Helmet communication systems have come a long way in the last few years. As a couple of major brands compete against each other for ease of use, audio clarity, and range, we, the consumer, get to reap the benefits. The new Freecom 4+ from Cardo adds a handful of features and some high-quality hardware to its small and easy-to-use comm system, making it one of the best all-around in-helmet systems we've ever used.

The most important and most noticeable part of the new Freecom 4+ system for us is the speakers. The new 40mm speaker units have been designed, manufactured, and tuned by JBL specifically for in-helmet use on a motorcycle, resulting in the loudest, clearest, and most well-rounded audio we have ever experienced while riding. Compared to the thin, tinny, bassless sound we have heard in some other systems, the full, deep audio being put out by these speakers is a huge difference.

Ducati Diavel 1260 test ride
The Cardo Freecom 4+ equipped on a Shoei Hornet X2 during our Ducati Diavel 1260 test rideMorgan Gales

On phone calls, the audio stays loud and clear for the rider, as well as for the caller on the other end of the line. The rider’s audio is muted until they start talking, which can sound a little bit like they cut out because it eliminates ambient noise entirely, but it’s much better than having wind noise in the background when nobody is talking. With an iPhone connected, hitting the phone button on the Freecom will activate Siri, allowing you to voice-to-text or make phone calls based on your voice activation. Saying “Hello Cardo” in helmet will also let you do certain things like play music or call preprogrammed speed dial numbers, but being more accustomed to using Siri, I found it easier to just stick to that. FM radio is also an option, using Radio Data System to help automatically locate stations that come in clearly. The Freecom 4+ will also automatically adjust volume based on ambient noise, so when you come to a stop, the audio that you had turned up to compensate for wind and engine noise will quiet down.

Intercom is easy to pair device to device, and is even easier if you’re using the Cardo Connect app. Up to four riders can connect through intercom at the same time, and while Cardo claims a range of about 3/4-mile, we found it closer to 1/4-mile before the intercom starts getting choppy and unclear. This unit doesn’t come equipped with Cardo’s mesh technology however, you’ll have to step up to the Packtalk for that.

Claimed battery life is 13 hours, which is easily believable considering I use this every day to and from work on my roughly 30-minute commute, and longer rides on the weekends—usually only charging it once in the week and have never seen it hit the low-battery mark. If it does get a low battery, you can plug it into your bike or a battery pack and keep using it while it charges.

The one complaint I have on this unit is the thin roller wheel located on the bottom. It’s how you pause music and adjust volume on the fly, but because of its location on the bottom of the unit, it often hits my left shoulder when I am deep in a turn or looking behind me to change lanes. The roller on the Packtalk Bold is a better system, located at the back of the unit and protected from unintended input—it would have been nice to see that here as well.

Cardo Freecom 4+
The Cardo Freecom 4+ unit with media button on the left, phone button on the right, intercom button in the middle, and roller wheel down belowCardo

At $250, the Freecom 4+ sits comfortably in the middle of the Bluetooth comm system price range but has a bit more on the table than other units with similar pricing. The speakers and audio clarity in both music and voice are easily the best we've tested. Even though the intercom range wasn't super impressive and the roller wheel was a little annoying, the 4+ has ruined me for other comm systems and now it's the only one I have been using. Check out cardosystems.com for more info on this and the rest of their line of Bluetooth communication systems.