If you’ve found yourself here, you have a dream.
You’re riding your iron steed down winding country roads with the sweet sound of your favorite artist humming in your ears. You may as well be starring in your own movie.
Your reality probably looks like mine did a few years ago.
You’re hitting corners with your helmet speakers at full volume. You’re not catching melodies or lyrics, just tinny screeches you grit your teeth against. Is this a playlist of dial up internet tones?
You merge on to the highway and pull up to 70 mph – all that’s left in your ears is the whistle of wind.
Can’t bear it any more? I’ve lived that life on a ride across the American South, and it was awful.
A good pair of helmet speakers is absolutely clutch. The difference between low-end, small speakers and professional, big woofers is night and day.
But spotting that difference from a checkout page? Next to impossible.
This list of the best motorcycle helmet speakers comes from many hours getting an earful of pain. I also asked six of my friends about their experiences testing enough sets to fill an Olympic swimming pool.
We have for you five helmet speakers that deliver beautiful sound no matter your speed. That means vibing out on every ride. Plus, a few of them include mics – so you don’t need to pull over to pick up that call from your wife.
If you want to skip to the winner, here you go:
The best motorcycle helmet speakers are the Cardo + JBL 45mm set. They are the best value on the market and sound better than speakers twice their price. Plus, you can use them with any headset. I use them with the Cardo Spirit every day, and I’ve never looked back.
- Top 4 Motorcycle Helmet Speakers
- Alternatives to Drop-in Speakers for Your Motorcycle Helmet
Top 4 Motorcycle Helmet Speakers
JBL and Cardo 45mm Motorcycle Audio Kit
It’s time for my personal favorite. My daily driver. The one and only. The glorious love child of JBL and Cardo.
JBL is a big brand with a big reputation. Their portable speakers like the CHARGE 5 are the most contagious thing in gadgets these days.
You can’t walk through a park in America without spotting at least one JBL speaker punching out bass above its weight class.
Bluetooth headset brand Cardo was smart enough to knock on JBL’s door for help with speakers. They teamed up to create a set of motorcycle helmet speakers that could keep you enjoying music and podcasts in any environment, and boy did they succeed.
The top spec unit they produce is the 45mm Audio Set.
It’s not much to look at: but the sound quality is like Avatar in Dolby audio at the IMAX theatre. You could be riding in a hurricane: this unit will deliver GPS directions, your kid’s voice on the phone, soft-spoken podcasts, heavy metal clearly and reliably.
I have personally run this set through:
- High winds on the I-70 interstate on a 114 ci Road Glide
- Bangkok city traffic on a straightpiped supermoto
- Torrential rain in Tennessee on a 103 ci Ultra Limited
- Running laps redlining a CBR650
I’ve tested everything from murder podcasts to Chicago hip hop to the voices of my buddies riding behind me. At medium volume, this unit created a recording studio around me.
Everything came through with brilliant highs, booming lows, and clear mids. I could enjoy the ride without picking the ‘right’ music, blasting the volume, or turning it off altogether.
You might be wondering – can you hear anything else??
The simple answer is yes. I can still hear road noise around me and the sweet sound of my pipes. However, it’s in the background behind whatever else I’m listening to. Just enough that I can hear it, but it’s not overpowering.
If you’re disappointed with these, I really don’t know what to say. You’ll just never be happy!
Order these, close your laptop, and get back on your bike. All your problems are solved, until your bike needs servicing again.
TIP: This set has a short cord, so you’ll need a helmet Bluetooth communicator or an extension cord like this one to plug in to use it with your phone. To copy my setup, pick up Cardo’s tough and affordable Spirit.
Uclear Pulse Plus
The Uclear Pulse Plus are the loudest motorcycle helmet speakers on our list.
With its 40mm drivers hitting an impressive max volume of 130 dB – equivalent to an airhorn or a gunshot at close range – it is incredibly loud in any helmet.
But did I say it’s the best? No!
