Learned a few things about BT ear buds... - Wrist Twisters
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-04-2019, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Learned a few things about BT ear buds...

So I was looking to go from headphone speakers inside my helmet to BT ear buds. I grabbed a set from Fry's and tried them out.

There seems to be two main types, ones that have a neck band and those that are wired together to a small controller. Some buds have the ear hook, but the ones without seem to work ok.

So I hook it up and the first thing I notice is no more wind noise. The second thing is that the sound isn't so great. Get home and try to charge it and use it... you can't charge and use, so I let it charge and try again. Quality still not there, so I go to YouTube and play a "Stereo test - left/right audio test for headphones". Ends up they aren't stereo.

Here's what I learned:

1. BT can't charge and connect a the same time.

2. not all are stereo and I've only found ONE that said stereo, but I would guess most are stereo.

3. the battery size really matters, they rate for 2 hrs at 1/2 volume and no way to swap out the battery, so they are useless once dead, unless you carry a charger and several pairs.

4. even at 1/2 volume, the quality sucks and they are marketed as premium sound.

I've seen some that have larger drivers (speakers) and that really made a different on my in-helmet speakers. Just a bit larger makes a huge difference.

So, now I have to return these and I'll probably try a different brand. I'd like to have BT, but even if I get past everything else, there's still the quality issue.


I might try some other BT brands, but another option is to just put the iPod inside my jacket instead of in the bag. Another option is that I can get a BT receiver, but there's still the issue of can't run it when charging... so you get about 1~2 hour usage then you're done.

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post #2 of 19 Old 01-05-2019, 08:22 AM
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One other consideration is comfort. Look for ones where the soft wire goes all the way to the ear bud like these:



The ones with a hard plastic piece like these, will hurt like hell after a while:



The helmet will press that hard plastic against your ear and hurt like hell.

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post #3 of 19 Old 01-05-2019, 09:05 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by marylandmike View Post
One other consideration is comfort. Look for ones where the soft wire goes all the way to the ear bud like these:



The ones with a hard plastic piece like these, will hurt like hell after a while:



The helmet will press that hard plastic against your ear and hurt like hell.
I tried a few wired versions of the 2nd one and they didn't work well at all. I have a version of the 1st one you list and was blow away that they weren't even stereo.

I wonder what people do when they go dead after about an hour, and also wonder why they didn't just add a much bigger battery.

Maybe direct wire version of the 1st set is the right combo.

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post #4 of 19 Old 01-05-2019, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlJay View Post
I tried a few wired versions of the 2nd one and they didn't work well at all. I have a version of the 1st one you list and was blow away that they weren't even stereo.

I wonder what people do when they go dead after about an hour, and also wonder why they didn't just add a much bigger battery.

Maybe direct wire version of the 1st set is the right combo.
I don't have either one of those, just using as an example. I actually have a cheap set from WalMart ($10) that I am using now and they sounds great and the battery will last about all day.

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post #5 of 19 Old 01-05-2019, 07:12 PM
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I wear Pinlock earplugs in conjunction with my Sena. https://www.revzilla.com/motorcycle/pinlock-earplugs

I love them. They block out a lot of wind noise but still allow you to hear well enough to hold a conversation with them in (when not moving).

I have a lower end Sena, and while they don’t have the highest quality speaker, I can still hear my music (and navigation audio) clearly up to about 70-75 with the pinlocks. Faster than that you can still hear the music but the lyrics can get a bit drowned out.

If I take the pinlocks out, the speakers sound much louder.

I don’t have a top of the line helmet though. I would guess with an Arai or Shoei you could probably hear music clearly at higher speeds.

Another option could be the Pinlocks with a decent quality upgrade helmet speaker for a Sena or other brand helmet BT system.

https://www.ucleardigital.com/shop/h...lmet-speakers/

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post #6 of 19 Old 01-06-2019, 01:23 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by marylandmike View Post
I don't have either one of those, just using as an example. I actually have a cheap set from WalMart ($10) that I am using now and they sounds great and the battery will last about all day.
Are those the iFrogs and are they the ones with a neck band? I'm guessing the neck band types have a larger battery.

