Ear Cushions: 
The major problem with communications on a motorcycle, be they wired or  wireless is hearing ! There is some noise  advantage in having your head inside a somewhat closed container fitting snugly around your head whilst you travel along at 100 Kph!! . Helmet wind noise is such a variable. 
From  half helmets , open face, through to full face helmets and all have different volumes  of generated noise  depending whether you ride a cruiser , sport bike, chopper, have a windscreen ,fairing and the speed you travel at on the open road .  Quite a few helmet manufacturers have ranges of wind noise volumes  specified  in dBA at  various riding speed  . There is a great variation in wind noise in helmets and  it is the high frequency of wind noise that tends to drown out the information carrying high frequency of articulation that interferes with understanding  of speech . A lot of helmets produce   ( greater than )   >90dBA of noise at motorway speeds , this level of noise in your ears for a long period of time can be quite fatiguing  and cause  some potential  damage on a long ride, that is why earplugs are such a good idea when riding long distance , they reduce the broadband high level noise fatigue .  
  You do not want to run your intercom/radio/MP3  at extra loud  volume to hear  over the background noise  this will be bad for your long term  hearing viability as the total sound level entering your ear  ( radio plus wind noise) can easily be up bordering on the permanent  hearing damage level . You must keep the sound level into your ears at a comfortable  level. 

 When the headset system was designed , I wanted a system that is simple to use , does not modify helmet, motorcycle (or rider) , something that is easy to install and remove, something that just about anyone with minimal experience can install and remove  and   Swap between helmet and Bike  at will . 
After developing the sucessful  headset . I thought of ways to easily and simply reduce the background noise even further , so I thought along  the principle of the Ear defenders  or ear muffs with their peripheral acoustic seal and thought that something  along that line  will help  improve received speech recognition and cut down on the fatigue producing wind noise. I saw the soft cushions around some computer headsets , obtained some  found they improved reception and cut down on background noise, I tested many types of cushion , settled on one variation,  so I purchased a few thousand  suitable ear cushions  ! 

The ear cushions supplied with the headsets provided by PHS Ltd are an attempt to reduce the amount of extraneous noise entering the ear whilst riding and thus make it easier to hear music and understand  speech .The ear cushions provide a peripheral acoustic seal around the outer surface of the ear , the sound deadening material the covered cushion is made from , serves to reduce the amount of high frequency noise reaching the ear from outside , the hole in the centre  where the ear speaker is placed ,is in the optimum position to provide more than enough volume to the wearer, We are attempting to increase the signal to noise ratio and thus improve intelligibility .   This is where the in ear canal earphones have a distinct advantage over most other systems in that a close fitting earplug will block a huge amount of extraneous noise and render the received sound clearer .  Ear plugs speakers  are great,  but we have kept away from them mainly for two reasons one is a hygiene , and the other is a small amount of additional complexity when  putting the helmet on. 

                                     original peeled open                                         Ear speaker on ear cushion  ,   sticky Velcro hooks 

The  PHS  supplied ear speakers are easy to peel apart , if you are  using the ear cushions  (having ascertained that they will not be uncomfortably tight inside your helmet )  you will be left with a small ear speaker on a wire . Ear cushions have a flat smooth side  (with a peripheral cloth that can be folded back over the shiny side and Velcro hook disk,) that faces the helmet lining and a bulbous leatherette side that faces the ear . The ear speaker fits inside the ear cushion, with its sound holes facing the  wearers ear , the sticky sided  Velcro hooked  disk sticks to smooth surface of  the ear cushion ,covering the back of the ear speaker  thus holding the ear speaker  inside the ear cushion and such  is able to stick to the "wool" lining inside the helmet . It is important to make sure the ear cushions are placed correctly over the ear for maximum effect. 
For added comfort you can run a bead of adhesive around the periphery of the ear speaker where it makes contact with the ear cushion  this will stop the ear speaker eventually  migrating through the hole in the centre  and impinging on parts of your ear 

                                   Ear cushion backing  ,     Wth velcro attached                         Finished product 
Some helmets are a very tight fit and thus you may not be able to make great use of the ear cushions  ( unless your helmet has deep recesses to accommodate the ear speakers )  If the ear cushions are a tight fit in your helmet you will find that after a little while you will get sore ears because of the constant pressure. The standard ear speakers with the  original felt covers will be usable in just about any helmet  as they are very thin , if you decide to not use the ear cushions then I suggest you glue the original felt ear cushions to the sticky back velcro disk to stop them peeling apart.

Ear Speaker Position 
Place your helmet on and then once seated  grasp the helmet as though you are about to take it off . place your thumbs up inside the helmet and feel for the position of your ear canals with the tip of your thumbs . Now hold you grip on the helmet with you thumb tips marking the  position of you ear canals  on the inside of the helmet .  Take your helmet off but don't move your thumb position ( you may have to do this one side at a time ) have a look where your thumb tips are on the inside of the helmet.  This is the position for the centre of the   installed ear speakers , ears aren't where you thought they are in the helmet  huh ??  !!   That is where you place the ear speakers ,  Velcro side to the helmet lining.  You may like to feed the wire over the top of your head inside the lining if possible,   that will stop it falling out on your head when you take the helmet off. 

Feed the helmet over your head carefully and into position , feel up the side of your head to
make sure your ears aren't  folded in half over the ear speakers,  otherwise they ( your ears) will get sore! and re position the ear speakers, if necessary.
Place the ear cushioned speakers squarely over the ears , when you have them in the correct position, you will notice quite  a reduction of outside noise, This is also quite noticeable when riding (by the reduction in noise the bike engine makes)  ( well on my old 73 Norton anyway !! )  and on cold days your ears will feel warmer too! This is the correct position for the ear speakers. 
 You can run your sound equipment at a lower  level setting,   protect your ears and possibly increase the battery life of your sound equipment .


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        Pinfold Health Services Ltd,1172 Arawa St, Rotorua 3201,New Zealand. ph +64-7-3488850 fax +64-7-3486555 pinfold@xtra.co.nz

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