Purchasing intercom Sena SMH5 is our next attempt to find the ideal equipment to communicate on a motorcycle. After using wireless intercom BTS-200 we have become accustomed to the comfort of traveling without the bundle of cables around us, as was the case when using the wires. Having the function of talking on the phone paired with an intercom would be hard thing to part with, as we are so used to that and we use it all the time, mostly Liwia in the back seat, when not filming the sights and routes, likes to chat with friends and family.
The important matter which improves the traveling comfort of the passenger is music. The BTS-200 can be paired with a mobile phone or other audio device and the quality of played music is very good. However, it turned out that we cannot listen to the same music streamed from a single source – in our case the phone. Current technology allows mobiles to pair them with only one set of Bluetooth headphones. The same applies to the intercoms. Therefore, there is no possibility of playing music from one mobile to two intercoms. It was even of not help at all to purchase an additional device that divides the music, which I mentioned in the test of BTS-200. Thus, when I came across a description of the equipment Sena SMH5, where one of the functions is sharing music with another user, I thought it would be the perfect intercom for us.
How is in reality? I encourage you to read the whole text, in which you will get to know our opinion after several months of using the device.
Inside the set
Intercom can be purchased in one of the three variants, in which the difference is the included microphone. So we have the option of a set for open helmet with a microphone on a flexible headband, a set to the closed helmet with a microphone on the wire fastened with Velcro, and a universal set with two types of microphones included. And universal, to which are attached two types of microphones. Kits are also divided into a single or dual type – Single Pack and Dual Pack.
Our full dual set for closed helmets includes the following items:
- Two Main Units Sena SMH5 (intercoms)
- Clamp Unit
- Glued Surface Mounting Plate
- Two Pairs of Helmet Headphones
- Wired Microphone fastened with Velcro
- USB Power & Data Cable
- Velcro Pads for Headphones
- Velcro Pads for Wired Microphone
- Headphones Pads
- Allen Wrench
- Quick Guide – comprehensive and instructions you need to download from the manufacturer
The set does not include a charger, but the included power cable is a standard micro USB cable so you can charge the device eg. from your PC / laptop or use the battery charger added to cellphones.
The Functions of the Sena SMH5 Intercom
Bluetooth 3.0 allows for maintaining the highest quality of sound while transmitting it between the devices. It also allows you to operate multiple devices simultaneously and use multiple profiles, like AVRCP which makes possible to remotely control the music that is being played. It also allows you to operate multiple devices at the same time, and use multiple profiles, among other things, AVRCP, through which it is possible to remote control the music playing. One intercom is able to be connected up to 4 devices, including the second intercom, cellphone, GPS navigation and an audio device or other phone.
Jog Dial button
The device has an innovative and handy jog dial button, which makes controlling the intercom very simple, resulting in lack of irritation while driving and using the device at the same time.
Simple and quick service allows for the most safe using of the intercom and riding a motorcycle.
The maximum range between the two intercoms Sena SMH5 is 400 m in the open area.
Universal Intercom ™
Intercom Sena SMH5 is designed in a way so that it can work with other intercoms of different brands. This means that you can carry on a conversation with another biker who uses the intercom of another brand, if it is compatible with Bluetooth 3.0.
As I mentioned at the outset, this is a very practical feature for those who like to listen to the same music while motorcycling. Each user is able to share their music with another user from a paired phone or audio device to their set. Moreover, using AVRCP profile allows for the music to be controlled remotely via the intercom. Music is played in stereo in very good quality.
Built-in audio amplifier and advanced noise reduction filter provide crystal clear sound even in noisy environments.
Charging while driving
This is one of the major advantages of this intercom. Thanks to this function, no matter how far and how long you are traveling, you will never run out of communication due to the limited capacity of your battery.
Free software updates
The ability to update the software to correct errors or add new functionality is another great advantage of the intercom by Sena.
In order for the better use of the intercom each selected function is preceded by a pleasant woman’s voice message. The messages are available in the following languages: English, French, Italian, German and Spanish.
Battery life is 8 hours of talk time. In standby mode, the battery will last for about 7 days.
