Sena has different types of intercoms and getting confused while buying is very common. And here we are going to solve the confusion among the Sena 20S and Sena50S, which one is better and why it is better.
Sena 20S is an older model but it comes with more rider connectivity, but it lacks some features. Sena 50S is a new model, it has more features, range, and faster charging. The 50S comes with a 5 miles / 8km range and it also comes with mesh connectivity and can charge rapidly in just 20 minutes.
|Sena 20S||Sena 50S|
|Range||1.2 mile / 2km||5 miles / 8 km|
|Connectivity||8 riders||6 riders within 1 miles / 1.6 km|
|Channels||–||9 (24 in private group)|
|Talktime||13 hours (Bluetooth)||9 hours (Mesh), 14 hours (Bluetooth)|
|Features||Music, Phone, GPS, Assistant||Music, Phone, GPS, Assistant|
|Charging||2.5 hours||20 minutes|
|Weight||2 pounds||2 pounds|
Walkie talkie helps a lot in communicating with each other on foot, but there is something similar to walkie talkie for your motorcycling needs, it is known as motorcycle intercom.
These are little devices that attach to your helmet and have intercom abilities. And what we have is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to motorcycle intercoms.
With hands-free call and Bluetooth technology, both Sena 20S and Sena 50S come loaded with features to help you navigate with your fellow rider during a long journey.
Some of the major highlights of the Sena 20S and 50S are:
- Comes with Bluetooth technology 4.1 or above.
- Both feature music, phone, GPS, and voice assistant.
- Sena 20S can connect with 8 riders at once, while Sena 50S connects with 6 riders.
- Provides talk time upto 13-14 hours on a single charge.
Read on as I discuss more the similarities and differences between the Sena 20S and Sena 50S, followed by the complete review and analysis of both of these motorcycle intercom systems in detail.
Difference between Sena 20S and 50S
Coming in at a premium compared to the Sena 20S, Sena 50S has plenty of features to go with it, in addition to the features available with the Sena 20S.
I have made a list of differences between them, in terms of range, connectivity, and other important aspects. Read on to know more about them.
- Range: When it comes to the range, the Sena 50S can be used within a range of 5 miles / 8 km compared to the 1.2 miles / 2km range of the Sena 20S.
If you are someone who generally rides in a group of multiple riders, then going with the Sena 50S might be a better choice for you as it provides almost four times the range compared to the Sena 20S.
- Connectivity: In terms of connectivity, Sena 20S can connect upto 8 riders at once, whereas Sena 50S can connect upto 6 riders within the 1 mile/ 1.6 km range. This comes in handy when you are traveling with a group.
However, keep in mind that despite the connectivity, the range also plays a vital role, as if you go out of range, then the connectivity will be hampered, and you may also be disconnected from your group members.
- Talktime and Bluetooth: Sena 20S come with a talk time of about 13 hours, whereas Sena 50S provides a talk time of 9 hours. However, Sena 50S comes with a more advanced Bluetooth 5.0 version, compared to the 4.1 on the Sena 20S.
While this might not seem like a big upgrade from the previous version, there are many improvements in the sound quality and connection quality in the Sena 50S over the Sena 20S.
And the Sena 50S comes with the mesh technology, which is more advanced and helps while making connection fast with other sena intercoms that comes with mesh technology. So, if your group has the latest models of Sena headsets, you should also get the latest so that you don’t have to wait while all your friend’s connections are done.
- Charging time: This is where the Sena 50S shines over Sena 20S with a 20 minute charging time compared to the 2.5 hour charging time on the Sena 20S. If you ask me, I would pick the Sena 50S over the Sena 20S, as you get the advantages and value for the premium that you are paying for it.
- Pricing: The Sena 50S comes just under $300 with a discount, while you can get the Sena 20S somewhere around the $215-250 mark with discount offers.
- Sound Quality: The sound quality of the Sena 20S is not clear while listening to the heavy base, but this is not same with the Sena 50S. If you are into this, then you should be aware of this.
While there are differences between the two, the Sena 20S will definitely get the job done if you are looking for a casual motorcycle intercom. However, if you want the best, then the Sena 50S is a no-brainer.
Similarities between Sena 20S and 50S
Despite the difference between the two, Sena 20S and the Sena 50S have many similarities with each other, when it comes to feature packs and audio capabilities.
