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Audiophile's guide to motorcycling.

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I've looked around the web and havent found any fantastic articles helping motorcyclists navigate the world of audio.  I've owned dozens and dozens of headphones but from looking around Head-Fi, i'll be the first to admit I'm not all too qualified to talk about things like audio quality. 

 

In terms of what motorcyclists are looking for, they want sound isolation. Wind noise can reach over 110 decibels. The trick isnt just to get really good fitting earbuds, but also earbuds that recede as much as possible. If the earbud sticks out too much it can press on the ear canal causing pain and/or tweaking the seal and letting in wind noise.

 

Now I'm wondering what resources there are out there to objectively compare headphones. I know my SE425's dont have great bass, yet they still feel more high-def than my Sol Republic Jax earbuds... albeit not by much—plus the jax seem like they have much more bass. I've seen a few charts on this website but I'm wondering if I can get more information on them, as well as all the other earbuds out there.

 

I know nothing about amps. I've heard people say they're great. I've heard people say high end headphones dont really need them. I'm wondering if there's an objective line to draw there regarding portable amps used for IEM's.

 

A lot of people have a need to listen in on multiple devices at once—GPS, phone, mp3, walkie talkie, etc.— The common solution is to rely on a bluetooth pairing device like what Sena makes to do this, but bluetooth is not exactly my favorite piece of technology. Pairing is always a pain, batteries are always really small in bluetooth devices.... I'm wondering if there's a wired solution for plugging one set of headphones into multiple devices. I've looked at small 3-channel microphone mixers, but I havent really found anybody out there doing what I'm trying to do.

 

I love this website and I hope to do a ton more reading. There's a definite motorcycle demographic that could use a site like this. Thanks.

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post

 

In terms of what motorcyclists are looking for, they want sound isolation. Wind noise can reach over 110 decibels. The trick isnt just to get really good fitting earbuds, but also earbuds that recede as much as possible. If the earbud sticks out too much it can press on the ear canal causing pain and/or tweaking the seal and letting in wind noise.

 

Look up "custom in ear monitors," or "custom IEM(s)." They make customized earphone shells specific to each ear, and since any space required by the transducers inside can be spread out over a larger volume in one custom mold than a universal piece that has other design parameters to conform to a lot of potential users, these also sit flush.

Most musicians use these now instead of floor monitors, especially if you need to hear yourself playing (or singing). Just watch any singing reality contest, you'll see them wearing one. Guess who else are likely wearing them these days: professional racers (four or two wheels, propellers, etc - doesn't matter). They isolate extraneous noise so they can communicate better with the pit crew, plus they protect their hearing, which is great when you have a high rpm engine behind you or just under your crotch. Once Google Glass tech gets integrated into their helmets they'll have even less need to rely on their ears to hear the engine for shifting since they can put up the tach wherever they're comfortable.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post

 

Now I'm wondering what resources there are out there to objectively compare headphones. I know my SE425's dont have great bass, yet they still feel more high-def than my Sol Republic Jax earbuds... albeit not by much—plus the jax seem like they have much more bass. I've seen a few charts on this website but I'm wondering if I can get more information on them, as well as all the other earbuds out there.

 

I know nothing about amps. I've heard people say they're great. I've heard people say high end headphones dont really need them. I'm wondering if there's an objective line to draw there regarding portable amps used for IEM's.

 

 

Some sites have those frequency graphs, but generally all you need to know is that:

1) Flatter response is better; very high peaks and deep dips are bad, especially if right next to each other (that makes them harder to correct with EQ)

 

2) Efficiency, impedance, output power, THD. Look them up, read as much as you can (also on Ohm's law, voltage, etc) and you'll get the drift on the relationship between them. Generally, what you need to see is whether whatever you're using to drive any transducer can produce the amount of power it needs to get to a good listening level to get over a noisefloor (assume this to be anywhere between 82dB to 90dB), with as low THD as possible, and if its output impedance is 1/8 of the nominal impedance of the headphone.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post

 

A lot of people have a need to listen in on multiple devices at once—GPS, phone, mp3, walkie talkie, etc.— The common solution is to rely on a bluetooth pairing device like what Sena makes to do this, but bluetooth is not exactly my favorite piece of technology. Pairing is always a pain, batteries are always really small in bluetooth devices.... I'm wondering if there's a wired solution for plugging one set of headphones into multiple devices. I've looked at small 3-channel microphone mixers, but I havent really found anybody out there doing what I'm trying to do.

 

Not all those devices - you're gonna have to sacrifice some of them. Radio communications will have to have other asociated equipment, and when a band does this on stage, they have a whole crew making it possible to rout whichever instruments to either ear. Yep, they don't hear live music as they come out in a recording, nor as they all sound on the stage itself - you can have them tailor what sound goes in and what is louder than the others, depending on what helps you with the performance (like hearing your own voice to know if you're going off key, plus the drums and bass guitar to know your timing better; some will use just one ear...etc). I mean, even for racers, they have basically the same set-up in the pits - if any of them actually wanted music going through they'd have the pit crew pump it in instead of bringing their own iPod.

 

Personally a smartphone is the best compromise. It has GPS, it can play music, it's a phone. The only thing it can't do is radio comms but if you're a small group there might be an app for BT comms that can automatically (re)connect into an active chat; otherwise, heck, there are voice commands so you can dial hands-free. Or if you all keep data running, keep everyone on an active Skype chat. If one of you gets lost you can have his phone's GPS tracked in case he got into an accident or something (knock on wood). 

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

...

