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Review: Cardo Scala Rider G9 - Part 3 -The Test

28
June
2012
  Posted at 06:00:00 PM
  File under  Bluetooth Product Review
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France

NOTE: This is part of a long review of the Cardo Scala Rider G9 Bluetooth communication device for motorcycles.

Click here to read Part 1 - Installing the G9 Open link in a new window
Click here to read Part 2 - Configuring the Cardo Scala Rider G9 Open link in a new window

Cardo logo
After having installed and configuring the Scala Rider G9 Open Cardosystems link in a new window, we're ready to conduct several test. The test will concentrate on sound, transmission and operability of the G9.

Initial test are done while not riding (Static Test), while the last part is done on the motorcycle (Riding Test), alone and with a second rider.

In order to remember the functions, I did up a little cheat sheet below, that you can print and take with you. It shows the most important (for me) functions:

Click for bigger version of Scala G9 Cheat Sheet
Open image in a new window


Static Test

Radio

After powering on the G9, I first did a sound level check by using the FM radio. I had previously configured my favorite local radio station (Resonance Open Resonance link in a new window), and turned the radio on. Radio is turned on by pressing the Voice Command and saying "Radio ON" (to turn it off say "Radio OFF").

NOTE: For most of the tests, I have used Voice Commands. Voice is simpler to use, and a lot safer, since all you need is talk to the G9 instead of fumbling for buttons to press. You just need to press the Voice Command button.

Reception of the radio was excellent. The radio station is not close by, and on a normal house radio, I do not as get as clear signal as the G9. Strange, but true, I expected less of a signal.

Sound was more than good, and when pressing the Volume UP button, it became unbearable... a good sign. I adjusted the volume level to a comfortable level.

Mobile Phone

Next, I dialed from the house phone my iPhone, which was paired to the G9. The radio got interrupted, and I heard my iPhone ringing sound. Initially I tried answering by Voice Command, involving you saying anything to activate the phone, but it did not work, so I needed to press the Mobile Button.

After reading the instructions again, I noticed that you need to speak really LOUD for it to pick up. So I tried again, and it did pick up, but you do have to almost yell to make the Voice Command pick up the phone.

To finish a connection, you will need to press the Mobile button. I did notice that my house phone line was still on, while the iPhone was off, but I am presuming that's a problem between the iPhone and house line.

Sound
: Sound was excellent inside the helmet.

Streaming Music

I used the iPhone music to listen to my playlists. What a joy! Sound was really good. You can control the music with buttons on the G9. Once you load the player on your phone (in my case an Iphone, but any A2DP and AVRCP compatible player will do), you can hear crystal clear stereo sound.

Stopping and starting the music is a question of pressing the Channel A button for 2 seconds. Forwarding to the next song on your playlist requires you to press the Volume UP button for 2 seconds (you'll hear a beep when active), and Volume DOWN to "rewind".

Or more simply, just press the Voice Command button and after the beep say "Music ON" or "Music OFF". The G9 confirms the command and starts or stops the music. Handy.

Sound
: Excellent

Riding Test - Solo

The initial part of the test involved riding around the countryside by myself. The weather was cold, miserable and raining, a typical Normandy summer day.

Radio

The easiest tests are the radio, since I can operate that on my own. "Radio ON" was all I had to say, and the radio started. Reception was loud & clear, no problem.

The sound level was excellent. The G9 adjusts the sound level automatically according to ambient noise. Granted the BMW EVO6 helmet used is very good, not letting much noise in, but there was still a lot Volume UP left.

Note
: At a later stage in the test, I rode outside the range of the radio station frequency I was using, and it switched frequency seamlessly.

Sound Level with Noise: The G9 has a nice compensation calculation/function. The more noise (i.e. the faster you go) the louder the sound is. It's very noticeable when you go from slow to very fast. The sound increases dramatically. Very cool.

Mobile Phone

I had asked my wife to call me 30 minutes after I left. My radio got interrupted with the ringing sound of my iPhone. I used a "shouted" command "ANSWER" (but any word will do as long as it's loud), and I was talking to SWMBOShe Who Must Be Obeyed.

Sound
: On my side, I could hear her crystal clear. On her side, she noted that the sound was slightly muffled, due probably to the fact that the microphone is not exactly in front of my mouth, but she could understand and hear every word I spoke. So it's not perfect, but still very useable.

Note to Cardo: Maybe an optional longer microphone for those that have special helmets.

Riding Test - Duo


Later that day, a second rider joined me for the test. She used the BMW EVO4 helmet previously installed by BMW Rouen. When she started up her G9, I heard "RIDER A CONNECTED" (the G9 was not configured with a buddy name yet). Interesting, since it immediately tells you that it works and that you are connected.

Intercom

Talking to the other rider was simple. I had the radio on, and when I wanted to speak with her, press the Voice Command button and just say "CALL INTERCOM" (or just press the Channel A button). At that stage the music was gone and I could speak loud & clear. There is no "warning" that your "intercom" G9 has hooked up to you to talk, you'll just hear a voice talking to you.

To end the intercom conversation, either not say anything for 30 seconds, or press the Channel A button (unless you're talking to another G9 on Channel B).

Sound
: Sound level and sound clarity was excellent. No problem hearing her. There was still enough Volume UP left to make you deaf.... On her side, sound was indeed muffled but quite understandable.

Range
: We started distancing ourselves bit-by-bit. I expected to have less range, since the landscape was hilly with trees, and the weather wet. We managed to talk quite comfortably with a distance of about 250 - 280 meters. Above that, we did lose connection once or twice. I expect in better conditions and a flat surface to get 300 to 350 meters. The antenna was up.

Since there aren't any other G9 users around me that I know, we could not test multiple connections, but I have no doubt that it'll work fine.

Verdict


A very good, powerful unit, full of features. Sound level is excellent (in contrast with a previous unit), sound clarity is excellent and range is more than adequate (remember, it's not a walkie-talkie).

Having the onboard radio equipped with RDS is a blessing. Stereo sound is nice, and quite spatial. Playing music via the iPhone was heaven.

Most functions have multiple ways of operating; buttons pressing and/or voice. You need to try what's comfortable for you.

The 6 buttons are easy to find, since they are big and recessed. Even with winter gloves, you'll not have a problem finding them. Remembering their locations will take a few goes, but eventually you'll not need to fumble. At the end of my 1 hour ride, I went to the right button immediately. I used mostly the Voice Command, and that button is the easiest to find.

I did not test it with a dedicated GPS (my Garmin was hiding itself), but in my experience it'll not be any issue.

Advantages
:
  • Sound quality
  • Range
  • Lots of features
  • Radio
  • Voice commands
  • Easy to find buttons, even with winter gloves.

Disadvantages
:
  • Windows only configuration
  • Cumbersome at times to configure (lots of button pressing)

In a nutshell: A KEEPER

Click here for more info on the Cardo Scala Rider G9 Open Cardosystems link in a new window
Click here to buy the unit (Amazon US)





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