Combination speaker/earphone baseplate?

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207 comments

  • Victor Henderson
    Victor Henderson
    I commented about this subject on the Sena FB page and they are stating now one is in the works. https://www.facebook.com/senabluetooth
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  • Dave Yeager
    Dave Yeager

    I'm delighted to hear that they are actually considering this idea!!  Recently, in prep for a week long trip, I took the time to hack a clamp, per guidance from others online, so that the 3.5mm audio INPUT was now an audio output.  Cut the spkr wires and added a 3.5mm male jack.  (Actually a friend did this for me!)  I'm 4 days into the trip right now, and have come to value this setup immensely!  Being able to move between earbuds for isolation and quality audio, and speakers that bring adequate audio but far less hassle when having to remove the helmet often during the day, is far more advantageous than i had imagined.  For me anyway, using good isolation earbuds means using triple flange tips.  This also means that removing those tips can initially be uncomfortable due to the flanges spreading outward like a barb on a hook, and what is initially discomfort can turn into downright pain as the day/week wears on.  Using earplugs with speakers solves the issue, so I now only insert earbuds when i want good quality audio.

    Why this has taken the good folks at Sena so long to get around to is beyond me.  But I do plan to be an early customer once it is available.

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  • Ken Wagnitz
    Ken Wagnitz

    I've just completed a 1month 8300km trip with Sena equipped pillion and buddy rider.  All of us had modified clamps as per my link given in an earlier post (http://waggies.net/Ken/Sena/)

    I use Etymotic earbuds with the silicone flanged tips for hours on end without discomomfort.  Maybe you need smaller tips Dave?

    The SMH10 and SR10 (latest) firmwares have lots of wriinkles and a few outright bugs.  But after more than a year using the SMH10s I wouldn't be without them.

     My pillion and I have Nolan helmets, and I'd love to use their integrated Bluetooth setups, but as far as I know, they don't offer the multi-way conversation that Sena now do.  That was very good this trip (relatively recent addition to their firmware).

    I find helmet speakers next to useless for music or phone conversation at speed.  But yes it is useful to be able to just chuck on the helmet and use the speakers for just a quick ride around town or to the shops etc with a pillion or other rider.

    Hopefully Sen'a combined clamp is as good as or better than the mods some of us have done.  If not, I'll just stick with my modified clamps.

    Pretty poor that Sena can put stuff on Facebook but not on their own forum.  It indicates an attitude I'm uncomfortable with.  They should realise that their best sales staff are loyal customers, ie us.

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  • Regulator26fs
    Regulator26fs

    Ken would you mind telling me which model Etymotic earbuds you use? I'm using the Splug from Plugup. They are dual driver but they are not as good as I thought they would be. At least when they are hooked to the Sena. When connected directly to Iphone they do work better.

    Thanks

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  • Ken Wagnitz
    Ken Wagnitz

    I use Etymotic er6 earbuds which aren't available any more.  I've bought, and my riding buddy used on our trip, the current equivalent.  (He was happy with them.)
    mc5 if you want plain, mc2 for Android/Blackberry etc phones Includes microphone), mc3 for iPhones.
    http://www.etymotic.com/  You can buy online from them in the US, or search eBay and maybe save a few dollars. (I've done both.)
    I find the tips get soft after a while and need to be replaced.  These are available from Etymotic or eBay.
    If the (removable) wax filters clog up, replacements can be bought online.

    I'm not advocating Etymotic, its just that they've been the best earbuds I've used, so I haven't gone looking at others in the same class.
    Cheap earbuds are usually lacking in either bass, treble, or both, and don't reject external noise.  Lots don't fit under a helmet, or fall out too easily.  This includes earbuds suppplied with expensive phones.

    As you'd expect, the Sena headset outputs don't go down super low in frequency, but the treble is OK.
    Caveat: I'm an old guy, so my treble range is diminished anyway.

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  • Ken Gillett
    Ken Gillett

    Looking at the Etymotics, but don't they stick out a bit far? I like the idea of them but am concerned that they may protrude too far and get knocked by the helmet. How well do they fit under a helmet?