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post #7 of 19 Old 01-06-2019, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by KarlJay View Post
Are those the iFrogs and are they the ones with a neck band? I'm guessing the neck band types have a larger battery.
The brand is ONN....pretty sure it is these:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/ONN-Bluet...lack/620400870

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post #8 of 19 Old 01-06-2019, 04:41 PM
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Most people aren't as dumb as me, but I thought that my new Jabra Elite 65 wireless earbuds could fit inside my helmet and solve all of the above problems. Putting on a balaclava to smooth things out, the helmet slid on to my head and everything sounded great.

The problem came when I tried to remove the helmet. Both earbuds came loose and it became impossible to remove the helmet without excruciating pain to my ears and head. For about two minutes, I thought that I was going to be the idiot sitting in the E.R. with a motorcycle helmet on their head. That image gave me the impetus to try one more time. It hurt like hell, but the helmet popped off and the earbuds fell out.

Thanks for the link to the UClear speakers. I think those attached to a bluetooth receiver will be the best option for my commuter bike.
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post #9 of 19 Old 01-07-2019, 12:15 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by brannon32 View Post
Most people aren't as dumb as me, but I thought that my new Jabra Elite 65 wireless earbuds could fit inside my helmet and solve all of the above problems. Putting on a balaclava to smooth things out, the helmet slid on to my head and everything sounded great.

The problem came when I tried to remove the helmet. Both earbuds came loose and it became impossible to remove the helmet without excruciating pain to my ears and head. For about two minutes, I thought that I was going to be the idiot sitting in the E.R. with a motorcycle helmet on their head. That image gave me the impetus to try one more time. It hurt like hell, but the helmet popped off and the earbuds fell out.

Thanks for the link to the UClear speakers. I think those attached to a bluetooth receiver will be the best option for my commuter bike.
One thing that makes me want to get the earbuds to work is that wind noise. I never ride with ear plugs and don't have an adjustable helmet, so I have a LOT of wind noise.

The cool thing about the ear buds is that they kill several birds with the same stone (if done right). You can talk on the phone, get music, stop wind noise, not have wires.

I noticed the one's you linked to are big, that really matters. I loved the speakers because the sound was better, but I'd still have wind noise.

IDK, I'm going to return the NON-STEREO (still can't understand why they'd be non-stereo) trash buds and try some others. If they work, the next issue would be the battery life and I'd have to split them open and replace the batter with a larger one or make an external tap for a battery.

They really could have made them a 2X the size and 3X the battery life.

If I had air adjustable cheek pads, I'd probably stick with the speakers, but the wind noise sucks.

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post #10 of 19 Old 01-07-2019, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by marylandmike View Post
The brand is ONN....pretty sure it is these:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/ONN-Bluet...lack/620400870
Those are the same size as mine, I wonder how you get longer battery life. I wonder if your on BTLE mode and I'm on regular BT mode. IIRC, my iPT is pre BTLE, but the package still lists 2 hours at 1/2 volume.

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post #11 of 19 Old 01-07-2019, 08:18 AM
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Are Helmet Bluetooth Systems Becoming Obsolete?

You line of thinking is solid. I predict that within five years, all of this technology will be on our phones and the primary question we will have will be in regards to which earbuds are best for noise isolation, sound quality, and allowing in some of the ambient sounds outside the helmet for safety.

The helmet bluetooth system is going to go the way of the GPS. Some people will continue to pay high prices for them because of specific needs, but everyday riders will transition to a phone app that allows for the similar functionality and provides greater flexibility for the rider. If I'm an executive at Cardo or Sena, I'm putting aside 10% of my R&D budget to focus on a quality app and then teaming with Bose, Sennheiser, Jabra, or some other headphone company to produce a bluetooth headset (the kind that sit on the neck to allow for more battery life) that works in conjunction with helmets. Finally, when the battery technology catches up, transition to earbuds speakers.