If you are looking for a motorcycle intercom that is capable of doing all the stuff that you need, then you would be thrilled to know the capabilities of both the Sena 20S and the Sena 50S.
I have listed down some of the similarities in features that you should know, before making a choice of getting any one of these intercoms.
- Advanced noise control: Both the Sena 20S and Sena 50S come with an advanced noise control feature that reduces the effect of noise during intercom conversations or while listening to music.
If you would ask me about the usability of this feature, then I would consider this to be one of the most important things to look for in an intercom. This is because, whenever I’m on a ride, the road and the ambient noise is so much that I cannot focus on the call or the voice coming from the earphones.
So, in my opinion, this feature on the 20S and 50S helps me to concentrate on one thing at a time during long journeys, like group intercoms and voice navigation, which usually gets distorted due to road noise and other noise from the background.
With the advanced noise control, the rider can listen to the voice clearly and can turn off the noise control mode, whenever needed.
- Smartphone app: If you are concerned about the connectivity options on the Sena 20S and the Sena 50S, then you don’t need to worry!
In my initial period of usage, it took me time to understand all the functions of the app. But, as you use your intercom, it becomes much easier to control all the settings from the app, in both the 20S and 50S.
And both of them support the integrated smartphone app, which can be used to remotely control Bluetooth pairing and connections, configure channel settings, and even set a private group for group mesh. Additionally, you can control FM radio via the app and also change the equalizer settings through the app.
- Voice command: Both the Sena 20S and the Sena 50S come with voice commands, so you don’t have to pick your smartphone every time to select your music, change the FM station or know the next turn from the navigation app.
I don’t use voice commands very frequently as the controls on the console get most of the job done, but if you want to be hands-free all the time, then this feature will definitely serve you the best.
You just need to set a voice command or activate “Hey Siri/Hey Google” on the smartphone app to use the voice assistant feature. It comes in handy when you are riding and want to control the intercom without diverting your focus off the road.
- HD quality audio: As with a motorcycle intercom, audio quality is something that is uncompromisable, and both the Sena 20S and 50S will not let you down in this category. They come with HD quality audio with improvements in clarity, bass and treble, so whatever you throw into these, they provide you with the best.
And I can say it without a doubt that both of these sound pretty amazing, with Sena 50S being a tad bit superior in sound quality compared to the 20S.
Both the Sena 20S and the Sena 50S come with a built-in SBC-Codec which ensures high-quality Bluetooth audio through your smartphone. You won’t feel any kind of lag or delay in voice reception during calls, or while listening to music.
This HD quality audio makes the motorcycle intercom a great deal for anyone looking for a motorcycle intercom.
Sena 20S Review
The Sena 20S is the lower-spec model of the two in comparison here. However, it still manages to be a great competitor when it comes to everyday usability with its overall finish and functionality.
With Bluetooth 4.1 and Sena’s motion sensor technology, controlling and using the 20S is very easy during long rides.
Also, the compatible smartphone app also adds to the functionality of the intercom by giving the visuals of all the controls like GPS, music, calls, and other things.
I must say that the remote control support on the Sena 20S adds to the convenience of the intercom, and can be used to control all the functions, even from a distance. I found this accessory very useful. However, this remote is not provided with the unit, and it can be purchased as an accessory from Sena.
Along with all these, the Sena 20S also features audio multitasking, group intercom, and noise control, so that there is no disturbance during your conversations and while listening to music or voice commands.
In my opinion, the Sena 20S ticks most of the boxes right when it comes to my usability and commuting needs, and it can serve as a good motorcycle intercom for anyone looking for a basic to medium level of functionality.
However, in comparison to the Sena 50S, the 20S lacks some of the essential and luxury features, which could have made it a great buy. First things first, the Mesh 2.0 technology from Sena is featured in the 50S which adds to the level of connectivity during long rides.
Other than that, the charging time on the Sena 20S is 2.5 hours which is much higher compared to the 1 hour time on the 50S. With some of these setbacks, the 20S still manages to be a good choice for a motorcycle intercom, considering the price point at which it comes.
So, if you are someone looking for a decent motorcycle intercom, with good sound technology and the ability to multitask during your long journeys, then Sena 20S will be more than sufficient for you.
