Gear: Sena Bluetooth New Firmware Features

Gear -

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Sena Bluetooth

Sena Bluetooth recently released a firmware update for their SMH10R Bluetooth in-helmet communication device (the normal SMH10 received the update earlier this year). Through their updates, Sena manages to add features without actually changing the hardware.

This latest version— 5.0—is the best yet. The most surprising improvement is the Universal Intercom, which enables Sena headsets to hold intercom conversations with Bluetooth headsets from other manufacturers (that is, any headset able to pair with a phone and make phone calls over Bluetooth).

When I picked up my SMH10 and SMH10R a year ago, I was able to have intercom conversations with other Sena users, as well as connect to my phone over Bluetooth. That allowed me to hear GPS directions, listen to music, or make phone calls (I could even get speed-camera warnings). It was a great step toward making a motorcycle more like a car, but it was easy see how the experience could be improved. My first daydream:  I wanted to share music with my riding buddies so we could bop in unison as we cruised down the road.

Sena Bluetooth Update

Firmware version 4.3 granted my wish; it allowed Sena headsets to send music to each other. The update was easy to install—just download Sena’s Device Manager and the new firmware file, then update the headset over a USB cable. Voila! I could finally share music over Bluetooth straight to the helmet of a riding buddy. Earlier updates added 4-way intercom, voice prompts, and 3-way conference calls between two-headset users and one person on a telephone.

With version 5.0 (and version 2.0 for the SMH5 and SMH5-FM), Sena is introducing three new features: Universal Intercom, Advanced Noise Control, and Sidetone (Ultra HD Voice Recording™ for PRISM and Bluetooth Audio Pack.

Sena Bluetooth Update Options

From a recent email to Sena Users:

- Universal Intercom: You can have an intercom conversation with non-Sena Bluetooth headsets using the Universal Intercom function.

- Advanced Noise Control: It is equipped with wind noise suppression and intelligent Noise Gate in the intercom to limit the interference of wind noise and background noise while riding.

- Sidetone: If this feature is enabled, you can hear what you are speaking during an intercom conversation or a phone call.

The new firmware also adds Ultra HD Voice Recording for PRISM and Bluetooth Audio Pack, which allows users to record in-helmet dictation over videos taken on Sena’s PRISM camera or GoPro cameras equipped with Sena’s  GoPro backpack.

Sena Bluetooth

I haven’t yet had a chance to test out the new Universal Intercom feature, but it’ll be a strong selling point for anyone wondering which Bluetooth intercom to buy. Simply put, with a Sena you should be able to talk to more of your friends than if you bought a different intercom.

Sidetone lets you hear your own voice during a conversation. Your helmet becomes an aviation headset and every ride gives you an opportunity to perfect your Chuck Yeager drawl.

This continual addition of features keeps Sena ownership fresh. Right when you grow accustomed to the current features, the devices gain new, stronger powers. What’s next on the Sena wishlist? I’d love to be able to listen to music while talking to a passenger. Sena has thought of that too and calls it “Audio Multitasking.”  Firmware updates only take you so far, however, and music-backed conversations require different hardware. In this case, Sena’s new state of the art 20S headset.

Gear:

Sena Bluetooth SMH10D

Sena GoPro Bluetooth Backpack

  • it_weenie

    I love my SMH10. I swapped in the earbud capable base. If something ever happens to it, I’ll be buying one right away to replace it.

  • Scheffy

    It’s amazing that it’s taken this long for an intercom manufacturer to figure out that locking a user into only talking with users of the same manufacturer only pisses people off. They’re radios for talking to your friends on motorcycles, for god’s sake. Cardo and everybody else still act like it’s a military aircraft IFF system.
    When I need a new intercom I’ll probably throw money at a Sena even if it doesn’t have the most features just to speed up the end of this stupidity.

  • Doug Herbert

    I’ve been really happy with my SMH10 system. I also appreciate that they don’t charge an arm and a leg to buy a second mount, so it’s easy to move one module between multiple helmets.