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  • Regulator26fs
    Regulator26fs

    Thanks  for the tips Ken

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  • Christian Aasland
    Christian Aasland

    Etymotics are a staple in our group. We started with the er6's but most have gone to the mc5's. The er6's do sit very deep in the ear canals. The mc5's stick out further, but this is not a problem for those who use them. They have found the mc5's to have better sound, to be much more comfortable, and cheaper, than the er6.

     

    As for er6 comfort: I've found that the rounder your ear canal, the easier it is for the round er6 to plug it. Mine are nearly square so only tend to use them on single-day rides - longer rides I need the custom Westone CR-1's.

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  • Ken Gillett
    Ken Gillett

    All the earbud/headphones seem to come with about 4ft of wire which is massively too long when all you need is from the ear to the side of the helmet. OK, you need a little slack to remove the helmet etc, but anything more than about 1ft is just a nuisance trying to keep it out of the way.

    With such small wires it's hard enough to shorten the lead and put on a different plug, but I have found that these plugs tend to be too large to fit into the SMH10's fixed socket (now converted to output). It's still 3.5mm, but the body of the plug interferes with the body of the SMH10 clamp and the plug will not fully insert. Far from it in fact and there's no way it can make a connection.

    I have modified a plug with hacksaw and grinder and then some heat shrink tubing so it now fits, but I was hoping to find a smaller wireable plug (i.e. that I can solder on to the shortened wires) that will fit unmodified into the SMH10 clamp socket. Does anyone know anything suitable?

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  • Gordon Navecky
    Gordon Navecky

    I just wrap the excess around the mount. No cutting or soldering. That way I can still use them with my iPhone\iPod. I am using Etymotics ER6i.

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  • Ken Wagnitz
    Ken Wagnitz

    I keep some excess earphone lead bundled up and tied with a twist tie.  Once I've got my helmet on, I tuck all the excess wire into my jacket before zipping it up.

    Any loose wire, even a short length, flaps around all over the place because I have a tall screen and get an updraught behind it.
    I don't think it would be any better if I shortened the lead.

    WRT the 3.5mm socket already on the clamp, I prefer my mod method, or Steve's, where the socket used is facing down, so is inherently waterproof.
    As soon as you plug in to the existing socket, it ceases to be waterproof.  -Not that a bit of water in the clamp would be disastrous, but long term it might cause corrosion, at least on the socket contacts.  I don't often ride in the rain, but it happens.

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  • Ken Gillett
    Ken Gillett

    I've been thinking about that way to mod the SMH10, partly for the reasons you mention (i.e. waterproofing) and also ease of insertion. On the earphone lead do you use a straight plug or right angle? If the former, does it get in the way? I'm thinking it might be prone to being pushed by your shoulder once wearing a large bike jacket, probably with padded shoulder protection. Is this an issue at all?

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  • Marc Woo
    Marc Woo

    Hello Sena users, Sena development team is working seriously on the new clamp accessories to enable you to use either speaker or earbud with one clamp kit. Before finalizing the design, we would like to ask you a couple of questions on the everyday-use scenario.

    Here's the design scenario so far.

    - Two audio jacks are provided for both speakers or earbud on the clamp kit.

    - Only one is active at the same time, say the speaker port is automatically disabled if there is something on the earbud jack.

     

    Here's a questions!

     

    Question 1) Do you sometimes switch between earbud and speakers? Chances are you just install speakers and use it in local road riding and switch to earbud during highway riding?

    If it is "YES", then move forward to the next question.

     

    Question 2) Do you uninstall the speakers when using earbud?

    Some helmet's form factor doesn't allow you to use earbud without uninstalling speakers in the helmet.

     

    Question 3) What's your using pattern of earbud and speakers if you have one clamp kit to enable either earbud or speakers? Even though it may sound unclear, we just would like to listen to your voice in using pattern.

     

    Please get us your sincere feedback. Thanks in advance. Ride safe and smart!

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  • Boatnut
    Boatnut

    Question 1:  Do I switch?  YES.   Earbuds on highway? YES.  I have to switch helmets to accomplish this now....

    Question 2: Uninstall speakers? NO .  I use custom moulded ear plugs with audio.

    Question 3:  I think what you mean to ask is  "percentage split between ear buds and speakers if you could use both with one clamp?"   For me I'd say approx 75% ear plugs and 25% speakers. 

