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Thread: Anyone else have a Kato Sound Box?

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    Default Anyone else have a Kato Sound Box?

    I have a Kato Sound Box which is a reasonable way to get some engine sounds without having DCC and Sound Decoders in each engine. But because the sound is concentrated in only one location, I thought about adding some remote speakers around the layout and wondered if anyone else has done this.

    Dave
    Last edited by Dave S; 13th Jul 2018 at 10:09 AM.

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    I have four Kato Sound Boxes, one for each of the four Unitrack loops on my round-the-room shelf layout. I have a cord connecting the "line out" jack on each sound box to a cheap ($70 on Amazon) sound mixer. I then have two sets of cheap computer speakers ("subwoofer" plus two satellite speakers) located on shelves under my shelf layout (basically have a satellite speaker in each corner of the room). I really like this setup. As any sound expert may tell you, base sound is non-directional, so it doesn't really matter where it is coming from. The four satellites effectively remove any "directionality" from the rest of the sound, so when running trains you just hear the sounds and it doesn't seem like they're coming from somewhere other than the locomotive. I probably enjoy this as much as I would having sound decoders in each of my locomotives (not that there's anything wrong with that!). It's also a whole lot cheaper and easier for anybody with a large fleet of locomotives.

    Sound mixer: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    Speakers: (not exact but similar) https://www.amazon.com/Creative-A250...with+subwoofer

    That five channel mixer is perfect as it uses stereo mini-plugs (inputs and outputs) and also has one extra channel for my computer to hook up to. I can easily slide the volume up or down for any of the four tracks, so I can focus on one train or just hear all four at once.

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    Thank you Norseman Jack. That is exactly what I was looking for! I really like the sound box but feel that I need these remote speakers to spread the sound around. I may consider more sound boxes as well as I have three tracks that I run on my layout.

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    Yep. Those Kato sound boxes aren't cheap, but neither are sound equipped N scale locomotives. If somebody is reasonably certain that they won't go all in on DCC, the Kato system is a really nice option for adding sound. I would imagine that they hold their value quite well also, as they can be used in multiple scales with whatever sound cards match up with locomotives being used. I still need to buy the small steam card for my Kato Mikado and the GE third generation card to go with my P42's.

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    I have 3 sound cards right now so the idea of more Sound Boxes is appealing to me. They are a good substitute for DCC because of the way they control engine speed in much the same fashion as DCC. Also, if you have lighted passenger cars the lights come on bright and stay that way regardless of engine speed in much the same way that DCC operates. About the only thing missing (when compared to DCC) is the ability to control the headlights on the engines. And if you have a lot of engines (I have 12 right now), the cost is probably lower too compared to DCC with sound, especially when you consider the fact that each engine effectively has sound for the price of a sound card ($30 or less).

    The third gen diesel sound card is by far the best and most interesting card. I also have the first gen diesel card and the light steam sound card. I am not too impressed with the light steam card....the chuff sounds are overwhelmed by all the other sounds that play along with it. Kato should have dialed back the volume a bit on the other sounds so the chuff sound is more prominent.

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    I think a lot of the sound issue revolves around the size of your layout. My layout area is not that big; 27 square feet. I've got a MRC Tech II Sound Generator 8000. It's fairly simple with one speaker mounted under the center of the layout. I don't know if they still make them. Sound isn't perfect, but far from dreadful. I've got over 40 locomotives, powering all of them with sound, on a layout my size, to me, makes no sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave S View Post
    I am not too impressed with the light steam card....the chuff sounds are overwhelmed by all the other sounds that play along with it. Kato should have dialed back the volume a bit on the other sounds so the chuff sound is more prominent.
    The FEF/GS4 sound card is pretty good sound wise, and not too difficult to dial in the synchronization so that the sounds match the loco.

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