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post #12 of 19 Old 01-07-2019, 09:28 AM Thread Starter
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You line of thinking is solid. I predict that within five years, all of this technology will be on our phones and the primary question we will have will be in regards to which earbuds are best for noise isolation, sound quality, and allowing in some of the ambient sounds outside the helmet for safety.

The helmet bluetooth system is going to go the way of the GPS. Some people will continue to pay high prices for them because of specific needs, but everyday riders will transition to a phone app that allows for the similar functionality and provides greater flexibility for the rider. If I'm an executive at Cardo or Sena, I'm putting aside 10% of my R&D budget to focus on a quality app and then teaming with Bose, Sennheiser, Jabra, or some other headphone company to produce a bluetooth headset (the kind that sit on the neck to allow for more battery life) that works in conjunction with helmets. Finally, when the battery technology catches up, transition to earbuds speakers.
I have to say that I'm very surprised and disappointed with my findings. I bought an iPod late in the game, and that was about 11 years ago, that's about when BT came out and yet I buy a set now and they aren't even stereo and last 1 hour at full volume. Sad, I guess it's because people want the cheapest thing they can get.

I bet those you bought really sounded good. I saw ones with a driver about that size and thought they'd have trouble in the on/off process.

I just tried out my original Apple wired earbuds and they make a HUGE difference based on where they are in the ear. Once they get lose, the quality drops like a rock. I think if you try the smaller driver type, you'll have better luck, it's just a matter of finding ones that are stereo, sound good and have some good battery life.

One note on the neck band type. You're right about the battery size. What I did was took a 3.7V phone battery and hooked it up to my headphone amp. I have a battery many times what is actually needed. This should be done on the helmet, a standard 18650 on the helmet should last all day or even several days and you won't have to mess with the neck band.

Back to the speaker option. I was looking for a rubber bladder to control the wind noise and came up with the idea of getting one of those thumb pumps and a rubber bladder to make the areas in front of the ear nice and tight.

Some expensive helmets have this built in, mine has adjustable foam, but I have to pull it out and it make it damn tight to fit and you still have wind noise.

The more I think about this, the more I want to do a Kickstarter to design a more modern helmet that has all these features. Built in sun glasses, dual lens for fog, better air flow, built in battery, speakers and amp...

