Sena 30K Review: Next Generation Motorcycle Intercom Technology


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Last Updated: 9th October 2020

Bluetooth headsets used to be something usually left to adventure and touring riders.

Nowadays, they make sense for a lot of people.

Paired to your phone, a headset can provide comms, navigation and audio on your ride.

But the way these headsets connect is changing..

 

Bottom Line Up Front

Sena 30k intercom

Sena 30K Bluetooth Headset

Next Generation Tech

Premium level intercom from industry leader – Sena, now incorporating cutting edge ‘mesh’ connectivity.

If you want to future proof your gear, buying this headset makes sense. Check Amazon

The 30K is a premium headset, built using the same components as Sena’s 20S Evo model.

The big difference here is the inclusion of a ‘mesh’ processor (in addition to a standard bluetooth processor), allowing the unit to connect to up to 15 other mesh devices.

This tech also means that if a rider is dropped from the group by going out of range, they will automatically reconnect after coming back into range.

If you’ve used headsets in a group before, you’ll know this is a huge deal.

This tech isn’t widely supported yet, but it is does have the potential to become the future of motorcycle comms – no doubt.

The price difference over the 20S Evo is minimal, and this unit performs as well as that headset in every category.

 

What’s In The Box?


Sena 30k box shot

Shipped in the box are – the main unit (with integrated clamp), a wired mic and wired boom mic, two speakers, a user manual and some adhesive pads and rubber spacers to secure everything in place.

Sena offers a reduced price on dual kits.

Check with your friends before you go shelling out for a more expensive single unit.

Note: Dual packs only contain one manual.

 

Installation and Mounting

Sena 30k box unpacked

The 30K mounts to the shell of your helmet in the same way as the rest of Sena’s range.

We like the simplicity and that everything can be easily removed.

The unit clamps to the bottom left of your helmet shell with the jog dial facing outside.

From there, your choice of mic is secured (for most UK riders it’ll be the wired mic inside) and speakers are placed in the cutouts.

It’s quick and easy and will fit most helmets without issue.

 

Size and Weight

The 30K weighs in at 61 grams – not enough to even notice.

The aesthetic is streamlined, closer to Sena’s 20S Evo than their 10S series.

Once installed, it sits flush and tight against your helmet, reducing the potential for buffeting and wind noise.

The overall visual impact on your helmet is minimal.

 

Helmet Compatibility

This should fit just about any full-face, open-face or modular helmet made in the last ten years.

You will require speaker cutouts though.

Rubber spacers are included to shim helmets that are too slim for the clamp to mount.

 

What Mounts Are Supplied?

A wired mic and boom mic are included to support both open-face and full-face helmets.

Mics can be swapped out by opening the unit’s clamp.

It’s a little more involved than some previous Sena models, but also feels sturdier.

Check prices on Amazon

 

Headset Controls


Sena 30k controls view

Sena stick to their jog dial and central button layout here, and it works fairly well.

The last few generations of Sena gear have had a chunky, tactile feel – easy to operate even with gloved hands.

Connection, intercom and call options on the fly are all controlled by how long you hold down certain buttons.

This is not as intuitive as it sounds.

There are too many combinations of taps and holds to easily memorise.

Riders are better off having all their connections sorted through the app before setting out.

Voice command is also included, but I didn’t have much success getting it to work.

 

Sena App

Sena appSena’s apps are typically decent, and this is no exception.

Most features are laid out in a list with the option to switch them on or off.

Navigating the advanced features was also pretty simple, but we’re not sure why Sena change the app so much with each generation of tech.

They’re troubleshooting probably.

But it does mean learning a new layout every time.

 

Bluetooth Pairing


Pairing to phone, GPS, mesh devices, Sena devices or generic Bluetooth devices are all achieved by holding down the appropriate button for a set number of seconds.

There are too many combinations to easily remember here.

This would get easier over time, but was tricky for the purposes of review.

One of the big features of this headset is its mesh technology.

This makes pairing with other mesh devices simple, but the real bonus is how it reconnects when you come back into range.

Previously, once you were dropped from a bluetooth group, it was necessary to manually reconnect.

This often involves unwanted stops and frustration.

This tech looks to do away with this hassle, while also keeping a bluetooth processor so it can connect to older Sena and generic bluetooth devices.

 

GPS Connections

I didn’t try it, but the 30K does connect to dedicated GPS devices.

Most people these days use their phone for navigation, but there are some motorcycle touring riders who use GPS and might be interested.

The unit will pair with a GPS at the press of a button (if you can remember which one)

 

Sound Quality


This headset uses exactly the same speaker set as the 20S series.

They’re really good, with crisp reproduction of voice and music and excellent noise cancelling tech.

To some extent, voice quality also depends on the other rider’s gear, but I can’t fault these speakers.

Check prices on Amazon

Range


Sena 30k top view

The range for both mesh and Bluetooth is 1.2 miles – the same as the 20S series.

Elevation changes will shorten this range considerably, and if there’s a hill between you and another rider, you’ll struggle to connect.

The 30K does compete with the best kits on the market in terms of range.

It’s worth noting the 30K’s auto reconnect/self-heal feature again too.

This is a game changer for many touring riders.

Getting dropped from the group because you’ve gone out of range used to be a real pain.

If everybody adopts this tech, it’ll be a thing of the past.

 

How Many Riders?

In mesh mode the 30K can theoretically connect to an unlimited number of other riders on an open channel that supports six people speaking at once.

You can also set up a private mesh with only those you select.

In Bluetooth mode, users can connect to 15 other riders – the highest number in Sena’s range.

Support is present to connect via Bluetooth to non-Sena devices with some limitations.

 

Battery time and Charging


The new mesh tech is an improvement over standard Bluetooth, but it uses more power.

Mesh mode gets you 8 hours of talk time compared to a 20S’ 13 hours.

It’s important to note here that the 30K will also last 13 hours when switched to Bluetooth mode.

This is essentially two units in one.

 

Charging

A full recharge comes in at 1.5 hours – the fastest on the market.

We also love the quick charge function.

If you’re running low, a twenty minute charge at a fuel stop will get you an extra 3 hours battery time.

The 30K really can’t be faulted in this category.

 

Waterproofing


Here’s where we encounter some minor complaints.

Sena’s headsets are all water-resistant, while many of their competitors offer fully waterproof units at a similar price point.

I haven’t run into problems with any of their gear in wet UK conditions, but there are folk online who have.

As far as I can tell, you’d need to get this thing very wet indeed before it’d become a problem.

 

Conclusion


This is a tricky one to round up.

What you have here is essentially a high-end Bluetooth headset and a proprietary, mesh technology unit.

The mesh feature is only a selling point if your group is also going to invest in the same tech.

It is better – no doubt about that.

Self-healing, auto-reconnecting mesh networks sound great – and will be if everyone adopts this tech.

So far only Sena are producing these units, making the future uncertain.

Check Prices

Sena 30k intercom

Sena 30K Bluetooth Headset

Next Generation Tech

Premium level intercom from industry leader – Sena, now incorporating cutting edge ‘mesh’ connectivity.

If you want to future proof your gear, buying this headset makes sense. Check Amazon

Further Reading

Read our round up of thebest motorcycle intercoms.

For a comparison see Sena 10s vs Sena 20s