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In depth idiot
8,464 Posts
Tell us more, specifically about what locos you intend to have with sound. The D+E hobby has gone hog wild on sound, and it is much easier to fit inside the roomy boxes of a typical loco, than in rather more awkwardly shaped steam locos.

Don't worry about the connections. One option is to buy with sound installed, available on an increasing number of more recently released locos.

For D+E, the sound typically comes on decoders with the right fitting, and the more recent introductions have internal layouts designed to accomodate the kit, so there's quite a lot of 'plug and play' on offer.

For steam, quite often the best way forward is to remove the socket and solder the decoder installation to make best use of the (often limited) internal space. There's now a usefully wide choice of steam locos, but many were introduced before DCC caught on in the UK, and well before sound on DCC was readily available, and have not had revisions to simplify decoder installation.

I would suggest using your existing layout to trial DCC sound with a couple of locos, unless you have already heard it and definitely like it.

DCC system choice; try a specialist dealer who can allow you hands on with a good range of kit. It's much like cars, they all do the same basic job: what you want is one that is 'right' in your hands, so that you are quickly 'unconciously competent' at operating it. (If you are in the Southern half of East Anglia, I would suggest Coastal DCC in Ipswich without hesitation.) Two essentials to look for, a DCC system must have a programme track output, and a short circuit cut out.
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