Review: Low cost motorcycle audio by Shark
Music! For me and many other riders, is something that goes hand-in-hand with the open road. The problem is that in most states, including my home state of California, it’s illegal to wear headphones while riding. Otherwise we’d be riding with ear-buds with an MP3 player cleverly hidden in a vest or jacket pocket.
Enter the emerging market of audio systems designed specifically for your motorcycle! While this seems to be the answer to our need for music and of course our never-ending desire to stay this side of the law, it introduces a new problem. Cost. Most of the systems I’ve looked at are in the $300.00 and up range. And you’ll still need to provide your own MP3 player.
So my search found a system for less than $100.00. It’s the Shark 100 watt Motorcycle Audio System Model MSR2050PB. So I bought it and installed it on my bike. But before we get into that, here are the technical specs.
Specifications of the 100 watt amplifier & radio receiver:
- Working Voltage 10-16V DC
- MAX power @ 4 50WX2
- RMS power @ 4 25WX2
- THD 75dB
- Channel separation >45dB
- Frequency response 20Hz-50kHz
- Sensitivity 50mv
- SLIM REMOTE CONTROL INCLUDED
- Frequency range 87.5–108MHz
- Dot Matrix LCD FM frequency display
- Usable sensitivity 5 v at S/N 26dB
- Fuse rating 5A
Details for loudspeakers:
- Working Voltage 10-16V DC
- VoiceCoil Impedance: 4
- Resonc Frequency: 165HZ
- Effective Frequency Range: Fo-12kHZ
- Puiput Sound Pressure Level: 88dB
- Rated Input Power: 15W
- Max Input Power: 50W
- Distortion: <= 5%
While this is useful information, if you’re anything like me it really doesn’t mean much. What I want to know is pretty simple; is it easy to install and does it sound good? Simple right?
The components to install were, the amp and two speakers plus the wiring. The amplifier did not include and mounting brackets and the brackets included for the speakers were not meant for any sort of handlebar mount.
The amplifier houses the controls, (power, volume up and down, mode selector, FM station controls, mute) so it needed to be close to my hands while riding. I used a universal handlebar mount from Kuryakyn, which worked perfectly. I mounted the speakers using their brackets to the hardware for my windscreen, which tucked them in nicely. Though in retrospect, I think it may have been a wiser choice to use a set of the Kuryakyn mounts for those as well. This would have allowed me to insert a greater distance between each speaker and would have given me more options for aiming them. In my view this is something that affects the overall sound. More on that later.
Wiring was straightforward and the included instructions were easy to understand. I routed the wires under the gas tank, under the seat to the battery. I connected directly to the battery and included the inline 5 amp fuse. Finally, I ran the jack for my MP3 player around the triple-tree and down to a pocket located on my tank bra. This allows me to hide the MP3 player and the wire for it tucked nicely under it so even that doesn’t show.
Since the Amp was mounted to the left side of my handlebars, I am able to reach all the controls and see the display easily. The power button must be pressed and held for two seconds to turn the system on or off. But while it’s on, simply pressing the power button toggles between MP3 mode and FM Receiver mode.
The speakers are loud. Unfortunately using my MP3 player with the 100-watt amp allows too much distortion to get through and that, in my view, goes a long way toward ruining the sound. I corrected this (somewhat) by limiting the output from the MP3 player. This helped but didn’t totally eliminate the distortion, which presents itself when I turn the volume way up on the amp. It should be noted here that Shark offers a 250-watt amp that can be used instead of the 100-watt amp. The problem though is their 250-watt unit does not include the FM receiver and I really wanted that.
I also believe that my having placed the speakers so close to each other also has some impact on sound. So once I get a couple more of the Kuryakyn mounts, I’ll be able to put this theory to a test.
While riding at speeds up to say about 50 MPH, the sound is fine and I can listen to my music without having to turn the volume to its maximum. Anything higher than that though is far different. With the wind-noise produced at speeds of 60, 70, 70 plus MHP I can’t hear the music at all. However in all fairness, I normally wear a half helmet, which means I get maximum wind noise. When I wear my full-face helmet, and thereby reducing the ambient wind noise, I can hear the music fairly well.
My over-all assessment:
Considering the wide rage of systems out there that are much more expensive, I believe I got some value for my dollar. It’s a low-cost system and it behaves as I would expect from a low-cost system. Over-all, I’m happy with it when I consider what I spent. I would love to check out some other systems, especially the Kuryakyn set-up that has the amp build into the speakers. And as soon as I have a couple extra bucks to spend on that, I’ll do so and of course, I’ll post my impressions here.