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To use sound or not?


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Guest jim s-w

The question is sound or not? Not a very open question if people can only reply yes is it? People have good reasons why they like it and equally good reasons why they think there is room for improvement.

 

Sound is a lot of money and people who ask this type of question need to know that there's a chance the novelty will wear off in a year or so before they spend hundreds of pounds on it. There wasn't really anyone to ask when I got into sound but I would have loved to know that would happen.

 

There was a time when I thought exactly like BL. He may stick with it or he may move away from it, it's entirely his choice

 

Cheers

 

Jim

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Ultimately it is up to the individual modeller to get out of the hobby whatever he/she wants from it. I always refer back to a quote in one of the railway modelling magazines so many years ago that I forget the actual source: "What one modeller swears by, another will swear at!"

 

I have fallen for sound in a big (and expensive!) way but I am aware that it is not for everyone. Jim S-W's modelling standards are way ahead of mine but that is not to say that either he or I are "more right" (no offence intended to Jim). It is a hobby and we all set our own standards and ideals and have to accept our own compromises. As Jim says, sound is a compromise because we cannot get the booming, earth-shaking bass out of our little tiny speakers.

 

Then again, we don't get the sheer weight of a train thundering past us in 4mm scale and under. I have often admired O gauge models for the feeling of mass as they go past me. However, I don't have the space or the money to go O gauge as I want to run main line trains, not short branch line ones. That is part of the compromise I have to deal with.

 

I think that sound adds a new dimension to my operations, particularly when shunting. I also used to use some H & M Walkabout controlelrs in DC and enjoyed the fun of using the inertia settings - DCC now allows me to tailor those for each individual locomotive. I never use the functions that turn off inertia or give shunting speeds, preferring the fun of having to learn to drive the locomotives as they are (and yes, I have run into the buffers or rough shunted quite a few times!).

 

If the OP invests in a sound locomotive and then decides he doesn't like it, he can always just run without the sound turned on. If he doesn't want to waste the money spent on the expensive sound decoder, he can either sell the locomotive on, or replace the sound decoder with a plain decoder and sell the sound decoder on - I'm sure there would be no shortage of takers.

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Hi,

As a relatively new subscriber to this forum I am still trying to come to terms with what it is actually all about? If you read though the comments made about items posted onto this site you will find that there is almost without exception someone who has to make a derogatory comment about the question / item that has been posted. Surely the idea behind such forums as this are to give constructive and helpful advice. I have also noticed that without exception it always seems to be the same subscribers who want to post the negative replies to what in essence have been a genuine request for a sensible answer to a reasonable question. We all see things differently and are of course entitled to our own opinions,but why just because someone asks what to them at the time seems to be a simple question do certain members have to once again try to make the person posting the query out to be a "numbty". Quote:- "A person who never makes a mistake probably never makes anything!" ............ I have been lucky enough to have spent most of my working career in motor sport and on the bottom of all the built sheets for the cars I built were the words "IF IN DOUBT ASK!". Surely this is the main aim of this forum to help out members who are unsure or have a problem and offer them constructive and helpful advice.

 

Some sweeping generalisations in there which don't really belong in this topic. If you have any specific instances that you are unhappy about please use the report button and we can look into it.

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From a personal point of view i can see both good and bad with DCC sound, my brother has a Bachmann pannier fitted with Howes sound, on his 3 foot shunting plank i find it quite relaxing listening to it simmering away or making low speed movements, however i dont think you can match scale speed and sound, every steam loco that goes above a scale 10 miles an hour nearly always sounds out of sync with the loco's driving wheels.

 

Graham.

 

Hi,

You can sync the chuffs with speed and acceleration by changing the values of cv 57 and 58. Cv57 being the starting speed and once you've synced the chuffs you alter cv58 to sync the acceleration to the chuffs.

It's a lot of playing arround but interesting. When you get it sorted out it really makes a difference.

Jim

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  • 1 month later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Hi,

You can sync the chuffs with speed and acceleration by changing the values of cv 57 and 58. Cv57 being the starting speed and once you've synced the chuffs you alter cv58 to sync the acceleration to the chuffs.

It's a lot of playing arround but interesting. When you get it sorted out it really makes a difference.

