SENA 20S Quick Review - BMW Luxury Touring Community
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post #1 of 16 Old Aug 4th, 2014, 9:14 pm Thread Starter
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SENA 20S Quick Review

As did many of us, I waited a long time for the 20S to actually appear as a real product. The wait was worth it. This is my first Bluetooth motorcycle headset, having been a long time user of Autocom and its associated accessories. The wife and I simply wanted something a bit easier to work with without all the wires attaching stuff to the helmet. Another consideration, the helmet harness on my helmet needed replacing having developed a broken wire in the cable someplace that I could not locate.

The Sena 20S comes complete with three microphone setups. As delivered it is set up for use with an open face helmet boom mic. The other two options are a wired microphone element for use with full face helmets, and another boom mic set for use with a modular helmet. It has a paddle on the opposite end of the boom from the microphone, and is designed to stuff into the helmet between the shell and the crush layer and held secure with a piece of velcro material. This is the setup I used for mounting in the Schuberth C3 and my wifes C3W. The mounting of the clip-on is a universal clamp setup and the instructions clearly indicate it might be necessary to use the stick-on mounting setup on some helmets.

For those unfamiliar with the C3, it has a neck skirt which contains a stiff ring inside the material that snaps into a C-shaped channel on the helmet shell, and makes for a thick area that the clamp cannot get around easily. After thinking about it, I took a craft knife (scalpel) and cut the stitching holding the foam padding neck ring to its mounting point on the ring itself. That stitching area is a plastic thing that is about a 1/4 inch wide which I trimmed off about two inches of to allow the clamp of the 20S to slide into position properly and allow me to tighten the clamp screws. The rest of the installation consisted of changing the microphone from the installed open face boom microphone to the modular helmet microphone, snaking the wiring for the speakers and the microphone boom to the clamp housing. The electronics package snaps into the clamp mounting with a definite snap by pressing both ends together with your fingers. Failure to snap in properly will cause loss of audio to the speakers.

This is the clamp and shows the microphone lead (going left) and the speaker leads (going right) out of the clamp unit. The bright button on the left of the clamp unit is the latch release button to release the electronics package:





The 20S has a nice feature that I was specifically waiting on, that being the plug for use with custom earplug speakers. Plugging in defeats the speakers automatically, and unplugging reconnects the speakers as primary output.

The charging port on the electronics package is now on the lower part of the housing and is weather sealed by a rubber plug. Earlier models had this plug on top and could catch rain water into the electronics causing problems. This should not happen with the 20S design.

This is the electronics module attached to the helmet clamp.
You can see the charging port as a small black protrusion (5 o'clock position) below the telephone answer button (3 o'clock position).



This photo shows the mounting position for the modular helmet microphone boom. At the bottom right of the helmet, you can see the earphone jack cover (earphone symbol) on the black plug.





One issue with the earplug jack: The audio is very hot and distorts due to overloading of the earplug speakers even with the 20S volume fully low. I solved that issue by purchasing a small in-line volume control from Radio Shack that totally eliminates the problem. Set the volume properly low with that control, and you can still use the 20S volume control knob properly.

Connectivity is easy with my BMW R1200RT sound system and iPhone 4S. Transmit audio is so good, even with my face shield and chin bar up, that a number of people are not even aware I am riding the bike. With the shield down and closed, my wife cannot tell if I am moving or not. Receive audio is a bit bandwidth limited and the BMW audio lacks bass and sounds a bit tinny but is acceptable unless you are a total audiophile at which point, my Autocom wired system has much better music quality.

The system has voice command capability that is fun to play with. There is a 3-number speed dial memory, but since I have my iPhone paired, I simply use Siri to dial my phone numbers. Really nice.

20S ready for use with antenna extended. I have not noticed much difference with the antenna up compared to folded down.



I have not tried the group pairing feature, but it should be easy to set up with the iPhone app that Sena has available for free in the app store, and looks at your headsets through the bluetooth interface. It even tells you if a firmware update is available.

Excellent product to date, and i can recommend it highly.
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Doug Stracener
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post #2 of 16 Old Aug 5th, 2014, 4:52 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

Thank you. Good review. I've read several less than flattering reviews about the product, but none really seemed to be, excuse the pun, fair and balanced. I've been a big fan of my SMH10 and had been waiting and waiting and waiting for the S20 release to decide if I wanted to upgrade. I still don't know if I'm ready, but your review was very enlightening.

Bob

2005 Blue K1200LT
2010 R1200GS
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post #3 of 16 Old Aug 5th, 2014, 6:10 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

Cool. Thanks for the review.. I'll upgrade mine when my smh10 wears out.
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post #4 of 16 Old Dec 14th, 2014, 11:36 am
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

Have you used it in the rain? I've read several reports saying it craps out in the rain.

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post #5 of 16 Old Dec 15th, 2014, 6:36 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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Originally Posted by tgrichards View Post
Have you used it in the rain? I've read several reports saying it craps out in the rain.
I have been in some good long rains on trips. It didn't bother the intercom.

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post #6 of 16 Old Jan 17th, 2015, 7:43 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

Your lack of bandwidth in the audio might be caused by the RS product?.

