Sena and Cardo are the heavyweights of the motorcycle Bluetooth headset world. The odds are high that you and your friends who ride have one brand or the other, so knowing if your Cardo and Sena headsets are compatible can be super important.
Whichever brand you invested in, you’ll be able to:
- Intercom between riders, up to 16 in a pack depending which you bought
- Listen to music through your phone connection
- Make and take phone calls when connected with your phone
- Pick up FM radio as you cruise
But can you connect Cardo and Sena for that all-important intercom feature?
Yes. And no.
You’d hope that since every phone can connect to your headset that every headset can connect to each other, but that’s not quite the reality. Let’s get into how to pair Cardo and Sena headsets.
Can Sena Pair with Cardo?
You can pair Sena with Cardo headsets, but if you have a new Sena model there’s a more finicky process to follow.
Older iterations of Sena motorcycle headsets came with universal connections, which meant the would pair with any other Bluetooth headset you used. Anything in the 20, 10, or 5 series of Sena headsets will easily pair with Cardo without much hassle.
However, the newer 30 and 50 series from Sena dropped the universal connection feature. This has made it just a little but more difficult to pair new Sena models with anything made my Cardo.
The good news is that all Cardo headsets have the universal intercom feature, including the newest products like the Packtalk Bold and Packtalk Black. By Cardo keeping this functionality, you can still pair your Sena and Cardo headsets, it just takes a little care and attention to the process.
Connecting Cardo and Sena Using the Cardo App
There is an easy workaround to make sure you can pair our Cardo and Sena headsets, even a Sena 30 or 50 series device. Your Cardo headset will be able to pair through the universal intercom feature – you can only add Cardo to your Sena as if it were a phone device.
This won’t affect your phone connection to your Sena device. You can have two Bluetooth devices connected to your Sena headset so your phone can go in the first pairing slot and the Cardo in the second pairing slot.
An easy way to make this all happen is to download the Cardo Connect app to your iPhone or Android phone using App Store or Play Store.
- In the app, tap the “intercom” option – here you can add two Sena devices to pair up to your Cardo headset via Bluetooth.
- Put your Sena device in to phone pairing mode.
- When you get the “phone pairing” confirmation from your Sena device, you then choose which pairing slot you want to add it to on your Cardo app and choose “non-Cardo device”
- Both devices with confirm they have been “paired successfully”. Tap the intercom button on the Cardo headset once to confirm the connection.
Once you’ve established this connection, on the Cardo Connect app, you can tap the “DMC” button – meaning Dynamic Mesh Connectivity – and bring your Sena headset into your Cardo mesh network that supports up to 16 riders.
It’s worth noting that one Cardo headset can only bring in upto two Senas into your mesh network. If your group has few people with both brands, you should be able to add a couple of Senas to each Cardo to get everyone into your pack.
Pairing Cardo and Sena without Using an App
You don’t need to use the Cardo app to pair your Cardo and Sena devices. Here’s how to do it directly:
- Place your Sena device in phone pairing mode by holding down the “phone” button – it’ll be in different places depending on which Sena you have.
- Put your Cardo device into “gateway” mode – again, how to do this will depend on your device so check your manual.
- The Cardo device will verbally confirm the pairing slot and say “gateway pairing”, followed by “paired successfully”.
- After a few seconds, your Sena device should also confirm “successful pairing”.
- F|inally, tap the intercom button on the Cardo device and both devices will be able to communicate with each other.
To then add the Sena device to DMC mode, turn off Bluetooth on the Cardo device, turn on DMC mode, and it will bring the connected Sena device into the mesh network.
Pairing Sena with a Cardo Device
It would be possible to use Sena as your primary unit to make the same connection we’ve just covered, but only if it has universal pairing. This means you can only do it if you have a 20, 10, or 5 series device.
It’ll work in the same way:
- Set your Sena device to universal pairing – check your user guide to confirm how.
- Set your Cardo device as if you were pairing it with a phone.
- The connection should be established through Bluetooth intercom.
