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PackTalk Edge


I pre-ordered and received a Cardo PackTalk Edge yesterday to replace my PackTalk Black. After fitting it to my Arai Signet-X and taking it to my friends to test with his Schuberth C3 fitted to a Black, I thought I’d share my thoughts.

Sleeker design that appears more aerodynamic; although it uses all angular shapes whereas the Black has some (minor) curves. No pop-up antenna, although it still uses the speaker cable routed over the head liner for FM reception. A permanently-attached rubber cover on the rear-most edge now hides a USB-C charging port vs the bottom-edged micro-USB of earlier models.

Their new Air Mount mounting plate is thinner and no longer has a hump on it where the electrical contacts are. Plastic of the tongue that slides under your helmet liner is a bit thicker. Magnetic mounting is very strong and disconnection requires both depressing a lever along the leading edge of the bracket and sliding the device forward -- impossible to accidentally detach now. Attaching no longer requires thought or effort, as holding it anywhere close to the bracket causes it to jump out of your hand and onto the bracket. If it’s on and playing audio the speakers instantly start playing when it connects. They did a great job redesigning this.

Speakers are physically smaller in diameter (closer to that of a Bold), which supposedly is to stay within upcoming ECE regulations on helmet speaker sizing. They’re in the outline of an egg instead of round, to about the same diameter on the longest dimension equal to a Black's speaker. Heavier than the Blacks by 4g each.

Of the two microphones, only the one on the stalk (for flip-up helmets) is larger by about 2/3rds. The stick-up mic I'm using in my full-face could be different but as I can't take the foam off without ripping,I can't tell. They feel the same.

Edge doesn’t do anything the Bold or Black can't, and mostly works identically. It does most things a bit faster and some things a bit easier, like pairing, but aside from adding the following voice commands it’s the same:
- End a call / Hey Cardo, end call
- To share music / Hey Cardo, share music
- To close intercom call / Hey Cardo, end intercom
- Mute microphone / Hey Cardo, mute microphone
- Unmute microphone / Hey Cardo, unmute microphone

I can’t speak to their “lightning fast” pairing advantages that their DMC2 mesh tech vs DMC1. I’m not nearly sociable enough to be pairing with so many other riders that this would be something I’d appreciate, so nice but meh for me.

Software updates can now be done over Bluetooth instead of requiring a cable. I’m going to be doing that even less than pairing, so that’s another nice they’re finally doing this, but I mostly expect this capability in 2022 and especially at this price point.

One of the advantages USB-C brings is fast charging, and this charges from 0-100% in two hours (vs the Black/Bold's four) and has a quick-charge where 20 minutes of charge get you two hours of use. Glad this was finally included on their flagship product. Another advantage of USB-C is it moves the wear-parts of the USB connection from the socket in the expensive device to the cable you can replace for $15.

Speakers are outstanding for this class of headphones. Volume is significantly increased. What used to be 100% volume on the Black is about 65% on these. No distortion. To someone like me who was wanting both a bit more volume and a bit more bass, these drivers deliver. For me, the cost was worth the sound improvement alone.

Tested whether improvement was due to improved speakers, amplifier, or maybe some of both. Keeping the new speakers installed in my helmet, I plugged them back into Black my black and then into the Edge again to compare. Then I plugged both into a set of Sennheiser open-backed headphones and a set of custom-molded in-ear sound-isolating earphones I had made for riding. I’d say both both amplifier and speakers improved, but leaning heavily towards the speakers. The Edge is ~10% louder than the Black using my headphones or earphones but 35% louder with the new JBLs. It’s also a bit cleaner sounding at high volumes; not that it was muddy before but there’s slight yet discernible improvement. If Cardo offers these speakers as an upgrade to older units, it’d be easy to recommend a purchase.

Cardo says the Edge has better noise-filtering microphones voice-recognition software. I don’t have a convenient way to test this yet so will leave that to others and/or your imagination.

DMC2 supports wideband mesh audio vs DMC1 but as I don’t know anyone else with an Edge, couldn’t be tested. I know enough about wideband audio to know that if this works as advertised the difference should be significant and very welcome.

Since I don’t have my bike yet, all I could do was do a completely useless test of my friend wearing his Black in his living room and me driving my car away with me wearing an Edge. Nope, didn’t feel silly at all (OK a little). It’s for science! Got about a block away and the connection dropped. Next time I want to use my Cardo in a car, I’ll keep that test in mind..

FM radio operation and tuner isolation characteristics appear identical to the Black.

The Edge has Bluetooth 5.2 vs the Black & Bold’s 4.0. BT 5 offers several potential advantages but requires every device it’s talking to also be on the same version. Devices negotiate at the beginning of a connection and will use the highest version both support. With BT 5.2:
- 4x the range, 2x the data rate
- Increases data packet size from 40 bytes to 255 (part of why data rate is higher, but this also allows for wideband audio and more channels at once)
- Introduces simultaneous isochronous channel support (previous was single data channel only)
- New high-quality low power & bandwidth audio codec (LC3) - better audio quality at edge of radio range
- Devices talk to each other on a side channel to continuously monitor and adjust their transmit & receive power to each other, maximizing range & minimizing battery drain

Its MSRP is the same as the Black ($390) and has the same three-year warranty, so to me says the Edge will probably replace the Black. Amazon is selling the Blacks for $250 so that’s a pretty good price that I don’t think the Edges will be anywhere near for a while, whenever they do become available again. If price were the same or no object, get the Edge. If Edge is at MSRP and Black is at $250, Black’s a better deal unless you really need/want the volume – and can find them in stock.
Our Packtalk Edge Duo's arrived mid last week, about an hour after I coincidentally broke the USB connector on my Packtalk Bold while away on a trip. So, it was only a few days ago that I returned from the trip and got to setup the Edge's. The Edge magnetic mount is a huge improvement over the prior clip in mount. And the other big improvement is that the 3 buttons are raised, making them very easy to find with gloves on - I could seldom find the Bold buttons while riding. The rubber cover for the USB-C charging port is rather fiddly to seal back up after charging. The Edge speakers appear to be identically sized to the Bold speakers, and as a result I didn't bother swapping out the speakers or mic's. The Edge seems a fair bit louder and has much better sound quality. We need some riding time to confirm if this a problem or not, but in the house, the DMC comms between the two Edge headsets does not seem as good as the Bold's. However, I think we might have been using Bluetooth between the Bold headsets, so might be an apples to oranges comparison. We could not figure out how to get Bluetooth comms going between the two headsets (even though Duo headsets apparently come pre-paired), so we'll see how the DMC comms goes, and if not good enough, I'll attempt to reach out to Cardo to figure out how to get that working. The riding time will have to wait for another day or two, as I still need to swap out my very worn-down tires that reflect how much fun I had up in the mountains last week.
Music Sharing

Can you tell me if the background music volume can be set so as to not lower when using intercom? I returned a set of the Bold models because regardless of settings when sharing music (other than FM which worked fine) any noise at all would open mic (even if they were both muted) and cause music volume to lower, drove me nuts. I like the sounds of these Edge units but don't want to purchase and install just to find out they behave the same way.