Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins) - BMW Luxury Touring Community
 
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post #1 of 12 Old Jul 12th, 2008, 11:29 pm Thread Starter
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Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

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!]
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Last edited by bonafidebob; Jul 13th, 2008 at 1:27 am.
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post #2 of 12 Old Jul 12th, 2008, 11:42 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

[Note: I'm having trouble attaching the picture... Safari gives me a 302 error, Firefox seems to succeed but the attachment never shows up.]

Try resizing the pic files to smaller ones ( Ref to earlier post about trouble uploading pics )

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post #3 of 12 Old Dec 1st, 2008, 11:10 am
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

For what it is worth, the volume issues you mentioned usually can be cured by correctly placing the speakers in the center of your ear and close to your ear. Call me if you have any other problems with the autocom operation. Kieth in Tulsa 918-446-2245
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post #4 of 12 Old Dec 1st, 2008, 12:10 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

like they say, "location, location, location" it even works for speaker placement. I found out the hard way by making a 250 mi. trip from my house to Autocomm HQ. (twice) in albany NY before my four corner trip last year.

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post #5 of 12 Old Dec 1st, 2008, 12:46 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

Thanks for the post. I've also found the sound on the autocom speakers very tinny, with small dynamic range. Music sounds terrible, and am looking to replace the speakers.

Did you have any issue with the size of the speakers fitting in your helmet?

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post #6 of 12 Old Dec 1st, 2008, 1:58 pm Thread Starter
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

Re: placement of the Autocom speakers. I'm pretty sure I placed them correctly. Even holding them up to my ear (outside the helmet), the difference between the tiny Autocom speakers and the Koss headphone speakers was very apparent. With good earplugs in, the Autocoms just didn't cut it. The dynamic range is much better with the Koss speakers too, though at speed and with earplugs in the bass is pretty well drowned out by wind noise, but at lower speed they sound great, and for GPS instructions or phone calls the volume is needed.

And with the Autocom volume turned up all the way the speakers are almost painfully loud without earplugs in -- I think this is just more encouragement for me to put them in for every ride, even short ones.

There was plenty of room in my helmet (Shoei Multitec) for the Koss speakers. They're not significantly larger than the Autocom assembly, the difference though is the Koss units are all speaker while the Autocom's are much smaller speakers inside a plastic framework. The Koss speakers are very thin at the edges, which makes fitting them a lot easier. There's a plastic pin in the center of the back which could be cut off if necessary to make the whole assembly even thinner, I think it was there to snap onto the silver shells, but it didn't really get in my way so I left it there.

As I posted above, I actually kept/used the Autocom plastic framework to help position the Koss speakers correctly.
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post #7 of 12 Old Mar 26th, 2009, 10:44 am
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

Another vote for Koss from Radio Shack. The volume and dynamic range (including decent bass) just aren't there with the Autocoms. Good fit in my Shoei Multitec also.


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post #8 of 12 Old Mar 26th, 2009, 12:57 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

I think I will give them a try........Kieth
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post #9 of 12 Old Jan 24th, 2010, 12:36 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

Over the years I have tried several combinations of speakers in my helmet and have never been satisfied. I like to ride with earplugs and the speaker solution always prevented their use. I now use in-ear headphones such as those made by Etymotic or Shure as well as many other manufacturers. They provide a great seal from wind noise and also provide exceptional sound quality.
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post #10 of 12 Old Jan 28th, 2010, 12:39 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

FYI, most Autocom systems are designed to run with 32ohm speakers, the reason you are getting more volume with the koss speakers is because they are probably 8 ohm speakers. You are mistaking volume for quality and will find that you may burn up the amp in your Autocom . (the amp can really drive the 8 ohm speakers and it will burn it up)

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post #11 of 12 Old Jan 28th, 2010, 1:15 pm
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kieth
FYI, most Autocom systems are designed to run with 32ohm speakers, the reason you are getting more volume with the koss speakers is because they are probably 8 ohm speakers. You are mistaking volume for quality and will find that you may burn up the amp in your Autocom . (the amp can really drive the 8 ohm speakers and it will burn it up)

Kieth
Rat Shack specs are 60 ohms.

I also replaced the Autocom OEM's with the Koss KTXPro1and now have superior music as well as communication clarity & volume. The LT volume control is way down compared where they needed to be for the speakers even at rest.

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post #12 of 12 Old Jan 29th, 2010, 6:06 am
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Re: Autocom vs Koss (Koss wins)

Quote:
Over the years I have tried several combinations of speakers in my helmet and have never been satisfied. I like to ride with earplugs and the speaker solution always prevented their use. I now use in-ear headphones such as those made by Etymotic or Shure as well as many other manufacturers. They provide a great seal from wind noise and also provide exceptional sound quality.
+1
Could not agree more, I have also tried a number of different speakers in the Autocom headset with mixed results. I have not found anything any better than the Etymotic ear plugs for masking wind noise and very good sound quality.
http://www.etymotic.com/ephp/er6.aspx

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