     

     

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  • Dan Heming
    Dan Heming

    Answer 1 - Yes, I switch between speakers and ear buds.  Speakers for local rides, ear buds for longer rides.

    Answer 2 - No, I do not uninstall the speakers.  Some helmets you don't have much space, but 2 others work just fine with both speakers and ear buds

    Answer 3 - If one clamp provided both, I would use speakers on quick rides or where I might frequently remove my helmet.  I would use earbuds any time I wanted the "noise cancellation" with good sounding music, so longer highway rides or when I know I'll be on the bike for awhile and its worth my extra time to put the ear buds in.  

    I like the option of 2 audio jacks, although for me, I don't usually remove the speakers, but I could see that coming in handy for others.  I think its more important that the audio jacks are "secure" and "robust".  I would even be fine with the MP3 port being removed and used as one of the audio jacks so its more robust than your current earbud jack.  I would even be fine with the speakers being connected by some sort of "proprietary" plug in order for it to be more robust, but still be removable if so desired.

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  • Boatnut
    Boatnut

    PLEASE fix the breaking "flex" piece on the mic boom and the ear bud plug in at same time.  For my usage, you could eliminate the MP3 input if that simplifies things. 

    ( I've yet to meet anybody that uses it?)

    In an ideal world I'd like to see the SMH10 be FM radio, wired for speakers, with a plug in that cancelled speakers when you plugged in your ear buds/plugs.  Use a durable material on the flex

    fitting or re-design to eliminate it. 

     Oh yeah, and world peace and free beer.....

     

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  • Ken Wagnitz
    Ken Wagnitz

    1. Yes, sometimes I use earbuds, sometimes helmet speakers.

    2. No I do not uninstall the speakers when using earbuds.  That would be too tedious.  The earbuds I use (Etymotic) don't stick out too far.

    3. This question is somewhat ambiguous.
    I use earbuds a lot, reverting to just the speakers for short trips, and only for pillion or rider communication.  I find music through the speakers to be awful (compared with earbuds).

    It would be useful if the sockets faced down.  Or at least the speaker plug & socket needs to be waterproof if it is horizontal.  Then the earphone socket could be facing down. The current MP3-player input socket doesn't look at all waterproof in use.  (I've never used it, Bluetooth makes it superfluous for me.)
    Sometimes riding in heavy rain is unavoidable.
    I wouldn't have a problem with the input socket being used as the speaker socket, but it needs to be made waterproof.  That could be done with an appropriate plug housing.

    You might like to consider supplying suitable earbuds with a combined clamp.  The Etymotic ones would make a good model to look at.  They reject a lot of external noise, while sounding good with music.
    If you do include earbuds, then you'd also need to be able to supply replacement earbud tips, and maybe sell the earbuds as a separate item.-That could be an ongoing trade for you.

    Supply this combination clamp, improve some features in the firmware, and you'd have a world-class product that would sell well just by word of mouth.
    (Working on the mounting system so it isn't so deadly would help too.)

     

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  • Dan Heming
    Dan Heming

    To go on what Boatnut said about the durability of the boom mic, I would hope that this new "clamp" does not have the standard attached "boom mic' but rather like optional clamp A0302, it has the option via a plug of either the "wired mic" or the "smaller boom mic" that fits inside the helmet instead of coming up underneath the helmet where its subject to a lot more abuse.  I find both of these alternate mic options much more reliable and robust over the standard boom mic found on the default clamp.  

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  • Ken Wagnitz
    Ken Wagnitz

    I also used a wired version of the microphone.  (My Nolan helmet has a hole at the front where I can place the mic.)   But my wife uses the boom version, with her Nolan flip helmet.

    I echo the sentiments about the fragility of the boom mount, (now deteriorating on the wife's headset) and the use of a wired connection to a boom or wired mic.

    (Maybe I should investigate fully wiring my wife's mic, with a loop at the flip hinge so it doesn't obstruct opening and closing.)

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  • Ken Gillett
    Ken Gillett

    1 - Yes, one clamp should provide both possibilities. Although switching not required while on the move, it must be possible to do it without having to resort to tools and/or additional equipment. I.e. away from home on a holiday it must be possible to use either audio method - out of choice or failure of one method.