But, if you are looking for an elite and top-notch motorcycle intercom, then you should have a look at the review of the Sena 50S to know more about the additional features and functionality that it has over the 20S.
Let’s have a quick recap of the Sena 20S with its Pros and Cons:
- Affordable price
- Good battery life
- Dedicated headphone/earbud port
- Great build quality
- No fast charging
- Lacks Mesh 2.0 technology
- Sound quality is bad
Sena 50S Review
Being the superior of the two, the 50S does not have many things that go against it, except for the price tag. And if you are someone without a tight budget, and can spend $300, look no further and go with the Sena 50S.
But, the main thing to keep in mind is whether you need the feature and creature comforts that come with the Sena 50S be it the Mesh 2.0 technology, Bluetooth 5.0, Digital assistant, fast charging, and extended range of communication that comes with the 50S.
During my usage, the 50S exceeded my expectations when you talk about functionality, and the added features like Mesh network, range, and fast charging happen to be very useful. Especially, considering the fact that the battery on the 50S drains very quickly when you use the Mesh mode with noise control on.
However, the fast charging feature on the 50S can fully tank up the battery in just an hour, and it will last you up to 14 hours of talk time on Bluetooth and 9 hours of mesh intercom, which is more than sufficient for most riders, including myself.
In real-life usage, I found the battery to last around 5-6 hours while using a mesh intercom and listening to music, which is pretty decent.
Speaking of the Mesh intercom, if you are unfamiliar with this technology, it essentially allows you to switch between nine different channels when operating in open mesh mode, and connect with as many riders within 5miles/ 8 km of range.
This feature certainly levels up the game when compared to the standard connectivity on the Sena 20S, which correlates to the price that you are paying.
If these functions are on your priority list, and you have a big group of bikers with you, then I would suggest going with the Sena 50S. It would serve you everything that you could ever ask for and at the same time give you all the functions that are present in the 20S.
However, no motorcycle intercom is perfect, and if you compare the 50S with the other intercoms present on the market, then they would probably give you a better value for your money.
However, in my opinion, the quality of the 50S is much better compared to its competition and many motorcyclists prefer going with Sena branded intercom, which will come in handy while using the Mesh 2.0 feature.
Now, let’s have a quick recap of the Sena 50S with its Pros and Cons:
- Great build quality
- Fast Charging
- Comes with Bluetooth 5.0 and mesh 2.0
- Audio is great for music & talking
- Ambient mode is crap
- Bad battery backup
- Smart volume control sucks
As you may have noticed from my review, both the 20S and 50S live up to their brand name and provide you the best that they claim to have.
But, if I were to make a choice amongst the two, it would undoubtedly be the Sena 50S, for its long-range, Mesh 2.0 technology and better battery life.
However, some of the users might defend the 20S over the 50S for its affordable price point and the quality that it offers. Nonetheless, after using the Sena 50S, I was convinced that it was a better choice for me amongst the two, despite having some of the negative points.
First of all, it doesn’t come with a certified IP waterproofing rating, which is kind of a downer considering the price point at which it comes.
Other than that, the 50S ticks all the boxes right when it comes to everyday usability. Just remember that you have to be careful in the rainy season, as it lacks waterproofing. I never used it during rainfall, so I cannot comment on that.
When I compared the 20S to the 50S, I noticed that the sound quality and the speakers are much better on the 50S, which is evident from the price point that the 50S comes in. And, with the Mesh 2.0 technology, the 50S leaves the 20S way behind in terms of connectivity and practicality.
Now, here comes the verdict: which one to choose? Well, if you are on a tight budget and the 50S is something expensive for you, then go with the 20S. However, if the price is not a concern, then look no further and go with the 50S.
I would choose the 50S in a heartbeat, as it provides better functionality, battery life, and connectivity when compared to the 20S, and is definitely worth the premium over the 20S.
And moreover, you are paying anywhere around $50-75 more for the 50S, and with the Mesh 2.0 tech, better speakers, fast charging, and better noise control, which justifies its asking price.
Things to have in mind before buying a Motorcycle Intercom System
If you are still confused about your needs for a motorcycle intercom, then I have something that will help you out. Here is the list of things to have in mind before buying and selecting a motorcycle intercom that fits your preference and usability.
- Range (Bluetooth Range): The first and foremost thing to keep in mind is the range that your intercom provides. Before making any kind of buying decision, keep the range in mind that you will need during your ride, and always buy an intercom having slightly higher than what you need.