Installing intercom Sena SMH5 inside the helmet.
Installation of the speakers inside the helmet I described in the article about the intercom BTS-200. The clamp unit is being screwed through an Allen wrench to the helmet and it does not take more than 5 minutes of your time. After installing the clamp unit and speakers, the intercom is ready to work. Inserted into the clamp, it fits in confidently and securely. Instead of using the clamp unit, there can be used one that is stuck on, but it is not recommended to do and even the manufacturer of intercom stipulates that it is done solely at your own risk.
The supplied speakers are not as thin as such, as was the case in Intercom BTS-200, therefore in the helmets without specific speakers spots, they can pinch. This may affect the quality of sound, because the natural action would be to place the speakers below the ear in order to reduce the pinching and discomfort. Therefore the sound will not be loud and clear, because the speakers will not exactly match the ears.
With the rotary jog dial button, the control of the intercom Sena SMH5 from the first moments won our approval and we enjoyed the use of it being so simple and intuitive. Switching between the second user and the music from the cellphone boils down to one Jog Dial’s push. Sharing music is being done with the same button being pressed for 1 second. In addition to the jog dial button, there is another one in red, called Phone Button, and as the name suggests, it is used mainly for functions related to the operation of the phone. Therefore, intercom control boils down to two buttons, Phone Button located at the rear of the device, which makes it very easy to push it with your thumb. And the rotary jog dial, which is large and without any problems it can be found with a gloved hand.
The rotating mode of the main button works very well with turning up and turning down the channels, as it depends on the speed of turning, not a quick patting of the button. It helps in a situation where you need to quickly mute the music. Each connected device has a separate volume control.
Essential in the control are voice messages, informing about every action done by the user. The subtle female voice, like from the London Underground, has been accompanying us ever since the first use of the intercom, greeting us with “Hello” and giving us a farewell with simple “Good-bye” when the device is turned off.
Communication while motorcycling
Noise filter system works amazingly well. We do not hear any disturbances during our talk, and during the pauses between the topics, we cannot hear nor wind, nor other sounds that could microphones detect, for example an engine sound. the sound of the engine. Initially, I was not accustomed to such silence and I wondered whether in such moments intercoms work.
Sound amplification is also at the highest level and a clear sound remains even on the highway. Sound amplification is also at the highest level and a clear sound remains even on the highway. Besides, it is also available to adjust the volume during a call, so if it got too quiet, you can always increase the channel’s volume.
SMH5 model can handle up to 3 other intercoms connected simultaneously. However, a group conversation relies on switching between the paired users. An additional feature to the talks, which is disabled by default, is the sidetone. And exactly that deals with this function. Once it is activated in the speakers, you will hear what is said by you to the microphone, in order to hear yourself and naturally choose the level of the voice based on the prevailing conditions in the helmet.
At the beginning of the use of intercoms we had a small problem during communication when our sets had phones connected. Occasionally, during the talks the sound was so distorted that it was impossible to understand the words. It lasted for about a minute, sometimes longer, and passed spontaneously. The problem in the devices disappeared after their updates to the new software.
Listening to music
Music is played in the stereo and it has a very good sound quality. If the connected audio source supports the AVRCP profile, then the music can be controlled remotely by pressing the Jog Dial. It makes possible to pause the music, turning on and switching between the next or previous track. Our music’s source is a smartphone that supports the AVRCP profile, however, it is the application for playing music that determines whether it supports the AVRCP or not. I am using GoneMAD Music Player application, that is available for Android, and both me and Liwia are able to control played playlist when we use the function of sharing music.
Regarding the function of Music Sharing – it works great. Nothing interrupts, it doesn’t turn off, nor suspend, and the beat keeps bumping. The music is perfectly synchronized on both devices. And as I mentioned above, even the second person who receives the music can control it remotely.
Switching between a talk with the second intercom to listening music is being done through the press of one button, and it takes about 1.5 seconds before it switches to talk mode. For us it would be just perfect if there was the ability to listen to music and to talk at the same time. Music could then be slightly in less volume during the talks. Unfortunately, there is no such functionality, but the compensation is a very good quality of music, unblemished with other sounds coming from the microphone.
