Ear plugs, ear buds, helmet communications - BMW F800 Riders Forum & Registry



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  1. #1
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    My F800GT makes the most helmet wind noise of any bike I have ever owned or ridden. I have been working to get the helmet noise under control - both with changes to the windscreen and changes to my hearing protection. I believe the noisy things I have done in my life have reduced my hearing ability and for some reason the wind noise is pervasive in my riding - in my youth ear plugs were not commonly available like they are now and we just didn't use earplugs when mowing grass, running a chainsaw, or riding our motorcycles. I can remember the David Bradley and Clinton chainsaws we used on the farm when I was a kid had exhaust pipes that just pointed up from the cylinder with no muffler of any kind - your ears would ring after using them for a little while.

    I ride with a Sena headset in my helmet, it allows me to talk to my wife if she is riding with me, or other riders who have the same brand. It also allows me to answer telephone calls, or use the GPS on the telephone for verbal route instructions. I seldom feel the need to listen to music while riding - I find the ride itself to be good therapy......on long rides that involve a lot of interstate I might be tempted to listen to music.

    On most bikes I can use the helmet speakers with foam earplugs and still hear the helmet headset reasonably well. At highway speeds on a bike without a windshield the wind noise can create a problem. If I turn the volume of the headset up very loud it can create a problem with feedback for the person who is on the other side of the conversation, as their voice coming out my speakers goes back into my microphone and they hear their own voice as they speak.

    FOAM EAR PLUGS - Foam plugs come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The fist one I used where the yellow 3M ones. They work OK and are readily available - they do get uncomfortable eventually and they are not the best at reducing noise. My favorite are the Mack's Ultra Soft foam earplugs. They are the quietest and most comfortable I have ever used, and they are available at most Big Box stores where the health items are kept. I bought a set of these green earplugs at my local Meijer's store, and they seem to be more comfortable and quieter than any other plug I have ever used........so much so that I have trouble hearing my intercom if the wind noise is loud.
    https://www.macksearplugs.com/produc...oam-ear-plugs/

    EAR BUDS - One solution to the problem of blocking the wind noise and still being able to hear the Sena headset is to use earbuds that have the speaker inside. I tried these first as they are affordable and they stay in the ear well. The little tab that sticks out can be trimmed back so that it doesn't hit your helmet - but I still found them to be uncomfortable after a while. https://www.plugfones.com/product/basic/ They do have a new model with interchangeable tips - I have not tried these: https://www.plugfones.com/product/guardian/

    I then tried these Panasonic earbuds as they are relatively cheap and small in size: https://www.amazon.com/Sony-MDR-EX15.../dp/B076MHX9YR They work well with the headset - but I found the silicone earpiece allowed a lot of wind noise into the helmet, and they are not very secure in my ear - but I could hear the Sena much better than using the helmet speakers. I bought a couple of sets of foam ear tips to try. You can buy Chines ones on eBay pretty cheap - I found they aren't all that much of in improvement over the silicone. There are better ones available and I found that these work so much better - when you compress the foam and put it in your ear - you can feel the foam expanding and filling the cavity for about a minute, and they seal very well and are well worth the money. https://www.complyfoam.com/store/

    I recommend the earbuds and the foam tips as the $30 solution!

    NOISE CANCELLING EARBUDS - I watched a YouTube video of a fellow who uses the Bose noise cancelling earbuds and he claimed they worked great. They are expensive: https://www.bose.com/en_us/products/..._samsung_black

    I was not willing to spend that much money - but I found I could buy factory reconditioned units for half price on eBay:https://www.ebay.com/itm/Bose-QuietC...6d26%7Ciid%3A1
    When I first tried them I had a short windshield on my bike that put the wind blast right at my shoulders and I would get noise from the bottom and top of my helmet. The noise cancelling worked great - but I would get a popping sound in the speakers every few seconds. I put on a taller windshield that moved the air up to my eye level on my helmet, and the speakers work incredible. They cancel all the wind at lower speeds, and at 70mph and above they cancel 80% of the noise. Stewmills called me while I was out testing these and I could clearly hear him on the Sena headset, and I also tried an MP3 player and I could easily hear the music - which is something that has never worked with any other system I have tried. My helmet fits really tight and I can get the helmet on with the Bose earbuds in place - but I have to sneak a hand up in each side and remove the plugs before I can take my helmet off - the earbuds have microphones on the outside and they stick out farther than normal earbuds. Trying to remove the helmet with the Bose earbuds in place pushes them deep into my hear and is painful. I am going to try and mold some custom earpieces and see if that can move the Bose earbuds closer to my head - I also need to get a wire extension so I can put the control box in my pocket and not have it up at my collar.
    NOTE: I do know that these don't work well if you have a short windshield and get a blast of air at both the bottom and top of the helmet - I am not sure yet if they will work on a bike without a windshield.

