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Best Motorcycle Helmet Speakers: Ride to Your Rhythm

Time to expand your helmet’s arsenal.

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BYRobert Bacon/ LAST UPDATED ON July 19, 2022

We have an ever-increasing dependence on navigation systems, so although motorcycle helmet speakers aren’t a necessity, they’re not far from it. These devices aren’t just about practicality. They breathe new life into the already wondrous world of motorcycling. Those random thoughts that only arise when you're on the road with a clear mind can now be shared with your riding buddies, and these headsets also allow you and your passenger to share the anthem of your road trip. Thankfully, there are many products to choose from, depending on the type of riding you do.

Best Overall

Cardo Packtalk Edge

Summary
The previous model ruled the roost for several years, and Cardo’s dominance continues with the Edge. It features mesh and Bluetooth technology and the best speakers.
Pros
  • Bluetooth V5.2 and second-generation mesh technology
  • JBL 40 mm stereo speakers
  • Great digital sound processing 
  • Sleek design
  • Upgraded natural voice technology
Cons
  • Slightly expensive
  • Charging port cover could be better
Best Value

Lexin B4fm

Summary
This lesser-known brand is almost impossible to beat in terms of value for money. You can communicate with up to 10 other riders via Bluetooth. Just don’t expect too much from the budget speakers.
Pros
  • Great value
  • Bluetooth V5.0
  • Advertised range of 2,000 meters
  • 15 hours of talk time
Cons
  • Poor quality speaker system
  • No mesh technology
Honorable Mention

Sena 50S

Summary
The top-of-the-line product from one of the biggest names in the game. This model features mesh and Bluetooth technology as well as speakers and microphones from Harman Kardon.
Pros
  • Bluetooth and mesh technology
  • Harman Kardon speakers and microphone
  • Bluetooth V5.0
  • Three-year warranty
  • Rapid charging
Cons
  • Firmware updates can be annoying
  • Mobile app is tricky to use
Best Motorcycle Helmet Speakers: Ride to Your Rhythm

Our Methodology

To choose the best motorcycle helmet speakers on the market, I employed The Drive’s comprehensive research methodology and evaluated dozens of pairs of helmet speakers before choosing the top contenders. Although I haven’t personally tested these products, my selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and my institutional knowledge of the automotive industry. I visited the Motorcycle subreddit to get a more informed opinion of what motorcyclists felt about the products on the market and RevZilla to see what the experts had to say after their hands-on tests.

Why Trust Us

Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.

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Best Motorcycle Helmet Speakers Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Cardo Packtalk Edge

Best Budget: Lexin B4fm

Honorable Mention: Sena 50S

Best Mesh-Only Headset: Sena Spider ST1

Best for Small Groups: Cardo Freecom 4X

Specs

  • Brand: Cardo
  • Model: Packtalk Special Edition
  • Mesh technology: Yes

Pros

  • Bluetooth V5.2 and second-generation mesh technology
  • JBL 40 mm stereo speakers
  • Great digital sound processing
  • Sleek design
  • Upgraded natural voice technology

Cons

  • Slightly expensive
  • Manual controls are a bit small

The Cardo Packtalk Edge outperforms all other motorcycle helmet speakers in almost every measurable way, especially in terms of sound quality, thanks to its 40-mm JBL speakers. The headset features Cardo’s updated Natural Voice Operation system, which works exceptionally well when compared to other headset’s voice command systems. This model has a sleek design and no longer features an antenna as in Cardo’s previous headsets. It’s easier than ever to fit onto your helmet thanks to its magnetic mounting system. The Edge uses second-generation mesh technology, which allows you to seamlessly connect with up to 15 riders over a range of five miles. Since it’s mesh technology, you won’t need to pull over and reconnect if you dip out of range for a while. Cardo guarantees that it’s waterproof and covers water damage in its three-year warranty. Cardo’s noise-canceling algorithm is better than anything on offer from its competitors and easily differentiates between wind noise and vocal patterns. Although a Bluetooth communication range of one mile is advertised, the real-world range is likely around 800-1,200 meters.

Specs

  • Brand: Lexin
  • Model: LX-B4SP
  • Mesh technology: No

Pros

  • Great value
  • Bluetooth V5.0
  • Advertised range of 2,000 meters
  • 15 hours of talk time

Cons

  • Poor quality speaker system
  • No mesh technology

If you want to dip your toe into the world of motorcycle headsets, check out the Lexin B4fm. This model can connect up to 10 riders at once and has an advertised intercom range of 2,000 meters, although the real-world range is probably half this. It uses Bluetooth V5.0, meaning you can expect quick and stable connections to your phone and other riders. Unfortunately, this headset doesn’t feature mesh technology, but that’s to be expected when you consider its low price. It has a hands-free voice recognition system, which you can use to operate some of the headset’s basic functions. Two interchangeable microphones are included. The boom microphone is suited to open-face helmets, and the button microphone is good for anyone with a full-face helmet. This model is IP67 rated, meaning you can use it in all weather conditions, and it’ll even work in temperatures as low as minus 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The 800 mAh battery provides up to 15-hours of talk time and over one week of standby time. The biggest gripe I have with this product is that the standard speakers are pretty low quality.

