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How good is DCC sound quality? (Noob question)


BrianB

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Ok for the last 6 months ive been gathering info and not partaking in actual modelling (Mainly due to being unemployed)

 

so anyway DCC sound on the one hand seems really inspiring to me. However most of the audio clips ive heard on Youtube dont sound that great...very trebly and low quality...now ive been concvincing myself this is just because of youtube / home cameras just not cpaturing the audio well, which I think to some extent in the case. However Last week i Hoped to go to a local model show in Nanaimo to hear some DCC sound but there was just one train running in the whole place with DCC sound (and then being Canada it was North American sounds), and it was distored and not very clear. so Sadly my hopes of sampling them up close hasnt happened...

 

so my question is... is there more depth / quality to the sound or is youtube a fair representation of the current state of sound from DCC sound. Im talking OO gauge here, and also I know of speaker limitations and issues like that, im just trying to gauge if im missing anything?

 

Maybe if you have a link to a good clip... or can vouch that up close its a little less tinny... I know camcorder recording is bad for many things...so I just want to know from those with kit.

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I´m quite happy with how my (HO) Locomotives sounds. It is a big difference in sounds between the different Mfg´s, but the most reputable ones is probably; Soundtraxx, ESU and QSI. I have decoders from all three and I like them all in their own way. The ESU diesels are really good and so is QSI´s but the Steam-sound from Soundtraxx is better than the other two in my opinion.

The installation is very critical to avoid the effects you described. It is imperative that the speaker is sealed and mounted in such a way that it doesn´t rattle. A baffle is also necessary and with the Steamers I use the tender as a "Boom-box", and with a large speaker the sound is most impressive. The funny part of it is that it is most noticeable when I turn down the sound volume! The bass tones remains even then.

But as you say, it is very hard to make the sounds justice over the Web as there is so many deteriorating factors with bad recording equipment and so on.

A good rule of thumb when installing sound is however to use as big a speaker that´s possible and even more than one if need be.

Try one, you´ll never go back to silent locomotives again ;).

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I live in the backwoods of Nova Scotia where modelling English railways is to say the least "uncommon", so I am on my own!

I recently took a teetering step towards DCC by getting an MRC Tech6 series 2 DC/DCC controller.

The controller allows one to run a DCC loco equipped with sound on a DC system.

So I got a Bachmann Class 24 with sound from Hattons for it to run.

The whole system worked right out of the box, without having to modify any of the track or points (electrofrog)

It did not sound tinny - and much better than on those U tube videos

It is a world of difference and I recommend giving it a try.

If sound equipped locos were more affordable then I would equip my entire diesel fleet.

Apparently steam has some growing up to do - but should Bachmann make it available for a similar price to their class 24 then based on my recent experience I would definitely give that a go too.

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Hi Brian,

Sound is a very, very subjective thing, much like colour i suppose!

How well did you know the original sound? How long is it since you last heard the original sound?

How good is your hearing, how good is your memory?

And so on.........

What i would say is this: MOST RTR British diesels are pretty good facsimiles of the original locos and replicate the original sound as faithfully as can be reasonably expected.

There are some known "issues" with such as Bachmann's classes 20 (not enough top end thrash!), class 37 (just not quite right!) and class 55 (impossible to replicate in miniature!) and i believe, Hornby's class 56 (?).

These "issues" could be resolved by getting a "reblow" but not really necessary unless you REALLY knew the original sounds well!

Steam locos, i know less about but for me, the Hornby A4 does not cut the mustard!

.

Thats my quick round up of British sounds done, now a comparison for you! If you can get to a model shop for a sound demo/another show/friends house and compare say, an Atlas C40-8CW or a Broadway SD40-2 for example, see how well they replicate the original sound and - sticking my neck on a block here - the British locos will do an equally good job at replicating the original sound, largley because they use the same or similar technology, it's simply the recordings that are different!

.

Finally, to try an help you out a bit more, why not make any initial purchases as locally to you as possible? I know there are some model shops in North America that stock or specialise in UK outline - pay a bit more to source from them, save yourself hassle with customs charges, expensive postal charges and different time zones! That way if anything goes wrong, you should find it easier and cheaper to resolve any possible problems!

Hope this helps,

John E.

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Sound is really tricky. I have a few sound locos with a mix of decoders, and I like them a lot: hooting horns and grumbly diesels bring a smile to the face :) My favourites are probably the Bachmann 37 (Loksound) which matches my childhood memories of Helenborough really well, and my On32 Forney (Tsunami). I don't know what the latter should sound like in real life but for a model it's great.

 

But there are also noticeable flaws. The small speakers can't reproduce the wide range of frequencies in the real locos, and the decoders have relatively low sample rates, and in some cases 8 bit samples, so you should expect a degree of hiss and tinniness if the speaker/loco/installation is even remotely trebly. There's also not a whole lot of sample memory so loops can be quite short and repetitive. I've also noticed plenty of clicks and pops where loops or transitions aren't seamless. Good installs help a lot, and horns, whistles or other one-shot sounds are usually excellent. The main areas I notice problems are startup and shutdown sounds (not enough audio to cover the hiss, although I don't know if this is from the mixer/amp or from the samples) and short engine loops which aren't seamless.

