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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all

I see there is already a topic for DCC Britsh Steam Sounds and this doesn't strictly fit in there, so I've added this topic on diesel.

I model the late 50's so I'm mostly a "kettle" guy, but I am intrigued by the possibility of running a few realistic sounding diesel locos on my layout. I'm talking about 2 x Bachmann class 08, one Bachmann class 04 and a Lima GWR railcar so far and would love to add something like a model of 10800, or 10000/1

Now, to get to the point - I see that Southwest digital claim to have sound decoders for both class 08 and class 04 (this one coming soon I believe). Has anyone here experimented with fitting these chips, and can anyone tell me how easy it is and how realistic it sounds. Both 08 and 04 have VERY limited space, but I see the actual decoder fitted is the new "mini" version. Does anyone know the dimensions of chip and speaker - I've emailed for info but received no reply

I live in the USA and have looked at using Soundtraxx, but their current offerings are way to large to fit and cannot have the sounds altered. Digitrax are about to offer their sound decoders, but again they are too large for these prototypes.

By the way, I use a Digitrax Zephyr - starter system - and have had only good experience so far. After trying a number of decoders for my steam locos, I've settled on the Digitrax DZ123 which is very low cost here in the USA but gives smooth control and 2 functions for lights etc if required

All the best
Norm
 

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Details of SW digital speakers can be found here:

http://www.southwestdigital.co.uk/LS3.htm

I have not heard the 08 sounds - I don't think that they are out yet but the Class 20 & 25 sounds are very good indeed. Limits are obviously trying to get a thumping great diesel sound out of a tiny speaker! Physics rules OK.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the replies. Doug - will you be doing a review when you look at the 08?

Norm
 

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QUOTE (Dennis David @ 5 Jan 2006, 18:50)I thought I posted a link to a group in UK that are sharing British sound files?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Where did you post this link?

Can I have it again please.

Chris
 

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Sound seems like an attractive use for digital, but I would have some doubts about its effectiveness through really puny on-board speakers.

How many sound channels are available?

If there were more than one channel, an off-board, BIG speaker would seem indicated, to reproduce the lower frequencies, those frequencies that you can almost feel rather than only hear.

For multi channel TV/PC sound, it virtually doesn't matter where the sub-woofer is positioned, as the lowest frequencies are virtually directionless. If the sub is concealed, it's a very rare listener indeed who can figure where it is positioned!

So I wonder if any thought has been given to this approach, or whether any of the manfacturers have considered or even already implemented it?
 

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Rail Rider,

I am not claiming to be any sort of expert on this but it is the sound side that makes DCC attractive to me. I am a HiFi nut & take sound seriously. I have now heard a good few sound equipped locos of differing gauges, and speaker sizes, & I would make a few observations.

It sounds very attractive to have a loud rumbling diesel in your model room but I don't really believe it. Having sat & listened to sound equipped locos for some time it becomes very tiring if they are too loud. I have never heard more than two sound equipped locos running at once but would suggest that if they were anything other than fairly quiet it would be unpleasant. I would also observe that many of us model in a domestic environment and what might sound good to us may not sound good to wife/ partner/ dog etc etc.

All modelling involves the suspension of disbelief & in my opinion the better new digital chips & speakers sound perfectly good enough for me to recognise the loco type with my eyes closed and believe in the product. I am not sure a much louder small model would sound convincing. Any sort of sealing of a sound box makes a big difference & is worthwhile. Just having a small speaker hanging around is obviously nothing like as effective.

Actually one of the best sounding model that I have heard was at its best just sitting rumbling away to itself in a siding with the random occasional noises that were just magic. It was relatively quiet but very very atmospheric. A few on these in a depot would, I think, be wonderful.

At OO the sound should grow as the loco approaches, be perfectly audible as the loco passes, but then disappear as the loco moves away. Once it is say 20ft from you it should not really be the dominant sound. The coming & going of the sound is all important to the belief and disappears with increased volume.

I have only heard one example of this, on a 16mm Garden Railway, & it was experimental being based on a sound equipped loco with a wagon noise tape being played in a rake of box vans through a speaker in each van. The sound of the loco approaching & running by and then disappearing into the wagon sounds as they passed by was potentially magic. I really do think this sound thing has an enormous way to go and to me justifies the whole DCC concept in a way that nothing else appears to.

The other observation that I would make is that whilst I have heard good diesel sounds I have not heard a small scale steam loco that sounded convincing. Come to think of it I have heard virtually no sound equipped steam locos of any size that sounded convincing!

Chris
 

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I agree with most of that.


However, I am not talking about any increase in overall volume, but about reproducing the lower frequencies that miniscule speakers just can't handle. These frequencies don't need to be at all loud, but they do need to be present for realistic effect. The overall volume level is then a matter of personal taste - and possibly negotiated compromise with dog and other domestic partners.


I think that multi channel decoding could probably handle distance effects - it works very well in cinemas and on home PCs already, so shouldn't be too difficult to adapt. What I don't know is whether there are equivalent decoders suitable for small models, possibly not - yet.
 

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The low frequency question is interesting & I would be interested in a solution as well. I can see complications however.

Firstly if we assume that we have more than one sound source the low frequency unit would need to be able to mix however many sound sources there are.

Secondly the problem of the sound coming & going. If we assume a number of larger speakers around the system then we need location detectors linked to the sound system.

Thirdly bass sounds only become non directional at a frequency much lower than the lowest that the tiny speakers in the locos cope with. If you went for a complete sound spectrum & using the surround speakers for everything that the loco did not produce the directionality would remain a problem. At home I am very close to my trains & what might be non directional at 3m will not be non directional at 0.5m.