Specs

  • Brand: Sena
  • Model: 50S
  • Mesh technology: Yes

Pros

  • Bluetooth and mesh technology
  • Harman Kardon speakers and microphone
  • Bluetooth V5.0
  • Three-year warranty
  • Rapid charging

Cons

  • Firmware updates and mobile apps aren’t intuitive
  • Only water resistant

If most of your buddies use Sena headsets, then opting for the 50S intercom is your best option. This model will work better with other Sena headsets than if you had a model from Cardo or another brand. The 50S uses mech technology, which allows you to communicate with riders up to five miles away, as long as the system can piggyback off another mesh-enabled headset every 1.1 miles. The most notable upgrade compared to the previous iteration is the speaker system and microphone, which were created in conjunction with Harman Kardon. The 50S uses Bluetooth V5.0, which provides a stable connection to phones and GPS units. When using Bluetooth to communicate, you’ll have 13 to 14 hours of talk time, but this falls to around nine hours when using mesh technology. If you charge this model for 20 minutes using the USB-C fast charger, you’ll add six hours of Bluetooth talk time or 3.5 hours of mesh talk time.
Best Camera and Headset
Sena 50C
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Specs

  • Brand: Sena
  • Model: 50C
  • Mesh technology: Yes

Pros

  • Bluetooth and mesh technology
  • Harman Kardon speakers and microphone
  • Shoots in 4K at 30 fps
  • 10-megapixel sensor
  • Boom and sticky microphones included

Cons

  • Can't use EIS when recording in 4K

If you want an action camera and Bluetooth headset without the added bulk that comes with two helmet-mounted devices, get the Sena 50C Harman Kardon Intercom and Camera. This headset uses the same Bluetooth and Mesh technology found on the 50S and 50R. You can talk to an unlimited number of riders in the open mesh mode or up to three other riders in Bluetooth mode. This headset also features Harman Kardon speakers and microphones. Included are a sticky mic and a boom mic. The 10-megapixel sensor enables you to record in 4K at 30 fps, but if you want to use the electronic image stabilization feature, you’ll need to record in 1080p at 60 fps. The camera has a 120-degree field of view and can shoot in burst and time-lapse modes. When using the mesh system, this model has a talk time of up to 12 hours, but this increases to 22 hours when communicating via Bluetooth.
Best Mesh-Only Headset
Sena Spider ST1
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Specs

  • Brand: Sena
  • Model: Spider ST1
  • Mesh technology: Yes

Pros

  • 11.5 hours of talk time
  • Bluetooth V5.1
  • High-quality 40-mm stereo speakers
  • Most affordable mesh-technology headset

Cons

  • No Bluetooth rider-to-rider communication
  • Only IP65 rated

The world of mesh motorcycle headsets has only been available to those willing to spend big bucks, but the Sena Spider ST1 is here to change that. This is the most affordable mesh motorcycle headset on the market, and has a rider-to-rider communication range of 1.2 miles. Up to 26 riders can communicate through this device. Since mesh systems piggyback off other headsets, you’ll get up to five miles of range if the riders are properly dispersed. The 40-mm speakers included in the sale are decent, and this model uses Bluetooth V5.1 to connect to your phone and GPS unit. What’s surprising about this headset is that it features a mesh-only system, so Bluetooth is never used for rider-to-rider connectivity. The downside to this is that if a rider in your group doesn’t have a mesh headset, you can’t communicate with them. It takes one and a half hours to fully charge the device, which provides 11.5 hours of talk time. The IP65-rated headset is only water resistant, which might turn off some users.

