I previously had a Dianese bluetooth helmet for my phone/gps, but dropped it and decided that bluetooth wasn't the right solution for long trips (no stereo, 8 hrs battery, can't charge/power from the bike) so I recently got a Shoe Multitech (flip up) helmet and an Autocom Active Plus system with the bluetooth dongle for phone/gps.
I got the autocom installed before a recent 3 day/1500 mile trip, but the helmet hadn't come it yet, so I just got the autocom headphone adapter and used the system with some Sony in the ear headphones I've used with some success on the bike. The sound is good, and they provide some reduction in wind noise, but they have drawbacks: 1) they get pretty uncomfortable at the end of a 12 hour day, 2) they don't block wind noise as well as earplugs, and 3) they're illegal in California.
Last week the helmet arrived and I installed the autocom headset. This wasn't bad, it fixed all three of the in-the-ear problems, but the volume wasn't all that loud. I could barely hear my music at highway speed, even with the iPod volume cranked all the way up.
After reading some other posts I decided to replace the Autocom speakers with some headphone speakers, specifically those from the Koss Titanium Portable Headphone from RadioShack
. At $40 these aren't as cheap as some other people had found, but I tried both these and the RadioShack branded headphone (which supposedly has the same Koss Titanium insert) in the store and the Koss branded ones were noticeably louder, and that's what I was going for: volume.
Replacing the speakers was surprisingly easy. The Koss speakers are MUCH larger than the Autocom ones, see attached picture. Here's what I did:
1) unsnap the Koss speakers from the headpiece, just pry a little.
2) unsnap the back from the Koss speakers, just pull at the edge
3) note which side is common and which is input on the speakers (with the solder pads towards the bottom, the left side is common and the right side is input)
4) unsolder the wires from the speaker (they come right off)
5) peel the velcro backing off the Autocom speakers
6) snap the speakers themselves out of the plastic frame
7) there is no common wire with the Autocom wiring, two pins on the plug are used for each speaker, but I assumed the black wire was common and the white was input.
8) unsolder the wires from the speaker (again, they come right off)
9) solder the wires from the Autocom plug to the Koss speakers, observing common and input
<snap a picture for the forum>
10) I chose to use up some slack on the wires and glue them to the center of the koss speaker, for some resistance to pulling.
11) I then used some rubber cement to stick on the foam circles that were in the Koss shell over the top of the speakers.
12) run out to the bike to make sure everything works. It does, and it's loud - this is a good sign.
I could probably have just stuck some velcro right to the back of this, but I wanted a little more thickness to get the speakers closer to my ear. I tried using the Koss shells, but they were actually a little too thick and hard to position correctly within the Multitech helmet. So I compromised and glued the oval shaped plastic backs from the original Autocom speakers to the back of the Koss speakers. (Rubber cement again.) I stuck the original velcro ovals from the Autocom to this plastic piece.
The resulting fit is pretty good. The oval plastic helps get the speakers closer to the center of my ear, and gave me a better place to attach the velcro in the helmet.
The result is impressive. Standing in the garage without earplugs the audio is L O U D
. Hurt my ears loud. I had to turn down the volume on the music. I put in my earplugs and it was better, but still really loud. I went out for a short ride and it's now easy to hear the music at speed, with earplugs and wind noise. The sound is maybe even louder (and better quality) than with my Sony in the ear headphones, but they're pretty close. ...I may have to turn the volume down at the Autocom.
From start to finish this took me about 90 minutes, but I was messing around and trying different installations. I could probably do it again in 30 minutes or less, it's actually very easy.
If you've got an Autocom and don't find it loud enough or of good quality for music, I strongly recommend getting a set of these headphones and replacing the speakers.
[Note: I'm having trouble attaching the picture... Safari says "Safari can’t open the page “http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/newattachment.php”
. The error was: “Operation could not be completed. (kCFErrorDomainCFNetwork error 302.)” , Firefox seems to succeed but the attachment never shows up, Explorer says "The attempt to load 'Accessing URL: http://www.bmwlt.com/forums/newattachment.php' failed."]
[Note2: shrinking the picture by 50% worked -- thanks!]