Jim

 

I would have thought that an obvious solution to the all too annoying out of sync chuffing would be to put a sensor on one of the driving wheels that can tell the sound chip how many rorations per unit of time the wheels make and from that how often to chuff! I

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I would have thought that an obvious solution to the all too annoying out of sync chuffing would be to put a sensor on one of the driving wheels that can tell the sound chip how many rorations per unit of time the wheels make and from that how often to chuff! I

 

Not that obvious. Only some chips support this. On the counter side of the argument, it is a relatively easy path to sync the chuffs at low revs and, as long as the speed curve is properly set, the higher revs tend to be a bit difficult to tell whether it is in sync or not.

 

I tend to do mine on a rolling road.

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As explained earlier (by someone else) if you listen to a sound loco from 3 feet away (like, at an exhibition on the front row ;) ) you actually are 3x76=228 feet (or 76 yards) away. Go stand in the street near a railway crossing and try to hear the approaching train from that distance. I'll bet a good cuppa you'll only hear it when it thunders across the crossing, because of the background noise.

 

Yes, but when you're three feet from the loco at a show, you're listening with out of scale ears. If you were 76 yards from the real thing with 12 foot high ears, I bet you could hear it. Exhibitors need to advise people to bring icky tiny ears we they come to a show.

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For me it's the layouts with sound that I enjoy the most at exhibitions, they also tend to be the most realistic as far as I'm concerned. I'm glad people use sound at exhibitions

I couldnt agree more, ever since i was a 10 yr old kid in 1974 i used to play with my old Hornby train set and wished it would sound like the real thing, now we have it! guess what i couldnt be without it! now keep raining loco sounds!!

 

Mark.

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Exhibition acoustics can play havoc with sound - I demonstrate British sound locos at some local exhibitions and have to turn the volume up to allow them to be heard. Sometimes, though, I can barely hear my own locos yet, when I have gone for a walk to look at other layouts, I find that I can distinctly hear those dsame locos at a distance.

 

For home use (and exhibitions too, for that matter) I have a general rule that there should be no more than two sound locos making noise at any one time (I do break this rule just occasionally), otherwise it does tend to become a merged 'noise' with few distinct sounds audible.

 

Yes running 12 trains at once isnt prototypical and you cant appreciate its sounds but.... as you SR man, i run one or two normally one and you can really appreciate the sound and realistic form as i run mine as realistic as possible, i mean.... isnt it supposed to remind us of our boyhood railway memories?

 

Mark.

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Sorry to sound off my opinion (sorry, couldnt resist the bad joke) but I really enjoy sound and think it brings an added realism to the layouts we can operate. Problem is that a lot of the sounds that most imediately think of when sound comes to mind are things like engine start up or shuntdown, horns and the engine note changing when the engine moves. If operators used functions like the wheel flange, track groan or coupling to more effect it would make sound that much more real to hear when the trains move. Coaching stock adds its own real sounds when the wheels pass over track joins, much like the real thing.

 

Whats needed is some standarisation between the sounds that companies use. Even if its just the same ones put in place by the same company. You would know that, for example all 'Company A' engines have coupling as F5, and flange as F10. Im just using those as examples and dont belive they are all that way at present, regardless of steam, diesel or electric power. You need all of the ones that can be the same in sequence, before then adding unique sounds, like HST suspension noise as a later function. I have to admit, I have a lot of Howes sound chipped engines as they can be run straight away and are much better to 'drive' given the speed of the change in engine note, compared to that of the movement of the train. That goes for diesel and steam wheel rate movements too.

 

Sound for me has the potential to take realistic operations to a level that makes the whole experience of creating a small world all the more possible. What with the trains moving and sounds, whats now needed are things like independant and controllable red lights on functions. You can do as far as to have orange door lights, or lights in buildings linked to decoders so people walk round and turn lights off as they 'leave' a room in a building. Fact is, sound is another tool for operation, but a toy to make it fun to use, fun to watch. It can be taken to the extremes of seriousness just as easily as its something for you to play with and enjoy. I like the challenge that the idea sound can give to better operation, but overall its just much more FUN!

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I do so agree , sound is just as important as detailed model paving /roads etc.. Sound for me whether it be trains dogs bark /birds aeroplanes make the layout come to life which is what its all about i would' ve thought ?

 

Mark.

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Whats needed is some standarisation between the sounds that companies use. Even if its just the same ones put in place by the same company. You would know that, for example all 'Company A' engines have coupling as F5, and flange as F10. Im just using those as examples and dont belive they are all that way at present, regardless of steam, diesel or electric power.

