Autocom Auto-Volume Music System for Motorcycles

At last, a system that really does adjust the music volume level for conditions. From the June 2001 issue of _ Motorcycle Cruiser _ magazine. ** By Evans Brasfield.**

Motorcyclists aren't too different from everybody else. While we may enjoy the music our engines produce more than your average car driver, on long trips we crave distraction, too. Our friends at Top Gear sent us Autocom's latest cure for long-distance monotony. Autocom's AVM System (for Auto-Volume Music) claims to provide what many an electronic gadget has attempted -- but failed to do -- in the past: vary the volume of music with the speed of a motorcycle.

Previously, automatic systems I have used either adjusted the volume too dramatically or not enough, forcing me to adjust them manually. While this method worked fine, it did distract my attention from the more important task of operating the motorcycle. This time, however, I could ride in a variety of conditions and have my music playing at just about the ideal volume. The AVM's secret is a microphone cleverly hidden in its headphone connector. Since this microphone is in approximately the same area (in relation to the air flow) as the helmet, the volume is adjusted to match the intensity of the wind noise, instead of some predetermined equation based on bike speed, like those stereos on full-dress touring rigs.

The AVM measures 3.0 by 2.5 by 1.0 inches, making it easy to carry in a pocket. The 33.0-inch headset lead also makes bike mounting the unit an option. The controller is powered by a standard 9-volt battery, but a bike power option is available for those who want to mount the system permanently.

Plugging in the headset powers up the unit, so it's almost impossible to leave the unit on accidentally and deplete the battery. The AVM requires the use of Autocom's included HS-S2 headset, and in the near future an optional Y-adapter will allow a passenger to enjoy the tunes, too.

Installing the helmet speakers is critical. For ideal sound quality, the speakers must be placed directly over one's ears. Testing a few locations before mounting the speakers under a helmet's comfort lining is recommended. Although the sound range is good overall, the speakers lack the bass response of other units I've used. Also, I found out that making sure the headset connector (and its microphone) was in the direct airflow provided the most accurate volume adjustment. Road warriors will be happy to know that an $8 cable will also allow them to connect a radar detector to a second input in the AVM.

The only real criticism of the AVM I can muster is a warning about urban use. Since the system adjusts the volume so accurately, I succumbed to the temptation to try the unit on my daily commute a couple times (strictly for testing purposes, of course). The presence of music or any audio source while riding can seriously compromise your ability to hear the traffic around you. Consider yourself warned, and swear off urban riding with the AVM, like I finally did. The Autocom AVM and the HS-S2 headset can be purchased directly from Top Gear or your local dealer for $160.

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_Evans Brasfield
Contact former staff editor Brasfield through his website.

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