Sena SM10 Audio Volume vs Freewire - GL1800Riders
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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-14-2017, 06:09 PM Thread Starter
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Sena SM10 Audio Volume vs Freewire

My knee continues to heal and I hope to be back in the saddle next month. During this downtime, I want to replace my Sena SM10 with the new Sena Freewire so I can use my CB radio with bluetooth. Before I take the plunge and order a unit, I want to check something.

One of the problems with the SM10 I currently use is that there is a mismatch between the bike's sound level and the SM10. Even though I turn the volume on the bike's audio and my Sena 20S way up, the headset volume still isn't high enough and distortion goes way up. Plus, if I forget to turn the volume way down when I switch back to speakers, I overdrive them. I ended up kludging my setup with a preamp to get the volume where it needs to be. I had to add a bunch of extra components to address the added ground loops and ended up filling the area under my left fairing pocket. It's a mess of spaghetti and I do not like it or the anticipated reliability problems.

I want to completely eliminate the extra preamp. It really shouldn't be necessary, anyway. So I'm asking anyone who has installed the Freewire if it addresses the SM10's low volume problem.

I'd like to keep this thread on track, please.

Thank you,

Bob
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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 08:33 AM
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Maybe a dumb question, but, have you ever increased the volume output setting on the SM10?
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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 06:47 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by batmanmiami1 View Post
Maybe a dumb question, but, have you ever increased the volume output setting on the SM10?
Of course I have, batman. (No snark intended. ) I probably should have mentioned that in my OP. Do you own a SM10? If you do, you should understand the problem. Even with the gain set at max, I need to turn the bike's audio way up before I can hear music over wind noise. When I am in traffic, I turn the speakers on so drivers will know that I am there. That means I switch back and forth frequently. It is a major PITA to fuss with the volume before switching, especially in heavy traffic when it diverts my attention from the road. Others have complained about the same problem, so it's not a defective SM10 or a dumb error on my part.

Since the 'wing does not have a line-level output (level constant regardless of volume setting) and the SM10 was not designed specifically for the bike, we end up with the current mismatch. My hope is that the Freewire, being designed specifically for Harleys and 'wings, addresses the gain problem. I have learned to question "marketing speak" and get confirmation from real people before spending my hard-earned retirement income. I'm just looking for some confirmation from people who have the Freewire installed.

Thanks,

Bob
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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 07:26 PM
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The system is very new to me, just had it a week or two but I have not encountered and volume issues yet. I have mine paired to a SPH10 headset which may more may not be why I'm not having any volume problems, I have no idea, I just know it works for me....................so far. In fact when I'm on intercom talking to my buddy I have to keep turning the volume down. I wanted to go with the Freewire so I could use the bike's CB but the SPH10 is not compatible at this time. Come to think of it when the radar detector goes off the alerts are not a clear as they were before I hooked it all up to the SM10. Good luck, I'm sure someone will post a solution, if there is one.

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 07:29 PM
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I have an SM10 and do not understand the audio level problem. I get it in theory, but I do not have the problem myself in practice.

As for the audio hum when hooked up to bike power -- I have heard the Freewire is built to run off 12VDC and has solved the problem. The SM10 the way most people use it runs off 5V USB stepped down from 12V in the acc outlet by the USB adapter. For me, that hums, so I have to either run it off its battery or charge it from an external power pack rather than bike source. Either works.

I saw the Sena guys (real Sena guys, not some local installer) at the Timonium motorcycle show and asked them about that. They gave me a very disappointing hand wave about the whole thing. What's worse, the harness they showed me for the Freewire had only the audio inputs, not the power ones, and the guy was saying it was an either/or thing. I could have sworn it was supposed to be both. Set my confusion level up several notches.

I would buy my Freewire from Sierra Electronics and ask them your questions. They seem to be a good supplier and very knowledgeable on the support side.

I will stick with my SM10 as is for now. If someone ever swipes it, I might just make do with the 20S FM radio. I use a cheap BT dongle as hack for the RARE times when I want a little CB. If that every changes, I will buy a Freewire from Sierra and sell my SM10.
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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 10:18 PM
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I think I understand your volume problem because I had it too. When my SM10 was hooked up to my bike and then I connected a garmin there was enough inline noise that it caused the audio level to play low as if the SM10 had lowered it to hear the garmin. I installed one of those inline filters (not sure thats the corrected term) and it made my sound level is good and the bikes audio goes down when my garmin is talking. Btw, I have mine plugged into a aux power plug I put in the left pocket. Maybe your bike has a similar issue going on?

If your gonna buy a Freewire thats really awesome. I'm sure its very nice and you'll get your cb access you want. Its a bit pricey but probably really nice. Don't know much about them and didn't know about the power thing. Somewhat disappointed I never use my cb as of yet but if that were to change I'd be thinking Freewire too. I have a Sena 10u in my helmet so generally I'm listening to its own FM radio or music from my android. I've become fond of Waze as well for nav and traffic alerts so mostly use my garmin in my truck for trips.

Last edited by Happytrails; 02-15-2017 at 10:28 PM.
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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 10:18 PM
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Freewire is overpriced and until it becomes compatible with the SMH10 units they can keep it!!

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-15-2017, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the responses.

Big Bird, last year I contacted Sena tech support to ask some technical questions. I received misleading and flat-out dishonest responses so I have little trust for them

I'm a bit hard of hearing (due to spending 3 years sleeping 12" steel and 4" lagging from jets being catapulted off a carrier with afterburners on). I tend to turn the volume up more than others might. My enemy is ambient noise and there is a lot when riding at 80 mph.

I'm not concerned about hum. It is not an issue in this scenario. The noise I experience is mostly wind, not electrical. If I rode at more sedate speeds then noise wouldn't be as much of an issue.

I believe the Freewire is designed with sufficient gain to provide enough volume. There is an oblique reference in their marketing materials. But I hope to confirm BEFORE I plunk down $250. I will ask Sierra before purchasing. Thanks for the suggestion.

Bob


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 04:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happytrails View Post
I think I understand your volume problem because I had it too. When my SM10 was hooked up to my bike and then I connected a garmin there was enough inline noise that it caused the audio level to play low as if the SM10 had lowered it to hear the garmin.
Ladies and gentlemen, we might have a winner!

Yes! Noise on the SM10 aux input will suppress the main input volume. I ran into a similar problem on a ride with a guy who had a noisy mike (non-Sena). Any time I would put my intercom on it would suppress the signal I was getting from my SM10. That was an issue inside the 20S, though.

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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 02-16-2017, 09:53 AM
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This is probably a dumb question because I don't fully understand SENA and how it operates with different things, like phones, GPS, CB, etc.,, but are you thinking about spending $250 on Freewire just so you don't have to hook up the cord from your helmet to the bike's comm system?
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