- Switch the Sena device over to the mesh network to bring the Cardo in.
It can be easier to remember the process to pair Cardo with Sena using Cardo as the primary device since all Cardo headsets have universal connection while not all Senas do.
Can Cardo and Sena Pair with Different Brand Headsets?
As popular as these two brands of Bluetooth motorcycle headset are, they’re not the only horses in town. There are alternative Bluetooth headset brands that you or your riding buddies might have and you’ll still want to be able to communicate with them.
Let’s start with a good rule of thumb. When you connect two devices together, one needs to be in universal connection mode – called “gateway” mode on Cardo devices – and the other needs to be in phone pairing mode.
Since Cardo and Sena have their own mesh technologies, it’d be worth using either of these as the primary unit so the other one can be taken into the mesh. Remember though, not all Senas will connect outside of the brand.
Another good rule to remember when you’re setting up your connections before a ride: Make the mesh connections between the brand with the most units in the set up, then add the other headsets in on phone slots.
Here’s an example:
- You’ve got six riders; four with Cardos, one with a Sena, and one with a Fodsports.
- First, connect all the Cardos together on DMC following your normal process.
- Next, add the Sena to one of the Cardos using one the phone slots on the Sena.
- Then, add the Fodsports headset to another Cardo using one of the phone slots.
- Once the Sena and Fodsports are connected, the Cardo headset can change from Bluetooth to DMC mode and the extra headset will drop into the network, too.
All the headsets will still work with their standalone functions. That means that you’ll still be able to take a call or play your favorite playlist without everyone listening to what you want for dinner or your Meatloaf collection again.
Golden Rules for Pairing
Sena Headsets with Universal Bluetooth
We’ve covered the slightly annoying and really frustrating fact that the newer Sena headsets don’t support universal pairing.
It seems like Sena sneaked it under the radar – the only way you’ll notice is if you very carefully read the product descriptions on Sena’s site.
The Sena 50 Series
Sometimes you’l get told specifically that pairing is Sena to Sena only, like on the Sena 50S product page (1) it says, “Traditional four-way Bluetooth Intercom mode continues to be an option for connecting other Sena Bluetooth-enabled users within a 1.2-mile range.” you’ll find pretty much the same words on the 50C product page, just a slightly shorter range (2).
When it comes to the 50R, we’re making the assumption it doesn’t have universal connectivity because if it was a feature they’d be sure to tell us about it. Instead, Sena’s website just says (3):
All riders and their ever-changing riding scenarios will surely benefit from the incredible flexibility and technology engineered into the 50R Mesh and Bluetooth intercom modes.
You should still be able to pair a Sena 50 series headset to a Cardo using the Cardo universal connection feature, which means you’re going to be completely on your own.
The Sena 30 Series
It’s a similar story when you dive into the details about the Sena 30K (4). You can’t connect a different brand to this headset, although it will work to connect another headset in one of the phone Bluetooth slots.
You’ll be able to connect into an established mesh network through a Cardo headset that you pair to, but if your pairing partner drops out of the DMC network, you will too.
Earlier Sena Models
The Sena 20S Evo does come with universal intercom! Although not noted in the description, you can see it’s a highlighted feature:
Other Sena products that note the universal intercom feature are (5):
- Sena 10R
- Sena 10S
- Sena 10C Pro
- SMH 10
You may get some lower specs on these headsets like a shorter Bluetooth range, but if universal pairing is important to you, it may be a compromise worth making.
Cardo Headsets with Universal Intercom
The Cardo line is much simpler to understand; all Cardo units in the Packtalk and Freecom ranges have universal connectivity. This means any headset from Sena or another brand can pair to a Cardo and be involved in the intercom or DMC network between riders.
Since these are the two most common motorcycle Bluetooth headset brands on the market, even if your Sena doesn’t have universal connection, your friends’ Cardo headsets should fix pairing issues.
The Cardo headsets with universal intercom are (6):
- Packtalk Black
- Packtalk Bold
- Packtalk Slim
- Freecom 4+
- Freecom 2+
- Freecom 1+