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Thread: Sound in N Scale Locomotives

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    Default Sound in N Scale Locomotives

    I was thinking of installing sound in one of my N scale locos, and was wondering if it is worthwhile.
    Has anyone installed sound in their engines?
    How is the sound quality?

    Paul

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    You will find plenty of threads on this topic in this forum, but I would suspect the overall consensus is sound is better than no sound. That said, I have MRC sound decoders in about 9 diesels, and I can vouch for MRC sound decoders. I have also placed three MRC HO stationary sound decoders around my HCD layout, and I can thoroughly recommend this approach as well (at half the price of mobile decoders).

    Overall, I am quite happy with the sound emanating from 8 of my 9 diesels, and the quietest one (Atlas GP7), I have consisted with an Atlas H15-44.

    In conclusion, sound is worthwhile.

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    The newer MRC sound decoders are better than the older ones.
    However, you might want to consider a Digitrax sound decoder for better quality.
    They all require a little work on the engine and it's well explained in the documentation.
    Depending on the locomotive, slight alterations to the shell of the loco goes a long way.

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    I have sound in 8 of my engines (all MRC decoders). The only problem I have is that my non-sound engines end up sitting more because the sound ones are just more fun to run.
    Karl

    CEO of the Skally Line, an Eastern MN Shortline

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    I've got five locos with sound, three Kato fitted with MRC decoders, and the other two Athearn factory fitted with Tsunami sound decoders. In operation I personally prefer the Tsunmai decoders, which I've found are considerably louder and clearer than the MRCs .

    I think sound makes a huge difference and would always recommend it. The down side is cost. Fitting sound adds enormously to the cost of a loco, and so nearly half may locos remain silent purely because of the cost. That said, sound does open up a whole new dimension to railroad modelling.

    I don't enjoy fitting such expensive decoders (it gives me the jitters!), so I just wish they were as easily available RTR as it is in larger scales. But it's difficult enough buying locos pre-fitted with ordinary DCC decoders, let alone sound decoders in N Scale.

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    I recently installed a MRC sound decoder in my Kato P42 and I was disappointed with it. I was disappointed that it wasnt loud enough, I did like the variety of sounds however. I doubt that I would install another MRC decoder unless I was able to have the the sound escape through the shell more. An idea Ive been thinking about is replacing the fan on the P42 with a see through unit and see if that helps with the volume any.

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    I haven't personally put sound in locos but I have some friends who have sound in all their steam, and know a couple of people who have it in e8/9s & F units. They are all using ESU Lok-Sound decoders and sound great.

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    We have to remember that sound needs to scale down with our models. Sound volume will likely be 1/160 of what we would hear in real life; if we are for instance 12 inches away from an n scale loco it should sound as if we are 160 feet (the width of an American football field) away from a real one. And we are usually even further away from the model unless you have track right up to the edge of the layout and your layout is at eye/ear level.

    What also makes a real loco seem so loud is that the ground we are standing on shakes if we are close enough. I don't know of any n scale layouts where you would stand on the actual scenery ground next to the tracks (and if you were then you would be anyways at least 5 feet (800 scale feet) above the model unless you lay down or stand on your head to get your ear closer).

    Mind you our ears don't scale down so we have 160x the hearing of an n scale person - hmm, maybe the above then isn't right either.


    Marc
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    Well said, nut! ^^^ I'll have to put an "X" on Digitrax's P42 sound decoder. Couldn't hear it over the furnace in the basement. I plan to try MRC soon, maybe go for a Loksound or Tsunami later on if I'm feeling bold.


    -Scott
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    I have sound in atleast half of my fleet. Most of em dropped right in, no mods needed. All worth it. Some are louder than others but mostly loud enuff. Go with with sound.
    “When you go in for a job interview, I think a good thing to ask is if they ever press charges.” - Jack Handy

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    There is also the external sound choice. I enjoy the sound louder them most decoders can provide. I don't imagine myself on a distant hill watching the engines run and listening for the distant sounds, I imagine myself in the loco itself. This means the sounds sould be rather loud and wrap around me not follow the loco around the layout.
    Sean McC

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    who has friends." -- Clarence

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    I'm with SeanM. My sound is external and I run it thru earphones. Turn the volume up in Run 8

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    I agree that if you want to hear what you'd hear as an actual engineer, headphones is the best way to do it. Lance Mindheim talks about that on his blog and has setup wireless headphones so he can easily follow his trains. It just doesn't give your visitors a chance to hear the sound unless you split the sound so it goes to the headphones and also to room speakers.


    Marc
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    How do you set up your external sound? Have you heard the Surroundtrax system?

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    october model railraod hobbyist e-mag has an article on sound (not just N however). the mag is free - just have to sign up
    Yours,

    Gene

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    This is how I started BNSFAZ. http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...ight=sound+box Used multiple Tsunamis external. Sound was good, but usability suffered because of having to consist sound for every change of engine. Also could not run two of the same type of engine at one time because I only had one of each type of decoder available,
    Then I setup a surroundtrax and prefer it even though I do not use the train following (transponding) abilities.
    Sean McC

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    Everyone's tastes are different, but I've never been satisfied with the "tinny" sound produced by the small speakers in HO locomotives, much less N scale. My setup was discussed (and a sample video posted) in the thread Stationary Sound. Hopefully someday I'll be able to afford a Surroundtraxx, for all the advantages seanm mentions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bamboozledguy View Post
    I recently installed a MRC sound decoder in my Kato P42 and I was disappointed with it. I was disappointed that it wasnt loud enough, I did like the variety of sounds however. I doubt that I would install another MRC decoder unless I was able to have the the sound escape through the shell more. An idea Ive been thinking about is replacing the fan on the P42 with a see through unit and see if that helps with the volume any.
    Maybe the P42 is just a problem engine for letting the sound out. I also have an MRC sound decoder in one and can barely hear it. Also Scott says he has the same problem with a Digitrax unit.
    Jim


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    bc6

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    Here's the easiest and least expensive way to have external sound that I have found. Buy a Tsunami sound Decoder for a HO engine from Ulrich Models. They are only $78. Mount this in some plastic box along with a headphone jack. Run two wires from your Track Buss to the two points on the circuit board that would have gone to the wheels. Run two wires from the speaker pads on the board to your earphone jack. Program the sound board with the same ID # as your DCC locomotive and you're done. Now if you have an Alco and a GE loco, you'll want to get 2 sound boards and then you'll need a switch to alternate between the two. From here you can get as crazy as your imagination will allow with multiple sound boards and under the layout speakers which will require an aditional amplifier.

    Here's how I did 2 sound boards. http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...External-Sound

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    *cough*

    Still has a long, long way to go... and needs a lot more and better source audio to go with it... but someday...
    Never mistake a guy who talks a lot for a guy who has something to say...

    CH&FR Site and Blog: http://www.chfrrailroad.net and http://blog.chfrrailroad.net
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