    2 - No, I do not uninstall the speakers. This needs to be simple to switch. No earbuds, the speakers work. Plug in earbuds and speakers are disabled. Simple.

    3 - As you say, if one clamp provided both, I would normally use speakers on shorter rides or where I might frequently have to remove my helmet. But I would use earbuds for longer rides or when I particularly wanted to be able to listen to music. My usage would be approx. 50/50.

    As I said above, 'switching' needs to be as simple as plugging in the earbuds, but it's a shame that the standard seems to be 3.5mm jack plugs as these are so large and cumbersome. Use of a smaller jack plug/socket would make sense, except that earbuds and alternative speakers all seem to come as standard with the 3.5mm jack. I'd prefer the smaller (2.5mm is it?) as used on some smartphones, but maybe we're stuck with the 3.5 type.

    For simplicity and neatness, hard wire the speakers to the clamp. There's no space for another huge plug and socket and generally, the speakers will NOT need to be unplugged at all. However, if you must have the speakers able to be unplugged, I suggest the use of a small flat in-line connector just like that used for the microphone so it can be totally (and safely) hidden inside the helmet and out of the way, yet allow them to be disconnected and removed if desired. BUT, make sure the connectors are available to buy separately so that alternative speakers could be fitted with these connectors.

    I think we all agree that the current MP3 input socket is entirely redundant - so eliminate that for starters. Instead use that space for the switching output socket but angle it downwards at e.g. 45 degrees. This would better direct the leads to where they actually need to go, certainly help to keep water out and allow for easier insertion of a plug, but also there would less chance of interfering with clothing than if oriented vertically downwards.

    Don't forget to allow sufficient clearance around the jack socket (whatever size is used) for the use of re-wirable plugs. These are larger than the neat moulded plugs used by manufacturers, but if you need to put your own plug on for any reason (e.g. shortening a lead), you will have to use these larger plugs. The current MP-3 socket is too tight - a re-wirable plug CANNOT be used. So please, just design in a bit more clearance.

    The current design has a problem with stereo separation and/or audio interference. Any newly designed clamp MUST take this into account and ensure the correct stereo reproduction with both speakers AND earbuds.

    Can I suggest that any proposed designs are shown to us here first, i.e. post design drawings so that we can actually see what is being considered and can comment and perhaps stop you from making errors. That way we hopefully get what we all want.

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  • Christian Aasland
    Christian Aasland

    I think it's great that you're showing some leadership on this issue, helping to make the Sena stand out as a superior product!

    Question 1) Do you sometimes switch between earbud and speakers? 

    A1: Yes. For long or fast rides I use earbuds; for short or in-town rides I use the speakers.

     

    Question 2) Do you uninstall the speakers when using earbud? 

    A2: No. I have modified the clamp with the addition of a 3.5mm jack on the helmet which disables the speakers. I have installed the Sena in 5 helmets; there are no clearance issues when using speakers and earbuds. It is too much trouble to remove the speakers on a regular basis.

     

    Question 3) What's your using pattern of earbud and speakers if you have one clamp kit to enable either earbud or speakers.

    A3: The decision to use earbuds or speaker is made before I put the helmet on. I do not switch between them while riding. When I want the earbuds, I first put the earbuds in, plug them into the helmet, and then put the helmet on. If I don't want earbuds, I will simply put the helmet on. But I must remember to adjust the volume first, because I modified a speaker-clamp which allows full volume to the earbuds.

     

    I think it is a fantastic idea to have two connectors: one for speakers, another for earbuds, and plugging anything into the earbud jack will disable the speaker plug, because:

    • I do not anticipate the need to use both earbuds and speakers at the same time.
    • I would not be unplugging the helmet speakers on a regular basis.
    • Separate jacks will allow for the correct impedance, appropriate for speakers or earbuds.
    • If Sena makes the microphone jack modular as well, it may only be neccessary to manufacture a single clamp; Sena can include the desired microphone and speaker options.
    • With detachable speakers, they will be much easier to install
    • With detachable speakers, Sena can sell higher-spec speakers for an additional cost, i.e. larger, with better sound, and perhaps even with an inline amplifier, addressing the other major complaint with this product.
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  • Tom Balaban
    Tom Balaban
    #1 - yes, I do switch. I have modified my speakers, adding a 3.5mm plug to my speakers so all I have to do is change which is plugged in, earbuds or speakers. #2 - no, my speakers are always installed. They do not interfere with my earbuds. #3 - my usage is 80% earbuds/20% speakers. THANK YOU, Thank You, thank you for undertaking this solution. Is it possible to provide an ETA for this? I feel like a kid waiting for C-mas.
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  • Dave Yeager
    Dave Yeager

    1) YES.  Modified spkr clamp to convert audio in jack to be audio OUT.  There are cases where earbuds are ideal, and sometimes spkrs are best.  I only did this mod recently before our last trip, and it was very nice to be able to switch during the day as riding situation changed. 

    2) NO.  There is no need to uninstall speakers, provided they fit well and there is sufficient clearance between earbuds and speakers.  For me, that is the case.

    3) The percentages vary.  During my work commute earbuds would generally be preferred since it is less than an hour each way and I want to catch podcasts.  On a multi-day trip I would tend to use speakers since most audio will be communications (not music or podcasts), so quality of audio not important, and there are many stops during the day so lots of helmet off-on cycles.  Earbuds are definitely more hassle, plus, they are are less comfortable than earPLUGS, which are worn when speakers are in use.  So, to the question of usage cycle... on a trip, 80% speakers.  On daily riding / commute:  75% earbuds.

     

    One final comment, in addition to the one that this is excellent news!  Can't wait to get one, even though I have modified a set already.  The 'comment' is regarding weatherproofing.  I recently rode about 2 hrs in a hard rain and my Sena failed.  Had to return it.  Please take a fresh look at waterproofing, especially now that there may be 2 audio ports - on the clamp.  By the way, mine leaked in the oval unit, not the clamp, but just a note that waterproofing is still not perfect.

     

    Thanks again for this news!

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  • Ken Gillett
    Ken Gillett

    I would like re-inforce my previous comment that any more than the single socket for the earbuds would be a bad idea, If the same 3.5mm jack type plug was used for earbuds, speakers and mic, the clamp would look like a porcupine and it would become harder to plug anything in and get the right socket. Plus, each socket is a potential water leak. So I again recommend a downward sloping socket at the back for the earbuds (can be 3.5mm jack, but 2.5 better IMO) and then if the speakers and mic are to be detachable, use some other small in-line connector that can be tucked into the helmet and hence kept away from the elements, eliminating the chance of water ingress into the clamp's electronics.

    Let's be honest, the SMH10 is not the smallest intercom unit and having more plugs sticking out of the clamp only makes that worse.

    I think we'd all like an ETA though. How long will we have to wait. Do I need to modify a clamp in the meantime for my big Euro trip end of August?

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  • Gordon Navecky
    Gordon Navecky

    1) YES I switch. Hard wire the speaker and have a switched jack for the ear buds. NO MP3 jack. Wired and boom mic (A0302).

    2) NO

    3) 50\50

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  • Maury Feuerman
    Maury Feuerman

    Can I really believe my ears?  Put me down for a couple of sets!!!

    Question 1: Do I switch? YES. I use Big Ears and like most custom molded sets they do not stick out from your ears.

    Question 2: Uninstall speakers? NO .  Any installation with flush mounted earbuds  and even most in modern helmets would work just fine with the speakers remaining recessed in the helmet.

    Question 3: Everyone wants the opportunity to listen through speakers for quick trips as a matter of convenience but would prefer the use of earbuds for quality longer rides and better audio.  Sometimes you just need a rest from the earbuds for a short time and then would like to go back to them.  I cannot think of any any circumstances where removal of the speakers would be desirable.  They should simply shut off when using the ear buds.  Like Ken said keep it simple and waterproof. One 3.5mm plug for earphones please!

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  • Tom Balaban
    Tom Balaban

    Dave Yeager,

    I'm curious as to how you accomplished your mod. I have the components to replace the MP3 input socket with a Radio Shack 3.5mm switching socket but have not undertaken it yet because I don't know what I might confront once I've removed the original socket.