    SUMMARY -For $30 you can use the Sony earbuds or another brand that is small and doesn't stick out of your ears very far - but be sure to get the Comply foam eartips as they help a lot......I will use these for most of my rides. Time will tell as I get a bit more experience - but I believe the Bose Noise Cancelling earbuds are going to be my "go to" for long rides as they really do cut the noise down.....but are a bit cumbersome to fiddle with all the wires.
    Last edited by Thumpin; 04-12-20 at 07:32 PM.

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  4. #2
    Runmyownlife's Avatar
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    I enjoyed reading your report, Thumpin. Thank you for compiling your findings.

    I'm not as far along as you in this endeavor. I'm able to satisfactorily mitigate wind noise with foam ear plugs. I'm using internal speakers for navigation but at highway speeds, instructions are barely audible. I'm going to look over some of your suggestions.
    Concrete remains undefeated. 

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    The foam earplugs work great if you want to block out everything - but I do want to be able to use my Sena to answer my cell phone when I ride.

    I still have a part time day job and I feel I can keep the job if I am available to answer questions at all times - and I do want my wife to be able to contact me (I don't want her revoking my solo riding privileges!).

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    I bought some additional Mack's earplugs, and this is what they look like in the package. These are the most effective earplugs I have ever found....the flesh colored Hearos are almost as good.

    These block out so much sound that they do make it hard for me to hear the helmet intercom speakers......especially if there is a lot of wind noise being blocked.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    After not being satisfied with what I was finding in the drug store. I ordered a trial pack of mixed styles/brands from the EarPlugStore. I went with the highest rated. Now I really know what I like and don't like in an earplug.

    https://www.earplugstore.com/foearpltrpa2.html

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    I use a different version of Mack's, but they are great for me. I can hear all the calls, Google assistant,Google maps, and music from my Sena just fine, up to, and including freeway speeds under my Shoei Neotec on my F800ST. Full wind with an MRA Vario screen putting the wind at my upper chest level. Actually, it sounds much clearer with earplugs than without.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G891A using Tapatalk
    08' F800ST- side panniers & Shad SH45 top case, Russell Day Long seat, MRA Vario Windscreen, SW Motech crash bars, ZTechnik exhaust, PC-8 fuseblock, Stebel Nautilus horn, Throttlemeister throttle lock, SW Motech handlebar risers, LED fog lights, highway pegs 

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  15. #7
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    I am considering 1 more purchase to find perfection. The S plugs from PlugUp.com are a bit expensive - but they seem to get very good ratings from motorcycle riders.
    https://www.plugup.com/ProductDetail...D3%2E5%2D4%2E5
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-s...sucker.814647/

    Before this is over I may have spent as much money on ear plugs/buds as I have on windshields!

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    Funny, a friend who makes his own screens says its all about the bugs,,,, my GS has a high Motorrad windscreen with a deflector at the top that reduces the direct blast of wind and gets very few insects on my visor,,. My other bike, a Ninja 1000 gives you a direct blast to the helmet no matter which screen on which setting, visor fills with bugs in no time,,.
    Funny thing is the noise level on the GS is way louder then on the Ninja, kind-ah defies logic..!!
    Last edited by Lag; 05-09-20 at 06:50 PM.

  18. #9
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    What kind of helmet do you wear? That makes a lot of difference. My NeoTech II makes so much noise that listening to anything but wind noise is impossible.
    Randy
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    Foam earplugs work fine for me.

  20. #11
    RobA is offline F800Riders.org Supporter
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    Hello Friends. For those in the UK following this thread, have a look here:

    https://sites.google.com/site/earplugsbypost/home

    Lucy's have a huge selection to choose from, and offer a "test pack" of 10 or 20 different types to try out, in order to find those that suit you most.

    Sadly, they only deliver to UK addresses.

    But great to see the selection on offer.

    Rob.

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  22. #12
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    I have found my screen a Madstad is great for reducing wind noise. I find the wind is being deflected at the top of my helmet, though I do use silicon ear protection from Air Tech as well.

    Useful info here though, good personal report from OP as well.
    Please note, the thoughts and opinions of Flook does not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of other posts & site users therein
     

  23. #13
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    Just checked that out Rob, looks good, no hard or soft ratings though, however I won't be investing in any ear safety until lockdown on transport has been lifted. Though the screen I have have really does reduce the air flow. When we all meet up as a group you can try my screen out.

    Flook
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  24. #14
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    Tend to use 3M orange ear plugs, find them good. Buy in pack's of 200 pairs as I use them a lot while riding and also to preserve domestic bliss when sleeping.

