MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICE
What are you going to use them for?
There are a number of things to consider when choosing helmet speakers. Here we look at some key things to think about when choosing.
What do you want to do with helmet speakers?
There are generally two reasons why people want to use helmet speakers. They want to listen to music or receive spoken audio, be that from a GPS, telephone or intercom.
Generally higher quality helmet speakers are required for music production than for simple spoken audio like GPS instructions. When listening to music the range of sounds the speaker can deliver and particularly the bass will be very important, if you want to to get decent sound from them. Cheaper speakers typically lack the bass and therefore suffer from 'saturation' when the volume is increased or a track is played that has a lot of bass. This results in a 'tinny' quality to the sound.
So if music is your thing then you get what you pay for. For you music lovers we would recommend TORK Xpro Helmet Speakers. To buy in the EU go to RiderMount.com.
What device are you plugging into?
If plugging into a Motorcycle GPS - check it has an audio socket as most are Bluetooth only. As for car GPS units 99% do not have an audio socket and none are compatible with a Bluetooth headset. However, there is a great gizmo from RiderMount called GPSaudio, which comes in both wired and Bluetooth versions - to suit all needs.
Most other devices such as smartphones, iPods and music players are compatible with helmet speakers as they come with a 3.5mm jack - just remember that with later Apple iPones you will need a lightening to 3.5mm converter.
Will they fit comfortably into my helmet?
Comfort is really important. Most quality branded helmets have cutouts in the foam lining for your ears and this is where the speakers will sit.
To ensure a comfortable fit it is important that the speakers are not too thick or they will press on your ears and cause discomfort. You should look for helmet speakers under 10mm thick, some are as little as 8mm. Speaker diameter is less of an issue as in our experience ear cutouts in helmets are usually quite large and good quality speakers will inevitably be large diameter (around 60mm) to give good performance.
Can I take the helmet speakers out when not in use?
Generally the majority of in-helmet speakers come with Velcro pads that stick into the helmet lining and you can detach these when not needed.
However, in practise it is difficult to remove and re-install helmet speakers as over time the sticky pads lose their adhesion. Therefore, it is better to install the speakers and leave them in your helmet. This is why we would always recommend that you go for slim speakers so they are comfortable in your helmet.
Are they to upgrade the speakers on a Bluetooth Headset?
Bluetooth headsets can be very expensive but the speakers supplied with them are sometimes quite cheap, lacking bass that some people are looking for.
To improve them you can change the speakers for better quality ones. Take a look at our section Upgrading a Bluetooth Headset.
Do you need an in-line volume control?
Most helmet speakers will come with a volume control but not all.
It is usually easier to operate an in-line control than buttons on a device in your pocket. We would therefore recommend that you opt for helmet speakers that come with an inline volume control.
Alternatively you can upgrade with an after-market in-line volume control lead - like the TORK Volume Lead.
What else should I look out for ?
A removable extension cable (preferably the stretchy coiled type) is useful as it allows you to have a very short lead dangling from your helmet which won’t get in the way when putting your helmet on/off.
When you want to use the helmet speakers, simply plug in the extension cable and stretch it to the device in your pocket or on your handlebars if on a bike.