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post #13 of 19 Old 01-07-2019, 09:35 PM
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Since this is a headphone thread, I will advertise the best 300 bucks I've ever spent for motorcycling. About two years and some change ago, someone from this forum said he had bose qc20 headphones which have ACTIVE noise cancellation in them The same thing pilots use now to be able to talk to each other while flying in helicopters or planes, in the form of regular in-ear headphones. Sure, they are pricey, but I can't imagine riding without them anymore. To put into perspective, If I was riding at 90 mph on the freeway with regular headphones, I would not be able to hear any music even if it was on max volume. Imagine trying to listen to music at max volume in a quiet room, how painful that is, and yet the wind noise surpassed even that. It's no wonder people go deaf, and I'm using one of the most quiet helmets on the market. With the headphones active, I could hear the music clearly at the same volume you could listen to it in a silent room. It also has a button to toggle the feature, so at stops when you need to hear, it actually amplifies surrounding noise so you can hear through your helmet as if you weren't wearing one, with the press of a button. They essentially block noise with the effectiveness of a good set of ear plugs, but also double as headphones for music/GPS directions/phone calls (the people on the other side can only hear you under like 30 mph due to wind noise) and can have the noise cancelling function deactivated at any time for when someone tries to compliment your bike at a red light. If I am not using them to listen to music, I have them in just for noise cancellation, and they are very comfortable as they do not get stuffed into the ear canal like other headphones. Because of this, they stay in the ear well, and a slight tug on the cord doesn't dislodge the earbud like other passive noise cancelling headphones, essentially making it useless. I actually hear the bike much better when hauling ass with noise cancelling on through conductive noise transfer from the vibrations of the bike through my body. The only downside is I cannot use them during track days as they are wired and to have enough length to allow me to hang off entirely from side to side is a bit much. Now, these do have a battery in order for the noise cancelling part to work, but that works pretty much forever. Could probably make it from florida to NY on a single charge, and it charges back up in like an hour. Build quality is really good as I've used them for basically everything, not just the 30k miles of riding I've done with them flapping in the wind. Overall I am very happy with these things and everyone I've let try them have gone and bought a set for themselves, so I figured I'd share my experience here as well.
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post #14 of 19 Old 01-08-2019, 01:49 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by nathanktm View Post
Since this is a headphone thread, I will advertise the best 300 bucks I've ever spent for motorcycling. About two years and some change ago, someone from this forum said he had bose qc20 headphones which have ACTIVE noise cancellation in them The same thing pilots use now to be able to talk to each other while flying in helicopters or planes, in the form of regular in-ear headphones. Sure, they are pricey, but I can't imagine riding without them anymore. To put into perspective, If I was riding at 90 mph on the freeway with regular headphones, I would not be able to hear any music even if it was on max volume. Imagine trying to listen to music at max volume in a quiet room, how painful that is, and yet the wind noise surpassed even that. It's no wonder people go deaf, and I'm using one of the most quiet helmets on the market. With the headphones active, I could hear the music clearly at the same volume you could listen to it in a silent room. It also has a button to toggle the feature, so at stops when you need to hear, it actually amplifies surrounding noise so you can hear through your helmet as if you weren't wearing one, with the press of a button. They essentially block noise with the effectiveness of a good set of ear plugs, but also double as headphones for music/GPS directions/phone calls (the people on the other side can only hear you under like 30 mph due to wind noise) and can have the noise cancelling function deactivated at any time for when someone tries to compliment your bike at a red light. If I am not using them to listen to music, I have them in just for noise cancellation, and they are very comfortable as they do not get stuffed into the ear canal like other headphones. Because of this, they stay in the ear well, and a slight tug on the cord doesn't dislodge the earbud like other passive noise cancelling headphones, essentially making it useless. I actually hear the bike much better when hauling ass with noise cancelling on through conductive noise transfer from the vibrations of the bike through my body. The only downside is I cannot use them during track days as they are wired and to have enough length to allow me to hang off entirely from side to side is a bit much. Now, these do have a battery in order for the noise cancelling part to work, but that works pretty much forever. Could probably make it from florida to NY on a single charge, and it charges back up in like an hour. Build quality is really good as I've used them for basically everything, not just the 30k miles of riding I've done with them flapping in the wind. Overall I am very happy with these things and everyone I've let try them have gone and bought a set for themselves, so I figured I'd share my experience here as well.
That sounds like the ticket, thanks for posting... I don't know that I'd spend that much, but I do see noise cancelling ear buds for the same price range I was looking at already.

Just with the regular ones, I noticed a HUGE difference in the noise level, but I'm used to open ears, with speakers... Time for a change.

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post #15 of 19 Old 01-10-2019, 06:37 PM Thread Starter
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The brand is ONN....pretty sure it is these:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/ONN-Bluet...lack/620400870
Update: I returned the Vivitar 40 series because they were mono and sounded like pure crap.

Got these from Walmart for the same price ($10) ONN. They are stereo. I also bought a $5 pair of wired ear buds for when the batteries go dead or I just need some wired one (for the backup iPod that doesn't have BT).

They work pretty well under the helmet, had to change out ear plug parts for smaller ones so that they'd fit deeper, but so far things are MUCH better.

So heads up if you get some $10 Vivitar ear buds or others, they might not be stereo and might sound like crap.

This ONN seems to have a bigger battery pack, about 2X the size of the Vivitar.