 

LokSound v4 and Zimo chips can have their sounds allocations to function keys changed by the end user.

CV changes in the LokSound or "PseudoProgramming" in the Zimo.

 

 

- Nigel

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LokSound v4 and Zimo chips can have their sounds allocations to function keys changed by the end user.

CV changes in the LokSound or "PseudoProgramming" in the Zimo.

 

 

- Nigel

 

 

Few people seem to realise just how user configurable Zimo decoders are. It is possible to change/modify/customise virtually any aspect without the need for a programmer.

 

Zimo now has an even easier 'end user' method of changing which F key operates which sound or function. It even allows multiple functions and/or multiple sounds to be layered on the same F key. And the F key can be made to switch some on at the same time as switching others off. Is this useful? Yes, if you able to visualise its potential.

 

The system works in addition to the pseudo-programming that Nigel mentioned. They are complementary methods, not mutually exclusive.

 

It is called 'Zimo Input Mapping' and does not require a programmer, just some CV changes. What's more, it will work on all Zimo sound decoders whatever age or scale providing the correct fimware is loaded. (This will require updating using a programmer if your firmware is too old). Just change a few CVs and you can put whatever you wish on whatever F key takes your fancy. This is non-destructive and the original decoder programming remains unaltered.

 

I've written about this for Hornby Magazine and it will appear shortly.

 

Paul

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well i love sound and im always adding it to them, however i still love to run engines quietly and listen to their own sound, its all about the enjoyment really, i see sound as an added bonus, a big one at that, but at least we have the choice,

 

if i was to turn up to an exibition (been a while now) i wouldnt expect to hear everything with sound quite the oposite.

 

its just nice to have the choice. i cant imagine how much it would cost to do my whole collection and alot of it is very old stuff, such as a Hornby ivatt 46521 im not sure that would even take a decoder.

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I'm working (on and off) on using Microsoft Train Simulator or Open Rails as an analogue controller with the program providing the sound. No, it won't be "through the rails" (though if I can integrate it into OR properly I can probably work the speaker balance), but I reckon the cost of the hardware will be approximately the same as DCC sound fitting 1 loco and I have a large fleet!

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  • 8 years later...

I have been using DCC sound for around 5 years now, and was looking through and searching for topics to get a feeling of what people think of it generally.

 

Using the RMw search facility brought me to this thread which was started in 2011, and though the last entry was made nearly 9 years ago, I found it interesting to read peoples comments at a time when (I assume) DCC sound was in it's infancy.

 

Which has got me thinking. 9 years on, has the interest in sound increased, waned or levelled off? Has the quality improved?

 

So I thought I'd re-kindle the thread and see what people think.

 

As I said, I am now 5 years into it, and would like to start a bit of a discussion again to get other peoples views.

 

My own experience has been mixed. Over those five years I have been fortunate in equipping the majority of my fleet with sound. As was previously suggested, I started by getting one loco fitted (a class 37) and of course it grew from there. As predicted, from that moment on only the sound fitted traction tended to get used on the layout.

 

I now have 51 locos sound fitted ,of which 25 are Hornby TTS decoders; the other 26 are “full fat” Loksounds and Zimos from 5 different suppliers. So I consider that I now have a fairly broad user experience

 

Without getting into which projects I like and which I don't, and whose that I think are the best etc. I would like to put forward some of my general observations – in answer to the OP!  But I can only comment on diesels and electrics – I have no steam locos at present.

 

Pros: I think the quality has got better over the past 5 years. Recordings have improved,  newer design decoders can accommodate more individually triggered sounds but most of all the best thing IMO is the improvement in range and quality of speakers, that can transform even a budget or older sound project. Assuming of course that you can physically get a good speaker in the model!

 

Cons: I only really have one bugbear – and for me it's one area which has never improved. And that is the volume balance of different sounds heard when the loco is running, that is when F1 is pressed (I'm not talking about individually playable sounds which are triggered by selecting a function number – those can often be volume changed by CV). To give a couple of examples: A diesel loco is fired up and is ticking over nicely. But as soon as the throttle is activated there is a massive loud hiss before it moves off! That hiss of the air brake release is so much louder than the engine noise! And there's no way you can quieten it! Likewise I have a project when as soon as you press F1 you get a really loud RETB radio play, and another where the handbrake wheel ratchet is so loud. None of these built in sounds should you hear over and above the sound of the engines! It's not just the budget sound decoders I'm talking about. Sometimes I buy an expensive one and am very disappointed. And of course there's not normally any chance of listening before you buy!

