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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
QUOTE (simonj @ 13 Dec 2008, 12:13) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Why are these sound locos so expensive anyway? You can go to the local toy shop and buy a nice radio controlled car that makes sounds and has operating parts for £20 or so.

I think that to understand why sound locomotives are expensive is to look at the history of DCC.

From a European stand point, DCC arrived in 1985. Lots of Hype, but really few if any features. Over the next 5 years there were further enhancements and what "we" take for granted (the likes of acceleration, deceleration, back EMF reading etc) were introduced.

About 10 years ago ESU released the loksound (1) chip. Over the next 5 years this was further enhanced to the loksound 3.5 that many are familiar with. I am pretty sure that the price of the loksound (1) chip, is about the same price as a loksound 3.5. So although new features have been added, the price has not increased (or decreased for that matter).

Now like it or not, the loksound chip is built by the Germans. There are two distinct parts to the German RTR market. There is the 2 rail side, which conforms to the DCC/NRMA/NEM standards. But the biggest Market segment is the Marklin market which doesn't follow the DCC/NRMA/NEM standard, it has (for better terminology) the Marklin standard. ESU have built a chip that will run on either spec, so that has undoubtedly increased its cost.

When we look at the British RTR (read Hornby) market, DCC has literally happened in the last 2 years. DCC is now becoming mainstream, and Hornby modellers are looking at it and going I want sound. Hornby, in what I consider to be an excellent business decision, have made a commercial decision to not invest R&D in equipping locomotives with sound and have elected to use loksound chips. I truly hope that the issues Marklin had with ESU do not happen with Hornby.

If you think Loksound chips are expensive, have a look at the price of Zimo chips.

There has also been comment passed about how few British locomotive sounds are available from ESU. Again, I would look back at history and ask the question, why would ESU go to the expense of making British sounds available when for all intents and purposes DCC was/is not mainstream yet.

I have a very healthy respect for Richard Johnson who is fortunate to have the time and skills to do some wonderful things regarding British sounds, enhanced by the fact that he is in Australia and not the UK.

Cheers

John
 

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There are mainly 2 reasons that most of us has gone DCC.

1) To be able to run multiple loco's on the same track without using complicated block systems and,
2) To be able to hear the sound of the chuff or the roar of the diesel, well, at least that was my intention. I am not counting the other benefits that John has mentioned, like back EMF,accelaration,....etc.

Going DCC has improved a lot by multiple choices of decoders ( all NMRA compliant) by various brands. It has also improved pricewise. Although I haven't used one, just reading the feedback from the users on the Bachmann decoder, at that price, shows you that you get value for your money.

However I can't say the same with sound decoders. ( pricewise that is, not quality and performance)
A Esu loksound still sells at a price of a staggering 100-110 Euros. Nearly at a price of a loco. It is a very good product I am not questioning that, but since its launch not a single drop in its price was recorded. I am not an electronic genious but the usual trend in electronic bits prices always tends to go down after a certain period of time, this is what their R&D departments are for.

I seriously have my doubts about the price of the Loksound decoder that it is overpriced. Is this due ESU being a monopol in this field and simply enjoying that, hey " I make the best sound modul around and thats my price tag" behavior?

I guess we will never know until a better opponent arrives.

Baykal
 

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Although I have had model railways since the age of 7 (now59) I have never realy been into the electrical / technical side of things untill the last couple of years, when I took the plunge and went Digital, and purchased a lenz control package, and very pleased I have been with it too, I had the usual ups and downs, and a few fried chips to boot, it was sometimes frustrating, but mostly enjoyable, and have had a great deal of fun operating my railway this way, now sound is becoming more accesable to us in the Uk I would like to try it, I have seen and heard locos at shows, and also on "u tube" via this site, and most sound very good to my ear, but im treading more carefully entering the sound market than I did entering the DCC market, knowing the pitfalls I fell into when fist going DCC. Thats why my first puchase would be a british steam loco, and the first one that i know being available is the Duchess from Hornby about £150, I dont know how it sounds? (not heard it yet) dont know if its all singing all dancing? Dont know if it sounds like a duchess? Dont even know if £150 is value for monies (although i note that Hornby retail it at over £200) Guess i will have to wait to get more feed back? as for installing sound on my locos, i dont think i could do a self instalation? sounds very complicated (excuse the pun) and how much would i expect to pay for an aftermarket sound install? i think i will stick wiyh my steam recordings for back ground sound for a while (cost £4)
 

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Two cents time:

Apart from two examples (both large scale) I have yet to hear a steam locomotive sound anything like the prototype that it supposed to replicate.

The issue for me is lack of co-ordinated exhaust beat- three cylinder locos with two cylinder sounds, the inability to replicate the sound of a slipping loco (no axle driven cams) etc. The other bugbear is size, I want every loco to have sound not just those large enough.

Once the loco sound is in place, what about the ambient sounds created by the train?
 

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QUOTE (john woodall @ 13 Dec 2008, 10:42) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>If you think Loksound chips are expensive, have a look at the price of Zimo chips.

The ZIMO Sound Decoder MX640 is about 64 pounds and the ESU Loksound 3.5 is 92 quid (reference DCC Supplies), so the ZIMO chips are actually cheaper by a significant amount!!!!!
 

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QUOTE (72C @ 13 Dec 2008, 23:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Two cents time:

.................. The other bugbear is size, I want every loco to have sound not just those large enough.

.................

That is perhaps my thoughts - I have a 00 Class 24/5 with sound - very good but then I have a lot of 0-6-0 locos including a Terrier; fitting effective sound into that would be a major engineering feat, so while sound is not available for all of my fleet, it is more a gimmick in my eyes, no, in my ears
.
The other point is that a loco with sound can cost 3 times more than the basic loco - makes one stop to think.
 

