An unassuming accessory kit from Cardo with BIG potential…once installed of course. The 45mm Audio Set, a result of the Cardo – JBL collaboration, features large-diameter drivers that significantly boost audio output and are usable with almost any system using a 3.5mm audio jack. But, optimal utilization of these pieces is with the 2019 PACKTALK and FREECOM series products with JBL Sound Processing and JBL Equalizer Sound courtesy of system firmware and the Cardo Connect App. This combination moves PACKTALK BOLD audio from ‘excellent’ to ‘outstanding’. They aren’t exactly cheap… but the results are worth it.
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Universal application with 3.5mm audio connectivity
Excellent audio boost for any compatible helmet system
Optimized for use with 2019 PACKTALK & FREECOM systems
Three audio profile settings provided by Cardo Connect App
Along with the 2019 PACKTALK BOLD and SLIM products with Sound by JBL, came a very timely accessory kit from Cardo. Originally identified simply as the Cardo Audio Kit, it is now typically identified as the Cardo ‘45mm Audio Set’ – a clearer delineation of what this kit provides.
This accessory audio kit is an easy and cost-effective means to upgrade other Cardo systems (based on compatibility and other requirements) to the Sound by JBL speakers and related audio output features managed under the Cardo Connect App or any other system using a 3.5mm interface.
But the 45mm Sound by JBL speakers in this kit is not just meant as a general upgrade, they also provide an additional audio output boost to the 2019 PACKTALK and FREECOM series products that come with new Sound by JBL speakers… so it’s only right that a separate companion review is done on this great audio enhancement kit.
The 2019 PACKTALK BOLD and SLIM and FREECOMM 4+ products with the Sound by JBL audio are not so much a re-invention of a proven, trusted and popular Bluetooth helmet system but rather a very distinguished and distinguishable upgrade – JBL isn’t exactly a new player on the block.
After over 70 years, JBL remains one of the world’s leading audio performance companies, truly synonymous with audio excellent and continued audio innovation.
The Cardo – JBL collaboration activity saw JBL acoustic, mechanical and software experts modify and optimize all audio elements of the Cardo intercom systems to provide a whole new audio experience.
As a result, the Cardo Scala Rider JBL Audio equipped-systems feature more powerful high definition 40mm speakers and a specially tuned (firmware-based) audio processor with distinct sound profiles to best match the ride – all managed by the smooth functioning intuitive Cardo Connect app.
During the just-completed Cardo Scala Rider PACKTALK BOLD review, the new 40 x 44mm HD speakers (also Sound by JBL) along with the audio processor-based output (managed by the App) got put through the test and ongoing use mill. The results reveal that the Sound by JBL optimization provides a very big step up from the original PACKTALK BOLD pieces.
But wait, there is more…
The Cardo 45mm Audio Set
As riders, we all know that getting high-quality audio inside a motorcycle helmet remains a demanding challenge and, an equal challenge for the industry. All the well-known factors and influences (road, motorcycle and cockpit environments, etc.) directly impact ‘what’ the user hears and of course, there are user-based variables as well.
With all of this on the table, the Cardo – JBL collaboration resulted in another ‘product’ if you will – a set of 45mm (actually, 46mm), diameter speakers; featuring large diameter drivers with impressive sound and output.
Large speakers can and should provide great audio, but if they don’t fit properly into the helmet, the exercise is wasted – been there, seen this.
Accordingly, design consideration is needed and delivered. The Sound by JBL 45mm Audio Set speaker housings is molded with a 45-46mm upper diameter accommodating the drivers while the base diameter steps down to 42mm to facilitate fitment in virtually any helmet.
The 45mm Audio Set uses a standard 3.5mm jack for connectivity, meaning they are usable with virtually any system on the market using a 3.5mm headset interface, although leveraging all the advantages of this audio set does depend on the host system – more on this later…
The Cardo Audio Set or 45mm Audio Set retail box includes a set of the 45mm speakers with spiffy JBL logo foam covers, a second replacement set of foam JBL marked covers, two square Velcro pads, and two speaker repositioning (booster) pads, along with an Activation Guide foldout (don’t thrown this away – you will need the QR code on the back for activation)
45mm Audio Set Installation
Outside of one other pair of speakers used with another BT helmet headset, and a couple of third-party sets installed, utilized and tested over the years, the Sound by JBL 45mm pieces are the largest seen recently.
Even so, these large diameter speakers were fitted into all the helmets utilized for the PACKTALK BOLD review – Arai Corsair (L) and Shoei QWEST (XXL) full-face helmets along with a SCHUBERTH C3 (M), SCHUBERTH C3 Pro (L) and, an LS2 Verso Mobile (M). None required more than a little wiggling to get them in place, seated and properly aligned.