 

Now I've rambled on too long!

 

So in answer to the OP, my verdict on using sound or not?   Well yes I do and quite enjoy it, but sometimes I run the layout with them all switched off!   So my answer is...erm...PASS!

 

Would love to hear other people's thoughts and experiences.

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It seems very worthwhile digging up an old thread to discuss how things have moved forward.

 

I think the retailers will be better placed to remark on how much more popular sound has got, but it seems to be more widely enjoyed.

 

I agree with you that improvements have been made in several areas:

Speakers generally getting better. Loksound 3.5 supported 100ohm speakers, the choice of which is very limited compared to the many options of 4-8 ohm speakers.

Decoders have got better both with the quality of sound they can deliver, the amount of different sounds they can store & the functionality then can provide. Dynamic/Active braking is something which I feel has made driving trains much more interesting. I guess this should be available on silent decoders, but probably only more expensive ones & it has only really been exploited on sound decoders.

Project manufacturers have pushed things forward. Better recordings, more features (active braking, drivelock), more sounds like alternative horns, different compressors, light/heavy load selection. This may partly be that they are competing with each other but I get the impression it is more that they want to improve on what already exists, just like most of us start a new layout when believe we can do better.

 

I understand your point about volumes of things involved with the drive sound not being adjustable, but this is not something which actually bothers me.

Hornby's TTS is a good addition too, simply because it has made sound more affordable to those who would not otherwise consider it.

 

Sound was not the reason for me adopting DCC & I don't think that on its own it would have tempted me to switch from DCC, but now I have it, I like it.

I think it is really a 1 train at a time thing. I can run up to 5 trains on my layout at the same time. I have had 4 with sound all at the same time but they start to compete with each other & this spoils the effect. Reduce the volume & the sound of trains roaring on the rails is too loud.

 

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34 minutes ago, Pete the Elaner said:

It seems very worthwhile digging up an old thread to discuss how things have moved forward.

 

I think the retailers will be better placed to remark on how much more popular sound has got, but it seems to be more widely enjoyed.

 

I agree with you that improvements have been made in several areas:

Speakers generally getting better. Loksound 3.5 supported 100ohm speakers, the choice of which is very limited compared to the many options of 4-8 ohm speakers.

Decoders have got better both with the quality of sound they can deliver, the amount of different sounds they can store & the functionality then can provide. Dynamic/Active braking is something which I feel has made driving trains much more interesting. I guess this should be available on silent decoders, but probably only more expensive ones & it has only really been exploited on sound decoders.

Project manufacturers have pushed things forward. Better recordings, more features (active braking, drivelock), more sounds like alternative horns, different compressors, light/heavy load selection. This may partly be that they are competing with each other but I get the impression it is more that they want to improve on what already exists, just like most of us start a new layout when believe we can do better.

 

I understand your point about volumes of things involved with the drive sound not being adjustable, but this is not something which actually bothers me.

Hornby's TTS is a good addition too, simply because it has made sound more affordable to those who would not otherwise consider it.

 

Sound was not the reason for me adopting DCC & I don't think that on its own it would have tempted me to switch from DCC, but now I have it, I like it.

I think it is really a 1 train at a time thing. I can run up to 5 trains on my layout at the same time. I have had 4 with sound all at the same time but they start to compete with each other & this spoils the effect. Reduce the volume & the sound of trains roaring on the rails is too loud.

 

It is possible to change individual sound levels on Loksoound V5 Decoders, our new Class 117 below shows this.

F 0 Lights On/Off.

F 1 Engines On/Off. ( To start second engine - notch up then notch down ).                   CV259=128

F 2 Playable High Note Horn.                                                                                                    CV435=128

F 3 Playable Low Note Horn.                                                                                                     CV443=128

F 4 Buffering Up when moving (Coupling, sound when stationary).                                  CV283=90

F 5 Playable Brake Application (when moving), Vacuum Dump (when stationery).        CV291=120

F 6 Random Passengers Doors slamming (Multiple Door Slams).                                     CV299=100

F 7 Engine Rev Up (when stationery) Gear change (when moving).                            