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post #16 of 19 Old 01-11-2019, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlJay View Post
Update: I returned the Vivitar 40 series because they were mono and sounded like pure crap.

Got these from Walmart for the same price ($10) ONN. They are stereo. I also bought a $5 pair of wired ear buds for when the batteries go dead or I just need some wired one (for the backup iPod that doesn't have BT).

They work pretty well under the helmet, had to change out ear plug parts for smaller ones so that they'd fit deeper, but so far things are MUCH better.

So heads up if you get some $10 Vivitar ear buds or others, they might not be stereo and might sound like crap.

This ONN seems to have a bigger battery pack, about 2X the size of the Vivitar.
Good deal. I hope they work out well for you. So far, so good for me.

I really didn't know that there were still ear buds out there that were mono.

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post #17 of 19 Old 01-11-2019, 09:10 AM Thread Starter
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Good deal. I hope they work out well for you. So far, so good for me.

I really didn't know that there were still ear buds out there that were mono.
I bought a Vivitar product in the past and wasn't very impressed. I think it's a matter of tech moving forward and a business jumping in at a certain time. BT changed quite a bit and they probably invested in old BT tech and then realized that the race to the bottom already started. IDK how much profit you can have on a $10 retail product in a very flooded market, so they probably just dumped what the had. They aren't even listed on their site any more.

I'm doing at test this morning on the new setup: Old iPodTouch gen 4 that was only being used as a timer/calculator, and the earbuds. So far nearly 4 hours full blast and still going strong.

The wired earbuds for backup sound like crap and the BT earbuds change the quality depending on where they are in the ear.

So if I'm deep in the ear with the small removable rubber part, I get more base, but if they move out a bit, the quality can change. I noticed with the larger rubber part, if I move my head, the sound changes.

So it's like you have to get them really deep in without getting a pressure pocket that ruins the sound.

I have to say that even with a short ride, it was nice not to have so much wind noise, being able to walk away from the bike without an attached wire is nice too.

Do you notice a change in the sound quality when you have them in different positions in the ear?

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post #18 of 19 Old 01-11-2019, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlJay View Post
I bought a Vivitar product in the past and wasn't very impressed. I think it's a matter of tech moving forward and a business jumping in at a certain time. BT changed quite a bit and they probably invested in old BT tech and then realized that the race to the bottom already started. IDK how much profit you can have on a $10 retail product in a very flooded market, so they probably just dumped what the had. They aren't even listed on their site any more.

I'm doing at test this morning on the new setup: Old iPodTouch gen 4 that was only being used as a timer/calculator, and the earbuds. So far nearly 4 hours full blast and still going strong.

The wired earbuds for backup sound like crap and the BT earbuds change the quality depending on where they are in the ear.

So if I'm deep in the ear with the small removable rubber part, I get more base, but if they move out a bit, the quality can change. I noticed with the larger rubber part, if I move my head, the sound changes.

So it's like you have to get them really deep in without getting a pressure pocket that ruins the sound.

I have to say that even with a short ride, it was nice not to have so much wind noise, being able to walk away from the bike without an attached wire is nice too.

Do you notice a change in the sound quality when you have them in different positions in the ear?
I never changed the rubber ear piece. Once I get them in, the only time I have an issue is if the wire gets pulled while putting my helmet on. Once it is one I just make sure there is a little wire slack on each side, so moving my head around doesn't pull on them.

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post #19 of 19 Old 01-11-2019, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Looks like I got 6 hours full volume from the BT ear buds and the 9 year old iPodTouch with original battery was still at 1/2 battery just playing the music. So it looks like that part is going to work excellent.

I've only done one ride and I've change to the smaller ear adapters. Basically if the ear buds move around much, it changes the quality of the sound. So smaller adapters and being in deeper seems to be better. However the fact that the wind noise is mostly gone, this still seems to be an improvement. I'll have to wait for the rain to give way to do some more testing.

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