The Nady MRC-11X and Nady PMC-3x
by Shawn Cochran for webBikeWorld
The folks at Nady Systems have produced a trio of small,
lightweight motorcycle communication systems, the PMC-2X intercom, the PMC-3X
intercom with FM radio and a bike-to-bike communications system called the MRC-11X.
The PMC-3X intercom with FM radio is powered by three AAA batteries or the motorcycle's electrical
system using the optional battery eliminator.
The PMC-3X comes with two MO-1 headsets, comprised of a
single earpiece and microphone boom combination. They can fit into
virtually any helmet, including full-face units.
The PMC-3X has a built-in FM (monaural) tuner,
a voice-activated (VOX) intercom and inputs for a 2 way radio with PTT (push
to talk) or VOX
operation (depending upon your handheld radio) and another source via an AUX
input (such as an iPod or Walkman).
The unit has a belt-clip, but the clip is poorly designed
and will allow the unit to slide off downward while wearing it. This
could create a unique situation should this happen while riding the
Headsets are connected via coiled cords to 1/8" jacks on the
PMC units, which are clearly labeled for driver and passenger.
Communications between the driver and passenger are automatically leveled
while listening to the FM radio. Once communications are initiated,
the music level or source level is lowered and it returns approximately
three seconds after communications cease.
The voice-activation sensitivity is controlled via a manual
dial adjustment. The wheel is very small and recessed, making it
difficult to access and adjust while riding -- especially if you are wearing
gloves. It's important to have easy access to the unit and the
adjustment dial, as wind conditions can change drastically when riding a
motorcycle, which limit the usefulness of the PMC-3X.
When the microphones are opened, the music in the background
is lowered to the point where it becomes very difficult to hear. Thus,
if the wind noise is opening the microphone you'll hear only that sound
amplified inside your helmet instead of the music.
In optimal conditions, the unit works very well. The
conversations are full-duplex and have decent audio quality, depending upon
the helmet style and wind noise.
When using the AUX input, the
"Intercom" must be selected first for the mode on the PMC-3X, which leaves
the driver to passenger channel open continuously, and the audio level does
not automatically lower the input level as it does in FM mode.
Operating the FM radio and headset volume is fairly simplistic. The
volume has roughly six levels which are adjusted via a large rocker-style
button. It is easy to operate even without looking at the unit.
Tuning the FM radio uses the same style of button, although
the operation is unique. FM tuning starts at the bottom of the band
(88.1) and goes up in increments of .2 as the rocker is pressed. If it
is pressed down, the radio will return to the starting point of 88.1 --
which if done accidentally, can be rather annoying.
The FM tuner works well in populated areas, but mine was
worthless after I moved 15-20 miles away from the transmission source.
A local device with an FM transmitter, such as a satellite radio receiver or
other types of personal audio devices may produce better results due to the
proximity of the transmission source.
For those with an FRS (Family
Radio Service, U.S.A. only), GMRS (General
Mobile Radio Service) or CB (Citizen's
Band) handheld radio that has VOX capability, the units
can plug directly into the PMC-3X's radio input to provide hands-free
two-way communication to other motorcyclists nearby.
I've used the MRC-11X as well as a hand-held Radio Shack
unit (model TRC-241) for testing. The TRC-241 does not have VOX, but
the cables provided with the headsets included a PTT (push to talk) button
that can be attached to any convenient location using Velcro -- in my case
on the throttle near my right thumb. PTT operation is straightforward
and works very well.
Nady MRC-11X (bottom); Radio Shack TRC-241 (top).
Another drawback with the PMC series is the MO-1 headsets. While this
may not be an issue for some people, I found that not having the sound
coming from both ears is annoying. Purchasing the optional OCA-XO
(open face) or OCA-XC (closed face) series of headsets helps with this, as
the helmet then has two earpieces that balance out the overall sound
although it is still monaural.
The headsets are connected via a coiled cable to the PMC.
There is a quick disconnect point in the form of a "pig tail" that is
approximately 3 inches from the bottom of your helmet once it is installed.
The coiled cable continues to a 1/8" jack for connection to
the PMC main unit. The cable also has a "Y" for connecting in a PTT
switch. The juncture of the "Y" is extremely fragile, and it is easy
to accidentally pull these cables apart, rendering them useless.
I found that using the PTT that came with the PMC, rather
than the one that came with the optional headset, is the better option - as
it plugs directly into the PMC instead of being combined with the headset
The optional headsets also come with a myriad of connecting
cables, but there's no documentation to assist the new owner with
understanding which cable serves which purpose. After some
experimentation, the three-ringed 1/8" jack with red tape on it works with
handheld CB radios, such as the aforementioned Radio Shack unit. The
same cable without the red tape is for use in connecting the MRC-11X or
auxiliary audio inputs.
The cell phone cable does work, although any called party
tends to hear themselves echoed in the conversation. The may be a
fault of the cell phone, or it may be a fault in the design on the Nady
device. Regardless, I've been told it's rather annoying to receive a
call from me on the motorcycle due to this echo.
Bike to bike communications were tested with both the
MRC-11X to another MRC-11X, and from CB to CB. In both cases, the
lower the overall speed, the clearer the communication. None of the
testing was conducted above 75 mph, and the average speed was 60 mph.
The MRC-11X is a combination FRS / GMRS radio with driver to
passenger intercom capability and an AUX input for additional sources.
The unit can be used in PTT mode or VOX activated for 2 way
radio usage, but unlike the PMC-3X the driver to passenger communications is
always on when the unit is in intercom mode. I found this to be
slightly annoying, because there was the constant sound of the background
being amplified from the microphone and presented back in my headphones.
The AUX input provides additional flexibility, but no more
than the PMC-3X and you've lost the FM tuner capability, unless the
auxiliary device you are using contains one. The interface for
controlling the features on the MRC-11X requires some getting used to, and
it isn't terribly intuitive.
The users' manual is an extremely valuable tool for
navigating the otherwise cryptic menu system. The MRC-11X comes with
one Nady MMHS11XO open face headset. Although it looks similar to the
OCA-XO series of headsets, there's mixed results when using these headsets
with the PMC series; the combination usually produces high-level feedback
inside the helmet.
Nady OCA-XO Headset
When used in combination, the PMC-3X with OCA-XO type headsets and the
MRC-11X or handheld CB plugged into the unit in makes an affordable and safe
combination for motorcycle communications, whether it's driver to passenger
or bike to bike.
Bike to bike has much better results than driver to
passenger, again based upon wind noise and road conditions. Experimentation
is required to achieve the best results.
Ultimately, you must live by the old adage of "you get what you pay for"
when purchasing motorcycle communicators. If you're on a limited
budget and have patience, this might be an adequate solution for short
distance riding. If you're into distance riding or do not like
experimentation, you might want to consider another option.
Review: Nady Motorcycle Intercom System
||Suggested Retail Price: Pricing is
variable, so shop around. PMC-3X $113.99; MRC-11X $122.99; Nady PMC-2/3
Battery Eliminator $34.95; Nady PMC-2X/PMC-3X Open-Face Headset Kit (OCA-XO)
$47.99; Nady MRC-11X Open-Face Headsets (MMHS11XO) $37.99.
|Review Date: August 2006
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