REVIEW OF THE CARDO G9 SCALA BLUETOOTH INTERCOM HEADSET
- $289.95 (one headset) / $499.95 (2 sets)
- Where to Buy: Revzilla.com
- Accessories included:
- 2 mics: 1 flat, 1 larger boom
- 2 mounts: 1 sticky, 1 clamp
- spare mic covers
- speaker boost pads/spacers to bring the speakers closer to your ear if necessary
- small storage bag
- stereo mini plug for mp3/smartphones/gps without bluetooth connectivity
- usb cable for charging, syncing and connecting to Cardo Community ("CC")
- A2DP support
- Built in FM Radio
- Bike to bike communication up to 1 mile with flip up antenna for extended range
- Cardo Community for auto updates, programming radio presets, social networking and finding other cardo users (Mac Compatible, we're just all a bunch of nerds on motorcycles, aren't we?)
- Excellent audio quality
- GPS navigation audio support
- Group Signal feature: Send an instant message simultaneously to all 9 riders
- HD flat speakers
- iPhone 5 friendly (mac nerd)
- Multi language support (customizable)
- Quick pairing with other G9 users automatically via Cardo Community or 'bump' feature
- Self adjusting volume in response ambient noise (customizable settings, AWESOME)
- Toggle between 8 different riders max
- Voice command for hands free phone (customizable settings)
- Waterproof and dustproof (Dakar friendly)
- Web based updates and setting adjustments
- 3 and 4 way conference calls so you can chat simultaneously with up to 3 other people
- 13 hours talk time / 1 week standby (charging via usb cable to wall or computer)
- See interactive tutorial for visual instructions
- Sample provided by Cardo for review
- Review Date: December 2012
I wasn't sure what to expect from the G9, but was pleasantly surprised by all the features it had to offer. My two issues initially were the physical size of the headset and the multitude of buttons / user interface. But I was quickly overwhelmed by the audio quality and fancy features listed above.
I'll admit, I'm not a very good 'read the manual' kind of girl. I like figuring things out and I especially enjoy things that I can figure out fairly easily without having to read the directions. So with the G9 it was a little challenging for me in that respect, but once I read thru the manual and checked out the extra features on Cardo Community ("CC"), it was worth spending the extra time.
When I first went riding with it, I jumped on the freeway and noticed that my music volume started to increase as I got up to freeway speed (65mph, officer). Cool. And it went right down as soon as I got off the freeway. Double cool. That definitely impressed me, as well as the higher quality of the music at freeway speed. A little louder, a little clearer and less muddled than the SMH-5. (However, the 5 is a lower level headset and the comparable comparison would be the SMH-10)
Unfortunately I never was able to try this with another rider since I only received one set but given the quality of the audio, I'm sure that the intercom quality would be equally as good. The range is also 1 mile with the handy flip up antenna to help boost the range. Neat.
Once you get all your friends to join you and join the G9 cult, there are 3 different ways to pair your headsets for your convenience:
- Manual pairing mode
- Cardo Community; by finding your friends and adding them (just make sure they accept your friend request)
- Flash pairing with a Bump:
Setting up and pairing my nerdy iPhone 5 was easy. It worked on the first try and I haven't had any pairing issues ever since. I would say that my primary use for the G9 is to listen to music or podcasts on my iPhone and it has worked very well. I did answer a couple of calls (but try not to do it very often) and the quality was great, no problems.
The only thing I had trouble with is the voice command sensitivity. There are times when I'm riding and I feel the need to verbally express my discomfort with the way someone in their car isn't paying attention to the road when they almost try to merge into my lane. It's at that moment the unit responds, pauses my music and then abruptly starts playing the FM radio or something. Or if I do try to access the voice command, it doesn't always respond when I need it to. I think I just need to turn up the sensitivity level of the voice command in CC from low to medium and see if that helps.
Cardo has come up with a quick and easy way to set up your headset and connect with your friends who may be riding with a G9 too. It's called the Cardo Community ("CC").
Once you register on their site, you can do a few different things including:
- update the G9 software
- set up your radio station presets (up to 6)
- find and add friends who use a G9
- get help/videos/product support
After you register and login, you have to set up your headset by identifying yourself, where you are and give your G9 a name. Of course, I'm Gear Chic. :)
As soon as you log in, the menu on the left tells you everything you need to know. Once it's plugged in, it'll tell you whether or not you have to update the software. Once you set up all your info and settings, you then select Sync to update the headset. Voila, you're ready to ride and talk to your riding buddies.
As you can see, you can change settings that you can't possibly control from the headset itself such as voice command sensitivity, audio volume adjustment sensitivity and announcement language. You can also turn off the lady if you don't like hearing her voice all the time.
If your fellow riding buddies who have G9s are also registered, you can add them via friend request and then once they accept you they'll show up in the buddy list on the right. So far, I have no friends :-(
The only downsides for me were the buttons. I find that if I don't press and hold firmly, sometimes the commands don't respond. I guess that's a good thing because if they were too sensitive you might accidentally hit the wrong menu? Now that I know what each button does and what the combination of commands are, it certainly helps me use the unit better and I can definitely see using this one headset far more often going forward.
I switched back to the Sena recently after one of the earpieces stopped working, but I think I'll keep using the Cardo for awhile because of the better sound quality and extra features. Some of my friends also use Cardos, so that's definitely an incentive for me to use it as well. I plan to contact my Cardo rep to see if he can have this unit repaired since you can't just purchase new speakers and take the old ones out.
Unfortunately the earpieces are fully integrated with the unit unlike the mic which can be swapped in and out. However, the G9 unit itself can be "dislodged" from the audio kit by sliding it forward and unlocking it. This way you can take it with you, or remove it for charging, or swap it onto another helmet. The audio kits themselves (mount/speakers/mic setup) are also available separately for $59. This is so you can outfit multiple helmets and just swap the G9 "brain" the whichever you are riding.
I also think the social networking aspect of the G9 is a smart move by Cardo and certainly makes it easier for you to set up your device, figure out all the additional features and connect with fellow riders.
The user interface on the G9 is rather complicated and I would only recommend these extra features for large group riding, and if you wanted a robust, fully waterproof (submersible) unit. Make sure you're wearing very light gloves so you can feel all the buttons!
Cardo G9 Feature Overview