Friday, June 15, 2012

The Sounds of Velomobiles ...

Da hills are alive with da sounds of music …
Have you been on an never ending Quest for the right sound system for you velomobile? I have been riding recumbents of one sort or another for the past 10 years. From almost day one I have tried to find the best way to have some sort of entertainment with me as I ride a lot of time alone and on the same old routes. Having something to listen to helps some times. And No, I am not going to fall into the discussion of “safety of … whatever”, I ride with a sound system often when riding alone. Period no debate here!
Most of the time on my 2 wheeled ‘bents it was a nice set of over the ear  headset phone s like a Panasonic ones with volume controls on the cord:
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or  a nice set of Sony ones
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Both that wrapped around the ear that stayed in place. Sadly over time one side or the other quit working, but...

Then the world changed and suddenly Blue tooth was all the rage, of course I had to try them  so my first pair were From Logitech:

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They have a head set and a transmitter that fit into the earplug of you player. I still really like this headset, it has the best and easiest controls I have found, you just tap one of the four quadrants of the right ear piece for controls, but the transmitter has something loose and only works intermittently now and I can’t get a replacement. The blue tooth signal is not common either so it won’t sync with anything else, darn!

The last Bluetooth headset was/is from Sony
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These are really nice, good sound quality and loud enough so when traffic buzzes by they don’t totally drown out. The controls are not as good as the Logitech, mostly just a couple of rocker switches that are hard to use some days, especially with gloves on.
Sadly its gotten really hard to find a good set of over the ear head sets. Since the IPhone has gotten stronger the types that are prevalent now are the stick in your ear kinds with sound damping, Not good for riding bikes as they mask the sounds around you too much. I like the over the ear because they do allow sounds from your environment to be heard also. more naturally I think!
Because of that I finally found a nice inexpensive pair from Sony that fit in my ear with out sliding out too soon.

Mind you the more I perspire the faster they wiggle free! No! gluing them in just causes a whole whack of other problems. LOL

I have also tried inexpensive portable speaker systems, the ones that worked the best for me have been a speaker from Creative that I used a lot.

It was great for sound and power requirements but was/ is hard to mount on a bike. I found ways to mount it, but never one that really worked. Then I found a nice little cheap package at Wal-Mart that worked well, not bad sound quality, loud and water proof.
                       Kensington Sound to Go
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My wife really likes this one as she could adjust the volume easily on the front.

I found a nice, loud for highway traffic, compact speaker set to toss behind me in my bag and still hear fine. Another system from Creative, The Creative Travel Sound Circa 2003.
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I love the sound from this but in the velo its awkward, big and just doesn’t work for me. I use it mainly as my kitchen speaker to listen to the radio and play with my plugged in iPhone.

For the last year have been using a iHome Mini Speaker Type on my GoldRush and wife’s Tour Easy. Very loud light and simple to use. The quality of the sound is okay no bass to speak of but, not a Tin-ny sound either.
They work great on the two wheelers in traffic and on the pathways. I like them for what they are I have one iHome and 1 from the Source,
 (formerly Radio Shack) that is under $15 a piece, its an awesome wee speaker. But not “good” enough for the Velo.

Finally when I got my Mango velomobile I hunted for the best compact, Bluetooth ready, high fidelity unit around. I believed I found it in The Jambone Jambox.

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Ooh the sound fidelity is just like they say it is, it lasts several hours at near full power for several hours, it small and hides in the velo easily  and connects with my iPhone flawlessly. Plus it makes the whole velo shake and rumble with the low bass it can produce. Fantastic wee speaker.
Sadly on the highway and with passing traffic  the volume is too low and gets drowned out with almost any vehicle passing by. Even with it placed just behind my head on the seat support brace. But i use it in my home, at the shop, on our deck table.. the volume is good enough for those but not the velo. Recently Jambone has come out with one that is 4 times the size and a lot louder, but to big for me, my velo and my wallet, i think. But if you ride mostly dedicated pathways and like a a nice background sound then this a great buy.

Earlier this past winter while trolling the BROL website in the velo section a thread was started by “ckaudio” regarding adding a decent sound system to his Quest velomobile. Man I love the sound of this tiny little unit. Chris (ckaudio) had found this nice tiny amp and exciters on the web and installed them. He said the quality of sound, it lightweight, and coasts were perfect for a velomobile system.

Slowly several other tried the system  and the reports coming in made me curious and somewhat envious.

I was and had been using earphones or the tiny iHome speaker for my rides. So I put them on my “want list” for a future date. As Fathers day and The Trike Optional Tour Coming at the end of June 22-28 In Kellogg, Idaho, (Event report or 2 after the event)  I Decided to give myself a early Fathers Day Gift and Ordered a  DAYTON AUDIO DTA-1 CLASS T DIGITAL AC/DC AMPLIFIER 15 WPC with a pair of Dayton Audio DAEX25 Sound Exciters from Parts Express!
OMG! its small, its powerful, Fantastic Sound quality at high power. The exciters you place on the body and they make the whole shell the speaker. What!?  I had never heard of that. It was fun placing the exciters around various places in the Mango and getting different tones! Finally placed them in the rear about 3/5s from the bottom and about a foot from the t brace. THE WHOLE THING TURNS INTO A FREAKIN SPEAKER ! The Bass is amazing!

I ordered them Sunday June 9 in the afternoon and got them Tuesday June 11 early afternoon! Fast delivery from FedEx was cheaper than USPS!

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Right now I am just using 8 AA batteries and need to find a 12 v  battery when I am in the states next week. Any recommendations that I could pick up while in the Kellogg/Spokane area. My Mango is 6v and the amp is 12v  so it looks like I will be carrying two types of batteries.

So I have taken a long Journey with recumbent sound (along with this post).  The Dayton system cost me less than $75 CDN so far I still need a battery pack  and charger but its an inexpensive quality system that you should look into . My son likes it so much he ordered on to use in his car . When he bought the car the previous owner ripped out the sound system and left a hole. He only uses his smart phone for music and radio any ways so the Dayton AMP was a cheap way to great sound in his college beater!  check out the thread on BROL and at Performance Parts they have a lot of cool options. Thanks for hanging in on this longer than normal post and review


1 comment:

  1. Are you still using the Dayton system? Any problems? I am thinking of trying the same in my velo