Sens should be able to tell you what impedance range ur unit is designed for, and what u can do to use ur ear phones if u tell them what impedance they are. an attenuator should do the job better than the Rs product. I doubt if you have enough room for an impedance transformer to solve the problem..

you can try thoroughly cleaning plugs and jacks with rubbing alcohol. Any dirt or corrosion you clean away helps clear up the audio. cleaners like DeOxit and Progold claim to prevent oxidation and corrosion.

bob

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post #7 of 16 Old Jul 27th, 2015, 3:03 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

Bob, did you lose any functionality of the RT's multi wheel by going with Sena vs. the BMW comm unit? If the loss is just volume control, I can live with that as long as the multi wheel still works for the other audio functions.

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post #8 of 16 Old Jul 28th, 2015, 10:16 am
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

I installed Sena 20s into our Neotec helmets just a few days ago. So far I am somewhat impressed, although there is alot of information to work through. So far, I have used the FM radio which has worked much better than I expected for our rural area up here. Radio tuned to XM satellite radio fm transmitter works very well, too. Audio quality is as good as I expected. The Sena 20s replaces our quite aged Autocom Pro 7 Sport. My primary reason for changing to Sena was Autocom has closed up shop and I needed to upgrade. We didn't have good individual volume control with Autocom. Sena definately addressed that. This feature needed with me wearing earplugs and my wife does not. Also desire bluetooth capability for ipod tunes. (no smartphhone for us yet)

Scott and Theresa
Munising, MI
2004 K1200LT Black
2014 Kawasaki KLR650

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post #9 of 16 Old Jul 28th, 2015, 12:09 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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Originally Posted by Munmi View Post
Radio tuned to XM satellite radio fm transmitter works very well, too. Audio quality is as good as I expected.
How do you have this set up? What type of XM receiver do you have and how are you getting the music to your Sena?

Mike Trevelino
Williamsburg, VA
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post #10 of 16 Old Jul 28th, 2015, 10:22 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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How do you have this set up? What type of XM receiver do you have and how are you getting the music to your Sena?
I have the Delphi Roady II XM receiver. It has a built-in FM transmitter. Select an unused FM frequency on the XM, then tune in the FM radio on the Sena 20s to that frequency. For most of our local riding, the XM is set at 106.9 as there are no local radio stations broadcasting on that frequency. As we travel, it is easy to adjust if needed. The receiver lays flat in the oddiments box on my LT. It's power source is located under the rear seat, with 12 volt coming from Fuzeblok FZ-1 located near battery. Antenna is mounted on a makeshift bracket on radio stingray.

I also use the same XM receiver in whichever other vehicle I might be driving. I have an extra XM antenna and power source for that.

Pics available upon request.

Scott and Theresa
Munising, MI
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2014 Kawasaki KLR650

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post #11 of 16 Old Jul 29th, 2015, 6:45 am
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

Thanks Scott! This is good to know when I go wireless. I currently have a old Delphi Skyfi 2 receiver.

Mike Trevelino
Williamsburg, VA
2008 RT
2000 LT - Totaled at 99,960 miles


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post #12 of 16 Old Jul 29th, 2015, 1:31 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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Originally Posted by tgrichards View Post
Have you used it in the rain? I've read several reports saying it craps out in the rain.
My wife and I just returned from a 1600 mile roundtrip to the Smoky Mountains. Units worked great on 420 mile day 1, listened to XM radio and "Music Shared" with wife. After riding around on the BRP and getting caught in several rain showers the intercom still worked great. We did not use the XM because reception is not good in the mountains. On our return trip home yesterday we tried using XM and it kept cutting in and out like very bad reception but when I'd touch my volume dial it would cause all kinds of static so I'm thinking the water must have caused this to happen. The intercom function still works fine though. I'll give them a couple days to dry out and try again.

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post #13 of 16 Old Jul 29th, 2015, 2:52 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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. . . We did not use the XM because reception is not good in the mountains. . . .
Since the XM signal comes from above (outer space) I would not think the mountains would affect signal reception. Something to think about.
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post #14 of 16 Old Jul 29th, 2015, 3:40 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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Since the XM signal comes from above (outer space) I would not think the mountains would affect signal reception. Something to think about.
When riding beside mountains and forestation it certainly does play havoc with the signal, the same as riding in the city next to tall buildings. You think about it.

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post #15 of 16 Old Jul 29th, 2015, 11:29 pm
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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Originally Posted by OrangeOkie View Post
Since the XM signal comes from above (outer space) I would not think the mountains would affect signal reception.
If Western North Carolina is about 83 degrees west latitude (west end of BRP} and the XM satellite is a 115 degrees west latitude, it doesn't take too much of a building or mountain to block clear signal. Of course antenna quality does become a factor as well.

Scott and Theresa
Munising, MI
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post #16 of 16 Old Jul 30th, 2015, 7:01 am
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Re: SENA 20S Quick Review

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Originally Posted by OrangeOkie View Post
Since the XM signal comes from above (outer space) I would not think the mountains would affect signal reception. Something to think about.
I see that you are taking a beating o this (LOL), let me add my experience. In my cage when I travel I-64 West and I am in the passing lane, the XM cuts in and out, now if I am in the slow right side lane, the reception is better. I conclude that the trees in the center of the highway is blocking the clear signal to my antenna. Lately, I have been just using my radio on this stretch of road.
Just my $.02

Mike Trevelino
Williamsburg, VA
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2000 LT - Totaled at 99,960 miles


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