Tested: MotoMP3 Digital AudioPlayer for Motorcycles

Tiny toons to take touring

By Andrew "King o' Disco" Cherney

Nothing says "road trip" like the right selection of tunes. They brighten your background and oftentimes set the pace for your adventures. All these years though, I've never encountered a simple, comfortable, internal audio set-up that fit my helmet acceptably. There were always loose wires to wrestle, ill-fitting speakers or headphones pinching my ears, and plugs that would invariably pull loose as I dismounted.

So I was jazzed to learn about The Sound Factory's new MotoMP3 Player, a compact audio unit specifically tailored to motorcyclists. I agreed to test it, hoping it might be the musical answer to my problems.

The foundation of the system, an attractive silver, card-sized 32mb digital audio player, holds about two look hours of music and is powered by a single AAA battery that pops into the back. Battery life is fairly limited; enclosed literature claims eight hours on a single cell, but mine was closer to five or six hours. The included CD made software installation a breeze, even for this low-tech Luddite, and downloading MP3 music files on to the player was simple once I got the hang of it. I chose to mount the unit on the back of my helmet, as pictured, and run the speakers inside, tucked behind the liner within an existing cavity. To my delight, ear chafing from speaker protrusion was minimal, and the sound came across clearly at low speeds. At highway speeds over 60 miles per hour, however, the liner, wind, and ambient noise entering between the speakers and my ear canal conspired to muffle the audio significantly--even at full volume--resulting in only faint echoes of trebly sound. But that's probably a good thing; you don't want piped-in sound to be so loud as to drown out traffic use around you. Another complaint: the volume/power controls positioned on the unit's face are too small to manipulate accurately with gloved fingers.

The whole enchilada comes smartly packaged complete with player, installation CD, USB cable, earbuds and a small plastic cage for the player that attaches with double-sided tape to the surface of your choice.

This is a new product, so I'm hoping there will be more refinements in the near future. I wear the unit on 90 percent of my rides, but not in urban environments, where you need to be hyper-aware of every sound. The MotoMP3 is a great idea, and I'm anxiously awaiting the total audio satisfaction that seems to be but a few small improvements away. The MotoMP3 sells for $200.

Sound Factory

(866)MP3-MOTO or (805)987-0117

www. Motomp3.com

(From the December 2002 issue of Motorcycle Cruiser)

Small, light and sleek, the MotoMP3 digital audio player clips into a stick-on cage that fits neatly on the back of a helmet. Photo by James "King o' Soul" Brown