Admittedly, they do project beyond the speaker/ear space cavity in the SHOEI QWEST helmet but there is enough interior of helmet to side of head clearance to facilitate their placement.
For the record, the 45mm Audio Set speakers measure 46mm (diameter at top) and 42mm (diameter at base) and 14.5mm thick (with their JBL logo foam covers).
Of course, your helmet, and your experience may vary from that described above, so if replacing another set of speakers, like the 40 x 44mm original or new Sound by JBL set, it is best to measure the ear and/or speaker cavities before purchase. And don’t forget to consider speaker to ear alignment and clearance.
45mm Audio Set Compatibilities
But there is more than just the physical compatibility aspect to consider in purchasing, installing and using the 45mm Audio Set speakers.
As identified in the Introduction, Cardo Scala Rider 2019 PACKTALK and FREECOM series users get the full meal audio deal experience when these accessory 45mm speakers are installed in place of the (new for 2019) 40 x 44mm Sound by JBL speakers.
This full meal audio deal experience comes courtesy with three enhancements. The first is the definite sound and output boost gained by installing the 45mm large-diameter drivers; the second is the presence of the firmware-based JBL Sound Processing; and, the third being the JBL Equalizer Sound Profiles that are selectable when using the Cardo Connect App.
The following sectional breakdown provides a listing of which Cardo systems either have or can take advantage of the three capabilities. This list is based on the information at Cardo Systems.
Updating the firmware will ensure maximum audio performance, particularly in gaining the benefits of the JBL Sound Processing that is part of later firmware releases.
Cardo Connect App – if you don’t have the Cardo Connect App downloaded (iOS or Android) yet, now is a good time to do it, if for no other reason than the ability to leverage all the audio enhancements.
Many users don’t even bother with a connecting App, let along the Cardo Connect App and that is all good. But, if the Cardo Connect App is not installed and set up for your compatible device, then the full scope of benefits provided by the JBL Sound Processing and JBL Sound Equalizer profiles won’t be realized.
Firmware & App Activation
45mm Audio Set Activation – copied with some edits from the FAQ page
Make the BT connection to your device
Open the Cardo Connect App
Go to ‘Settings’ (gear wheel on upper left)
On Settings screen, JBL logo and ‘Audio Profile’ listing, with a lock on the right side
Click on the lock, the ‘Audio Profiles’ screen (with headset) appears
Press ‘Scan QRcode’, now scan the QR code label on the back of the Activation Guide
Note – if you cannot scan the QR code, press ‘enter the key manually’, then enter the code printed below the QR code
With the QR code validated (good for one unit only) the JBL Audio Profiles are available with subsequent use
45mm Audio Set Performance
One of the questions posted on the 45mm Audio Set FAQ page states, “Do I need to purchase the 45mm Audio Set”? The simple answer is no. However, if you absolutely, positively need to have the best audio performance in your helmet from a fully compatible Cardo system (see above), then you need what these speakers provide.
I was more than happy with the excellent (almost outstanding) audio provided by our 2019 PACKTALK BOLD test systems, especially in my favorite audio environment helmet, the SCHUBERTH C3 Pro.
The first indication of what was to come with the 45mm Audio Set was audibly evident in just listening to them without having even installed them; the comparative differences in playing the same track while moving between the 2019 40mm and the 45mm Audio Set speakers are real.
After installing and assessing the 45mm Audio Set speakers in both my older C3 Pro and the new C3 Pro Echo helmet and then in the NEXX X-Patrol helmet, there is no hesitation in stating that the helmet audio provided by the combination of JBL Sound Processing, JBL Equalizer Sound (profiles) and the 45mm speakers is outstanding.
Moving between the three (Standard, Bass Boost and Vocal) JBL Equalizer Sound profiles are more distinguishable as well with the large driver speakers adding the extra output boost.
But in speaking of output, the 2019 PACKTAL BOLD systems could use more output volume in knowing that in a couple of the test helmets, volume was becoming an issue at speed or in noisy cockpit environments.
With one tester and the helmet, they were hoping for louder overall output, although some fine-tuning of the Audio Settings under the Cardo Connect App mitigated some of the issues, but overall output volume was still raised as an issue…
Bottom Line – Acknowledging the subjectivity of audio performance vis-à-vis helmet environments, the helmet audio experienced with the above combination has me between a rock and a hard place; my UClear Pulse Pro 2.0 and UClear app-based equalizer benchmark are being challenged. Again, kudos to Cardo.