For one, anything over 100 dB is causing more hearing damage than enjoyment, even at 120mph on the – uhh – track.
Second, in every other kind of quality aside from sound, Uclear is unfortunately lacking.
I love the long extension cord so I can plug that 3.5mm jack right in to my phone without any Bluetooth fuss (you do need that tiny adapter for any newer iPhone, though). However, everyone I’ve ever talked to says the cord breaks every six months, like clockwork. And the 20mm thick speakers are twice as thick as most others – crushing many people’s ears.
Sure, the Uclear Pulse Plus costs way less than the Cardo and JBL 45mm kit. And you can use the controls on the cord to skip songs instead of fumbling in your pocket at 85mph and flying off the interstate.
But don’t come crying to me when your music jumps in and out from a broken wire.
RyanF9 at Fortnine seems to love the Uclear set – maybe they made them differently in the old days.
Uclear seems to recognize the deficiencies in this set, so they’ve discontinued it. If you still want to pick one up, you can get them on Amazon below or Revzilla while supplies last. Otherwise, go with another set.
iASUS XSound 2.1
The iASUS XSound 2.1 might come from an unknown company, but it delivers big sound at a fair price. The 40mm speakers pump out strong bass and clear mids/highs according to the friends I spoke with and almost 1,000 Amazon reviews.
The kit comes with an extension wire measuring a meter long, so you can pop these out of the box and get right on the road with your tunes. No Bluetooth setup or extra cord required.
When you compare the XSound 2.1 to the Uclear speakers, you definitely get a better range across the bass, treble, and mids despite maxing out at 98 dB – similar to a car horn at 15 feet away.
However, you may require more oomph if you’re regularly riding on the highway or confronting high winds. For that, check out the iASUS XSound 3 coming up next.
The XSound 2.1 costs almost half what my favorite goes for, the JBL + Cardo 45mm set. So it’s worth picking up if you have a well-sealing helmet or aren’t riding in crazy loud conditions.
iASUS XSound 3
The XSound 3 is the Lexus to the XSound 2.1 Toyota. While the 2.1 is solid and affordable, the 3 is powerful and luxurious.
A maximum volume of 125dB AKA air horn will keep you hearing your music clearly in any conditions.
At 9.9mm thick, these incredibly thin 45mm speakers won’t rub against your ears. That means a less distracted ride and a more relaxing beer when you’re finished for the day.
But don’t just take it from me and my friends – here’s a great side-by-side test of the iASUS 2.1 and 3.
Upgrade the speakers in your existing Bluetooth unit or use the included extension cord to run these right to your phone.
With a Kevlar extension cord, you won’t have any wear issues like many experience with the Uclear set. Kevlar can stop bullets; so it can handle anyone’s riding.
Keep your music banging and your conversations clear with a set of iASUS XSound 3 helmet speakers.
Alternatives to Drop-in Speakers for Your Motorcycle Helmet
There’s always something to hate about anything you love.
So what do I HATE about my Cardo and JBL 45mm set?
They’re a pain to move from helmet to helmet!
What solves this?
A good set of earbuds will keep your music and podcasts with you everywhere, from rides to flights to drowning out your screaming kids.
The downsides? Fitting and falls.
Earbuds can be hard to fit inside a helmet, causing a lot of pain as they push on your ear canal. More pain, more PISSED, higher chance you do something stupid and land yourself in the hospital.
Earbuds are also prone to falling out of ears, never to be seen again. And they cost a pretty penny to replace!
If you can live with that risk, here are some of your options.
Say what you will about Apple, but the AirPods are nearly the perfect audio device.
- Clear sound without excessive volume
- No cords to snag on anything.
- Just put them in your ears and go – absolutely seamless connection to Apple products.
- Comfortable even in a tight helmet with their small size
All for around the price of a mid-range Bluetooth communicator and speakers. And you can use them off the bike, too.
Sign me up.