 

 

I guess you pays your money and takes your choice. On average I'd say the models sound better in the flesh than on Youtube, especially if you turn the volume down a bit, and sound adds heaps of play value. I wouldn't want to equip an entire fleet, but I wouldn't want to go back to silence either :)

 

Cheers,

 

Will

 

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ah- darn. Had this been posted 2 weeks ago, you could have come & played with a Tusnami equipped engine at Beban park.

 

Ha! Lego is good for something- in O gauge, there is more space to cram the speakers in.

 

Bachmann is presently distributed "officially" in Canada by John French out of Vancouver. He has been lackadasical in supply to dealers, who are apparently sourcing elsewhere. Might be better to skip the middle man and order direct from Hattons, who I have had great service from.

 

Also, if you are interested in traveling (140 km from Naniamo-here) on Sunday, we (Victoria British Railway Modelers) are gathering at my house. I have a extensive DCC layout, but unfortunately, only the one DCC Sound equipped loco, which is Lego. (and won't be running). PM me (or call, 250-646-2514) if you are interested...distance is a killer though, it took me 2 hrs each way to Beban Park.

 

 

I've been holding off in getting any DCC sound equipped diesels until I have heard one in the flesh. I understand the limits of what is possible with the speakers, and want to hear one for real before I plonk down a substantial amount of $ to order one.

 

 

James Powell

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so my question is... is there more depth / quality to the sound or is youtube a fair representation of the current state of sound from DCC sound. Im talking OO gauge here, and also I know of speaker limitations and issues like that, im just trying to gauge if im missing anything?

As has been said above, sound is far more subjective than any other attribute of a model. We all know a good paint-job, what smooth slow-running should look like, what the proportions of this or that loco should be. Some of us also know what they should sound like. Elsewhwere on RMWeb, I read a sincere contribution rubbishing sound - from a man who clearly spends a lot of time on a steam footplate, and finds model sound gets nowhere near what his ears experience in real life. Tough to tell him he's wrong!

 

I have had sound locos for the last 10 years - all US prototype, in HO & On30. If I tell you that I now have something over 30, you will realise I am happy with sound, although some locos obviously sound better than others. I am currently embarking on a new steam-era OO layout, UK prototype, and am at present not considering sound. I believe that the UK market, dominated by one overseas hardware supplier, is too small for the value for money to be there at this stage. I have a handful of US sound decoders from that supplier, and find them less convincing than some others. I do like Soundtraxx, both their cheapo range and Tsunami, and also QSI, although all the latter are factory installations, but with their programmer I am able to update the sound files as they add features - free. For example, a few years back, my QSI steamers all acquired the sound of draincocks open, automatically applied if they re-started after standing for a couple of minutes or more.

 

Since the US market is more mature, I strongly suggest you listen to more of them, for they use, as has been pointed out, the same basic technology as the UK. If you don't like the US sound, it is unlikely that you will enjoy the UK version. If North American models sound like the real thing to you, then OO sound might be worth pursuing.

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I would suggest that DCC sound is enjoyable IF you don't really know the prototype sounds like. To try and explain this - I have several US sound fitted diesels of the vintage era. I have absolutely no idea what the prototype sounded like in everyday work,have no idea if they sound as they are supposed to but I really like them. On the flip side I am intimately involved with large working steam locos, know what a lot of the classes should sound like, and will not give sound equipped steam locos house room as to my ears they sound nothing like steam locos.

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What most people seems to forget when discussing the sounds in H0 scale locomotives is that you should judge it scalewise. By that I mean that if you stand 87 meters from a real loco you should then be 1 meter from the model, and when listening to a loco in that distance, then the model doesn´t sound so bad in comparison.

I have a real hard time understanding the people who complains that the DCC sound decoders are too quiet! I know of a few instances when visiting club-layouts, and standing 15 meters from a sound equipped loco that is heard over all others, I mean thats a good example of too much and too loud.

As I wrote, scale fidelity can be achieved with a little labour.

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This subject comes up frequently. I like sound and it is the principal reason i returned to the hobby and went DCC.

 

Note the word hobby.

 

For me, it is not about how realistic it sounds but the overall performance. I write my own projects and I gain huge pleasure in doing that.

 

Having said that, in scale terms and with due care as to speaker mounting, one gets a passable rendition.

 

I must say though that I really get a charge out of running and tweaking my sound locos.

 

Expensive though.

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Wow thanks everyone for info and opinions. I think my main queries come down to perceived sound fidelity...not particularly the sounds themselves. Ive not been near the real things enough for me to pick up exactly if its right or wrong...although growing up east coast out of London I only heard EMUs...so when a class 37 thundered through I would know it a mile off.... I think some of my quality issues are really camcorder issues, ive gone back and listened to them again , and I do perceive the quality as being better in real life I bet! anyway info stored till I find work and can start actually spending on this stuff... (Of course the software developer in me wonders some hairbrained ideas of designing my own bluetooth enabled sound setup to store all audio on the computer.... creating a business idea to get me working!! but I can dream)

 

Oh and James, thanks for the offer I have been in touch with some at the Victoria club before and I do want to visit for sure but right now Gas money is tight, so unless im down in Victoria for a Job interview all travel is suspended for now.

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