Cutting the cord.
(Sena C10 Pro Review)

Sena C10 Pro

[ Sunday - January 3, 2021 ]

It's an understatement to say that 2020 is a year that really "sucks eggs".  The world is turned upside down and inside out.  So much grief, fear, and disinformation.  All from something that we can't see with our own eyes.  Unfortunately, I've always had the belief that we really don't rule this world.  The microbes will ultimately determine our fate.  Let's all pray that we can recover from this calamity and turn things around in the future years.  Undoubtedly it will like take a while, years.  To say the least, there hasn't been a whole lot of activities in terms of long distance trips.  With everything shutdown and everybody being asked to keep their distance, it's hard to do any serious riding.  I'm sure someone out there is braving it, be it right or wrong.

Still, I do the occasional city ride here and there to keep sane.  Being allowed to come in to work also helps.  I never expected commuting would be pleasurable.  I guess we all take things for granted when it becomes mundane.  I'd prefer for a different way of opening my eyes, but sometimes we just don't have a say in it.

Babbling aside, let's get to the real story.

In terms of motorcycle audio, it all started with the Baehr XL.  Then the J&M Integratr IV.  In both instances, they were corded intercom systems to the helmet and to bike power.  By far, the audio was better with the Baehr compared to J&M.  That's because the Baehr speakers were superior.  Eventually J&M caught up to Baehr, but the cost of the J&M speakers are double the cost of the Baehr speakers.  I actually used a mixture of J&M helmet wiring with Baehr speakers.  However, of late, I've been encountering situations where the fuse (2A) on the J&M Integratr IV keep on getting blown.  BTW, J&M no longer produces the Integratr IV.  The unit has been discontinued for at least 3-4 years.  At one point J&M was selling the units for dirt cheap so I picked up a spare (I never touched the spare).  The first unit it still going strong to this day (at least 7+ years daily use).  The fuse is annoying.

I've been thinking of a replacement unit for a while now.  Essentially switching to BlueTooth since BT stereo audio has improved so much.  I've been looking at the J&M BT-04 as a replacement.  I like the idea of being wireless for music and intercom.  But I'm concerned about battery life in addition to worrying about being able to pair BT intercoms from different manufacturers.  I've also been looking into Sena BT units.  I know Baehr, and J&M, but I don't know Sena.  The reviews are good, but you can never tell until you actually have the audio next to your ears.  With these units running around $300-$400 for an instance, it's hard to bring myself to experiment and find out it's a bust.  It's a toss up between the J&M BT-04 and the Sena C10.  So I waited.  Staying with the J&M Integratr IV as the fuse keeps on popping.  On a side note, it's amazing how hard it is to find a 2A fuse at Autozone and Pep Boys.  Most of the time they only carry 5A and up.

On a Tuesday, I went to Brown Motor Works, in Pomona, to ask about them about installing a set of Aux lights for the F8R.  While there I picked up a set of Rok Straps and a cargo net for the GS.  The original set on the GS went to the F8R.  While there, the mechanic saw me looking at the Sena C10 Pro on display and recommended that I get it.  His son bought one for him and he said it's a really good unit.  Hearing this from a mechanic is different than hearing it from a sales person.  So I bit the bullet and bought the Sena C10 Pro.  There was still a little trepidation, but I did it anyway.  If anything I know I can return it to Brown.  The beauty of a brick and mortar, sometimes.

The installation and configuration was easily done.  The phone is paired, the firmware updated, and the phone received it's own Sena app.  Yes, it helps to read instructions...

Before any riding, I had to test the unit.  I put on ear plugs and started up PowerAmp on the phone.  To my surprise, the music quality was the same or better than the Baehr and the J&M.  Cool!  Not only that, the C10 Pro has a built in camera for photos and video.  This is great because it's a combined unit.  Less weight on the helmet, and no cord to get in the way.

I took the C10 for a spin on the GS.  Remembering the button sequences for the camera vs. music take a little getting use to.  It's more a case of what fingers to to use for what function.  In the end, I figured it out.  I was taking pictures, skipping music tracks, and increasing/decreasing the volume.  Not bad at all.  It's a bit of getting use to.  The cool thing is, if I turn the camera on and don't use the camera for a while, the C10 will automatically shutdown the camera to preserve battery life.  Below are some test pics.

The unit is not properly mounted so it's point a bit to the right instead of straight ahead.

The default unboosted audio is a bit quiet at freeway speeds.  Fortunately, the C10 has a setting to boost the audio level.

For the quality, functionality, and value, I put the Sena C10 Pro over the J&M BT-04.  The C10 is the same price as the BT-04 but the C10 has a camera whereas the BT-04 is only BT intercom.  I'm going to use this unit for a while.  If it works out, I'll get another C10 Pro for the F8R.

As a parting note, I finally figured out how to prevent the Integratr IV from blowing it's fuse, just power down the unit before hitting the GS's start button.  No amp draw means less likely for the fuse to pop.  It's still annoying.

Written on: January 3, 2021
Last modified: January 3, 2021