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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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The Tunebug Shake let's you listen to music and head what's going on around you.
The Tunebug Shake let's you listen to music and head what's going on around you.

Tech Review: Tunebug Shake

Sometimes when I go for a bike ride, I like a little music to accompany me. It helps keep my pace up, provides general entertainment and it's a nice way to distract yourself from the occasional insults and ignorance yelled by passing traffic.

However, cramming a pair of buds into your ears isolates you and reduces the stereophonic hearing abilities that help to keep you safe in traffic. Additionally, the buds have to be turned up so loud to get any decent sound of of them that the wearer risks damaging their ears.

To the rescue is an external helmet-mounted speaker called the Tunebug Shake. Mount the speaker onto the back of any helmet and use its vibrational properties to send sound waves through your helmet. The effect essentially surrounds the wearer's head with music. You can plug in any audio device or toss the cables altogether and simply use the Bluetooth signal.

Pros: It does what it says. On it's own it's a nifty little speaker, but once you mount it against your helmet the sound quality drastically improves. It really does sound like the whole helmet has become a speaker. As far as safety goes, since I've been using this device I've never been surprised by oncoming or passing traffic, even when the Tunebug Shake was turned up full volume. Mounting and removal is a breeze. Using the device also encourages helmet safety. Personal health is a good reason to wear your helmet, but your favorite tunes might be an even better one. Touch sensitive volume buttons can be accessed, even with gloves on. Turn it up when traffic gets heavy or turn it down to have a conversation with friends.

Cons: The sound is pretty tinny and the vibrations they use to mimic the heavy bass notes try hard to make up the difference, but mostly it just feels odd. It's a pretty heavy device, particularly for a sport that spends hundreds of dollars to shave tens of grams off of components. The Tunebug Shake adds about 22% more weight to an average helmet. Plus you have to bring along yo…

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