Saturday, 29 November 2014

Cardo Scala Q2 Bike to Bike Headset - Review and Comfort

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We have been using these headsets for a while now and there are many things I love about them along with a couple of niggles, so thought I would write this post. I started off with the teamset headsets which had a short range suitable for rider to pillion communication and then went on to the bike to bike headsets with a range of around 500 metres that allows communication between riders.

There are a lot of positives when it comes to these headsets and there have been several models released since the Q2, supporting multiple rider connections and providing better quality communication. Volume levels are generally pretty good, especially for voice communication. They have mp3 connectivity to your mp3 player or music equipped phone and can also pair with your bluetooth sat nav of choice. There are no additional wires (other than the mp3 cable) as the headset attaches to a bracket fixed to the side of your helmet with the microphone being placed inside and the speakers attached via velcro.

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One slight annoyance is the disruption when going round a bend. It doesn’t matter if the surrounding area is clear or if it is built up with trees and buildings, the headsets will cut out, reconnecting on a straight. Wind can be another factor too and this mainly comes down to how well designed your helmet is. Another plus however is that communication can still be coherent even at speeds above 80 mph. The sound quality from your mp3 source isn’t fantastic but definitely audible providing you locate the speakers as close to your ears as possible. Although the speakers are quite thin they can become unbearably painful when positioned so that they can be heard. Some helmets come with speaker pockets, but as we are all different and our ears are not all in the same place, these aren’t always in the best position.

I used to own an XL Shoei helmet when I first used these communication devices. This lid was too large for me, but as it was specially ordered I stuck with it. I used to have little to no trouble hearing sound through the speakers and was able to locate them directly behind my ears without touching. Of course, from a safety perspective this was not ideal as a helmet should fit you snugly without too much movement. I now have my headset attached to a HJC lid that fits me perfectly. However, my ears fold or sit directly on top of the speakers which becomes incredibly painful after a while. Re-locating the speakers sometimes helps but then they are too quiet to hear any audio coming out of it. I have yet to find a suitable location that is both loud enough and comfortable to wear.

Online there are a few YouTube videos and guides on replacing the stock speakers with ones from a pair of headphones (see above). This may address the sound quality issue (depending on the sound output of the headset itself or your mp3 player - the Q2 does not amplifier your music) but does not address the positioning and comfort issues you may find with this headset. I have found several posts stating how uncomfortable these speakers are but none that have actually managed to address this issue. There may be better communication devices out there, but the Cardo Scala headsets are highly recommended and a popular brand.

If anyone knows a way of addressing the comfort issue I would be incredibly grateful! If you would like to write about your own experiences with any Cardo Scala headsets or any other types of headsets please feel free to write in the comments below =)

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