    Just bought a further pack the other week as I was running low. Arrived within 2 day's during lockdown in UK and they are genuine 3M plug's so can't fault these :-

    https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/153594426643



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    Thanks Nigel, I am looking int that.
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  27. #16
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    My latest (and last) attempt at getting hearing Nirvana is the S plugs. These are silicone ear buds with speakers, and they are all day comfortable. The do a superb job of reducing wind and other noises, while still allowing you to hear the needed traffic sounds. I got the short 22 inch wire and it works excellent for plugging into my helmet attached Sena - the wire is just long enough to allow me to plug the connector in and maneuver my helmet on.....and there is not a lot of excess wire to get tangled on things (if you want to use them with a phone or MP3 player you may want a longer wire). There still an occasional tug/pull/bump on the wire - but it is far less than with the long wires and loose fitting ear plugs that the normal earbud wires create. The wire thickness is greater than normal earbuds and it appears very durable. The sound quality may not be all that great for music if you are an audiophile - the sound quality is great for phone or helmet communicator.....if you want to listen to music you may need to spend more and get the version with the two drivers. The earbuds are completely inside your ears when installed and nothing rubs on the helmet....it appears that the wires are angled to help them route out of your ears properly.

    At $ 129.95 they are not cheap - but they have greatly improved the annoyance/distraction that the wind noise in my helmet creates.....especially on long rides.

    If you listen to music or have helmet communication - this is money well spent. The ability to use my helmet communication has improved dramatically, and even at interstate speeds the sound is clear and easy to understand.

    https://www.plugup.com/best_and_most...22-3.5-4.5.htm

  28. #17
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    I use Moldex 33db earplugs. Comfort level is good for all day use for me. The sound level drops considerably if you get a good seal on them, but it doesn't stop sound from coming through...just lowers the volume level which is important so you are still aware of what's going on around you.

    I'm also using a Sena BT headset. I think if you're having a problem hearing the sound through the speakers, you might want to look at the speaker placement. Slipping your fingers up the side of the helmet might help in figuring out if the speakers are centered on your ear cannal. There's also a setting to increase the volume that you can change. I've never had a problem hearing sounds coming through those speakers.

    The other factors in the equation...the helmet and windshield...I have a Shoei Neotec, the original version, and a Madstad windshield. The Madstad makes a huge difference for me. Like Flook, mine is adjusted for the air to hit at the top vent, but bypass the rest of the helmet.

    Chris
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  29. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daboo View Post
    I'm also using a Sena BT headset. I think if you're having a problem hearing the sound through the speakers, you might want to look at the speaker placement. Slipping your fingers up the side of the helmet might help in figuring out if the speakers are centered on your ear cannal. There's also a setting to increase the volume that you can change. I've never had a problem hearing sounds coming through those speakers.

    The other factors in the equation...the helmet and windshield...I have a Shoei Neotec, the original version, and a Madstad windshield. The Madstad makes a huge difference for me. Like Flook, mine is adjusted for the air to hit at the top vent, but bypass the rest of the helmet.

    Chris

    Chris:

    I have hearing loss and I don't hear higher notes very well anymore, and the wind noise in my helmet can greatly obscure the voice sound coming from the speakers. If I only had James Earl Jones talking to me I might be fine - but hearing my wife's voice can be difficult at speed on the motorcycle. Having the wind noise blocked and the voice coming directly into my ears is a huge benefit for me, and the reason I have tried so many solutions. Hearing my helmet speakers with ear plugs in 8 years ago was far easier than it is for me now.

    The S plugs have turned out to be a great solution for me, and have made it possible for me to hear my wife's voice over the Sena easily (or the occasional telephone call) without having to crank up the volume.

    Dave

  30. #19
    Daboo's Avatar
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    I'm blessed. Even though like you, I grew up when no one thought about hearing loss, I managed to make it through the chain saws and other high noise things we grew up with. Then I went into the USAF and was an aircraft maintenance officer. There, they tested us frequently for hearing loss and I took it seriously. I remember one time standing in front of a B-52G that we were doing a test on as a flight crew ran all 8 engines to max power with water injection. I both earplugs and ear muffs on, and I could feel the noise in my entire body from those engines. Yet, I think I still have most of my hearing.

    Glad you found something that works. And maybe this thread and the solutions here will help someone else in the future.

    Chris
    Elnathan - 2014 BMW F800GT
    IBA# 49894 True Rounder = 0-20's - Rounder -- to -- 100's+ Red Hot Rounder

    John 14:6 

  31. #20
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    Chris:

    I am 64, and when I was young I lived in the country and modern earplugs were not available to me. The big chainsaws we had back then had no mufflers (Clinton, David-Bradley), I had a 2-stroke motorcycle with the small silencer clamped on the end of the expansion chamber, I ran an air filing board for doing bodywork, and we shot guns without earplugs.....and I like pretty loud music. I also was mounting a rear knobby tire and while I was airing it up the tire popped off the rim and the inner tube exploded while my head was inches away (I got lucky and was not injured but my ears where ringing for the rest of the day).

    There is no doubt that I was hard on my hearing when I was young - hearing protection was not promoted and as a typical youth (yute) I felt I was pretty much indestructible.

    So all you young folks with good hearing - protect it as best you can and wear hearing protection. I no longer hear crickets, tree frogs or birds.....I miss them!

    Dave

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