I have never heard such a system but I do wonder if with enough surround detectors & speakers - say one every metre - it would be possible to have most of the sounds coming from a series of speakers around the layout and very little, or even none, coming from the train. This could also mix atmospheric sounds, the factory, traffic in an urban layout etc etc etc. This would require the transition between sound sections rather than switching. The system would thus need to cope with speed etc. In my case this would involve a 20 channel amplifier.

In reality I think this is a next step development. Rather than using a separate decoder for each sound in the base station this would be a decoder that could read multiple addresses and had all the sound files used in the system available. Does such a thing exist? All sound files would need to be available to put into such a unit.

As to the original question I don't know the answer but I don't see a real problem for the decoder - more the problem of getting the sound from the loco decoder to something that will amplify it for the bass units

I guess with current technology you could do this but I suspect that you would need a duplicate sound decoder that was the basis of the bass & surround sounds as well as the one in the loco - with the same address - and of course a computer linked to all this & the track detection circuits to make it all work. If anyone has such a system I would love to see/ hear it! I couldn't afford it myself but I would love to hear it.

Sorry to go on about this but I really believe that sound is the next great leap in model railways. Everything else, including DCC, is just a slightly better way to do what we have been doing for 50+ years. Sound is new. What we have is great compared to where we were only a very few years ago but the future could be fantastic.
 

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We have talked about this before, but you know a complete solution would be a sound system out of the locos that uses 5.1 surround sound with sub woofer. A good quality box that plugs into a standard home surround sound system though it's AUX port.

Using a feedback BUS and train recognition, the sound system should know what each loco is and where it is. It could then play the sound back and 'insert' it into the right spot on the layout.

It whould have synchronised chuff, but perhaps someone could produce a synchro unit (decoder) that just send feedback data of the chuff pattern to the central sound system.

You could also program 'perspective' into it. Locos nearer to the position of the dirver would be louder and locos at the back or further away could be softer.

One sound system for all your locos with perfect sound.
 

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That's the ideal solution that I would expect to see arrive, inevitably, in time.
No more concern with trying to find space in tiny locomotives, far better quality and much, much less to go wrong. I would nearly bet money that we will see it in the next few years. It already works extremely well in computer games.

For an operator who likes to wander round his layout, perfect volume/distance proportioning might not be achievable - I always hesitate to say this kind of ingenuity is impossible!

But a relatively simple interim step would be a single off-loco sub-woofer.

I realise this has now drifted from the original question and I apologise for that. Perhaps it could be split out into a new topic? Or, if it has been discussed before, added to that.
 

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As I said before I doubt 5.1 is enough. We are close to our trains & in my case I really don't think that a speaker every 5 metres - 2.5 metres each side of where I am standing - is going to convince me that the sound is coming from a loco 0.5 metres in front of my nose. In my limited experience surround sound really only works well from a fixed listening position & then does not assume that you want the sound in front of your nose. Even 5.1 recognises that you need a centre speaker to get directionality. It all suddenly becomes much more complicated if your 5.1 system has to cope with your TV moving around the room and your chair doing the same thing but independently!!!!!!

I think that in the US there have been some experiments with fixed sound points & I think a commercial system has been promised but I have not heard that it has been actually put into production. What is the US news on this?

Can we transfer these posts to a new topic heading?
 

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I just saw these from MRC, whilst reading a US magazine:

SOUND BOX FOR DC OR DCC - STEAM

Steam Sound System with Handheld plays 13 different sounds from anywhere on your DC or DCC layout. Sounds include three whistles (two American and one European), two air compressors at idle, blower hiss, fire box door, and coal shoveling. All sounds also play randomly, making your layout feel alive. Hear synchronized steam chuff with adjustable rates. You can even control the volume. Simple 2 wire hook up to power packs or accessories - no messing with decoders or programming locomotives. Real sounds made real easy. Includes push button control, speaker and amplifier.
Item # 0001022
Price: $75.98

SOUND BOX FOR DC OR DCC - DIESEL

Diesel Sound Systems with Handheld each play 13 different sounds from anywhere on your DC or DCC layout. Sounds include bell, long and short horn, sand release, brake release, conductor, dynamic brake sound, gear shift, air release, and air pump. All sounds also play randomly, making your layout that more real. Hear synchronized diesel rumble with adjustable rates. You can even control the volume. Simple 2 wire hook up to power packs or accessories- no messing with decoders or programming locomotives. Real sounds made real easy. Includes push button control, speaker and amplifier.
Item # 0001023
Price: $75.98

More sound products here.
 

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This seems pretty good value for a generalised atmosphere creator
I like the sound of this (is lunchtime too early for puns?)


All that seems to be missing for comprehensive authenticity is a few muttered or even bellowed passenger curses!


Seriously, it seems like a potentially good seller
 

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I have 20 odd loco's with sound. I've also helped operate a layout where every train had sound enabled, and quite frankly I prefer non sound. It just becomes a row to be tolerated after a bit, and it's highly repetious to boot.
 

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I really did burst out laghing when I read that!


I am so glad that someone had the nerve to tell it like it is, (or at least CAN be) with no fancy dressing up!

Of course the idea of a central sound deccoder and dedicated controller could whip that cacaphony into any shape you desired - including complete silence just before you smash your favourite loco into an ugly pulp.
 

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Like most things I am sure there are lots of ways to make a mess of it! I still suspect that subtle is the way to go & that loud is a no go area. It may well be that a very few and ever changing sounds are better than a lot of frequently repeated ones.

I couldn't agree more that sound needs to be interesting. The factory that sounds great for 5 minutes at an exhibition might well sound awful after several hours at home. Much the same is true of watching the same train go round & round & round &...........

I suspect the Sound Box that Doug has found might well fit into this category.

Some of my older locos are quite capable of making sounds all on their own - unfortunately not very prototypical - & I can't say that I have ever found them annoying.
 
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