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Sena 20S Bluetooth review

The Sena SMH10 was my favourite Bluetooth communication system … until now. The Sena 20S is simply streets ahead!


Sena S20The Sena 20S costs $345 for a single and $629 for the dual unit which is a lot more than the SMH10 at $210/$379, but even if you buy the 20S for the quality of sound alone, it’s worth it in my musical books. The speakers are now bigger and better quality with a deeper bass and clearer treble.

But the Sena 20S is so much more than just audiophile sound. In fact, there is so much new technology in the 20S that the owner’s manual is now double the size.

If you use a Bluetooth for intercom with other riders, then you will be pleased to hear the line-of-sight distance has been increased to 2km and with a maximum of eight people paired in conference, that means a total distance from lead rider to tail-end Charlie of 14km if there are no obstructions. 

You can now also pair with non-Sena Bluetooth devices (one at a time). I tried it with three different brand Bluetooth systems and it works. You can even pair it with the Bluetooth device in your car so you can speak with someone following you.

A clever addition on this model is a button on the bottom of the unit called “ambient mode” which cuts your music and amplifies the noise around you. So when you pull up with a group of riders, you don’t have to take your helmet off to have a conversation, just press the button. Press it again and you return to your music. It’s also great in heavy traffic for staying alert to your surroundings.

Sena S20There is also a smartphone app you can get that scans to see who of your friends is in range. You can then select which of your friends to be part of your intercom conference.

Pairing the Sena 20S with other users is a simple process where you shake the unit until the light turns green!

The Sena 20S unit now comes with a flip-up antenna to improve intercom reception as well as the FM radio which has been added. Clarity of FM reception is great and it’s easy to tune in to stations either on the unit or through your PC or Mac computer when you register the product online or whenever you update firmware.

If you’ve updated to the latest 5.12 firmware on the SMH10 or 20S, you can now share your music with others at the double tap of the jog dial. That dial has been slightly restyle from the old unit making it shallower and sleeker. It may be smaller, but it has a nicer feel and is easier to dial more accurate volume changes.

The Sena 20S unit is better quality construction, too, right down to the gold plugs used for connections. And now, if you want to replace the speakers with aftermarket units, you don’t have to buy a special holder. Just remove a plate with a couple of screws and you can unplug the speakers and unplug the microphone to change between the supplied boom and bug mic. There’s also an extender boom mic supplied for flip-up helmets.

Like the SMH10, the Sena 20S features automated voice control that actually works. Commands include speed dial, pairing, intercom, FM, music, and next and previous track/station. You can also access your smartphone’s voice recognition to do tasks such as read and write email and text messages.

So now you can stay in touch with a group of other riders/pillions, the outside world, or just your own thoughts while you listen to your favourite music or radio station.