It would ensure that you don’t face any connectivity issues during long journeys, which is of utmost importance for any intercom.
Also, consider the number of group members that you can pair with from that intercom, and also the number of channels that you can create (if there is an option of doing so), so that you don’t compromise on functionality after buying the intercom.
- Waterproofing: As you might have noticed in the Sena 50S, waterproofing is one of the essential factors for every motorcycle intercom, be it entry-level or high-end. Always prefer to choose an intercom that provides waterproofing ability, and not just water resistance, as it can malfunction during heavy rainfall.
However, if you are someone who doesn’t travel during rainy days, or maybe travel once or twice during that season, then a water-resistant intercom would suffice your needs.
Also, keep in mind that the intercom is placed outside your helmet, so it has got no protection from the weather outside, be it heat, cold, humid, or rain. So, always go for an intercom with a strong and sturdy build quality.
- Ease of USE: Whenever you are shortlisting motorcycle intercoms, keep in mind that you will be using it while riding and not when you are sitting idle. So, always look for ease of use in your motorcycle intercom, which you can easily control with one hand while riding.
Also, keep in mind that the intercom should not divert your concentration off the road while riding, which can be very dangerous.
Most of the intercom nowadays comes with a rotary dial, which can be used to switch between different modes and channels while riding. Also, prefer the intercoms in which you don’t need to see your smartphone again and again for controlling music, GPS, or any other thing as it can hinder your concentration while riding.
- Music and Voice Quality: The very reason for which you are choosing motorcycle intercom over a normal headset is for an enhanced music and voice quality.
So, whenever you are looking for an intercom, assess and examine the voice quality that it offers and also check what the customers are saying about the product. It will help you to get a better view of the same.
Also, look for the intercoms which provide noise reduction and cancellation features, as it filters out the noise when you are in a conversation, and switch back to normal or ambient mode after you are done with the calls.
- Price, Reviews & Ratings: Before finalizing your intercom, have a look at what the users of that particular intercom say about the product and also compare the other options that are available at a similar price point.
It will help you to choose a value for money option, and this does not necessarily mean that you need to go with an expensive model.
Some of the intercoms coming at a lower price point provide a better cost-to-value proposition when compared to the expensive ones. So, consider reading the reviews and ratings left by the users of the product on e-commerce sites, and then making a buying decision.
- Extra features it has to offer (like earplugs it offers, compatibility, brand, etc.): Most of the brands making motorcycle intercoms provide some additional features which are specific to the brand.
For example, Sena provides Mesh 2.0 technology in some of its high-end intercoms, which is very useful in real life. So, whenever you are choosing an intercom, also look for the brand and what are the special features that it offers.
While you may not need some of the features, a few of them might prove to be very useful for you like HD speakers, the sound signature of the brand, and other things.
- What is the difference between Sena 20S and 50S?
The Sena 50S is the higher-spec version compared to the 20S, and it comes with better sound quality, Mesh 2.0 technology, fast charging, and ambient sound technology.
Also, the 50S comes with a better range of connectivity compared to the 20S, which can be a reason for many riders to choose the 50S over the 20S.
However, the premium features of the 50S also come at a premium price tag, which is significantly higher compared to the 20S.
- Is the Sena 50S waterproof?
No, the Sena 50S is not waterproof and does not come with any kind of certified IP rating. However, the company claims it to be water-resistant which can withstand light to moderate rainfall.
But, as it doesn’t have any certified waterproofing, it is advised not to use the intercom during rainy conditions, as there is no guarantee offered by the company.
- Does Sena 50S have mesh?
Yes, the 50S comes with Mesh 2.0 technology, with open and closed mesh intercom functionality. The open mesh can be connected to an unlimited number of riders within a closed range, and the closed mesh network can support upto 24 riders at once.
The 50S also supports upto 9 channels in an open mesh intercom, which can be switched by the rider using the dial on the intercom.
- Will Sena pair with other brands?
You can initiate the Universal Intercom connection with non-Sena Bluetooth headsets using the same intercom connection method as you would with other Sena headsets.
Also, Sena released a firmware update for some of its earlier models like the SMH10, SMH10R, and SMH5 which comes with some major updates like the new Universal Intercom feature, allowing cross-brand interoperability.