Back in the “olden days” of motorcycling if you wanted to
communicate with another rider it was either screaming at the top of your lungs
trying to get the sounds from your voice to travel through the high speed
passing wind and penetrate the helmet of the rider next to you. The other
option was to use a mix of hand signals that if not known by or communicated
their meanings to the other rider(s) would just result in you looking like you
got a bee stuck in your motorcycle jacket.
Thankfully, advancements in audio technology brought about the introduction of what’s become known as motorcycle helmet communication systems. These days riders can now talk rider to rider—or to a group of riders—hear turn by turn GPS directions, make and take phone calls, or listen to their favorite song through these various helmet comms systems.
Even with a fullface helmet there's still plenty of wind and engine noise that can disrupt the the audio traveling from a in-helmet speaker to your years. And if there was one downfall to these comms systems it would be that the in-helmet speakers that came with them typically weren’t always of the highest quality. That’s not to say that the audio quality was bad, it just meant there was room for improvement. And that’s exactly what Cardo Systems did when they tapped JBL Audio to help them develop the Cardo Systems Scala Rider JBL Replacement Speakers.
A joint venture with Cardo and JBL audio, these 45mm
replacement speakers will significantly upgrade the sound quality of your Cardo
comms system or just about any comms system for that matter. These new 45mm
speakers combine the sound only a large diameter driver can provide, with a
narrow, 42mm base to fit pretty much any helmet.
There’s two components to this setup: the larger/upgraded speaker design and the downloadable firmware update that will help optimize the sound for the best sounding helmet speakers. Owners of the Cardo FREECOM and PACKTALK series will enjoy extra boost with the new JBL sound processor and firmware update. If you have a Cardo comms system and you’ve been using Cardo’s Smart Set app (dark blue icon) on your phone, that’s the old app and needs to be deleted.
Cardo has a new app called Cardo Connect (white icon) that needs to be downloaded. The speakers come with a small pamphlet and on one of the pages has a QR code that you can scan with your phone. Once you have the app installed you can do the firmware update and are ready to rock!
Packtalk owners (including all Packtalk variants, Smartpack
& SmartH) will enjoy three sound profiles that were specially designed by
JBL sound engineers. The selectable sound profiles are: Standard, Bass Boost,
and Vocal Sound and are accessible via the Cardo Connect App. Once downloaded
to a smart phone, users can select which sound profile would be best suited for
their listening preference or the type of music/audio they are listening to.
Unfortunately for Freecom owners they won’t be able to choose from the sound
profiles, they will only get to enjoy the Standard profile. However, these
users will notice a much improved listening experience with the combination of
the larger 45mm JBL optimized speakers and carefully curated Standard sound
The speakers feature a 3.5mm jack to work with any helmet communicator
system on the market. If you own a comms system other than one offered by Cardo
you won’t have the benefit of choosing any of the sound profiles but you will
get improved sound quality via the larger driver inside the speakers and JBL’s
years of exceptional audio knowledge and component design.
In this picture you can see the difference in size of the stock speaker that came with the original Cardo Packtalk on the left, and the new 45mm JBL speaker upgrade on the right.
In this picture you can see that even though the 45mm speaker is much larger, the backside is reduced down to the standard 40mm/42mm size so it will still fit in the speaker pocket of most motorcycle helmets.
Also notice that even though the new 45mm speaker on the right has a larger diameter, it’s thickness is still close to the standard size speaker size so it won’t protrude much from the speaker pocket.
If you're an audiophile you'll greatly appreciate the ability to choose from different sound profiles. And while it's not an option yet, we could see a how another firmware update could take things even further by letting you fine tune each profile to your liking. If you don't consider yourself an audiophile you'll still notice and enjoy the improved sound quality.