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J&M Elite 787 Headset Review - and Installation How To

Posted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 10:28 pm
by WingAdmin
I have had headsets in my helmets for pretty much as long as I've been riding Goldwings. And every one of those headsets has been a J&M.

I used to buy the "basic" headset for my helmets, figuring that high fidelity on a motorcycle is an oxymoron, so why spend extra for better sounding speakers and microphones?

With my last helmet, an Arai Profile, Gary at Cyclemax encouraged me to try the Elite headset, saying that it was a substantial difference. And he was right. The difference in sound quality was astounding! Highs, low bass, things in the music that I didn't even know were there before. And the microphone, despite being much smaller, was clearer and rejected noise almost entirely. Talking on the CB to truck drivers, they would have absolutely no clue that I was on a motorcycle riding at 65 mph on the highway.

The headset I selected for my new Arai Signet-X helmet was a J&M Elite Series 787. I had strongly considered a wireless headset this time around...but I went with the wired J&M for two reasons: battery life, and intra-bike communications. I often ride longer than the batteries in the wireless helmets will last, and really don't want to lose my headset because my battery ran out. I also rarely ride with anyone who doesn't have a CB, and we utilize that for communication, so I don't need Bluetooth for that. I also really don't want to lose the audio functionality of my bike - stereo, CB and satellite radio - and most bluetooth wireless headsets do not allow the use of your bike's audio system. Maybe the next time I buy a new helmet wireless technology will be at the point where I switch.

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As I mentioned, the victim for this installation is my new Arai Signet-X. Despite having installed J&M headsets into five helmets and counting (this will be the sixth), it still makes me nervous to cut into a perfectly good, brand new $700 helmet, knowing that I just killed whatever warranty it may have.

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The same packaging is used for all the different versions of this headset - open face, closed face, and so on.

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You need to check the sticker on the side to make sure that the headset enclosed is the correct type for your helmet.

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Opening the box, the headset contents are sealed inside shrink wrap.

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Extracting the contents of the box, you find the instructions, two speakers, the microphone, cables and clamp, upper cable, and some mounting parts and tools. Keep in mind that the lower cable - the coild cable that connects the upper cable to the motorcycle - is not included and must be purchased separately. This is how J&M makes their headsets fit different kinds of motorcycles. You need the cable that connects the Elite upper cable to a Goldwing. I already have one from my previous helmet, so I didn't bother to purchase another one.

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The speakers are enclosed in a fabric, velcro-lined enclosure. This is normally used for half-height or "shorty" helmets with ear flaps.

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Even in their enclosures, the Elite series speakers are quite thin - much thinner than the less expensive "Performance" series. This is important for tight helmets with limited space inside.

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Disconnecting the speakers from the main cable harness is the first step.

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Peeling the speaker pockets apart (they are fastened with velcro) you find the actual speaker itself.

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The speakers are just about 1 1/2 inches in diameter - tiny!

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...and even thinner, with the outer piece at about 1/4" and the inner piece (with the blue velcro) an additional 1/8".

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The clamp is where the microphone and speaker cables connect to, and also where the upper cable plugs into.

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The Elite microphone is quite small, much smaller than the Performance series microphone - and its sound quality is much higher. I have no idea how J&M managed to get such good signal level and sound quality out of such a tiny dynamic microphone.

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It also is not very deep for a dynamic microphone, about 1/2" inch, excluding the velcro button on the back, which I removed.

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The full-face version of the headset comes with a foam-covered rubber wind muff for the microphone to cut down on wind noise.

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The microphone fits into the back of the wind muff.

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The microphone pushed into the wind muff.

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The mounting materials are an allen key for the clamp, an extra clamp screw and nut, a rubber shim for the clamp, and velcro for the speaker pockets.

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The upper cable uses J&M's weird proprietary connectors at both ends. I'm convinced that J&M uses these weird connectors for one reason only: to enable it to charge outrageous prices for its cables.

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I usually remove this. You could try rolling it up around the wire and tucking it away.

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To start, I remove the innards of the helmet. Removing the neck roll tab from the cheek pads is the start for Arai helmets. You may have to alter the procedure for the helmet you are using.

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Next the cheek pads are pulled back to release their tabs, then out.

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The cheek pads are covered with a fabric liner.

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The crown liner of the helmet doesn't necessarily have to come out to install the headset, but I do it anyway, to prevent it from getting covered it bits of styrofoam. Pulling the two snaps (bosses) from the front releases the front of the crown liner.

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Doing the same to the two bosses at the back releases the liner from the helmet.

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The crown liner can then be removed from the helmet.

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The cheek pad covers must be removed to access the innards.

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Start by peeling one side around the cheek pad.

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Then the other side.

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Next pull the liner around the front of the cheek pad.

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Pull the retaining flange up on the back side.

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Rotate it and push it through the slot in the cheek pad.

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This removes the liner from the cheek pad.

