When you're riding down a busy street on your bicycle, you don't want to be dead to the world. You need to be aware of all the hazards around you, but you also want to jam to your favorite Nirvana track. What can you do? The Tunebug Shake could be your answer.
It can also be used for any number of other action environments, like snowboarding or ATVing, but the idea is that you mount the "exciter" on your helmet and let the music boom through your skull. This way, you get music while still being able to hear the world around you.
Features and Box Contents
The Tunebug Shake is fundamentally the same product as the Tunebug Vibe, except it comes with some accessories to attach to your chosen protective helmet. It has a 3.5mm headphone jack to accept nearly any audio source, as well as stereo Bluetooth connectivity.
As far as features, the triangular-shaped device is meant to be ultra-portable and lightweight. Unlike the Vibe, the Shake has a rubber-molded grip and is more water resistant. The touch-sensitive controls at the top allow you to adjust volume and so on.
Inside the box, you get the TuneBug Shake itself, a USB charging cable (which cleverly connects to the 3.5mm jack), a 3.5mm audio cable, TuneStrap, Gecko Mount, and supporting documentation.
How Does It Work?
Rather than working like a conventional speaker, the Tunebug Shake (as well as its Vibe cousin) makes use of something called an "exciter." Also called a "portable sound generator," it basically converts any flat surface into a speaker.
It sends the vibrations through this surface. You can place the Shake on your desk, for example, and the sound will reverberate through that surface. I found it worked better with hollow things, like empty cardboard boxes. That's why it's been designed to work with helmets and the like too. This generates a surround sound-like experience.
You could make use of the 3.5mm audio jack and connect it to your iPod, for example, but it might be prudent to ditch the cables when you're riding down the trail. Using stereo Bluetooth is more of a battery drain, but it's much more convenient.
Gecko or TuneStrap velcro Mounts
You get two options for mounting the Tunebug Shake to your helmet. The Gecko Mount is a harder shell with three extended (and detachable) plastic arms. These arms then attach to the helmet using the provided 3M Velcro bits. This is a little more permanent, so you'll want to be sure you want this on your helmet.
For that reason, I preferred using the TuneStrap Velcro Mount instead. You fit the Shake into a soft pouch and then attach a Velcro strap on the top. The strap can then be looped through the vent holes in your helmet. The key is getting the "exciter" on the Shake to make solid contact with the flattest part of your helmet.
Audio Quality with a Bike Helmet
The bass response was decent and the range was somewhat acceptable, but again, it's nowhere close to what you'd get with a regular set of headphones. That's the trade you get for being able to hear the rest of the world, but I was impressed with how well the system works.
However, depending on what activity you're enjoying and how much wind noise you're enduring, the sound from the Tunebug Shake can get drowned out by your environment. Everyone around you can hear the music too, as your entire helmet is effectively one big speaker (and not one that's just for you).
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I have to hand it to Tunebug for being creative and innovative. This is certainly a unique product and it addresses a very serious concern for active folks. You don't want to isolate yourself from your environment as you go barreling down Main Street.
On the flip side, the Shake does add a little weight to your helmet and this is probably not the best idea for super performance junkies. I also found the touch-sensitive controls were a little too sensitive, as I was pressing some "buttons" when I didn't mean to do so.
At $99.99US, the Tunebug Shake isn't exactly the cheapest option. It does get reasonably loud, but the lack of "privacy" for your music is a bit of a turnoff. I'm still more inclined to use earbuds (at a lower volume) than the Shake. On the flip side, the $69.99US Vibe could be an interesting proposition for portable music sharing. It's basically the same, just without the mounting accessories.