Talking on the phone paired with an intercom goes without any objection. The sound of conversation is very good on both sides of the connection. Here again, you have to acknowledge the advanced noise reduction system, because our interlocutor will not hear any wind or engine noise. The functionality of the phone is not reduced only to receiving calls, for you can also at any time hang up or call the last number dialed. There is also speed-dial option where you can save 3 friends, so that while driving you could call them by intercom.
An incoming call rings with tone and you can answer it with any button or by saying something loudly to the microphone. If you previously ran the conversation between intercom, then a phone call does not terminate immediately connection with another user, therefore you can warn the other person on the intercom that you are going to answer the phone and hang up for a while.
SMH5 intercom can be configured according to the available options by connecting the USB cable to the computer and installing the software or by using the voice menu available on the device itself. The option of connecting it into a computer is much faster, particularly when it comes to adding numbers for quick dialing. In the configuration menu you will find the ability to disable / enable voice messages, enable / disable the noise control system, delete all paired devices, disable / enable sidetone, manage numbers for speed dialing, or disable / enable receiving phone calls using your voice.
Frequent updates of the software is one of the most important qualities for which I appreciate Sena brand. It is not just about fixing bugs and functioning of the intercom, but also about adding new functionality even for older models of equipment. Taking as an example the model discussed Sena SMH5 at the beginning did not have features such as music sharing, quick dial, the possibility of pairing with intercoms of other brands. It also had not such an advanced noise control system. It was only the later added updates that had made these improvements. So I think the company Sena should get an “A” for their approach to the client. After all, the new features could be introduced only with new models to profit benefits.
Another important feature of the intercom Sena SMH5 is the ability to charge the device while riding. Built-in and non-removable battery lasts for about 8 hours of use, and when it is dead, there is nothing that could prevent you from continuing the journey, all it takes is just the cigarette lighter socket and an appropriate USB adapter. Bundled charging cables have a length of 121 cm, and as far as it is sufficient length to charge the intercom from the slot mounted on the steering wheel, for the passenger it could be a little too short. The solution may be a USB extender or additional cigarette lighter socket mounted somewhere closer to the rear seat.
Charging socket has a micro-USB connector, which I think is also a big plus, because the intercom can be recharged with every battery charger for modern smartphones and other devices.
- Innovative and handy jog dial button
- Ability to communicate with intercoms of other brands
- The sharing of music
- High quality of sound, music, telephone and intercom
- Advanced noise reduction filter and sound amplification
- Controlling the intercom using voice instructions
- Software updates adding new features
- The ability to charge while riding
- Speed dialing calls
- Remote control of played music
- Configurable functions
- Micro-USB connector
- Speakers could be thinner, because the helmets without profiled slots can pinch ears
- Inability to simultaneously listening to music and chatting
For the time being, price of the double set starts from $180. I think it is a good price considering the abilities of this intercom.
In my opinion intercom Sena SMH5 is a great equipment from a great producer who values the satisfaction of motorcyclists and provides free software updates that bring new functionality to all the variety of intercom’ models. Moreover, he introduced functionality that offers a cross-brand compatibility (Universal Intercom Protocol). Patented large rotary jog dial button supported by a user-friendly interface with voice communications make it easy and enjoyable to use with motorcycle’ gloves. The high-tech intercom can cope with all conditions providing crystal clear sound without any noise or other distracting sounds. The number of features, growing together with constant updates, makes it the product that is immune to aging and incapable of staying behind. Sena SMH5 is the equipment which can be taken even for the long voyages because it is not limited to the web charger and can be recharged with the cigarette lighter of the motorcycle while riding.
Is this intercom an ideal solution for us? I will say that it’s almost perfect. I’ve got the helmet in which a set of speakers pinch a little my ears, so in the process of improving device the manufacturer could think of a little thinner speakers. It would be nice if there was also the ability to listening to music and talking at the same time, making the music played turned down for the duration of spoken words.