Specs

  • Brand: Cardo
  • Model: Freecom 4X
  • Mesh technology: No

Pros

  • Decent value
  • Bluetooth V5.2
  • Waterproof guarantee
  • 40-mm JBL speakers
  • Fast charging via USB-C

Cons

  • Won’t work as well with other headset brands
  • Not IP67 rated

The Cardo Freecom 4X is a great model for anyone who’s looking for a simple, high-quality headset. This product uses Bluetooth V5.2 to communicate with up to three other riders, so it’s best suited to people that ride in small groups. It has a maximum real-world range of around 750 meters. Thanks to its Live Bluetooth feature, if you drop out of range and disconnect from another rider, the headset automatically reconnects when you’re back in range. Although this model is no longer IP67 tested, Cardo says in the warranty that it's covered against water damage. The newly upgraded Freecom 4X comes with 40-mm JBL speakers as standard and now features Cardo’s natural voice technology, which is a huge improvement over the previous iteration. You’ll get up to 13 hours of talk time and 10 days of standby time. The headset now features fast charging via its USB-C port. If you charge it for 20 minutes it’ll give you up to two hours of talk time.

Our Verdict

The Cardo Packtalk Edge is unmatched in terms of audio quality, voice recognition technology, and digital sound processing. This headset also has one of the sleekest designs on the market. Anyone who’s working off a tight budget should consider the Lexin B4fm Motorcycle Bluetooth Headset, as it’s a good entry point into the world of motorcycle helmet speakers.

Consider Secondhand

When we start shopping for tools and products, we never overlook the secondhand market. In fact, it’s usually the first place I look. Whether you’re scrolling through Amazon’s Renewed section, eBay for car parts or tools, or flipping through the pages of Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you have hundreds of thousands of used tools, parts, and gear ready to be shipped to your doorstep. Refurbished to like-new status, they’ll be willing to give you many more years of faithful service all while saving you money. 

Secondhand Tips

To make your secondhand search easier, here are two tips to finding the best deals and making sure your new-to-you stuff wasn’t destroyed by the previous owner. 

  • Check that the headset can communicate with other headsets clearly and all functions work correctly.
  • Check the battery life.

Things to Consider Before Buying Motorcycle Helmet Speakers

Communication System

Motorcycle headsets will either use Bluetooth or mesh technology to communicate, and high-end models will have both forms of communication. Mesh technology is undoubtedly the future and enables more riders to communicate over a greater distance. If you fall out of range and disconnect from your buddies, mesh technology also has the benefit of seamless reconnection once you’re back in range.

Bluetooth-only headsets are fine for people who ride in small groups and relatively close together. These headsets are less expensive and usually have better battery life. If you can afford it, I would spring for a headset that allows you to use Bluetooth and mesh technology.

Brand

Sena and Cardo dominate this niche. Unfortunately, the two don’t work very well with each other. A Sena headset will work with a Cardo but not as efficiently as it does with another Sena. If you’re using a Cardo Freecom 4X headset, for example, you can only connect it with one Sena device even though it has the potential to connect to three other devices. So, if most of your riding partners use a particular headset brand, it’s probably best to opt for that brand.

Voice or Manual Control

Not all headsets have natural voice-control technology. The ones that don’t feature this technology require you to use the buttons and dials on the side while you’re riding, which isn’t ideal. I would always pay extra for a headset that has voice control, so you can seamlessly make a call or change your route on the fly. Most agree that the best voice-control technology on the market comes from Cardo. 

Microphone and Speaker Quality

Motorcycle helmet speakers that aren’t loud enough or are distorted aren’t much use for anyone. Likewise, if the headset’s microphone picks up too much wind noise, it’s a pain for other riders when you talk to them. Make sure that you buy a headset with high-quality speakers and microphones. You should also check that the headset package includes a sticky and a boom microphone so you can fit it to various helmet types.

Pricing 

Headsets for $150 or less will be fine for listening to music and talking at low speeds but not much else. The $150 to $300 price range is where you'll find most helmet speakers. Devices in this range will use Bluetooth or mesh technology to communicate with other riders, can be used to make calls and listen to music, and generally offer better quality and performance than lower-priced models. If you spend more than $300, you’ll get a headset that features mesh and Bluetooth technology, a significant bump in audio and microphone quality, and natural voice recognition technology.

FAQs 

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Are motorcycle helmet speakers legal?

A: Yes, since helmet speakers don’t cover your ears, they're legal to use while riding. Helmet speakers are treated in the same regard as speakers that are mounted directly on a motorcycle.

Q: Can I use motorcycle speakers in other types of helmets?

A: Yes. Many motorcycle speakers will fit on different types of helmets, as long as the helmet has space in its padding for speakers.

Q: Are motorcycle helmet speakers waterproof?

A: It depends on the brand. Some of the best motorcycle helmet speakers are waterproof. It's best to keep them out of heavy rain to avoid ruining them.

Q: How long will my motorcycle headset last?

A: This depends on several factors, including the brand, the quality of the speakers, how often you ride, the conditions the speakers are exposed to, etc. If you purchase a high-quality, dependable brand and you take care of the headset, it should last several years.

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