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 31 May 2015, 09:51
by Pieter Huizinga
As some of you may remember, I used to have BMW's wireless communication system (WCS2) in my BMW System 5 helmet and it has served me well. However, in my other helmet I installed a Sena SMH-5 and I liked it much better. So, when the WCS2 unit died again this year, and in view of my girl's new hobby, I took the plunge and ordered a pair of Sena SMH-10 units (she has a System 6 helmet). The pair of them costed € 400, which is cheaper than just one WCS unit (!).

Getting the BMW WCS out of my helmet turned out to be quite an exercise, but with a suitable amount of violence I succeeded at last. Installing the two Sena units on the two helmets was a breeze. Basically you just attach the base of the unit to the helmet's edge and fasten two bolts. Next, put the two earpieces in the cavities that are already there in the helmets. The kit comes with several different sizes of self-adhesive velcro thingies so there will always be one that fits your helmet. Finally, choose which mike you prefer, it comes with two microphones, one on a beam and one that you can velcro inside the chin piece of your helmet. I selected the latter because it's not in your way when you put the helmet on. Then all you need to do is hide the cables which is easy enough, just push them inbetween the helmet and the liner.

Setting it up really is also a breeze. The set comes with two units that have been paired to eachother already, so you're good to go if all you want is intercom. Adding other bluetooth devices is a matter of pressing and holding the big knob 5 seconds and it will pair with any discoverable BT device. I added Karen's iPod and phone to her unit, and added the Garmin Zumo to mine (my phone is already paired to the Zumo, and I use the media player in the Zumo if I want music). This took all of 2 minutes. By the way, you don't need two music players, you can stream music from one player to both helmets if you wish.

I have to mention that the Sena kit comes with software that will allow you to do the more elaborate settings from your PC (but you can also set them from the unit itself). The same software will upgrade the unit's firmware when a new version is released - you'll get an email to inform you if you have registered the kit at Sena's website. Did I mention that you can click the unit from its base? So you don't need to put the helmet on your desk, just the SMH-10.

There are also two inputs on the unit, a micro USB to charge it, and an audio input to connect a non-bluetooth audio device. You get all the cabling needed for all of that, including a car charger per unit. No USB net charger but those are like 4 euro at the hardware store, if you don't have one already.

Now for user experience. The SMH-10 gives voice feedback, e.g. it says "Hello!" when you turn it on. It only has two buttons, the little one is the "phone" button, the big one is the jog dial for the audio volume, and also to instruct your mp3 player to go back to the previous song or forward to the next song. Engaging the intercom is a matter of tapping the jog dial once. By the way, you can pair up to 4 units, to talk to the second one you tap twice, and so on.

On our first trip we found the VOX feature (i.e. the intercom turns on automatically when you start speaking) turned the intercom on unwanted, due to wind noise in the helmet. This is one of those more elaborate settings so I connected the units to my PC and turned the VOX feature off on both units. Now the intercom is engaged only if either person taps the dial. Fine by me. It stops the music and connects you to your better half. Tap it again and the intercom goes off and the music comes back on. Works like a charm.

Sound quality is great, in fact I've mentioned already that it is better than the BMW unit. It needs a little bit tweaking on the Garmin's audio "mixer" to set it so that you hear the turn by turn instructions and the music at the desired sound level; if you set that too high, the audio gets distorted.

Because there must be *something* to complain about, the intercom gets precedence over all other devices. I would have preferred if I could give Helga (the Garmin girl) highest precedence, but that is not in the settings so I'll accept that when we're chatting, the navigation instruction will not interrupt the conversation. Neither will an incoming call on the phone. This really is the only flaw, if you can call it that, in the design.

Can't really say anything about battery life at this stage. According to the specs, it should last for 10 hours after a full charge. My SMH-5 has never died on me yet so far, but in honesty I never ride 10 hours uninterrupted and I tend to recharge the unit when I take a break.

All in all, we're very happy with it and warmly recommend it.

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 31 May 2015, 10:14
by Pieter Huizinga
And here is a piccie:

IMG_20150531_111839_hdr.jpg (46.72 KiB) Viewed 17444 times

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 31 May 2015, 12:40
by mbrST1100
Pieter Huizinga wrote:...ordered a pair of Sena SMH-10 units...

Well that's some big, ugly MF parasite clinging to your helmet's there... ;-)
Any trouble placing the lids onto a flat surface now?
Did I mention that you can click the unit from its base?