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I would be interested to know why they have not come down in price. It's interesting that DCC supplies are selling Zimo sound decoders for 64 quid without speaker however the places I have found that do pre loaded sound are charging much the same price as for Loksound.

Personally I think locos are incomplete without sound. It's not perfect but what is.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Whats interesting is comparing the cost of a factory equiped sound locomotive to a non sound locomotive to the chip itself.

Marklin DRG Class 18.3 (new item 2008) prices from lokshop
Sound Equipped EUR319.00
Non Sound Equipped EUR279.00
loksound 3.5 EUR104.00

From this, you could say that the "sound portion" of the chip is EUR50, or that buying in bulk certainly helps (I doubt every sound chip Marklin buys is in an individual box. Packaging is expensive!

Makes you think!
 

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It's like buying a package. It always works out cheaper. It's the same with the new Hornby Duchess a basic duchess costs 88 quid from Hattons, a loksound decoder costs 92 from DCC supplies so 170 quid all up. The DCC sound loco costs 164 from Hattons giving you a grand saving of 6 quid
 

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I don,t know about Loksound decoders not coming down in price?
When I purchased my first Loksound 4/5 yrs ago the full retail was anywhere between $285/299 here in Aust.
Now the price is fairly steady at $185/190.
Still a bit pricey I suppose but IMHO probably the best available.
Admittedly I have not seen or heard the Zimo sound decoders.

Ian
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Ian,

Prices out our side of the world are always going up and down because of exchange rates.

The base price from Lokshop has always been around EUR100.

Hi Neil,

I suppose from my perspective, all Marklin locomotives come preinstalled with a chip but I presume that Hornby locomotives don't come pre installed.

That being said, Marklin have always put good chips in the locomotives (the early one were rubbish from a control perspective not a quality perspective).

I doubt whether Hornby buyers would be commenting to the same manner if Hornby had adopted DCC 10 years ago and were fitting chips as standard today, rather than the situation we have currently where the loco's don't come with chips and proportionately the cost of a reasonable sound chip, it almost the same value as the locomotive. Considering the market dominance that Hornby have, I wonder how long it will take then to install the chips as standard and all there locomotives have them in them. From Memory it took Marklin about 15 years to do it. You cannot buy a brand new Marklin locomotive now without a chip of one sort or another in it.

I do find it interesting when people comment on the cost of installing chips in old locomotives. I have had a DCC layout for the best part of 15 years now. Some of my old locomotives, still do not have chips in them. The ones I use do, but I would not put chips into every locomotive, when the reality is that a lot of my stuff just sits in boxes (I really need to build some more display cabinets to show it all off!
 

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QUOTE (john woodall @ 14 Dec 2008, 12:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Neil,

I suppose from my perspective, all Marklin locomotives come preinstalled with a chip but I presume that Hornby locomotives don't come pre installed.

Hi John, Hornby do do loco's with decoders installed however they Hornby's own make and few DCC savvy punters will touch them. Most prefer to install their own preferred decoder instead.

Cheers

Neil
 

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QUOTE (john woodall @ 13 Dec 2008, 09:42) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>.....About 10 years ago ESU released the loksound (1) chip. Over the next 5 years this was further enhanced to the loksound 3.5 that many are familiar with. I am pretty sure that the price of the loksound (1) chip, is about the same price as a loksound 3.5. So although new features have been added, the price has not increased (or decreased for that matter)......
If it costs the same, then inflation over the five years will have brought the actual price down even if the you're still handing over the same amount of cash.

QUOTE (john woodall @ 13 Dec 2008, 09:42) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>......Now like it or not, the loksound chip is built by the Germans. There are two distinct parts to the German RTR market. There is the 2 rail side, which conforms to the DCC/NRMA/NEM standards. But the biggest Market segment is the Marklin market which doesn't follow the DCC/NRMA/NEM standard, it has (for better terminology) the Marklin standard. ESU have built a chip that will run on either spec, so that has undoubtedly increased its cost.....
If you can increase your market significantly by incorporating two standards in a 1st class product, it may allow you to spread the total cost over a much larger sales volume and actually lower the cost. It all depends on how easy it was to combine the hardware and software requirements for the two standards in a single decoder and whether the additional cost is offset by the anticipated increased sales volume. Nice trick if you can manage it, it's called economies of scale.

As regards, the cost, there are two parts to sound chips, the chips themselves and the sounds. It would be interesting to know how much a sound chip would cost if it was supplied without any sound files. Then we'd know just how much we're being charged for the sounds themselves. That way we could make a better comparison of the costs.

Anyone know the retail cost, in Euros to weed out the currency fluctuation issues, of a loksound 3.5 without sound files, if such a beast exists, and the nearest equivalent lokpilot?

Keith.
 

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QUOTE Anyone know the retail cost, in Euros to weed out the currency fluctuation issues, of a loksound 3.5 without sound files, if such a beast exists, and the nearest equivalent lokpilot?

Keith.

92 quid from DCC supplies for a Loksound 3.5. They all come with sound files and if you have a Lokprogrammer you can download and change the sound from a library of sounds on the ESU website. So in short there is no Loksound commercially available without sound. Modelbahn Kramm are currently selling Lokpilot for 19.99 Euro's on special.

cheers

Neil
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Probably not the best eample, but last year Marklin released two versions of the DB class 64, 1 with sound 1 without sound.

My understanding that except for the choice of chip and the speaker there is no difference between the two locomotives except for some minor detailing.

The price difference between the two is EUR50.00
 
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