 

Thanks protegemaniac. That was a great post. Do you have personal experience with radio comms in the pits, or setting up stage equipment? That would be really interesting to get some insight into how exactly a professional sets all of that up. Also, it's not simply for racing. In racing you're not allowed to listen to music, and many races don't even allow comms. This is more to connect multiple riders to one another while riding.  Ideally it would just be a couple relatively inexpensive two-way radios connected to the IEM's. I wouldn't want to pipe music through the radio. I've seen small portable 3-channel mixers, but I don't know if this is how you'd want to connect multiple devices to one set of headphone.

 

 

And custom mIEMs, there are several brands that make custom IEM's for motorcyclists, or at least market them, but they focus more on sound isolation than audio quality, and even then the listen dB ratings they give their sound isolation isn't as good as some earbuds I own... I've played with several custom molded ear plugs before. My experience hasn't been great. Something to consider, In-helmet noise levels are 110 db's. Wind is pretty strong, there's a lot more ventilation in a motorcycle helmet, less wind protection, more high pressure/low pressure going on.  If you have custom IEM's  at home and a hair dryer, try using them while angling the hair dryer towards the lower front of your ears while wiggling the IEM. 

 

I really want to hear more recommendations from lots of people, let me know what you're thinking! 

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Also, if anyone has any any earbuds that are true in-ear earbuds, that live inside your ear (without protruding) those tend to work great. Shure SE420's SE530s, those work great. Sol Jax work great. The Sol relays look good but somehow stick out further than the jax.... plus they don't sound as good. 

post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post
 

Thanks protegemaniac. That was a great post. Do you have personal experience with radio comms in the pits, or setting up stage equipment? That would be really interesting to get some insight into how exactly a professional sets all of that up. 

 

Sorry, no personal experience there, but I do keep up with some of the gear (of course, not too much either - I'm still using the same electric guitar I used in high school along with the same amp and pedals). There are pro audio forums though, Im sure there are people there who can help you with the details.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post
 

Also, it's not simply for racing. In racing you're not allowed to listen to music, and many races don't even allow comms. This is more to connect multiple riders to one another while riding.  Ideally it would just be a couple relatively inexpensive two-way radios connected to the IEM's. I wouldn't want to pipe music through the radio. I've seen small portable 3-channel mixers, but I don't know if this is how you'd want to connect multiple devices to one set of headphone.

 

I was thinking of how some places don't regulate as well as with FIA/M events for example. In some club races (loosely defined) you can even run with your own stereo playing (like this story about guy in an EB110 with his A/C and audio both at full blast, losing by only a few inches behind a guy in an F40 hotbox). Personally I'd rather just use a smartphone and Skype; or better yet, check out the BT comms apps. See how well the BT comms apps work, which I imagine would be great for a small group of riders. for larger groups not everyone can be expected to be connected to the same people, so then Skype or similar apps have to be used. This is only really a problem if you don't have unlimited data or don't get a signal where you are. In that case I'd rather get walkie-talkies that have ports for IEMs with mics.

 

BTW, when you look into CIEMs, you have to specify if you want a mic with the cable. All of them by default are made for listening and/or stage use, and in the latter they have a separate mic. Some manufacturers though might be willing to integrate a mic, or if not the IEM fabricator, a cable DIY-er.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

Can you recommend any of those forums by name?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Sorry, no personal experience there, but I do keep up with some of the gear (of course, not too much either - I'm still using the same electric guitar I used in high school along with the same amp and pedals). There are pro audio forums though, Im sure there are people there who can help you with the details.

 

 

I was thinking of how some places don't regulate as well as with FIA/M events for example. In some club races (loosely defined) you can even run with your own stereo playing (like this story about guy in an EB110 with his A/C and audio both at full blast, losing by only a few inches behind a guy in an F40 hotbox). Personally I'd rather just use a smartphone and Skype; or better yet, check out the BT comms apps. See how well the BT comms apps work, which I imagine would be great for a small group of riders. for larger groups not everyone can be expected to be connected to the same people, so then Skype or similar apps have to be used. This is only really a problem if you don't have unlimited data or don't get a signal where you are. In that case I'd rather get walkie-talkies that have ports for IEMs with mics.

 

BTW, when you look into CIEMs, you have to specify if you want a mic with the cable. All of them by default are made for listening and/or stage use, and in the latter they have a separate mic. Some manufacturers though might be willing to integrate a mic, or if not the IEM fabricator, a cable DIY-er.

The BT system you want, in regards to motorcycling, is one by Sena. For purposes of research we're avoiding using sena or any bluetooth device and seeing what comes up. What cable DIY-ers are out there?  Also what websites focus on professional radio setups?

 

Thanks.

post #7 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post
 

Can you recommend any of those forums by name? ... Also what websites focus on professional radio setups?

 

 

Here's one for pro audio (music), some of them could be into broadcasting so they would know about racing comms. Not sure about radio comms on the road though but better to try there than here.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post

 

What cable DIY-ers are out there? 

 

First, try the CIEM fabricators, see if they have in-line mic cables. Try UE and JH Audio first - UE has the TF10vi, so maybe they have a CIEM cable like that one; JHAudio IIRC had one before. Failing that, look up custom cable makers - lots of them on eBay and some on etsy. Or look them up here. Cheapest way is to get a finished universal IEM mic cable, like getting a replacement cable for the TF10vi or the Sennheiser IE8 with mic, and then have the earphone ends reterminated with plugs that will work with whatever plugs your chosen CIEM uses.

 


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 12/1/14 at 10:35pm
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post
 

 

Here's one for pro audio (music), some of them could be into broadcasting so they would know about racing comms. Not sure about radio comms on the road though but better to try there than here.

What's the website?

post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by krtong View Post
 

What's the website?

 

Sorry, here ya go : http://www.prosoundweb.com/forums

 

Fixed the link in my original post too.

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