I've to admit that it took me a while to figure out what you're referring to there... then I realized that you mean "detach"... yeah, at times my mind works slow ;)
No USB net charger but those are like 4 euro at the hardware store, if you don't have one already.

So standard power supplies/wall-chargers are not included? That's a pity... would have taken them only a few cent for the bulk order...
Not knowing the full charge time but logistically probably better to carry two along...
Any idea on the real-life battery duration yet? Will it give you >8hrs with constant music and occasional voice/navigational prompts?
...I connected the units to my PC and turned the VOX feature off on both units.

err... no option to adjust the VOX sensitivity?? Only ON or OFF?
Not ideal IMHO, often enough a rider has his hands occupied with controls like the clutch... for me (adjustable) VOX rules... a little "hmm" or <cough> to trigger it and speak up...
...the navigation instruction will not interrupt the conversation. Neither will an incoming call on the phone.

Now that's just plain wrong, sorry...
On-board intercom must have next-to-last priority (just above stereo-input), navigation prompt above it, this and anything below is muted by radio-messages, and top-priority over all listed has phone input (if one must have that, so its forcing you to either pull over and stop, or simply ending the phone conversation...)

And now you gonna have to work on "radio discipline" with your TB there... ;)
No time for philosophical/ideological/relationship debates while on the move... always wait for a safe moment, keep it brief, accurate and to the point...

You also need to learn how to decipher that "alien language voice in your head"... terms like maybe, sometime or soon are wild-cards for "RIGHT NOW!!!"... :D

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 31 May 2015, 12:46
by Pieter Huizinga
It's not that bad Martin, when a phone call comes in it shows on the GPS unit and all I need to do is end the intercom.
But I agree with your preference. Perhaps in a future release.

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 07 Jun 2015, 21:38
by Forest 1100
So what is better about the SMH 10 unit over the SMH 5 unit Pieter? I would want a comm device for intercom purpose only. No phone or GPS connectivity needed. I do have a Garmin 785T GPS, but I always connect my audio capable custom earplugs to that via the 3.5 mm phono plug and keep the GPS inside a pocket. Is there sufficient volume on the Sena headphones to hear intercom voice with earplugs in?

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 08 Jun 2015, 12:20
by Pieter Huizinga
The speakers that come with the SMH 10 are better than the ones that came with the SMH 5. Although it's my understanding that the SMH 5 now also comes with the new speakers. I am quite happy with the SMH 5 too. You may need to check a review or two to find out exactly what the SMH 10 does more.

And yes, both have plenty of audio volume - I always ride with custom fitted earplugs as well.

The SMH 10 has a 3.5 mm input for a satnav or iPod in your pocket. I haven't tried that out so can't really be sure but I would expect the intercom to overrule that input as well.

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 19 Jun 2015, 08:23
by Forest 1100
Re the mic set up Pieter. I will be using the boom mics in our Arai 3/4 helmets and I would like to know how the boom attaches to the unit. A previous unit I had (chatterbox) used a velcro sticky to the helmet to attach to the mic, which was useless for staying in place, so I want to ensure that the boom somehow mounts hard into the control unit, if in fact it does?

Never mind. Today I called Sena and finally got the info on the correct model to order.

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 20 Jun 2015, 15:04
by Pieter Huizinga
As it comes out of the box, Forest, the boom mic has velcro attachment. I agree that that is suboptimal. On my open face helmet I ended up drilling holes and using two parkers (*) to attach it to the shell.

(*) A parker is the common name here for a screw that self-taps its thread.

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 21 Jun 2015, 02:58
by Forest 1100
Methinks you may have ordered the wrong model for your purposes Pieter. The Sena SMH-10D-10 is the one with the boom as an integral part of the clamp unit, not a stick on affair. The "D" stands for Dual - 2 units in the box.

You must have got the SMH 10D-11, which comes with two mics, one that sticks on the chin bar of full face helmets and the boom that attaches as yours did.

It is quite confusing to someone looking at the online parts stores when they don't provide enough detail, or proper product numbers. Anyway, I've got one coming in the mail now and HOPE it will be what I am looking for.

Re: Sena SMH-10

PostPosted: 22 Jun 2015, 16:45
by Pieter Huizinga
Forest 1100 wrote:You must have got the SMH 10D-11

As usual, you're right. I just checked the invoice.