     

    Thanks.

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  • Mike
    Mike

    YES YES YES!!  Man I hope this is mad available soon!!

    Question 1:  Do I switch?  YES.   On rare occasion due to having to change clamps.  If in one clamp, I'd use earbuds probably more than the speakers since I do more longer riding versus around town jaunts.

    Question 2: Uninstall speakers? NO .  I use custom moulded ear plugs as well and would just leave the speakers along.

    Question 3:  I do probably 80 percent longer rides where I'd prefer earbuds.  

     

    Thank you SENA for listening  to your customers.  This will be a VERY welcome change!!

     

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  • Victor Henderson
    Victor Henderson

    Sena for 2 years (daily rider)

    1. Do I switch? No;  helmet speakers are simply not loud enough on the highway so (I commute w/my bikes) so I always have to wear custom buds. 

    2. Uninstall speakers? No, I would prefer a choice. 

    3. If I had a choice I would be about 75 percent ear buds and 25 percent speakers.

    * other comments

    I have a Zumo 550 which will only send voice navigation via a patch cord therefore I would prefer the mp3 jack. 

    Fix the input jack because it will tear/break almost immediately.  I have had 4 go bad between me and my pillion. 

    Improve water resistance. I have already returned one that failed. 

    Micro usb connector has failed on one unit and is starting to fail on the other. Please source improved usb jacks or revert to old style of charging.

    I like the boom mic because I can pull it close to my mouth or to nudge it out of the way when I don't need it. 

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  • Stuartv
    Stuartv

    For me:

    1) I have the earbuds helmet clamp on both my helmets, so I don't switch. I only use earbuds. But, I would LIKE to be able to switch.

    2) I don't have speakers installed because I only have the earbuds helmet clamp. But, I would not uninstall speakers, if I had them.

    3) My usage is 100% earbuds. But, if I had a helmet clamp that let me use both, I would be 90% earbuds, 10% speakers.

     

    For my girlfriend. Her helmet clamp is the one that has a wired mic and wired speakers. I modified it so that her Audio IN jack is now an Audio OUT jack (but the wired speakers still work and are on 100% of the time).

    1) Yes, she switches between earbuds and speakers.

    2) No, she never removes the speakers when using earbuds.

    3) She uses earbuds about 90% of the time and speakers about 10%.

     

    Your survey is a bit suspect because you are asking people about a pattern of usage when you don't currently offer a product that allows this pattern of usage. Thus, your only feedback that you'll receive that directly can answer your questions is from people who, either, have multiple helmets and have different clamps installed on each, or, people who have at least purchased an earbuds clamp and then take the time to switch back and forth between different clamps on their helmet, or, people who have the earbuds clamp and have also purchased something like the Tork helmet speakers. In any case, it is likely to be a pretty small percentage of your overall users.

    Perhaps an additional question you should ask is "if you use earbuds, do you plug them into the helmet clamp before you put your helmet on, or after you put your helmet on?"

    I always put my helmet on first, then plug my earbuds into the helmet clamp. This allows me to secure the extra length of my earbuds wire so that I only have the minimal amount of cord loose to run from the location where I secure the extra cord to the helmet clamp. Because of this, I find the jack that sticks out of the back of the clamp to be highly valuable, because I can feel it easily and plug my earbuds into easily. If I had to find a hole that was flush on the side/bottom/back of the clamp, it would be much harder (I think) to plug my earbuds in after I put my helmet on. My g/f has the exact situation on her helmet clamp and I always have to plug her earbuds into her clamp for her.

    That said, both of the designs you have used so far for the earbuds clamp are clearly not reliable. I have the newer design on one of my helmets. I have only ridden with it for maybe 3 - 4,000 miles and it has now shorted out on the left side. What seems to me like would work best is if you could modify the shape of the bottom of the helmet clamp, so that the spot where the speaker wires comes out extends out just about 1/2 and inch or so and then make the earbuds jack be flush mounted inside that short extension. That would make it where it's still easy to feel and insert the earbuds plug when the helmet is already on the rider's head. And it would eliminate having a separate earbud jack piece that sticks out the back where it can break off or flex constantly.

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