  • Clint Keener

    The new noise cancellation works VERY well. And I didn’t know it had these other features.

    Everyone should buy one of these. Makes riding in groups much much better.

    • daveinva

      Also indispensable for communicating with your pillion– no more shoulder taps and helmet slaps!

      My only request for the future would be to get a *little more* volume out of the headset. I wear foam earplugs, and the speakers come through very nicely through the plugs, but obviously the volume is attenuated. A little louder would go a long way.

      (That said, even now I wonder what nearby drivers are thinking when they hear music blaring out my helmet with my Sena at full volume… “It’s quiet to *me*, guys, honest!”)

      • Clint Keener

        I wear earplugs too, I can hear it up to freeway speeds usually.

      • mbust

        The option for a little more volume would be great, especially with the intercom feature. Phone calls and GPS directions come through well, but I have problems with the volume of the intercom.

  • MrDefo

    One problem I’ve had with my Sena SMH10R is that if I am listening to directions on my iPhone through Google Maps, it cuts off the first part of the instruction unless I’m also listening to music. Has anyone else had that happen to them? Will the update fix that?

    • sdyank

      I have a similar problem with my SMH10 (which I otherwise love) and Google Maps. When I am listening to music at a comfortable noise level the Google Map voice is way too low so I am forced to choose between Bluetooth nav or music. Hopefully this update will fix both our problems.

      • Clint Keener

        I think that’s with most bluetooth connections. It does this in my car too.

      • MrDefo

        Depending on what you are using for this, at least with the iPhone there is a way to independently adjust the volume for the Maps app. It’s under the Settings>>Maps. Have you tried that?

        • sdyank

          I see that there is a way to do that with “Apple” maps but, as far as I can tell, there is no way to adjust map volume on the Google Map app. I ended up buying a mount for the phone so that I can have a visual backup to what I may have missed over the Bluetooth. This is definitely not a Sena problem but annoying nonetheless. Thanks anyway!

    • JamesM

      I have the SMH-10 (same firmware if Im not mistaken) but have not had any problems listening to Rdio and Waze at the same time.

      • MrDefo

        My problem isn’t listening to them at the same time. That part works fine. It’s that if I’m ONLY listening to the directions in Google Maps, it cuts off the first part as if the Sena is taking a minute to pick back up on playing sound. If I’m listening to music (either through Pandora or just through the Music app) then the directions come in clearly.

        • JamesM

          Odd, I have not experienced that either. You might want to re-flash the firmware or call Sena.

  • charlie

    I’m hoping they don’t replace the SMH10 with the new 20S. Not really digging the two-tone of the new model.

    • http://www.sena.com SenaBluetooth

      Sena will not be replacing the SMH10 with the 20S. The SMH10 will still be available on the market.

  • Scott Saunders

    The only complaint I have about mine is that the ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’ messages are absolutely deafeningly loud. I want a way to change the volume of those.

  • Sam

    I love my SMH-5FM, listening to the radio makes my commute so much nicer. Even with the old firmware, people on the phone couldn’t tell I was going 70mph on a loud Ducati Monster!

  • Cufflink

    Does anyone know if the new Sena Prism camera has a overwrite/looping feature? I’d like to use it as a dash cam and not have to worry about deleting old videos.

  • david janzen

    Anyone have luck activating google now with smh10/r? I think it ended up starting for me by chance the other day while i was riding, but i have no clue how i did it :/

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    i’ve had the SMH-10 for just about two years. Honestly I really only use it for music and listening to my GPS, but I was glad they went this route with their firm wear. I get pretty attached to my helmet setups and don’t like having to buy a whole new piece of gear each time my phone or gps changes.

    Thanks SENA….this update works great with the NAV V.

  • Haggie

    I just set-up my new Samsung Galaxy S5 with my SMH10. Works like a charm. Press the phone button and I get access to all the Google Now options. Send texts, make calls, set reminders and timers, and get real-time traffic reports are my favorites.