F 8 Toilet Flush & Discharge (Not in Stations!!!!).                                                                   CV315=70

F 9 Variable Speed Flange/Wheel Squeal (When Moving)                                                    CV323=100

F10 Guards/Despatch Whistle.                                                                                                 CV331=60

F11 Guard to Driver 'Right of Way signal' Buzzer, plus optional reply.                             CV339=40

F12 Cab Window Wipers.                                                                                                          CV347=60

F13 Auxiliary Heater.                                                                                                                 CV355=70

F14 Handbrake ON Warning buzzer.                                                                                     CV363=40

F15 Fire Bell/Buzzer (Fire test before starting).                                                                    CV371=50

F16 Handbrake Apply (On).                                                                                                     CV379=110

F17 Handbrake Release (Off).                                                                                                 CV387=110

F18Speed dependant, flash enabled warning Detonators (3 Bang Stop).                      CV395=128

F19 Directional Cab Light (With Autofade).                                                                          CV427=128 

F20 AWS Warning Siren/Bell.                                                                                                  CV411=50

We also offer on this project, user changeable features:

CV155 to 0 for high horn type A

CV155 to 1 for high horn type B

CV155 to 2 for high horn type C

CV155 to 3 for high horn type D

CV156 to 0 for low horn type A

CV156 to 1 for low horn type B

CV156 to 2 for low horn type C

CV156 to 3 for low horn type D

CV157 to 0 for fire bell type A

CV157 to 1 for fire buzzer

CV157 to 2 for fire bell type B

CV158 to 0 for handbrake type A

CV158 to 1 for handbrake type B

CV159 to 0 for AWS type A

CV159 to 1 for AWS type B

CV159 to 2 for AWS type C

CV160 to 0 for handbrake warning buzzer type A

CV160 to 1 for handbrake warning buzzer type B 
 

DRIVING TIPS ON THIS LEGOMANBIFFO PROJECT:

You can change up through the gears manually. You can stay in the same gear for as long as you like and the revs will steady at the constant speed you have selected on the throttle. The easiest way to gear change is to reduce the throttle to a low value, and once the revs have started to drop off, increase the throttle to select the next gear you want. There are several gears, selected by how far up your initial throttle movement is. Once the engine has set off in the gear you want, re-adjust the throttle for the actual speed you want. It's much harder to explain than to do in practice, but once you realise how it works you can drive it how you like, in a very realistic manner. The highest speed setting (the one featured in the video) has an automatic gear change part-way through, but you don't have to use that at all if you don't want to, and you can do 'normal' gear changes before or after it.

 

Hope this give you an idea what's possible.   Charlie-Legomanbiffo

 

 

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8 hours ago, charliepetty said:

It is possible to change individual sound levels on Loksound V5 Decoders, our new Class 117 below shows this.

 

 

Agreed, but that wasn't the point Vivien was making.

There are some sounds which are part of F1. The best example I can think of is the start-up procedure for a diesel or electric, where you may have the sound of a priming pump, starter motor, compressor etc automatically play before it settles to its idling sound. Because these are part of the same function, they cannot be adjusted individually.

 

Separating these out to different functions may work for some but definitely not all of them.

I don't think it was intended as a criticism either. It is something which I had never previously considered & does not bother me. I simply understand that some may view it as a minor bugbear.

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8 minutes ago, Michael Hodgson said:

Isn't it nice and peaceful in here?  By the way, has anybody seen my hearing aid?  I must have put it down somewhere.


Sorry couldn’t hear that?

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Last time I looked I thought that sound for diesel worked well enough but steam sounded very unconvincing - has that improved, or is it just down to the physical limits of a speaker that fits inside a 4mm scale loco (even if it's in the tender)?

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5 minutes ago, Reorte said:

Last time I looked I thought that sound for diesel worked well enough but steam sounded very unconvincing - has that improved, or is it just down to the physical limits of a speaker that fits inside a 4mm scale loco (even if it's in the tender)?

Yes, I think the quality of the speaker is one of the most important factors.  A good speaker can transform a project.  Problem is, sometimes it's difficult to find room to fit it in.

 

But nowadays there are some really good ones out there that are quite small with really nice tone.

 

I would agree that diesel sounds have always been pretty good, but from what I've heard and seen on video clips, steam is improving all the time.

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