Now I burst your bubble. Aside from looking like a Pokemon, with AirPods in your helmet you’re at the mercy of your music’s shuffle. You can’t control your volume or skip songs.
Second, you might find your music cuts out mid-ride from a dead battery. These little beans only last about 4-6 hours, depending on how old they are.
4-6 hours is a lot less than the UNLIMITED hours you get from a wired set of speakers. Even a Bluetooth headset like the Cardo Packtalk Edge give closer to 13 hours of battery, and can be recharged in use.
However, if you don’t mind taking a break to pop these back in the charging case, they’ll last you for a day’s ride at least.
The sound quality really is in a league of its own versus helmet speakers. They’re a perfect audio option for most riders, and you can use them off the road too.
As much as I love AirPods, I never would have lost that left AirPod had I used my Beats Flex.
They solved the whole disappearing bean problem by wiring the two earbuds together, just like old times.
I love riding with these because they have a set of controls conveniently located on my neck. Hate that song? Skip it. Son calling? Pick it up.
What these buds lack in active noise-cancelling they make up for in bass. Beats has a reputation to live up to, after all.
The battery should last through a whole day of riding – the Sound Guys got over 10 hours of life out of them (11).
If cost is important for you, these are also significantly cheaper than AirPods with similar audio quality.
If you’re prone to losing earbuds or you can’t stand when that Taylor Swift album you (accidentally, I swear!) liked one time comes on shuffle, pick up the Beats.
What about the Syphon SoundPro?
Known mostly in the extreme sports world, Syphon has recently taken the motorcycling world by storm with the SoundPro.
These speakers are under 10mm thick (read: thinner than anything on our list) which means no pain from rubbing against your ears.
The external wheel for music controls makes it simple to change songs and pick up calls without taking your mind off the road ahead.
A friend of mine in Idaho recently picked these up and says the audio quality is on par with the iASUS XSound 3 and Cardo 45mm kits he has. That means clear sound in any conditions, from a wheelie on the highway to high winds on a bridge.
So what’s not to love?
The PRICE. It’s way out of whack. At $200, it’s $30 more than buying a Cardo Spirit with JBL’s epic 45mm speaker kit, but Syphon’s kit won’t connect to others for intercom or work with your phone’s voice assistant.
Until they bring that price down, not worth it.
Are motorcycle helmet speakers legal?
Motorcycle helmet speakers are generally legal. But it all depends on your state’s laws.
Using earbuds or headphones is more likely to be illegal in your area. Helmet speakers don’t seal to the ear, so they skirt around those laws.
What if even helmet speakers are illegal in your area? Mount some speakers on your motorcycle. Boss Audio Systems can help.
How do you connect speakers to a motorcycle helmet?
Speakers connect to the inside of your helmet with velcro stickers. Every speaker set we’ve looked at comes with both sides of the velcro you need.
First, you’ll stick one side down to the insides of your helmet, in the recesses that sit over your ears. Then you’ll stick the other velcroto the back of each speaker.
Put the left speaker on the left side and right on right. Adjust accordingly so the speakers sit right over your ears with the helmet on.
You’re good to go. Enjoy the concert hall in your helmet!
How can I improve my helmet speakers?
Most Bluetooth headset come with awful speakers – buy one from iASUS or Cardo + JBL to instantly improve that sound.
Installation is easier than putting on pants in the morning: just unplug your old ones and plug in the new ones.
Just need a volume boost? Pick up the iASUS EAR3 Helmet Amplifier.
Where can I pick up some Bose motorcycle helmet speakers?
Why is everyone such a Bose fanboy? We’re talking about riding your freedom machine, not sitting in your home theater or spamming people from a call center.
In all seriousness, I’ve never encountered a Bose product that made sense to wear on a motorcycle. Bose shines when you’re sipping champagne in first class on your flight to Zurich listening to Mozart.
Leave it to JBL or iASUS when you’re gripping the handlebars of your stage four bagger for dear life on an Appalachian mountain road. Bose just isn’t made for this world.
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