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We're left looking at the dual-density foam comfort liner of the cheek pad.

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Note the semicircular cutout on the cheek pad. This is a much-appreciated new feature in Arai helmets.

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Peeling it away reveals flat EPS, specifically for installing headset speakers.

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I place the speaker in the area and draw roughly around it to get an idea of where it will sit.

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Using this rough approximation, I work out where the center of the speaker is and put a dot there.

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I then draw a 20mm diameter circle around the dot.

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Using an Exacto knife, I carve out this circle, about 2-3mm deep.

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I cut a piece of the velcro from the supplied pieces about 20mm in diameter, peel the adhesive sheet away, and press it into place.

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Feeding the speaker wire through to the back side, I then press the speaker into place. The blue velcro on the back of the speaker holds it in place.

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The wire comes through the chin strap channel, and the cheek liner is reinstalled.

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I then replace the foam piece over top of the speaker, for comfort.

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I now have both speakers installed, with the liners reinstalled on the cheek pads.

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Looking at the cheek pads, there is no indication that there are speakers installed in them. Reinstall the cheek pads, but leave the wires hanging down and out the bottom of the helmet.

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Next: the microphone. The microphone goes on the left side, at mouth level. I draw around the wind muff to get an idea of where it will go.

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Next, using a sharp Exacto knife, cut into the chin piece, all the way through.

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Remove the black liner and the styrofoam underneath, so that there is a hole all the way through to the helmet shell. Cut a small slot on the left side to fit the microphone and its wire.

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Feed the microphone wire through the hole and out the side from behind the mouth guard.

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Insert the microphone into the wind muff and remove the velcro button.

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Then press the muff into the hole. It should be quite tight fitting - I like to cut the hole too small to start, then make very gradual enlargements until the microphone fits snug, and won't come loose.

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Next we fit the clamp to the left side of the helmet. Take the back of the clamp off and decide where the clamp will fit.

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For the Arai helmet, I use the rubber shim on the outer part of the clamp.

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The rubber shim fits up against the outer part of the clamp and presses against the outside of the helmet to prevent the clamp from moving.

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Fit the back of the clamp in place so that it clamps from the back of the helmet, and using the allen key, tighten it in place until it no longer moves.

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Here you can see the positioning of the clamp and the back of the clamp on the helmet shell.

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Plug the speakers and microphone into the clamp wires and tuck the wires in between the neck roll and the helmet shell. Which speaker plugs into which wire? It's not marked, so you have a 50% chance of getting it right! If you care that sounds intended for the left speakers come out of the left speaker and not the right speaker, you might want to double check it at this point by testing it on the bike just to be sure.

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Here you can see the wires tucked away from the clamp.

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The upper cable plugs into the clamp, and this retention strap then goes over the top of the cable plug. I found it just about impossible to stretch the retention strap enough to get it to fit over the plug, so I ended up using the popsicle stick to lever it into place.

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Here is the completed helmet with headset installed.

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Of course you should go out and test it on the bike right away. My verdict great! The speakers, thanks to the Arai cutouts, don't contact your ears, preventing hotspots. Previous helmets required a lot of foam cutting in order to install the speakers. The speakers have the same high output and full range that I have come to expect from their Elite series. The microphone is just as sensitive and noise rejecting as my previous headset. Highly recommended!


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Re: J&M Elite 787 Headset - and Installation How To

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 8:05 am
by NVSB4
Yet another great installation tutorial.
I just have to add, that while the clamp works on most helmets, it doesn't work on all.
I had installed J&M headsets in several helmets, yet the last one was too "wide" for the clamp to fit.
Luckily, John at J&M was wonderful in arranging a custom installation of the set into both my helmets.
He ended up swapping the headsets for the integrated kind (with the hole in the helmet) for me as well.
Again, if you find out that this is a little over your head, J&M is there to help.

Re: J&M Elite 787 Headset - and Installation How To

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 10:42 am
by thrasherg
I think your choice to go with a wired headset is very smart. I recently tried upgrading to wireless bluetooth technology (using Sena headsets) and to have my wife and I both on the same bike, being able to listen to the music and talk with each other will cost $1000 (you need two bluetooth headsets and two Sena Freewires to make the system work, or two J&M headsets!! The J&M headsets are a lot cheaper and definitely work as well if not better than the bluetooth units!! I just can't justify $1000 to go wireless!! The money is now spent, but had I realised the cost when I started, I would NOT have gone the bluetooth route. Anyone thinking of going bluetooth wireless, needs to seriously look into the cost before pulling the pin!!

Thanks for a great tutorial on installing the headsets.

Gary

Re: J&M Elite 787 Headset Review - and Installation How To

Posted: Thu Nov 23, 2017 5:11 pm
by thunderwing
Looks like J&M is into the bluetooth game with retro update kit for Elite 787 headset.

Good battery life, and J&M quality. Nice to see they've thrown their hat into the wireless game.