Possibly the electronics/sound engineers also have 'no idea'! :-((
Even the BLI steamers often have VERY poor 'chuff' timing related to
speed. Supposedly this is variable with a CV setting, but I've never
seen it work decently at more than one speed.
And the choice of the digital recordings can be VERY suspect. My BLI PRR
M1 sounds good at low speeds, but shifts into a weird "Chuff-hiss-clank,
whoosh" rhythm at higher speeds that sounds like a broken-down 0-8-0,
with a dropped rod, trying to limp back to the enginehouse to die.
Pitiful! The T-1, J-1, and K=4 sound MUCH better.
Some of the Soundtrax units are synchronizable with a 'sound cam' on one
axle ... THESE can work WELL (as I've seen).
Jon Miller wrote:
>> I ask because MRC has similar wording for their Brilliance Steam
>> Decoder -
>> "8 steam chuffs", I believe..
> Not sure what they would mean by this for a steam engine. Steam
> would not have any steps but a steady increase related to speed.
> Probably ad writers who have no idea what they are talking about.
Either that, or they've gotten it confused with the sound of four
exhaust "chuffs" per revolution of the coupled wheels - of a
two-cylinder steam loco with the valves set properly square...
Not at all! Steamers were infinitely variable within their capacity.
A conventional steam loco (2 cylinder) always produces FOUR 'chuffs' per
driver rotation (2 cylinders, double acting). this is also true of a
(compound) Mallet (four cylinders, but only two exhausting to the 'outside')
A 'simple' Mallet (a bit of a misnomer) or a duplex (four cylinders)
produces EIGHT 'cuffs' per revolution.
Triplexes, and three cylinder locos (rare in the USA), and other strange
arrangements also produce different or odd exhaust beats.
That said, the exact sound of the exhaust varies greatly with the size
of the loco, the type of stack (or 'front end'), the throttle setting,
the valve 'cutoff' setting, and the load.
OK - then, maybe it is a matter of MRC having not enough memory in their
sound chip to offer a full range of chuffs. Only offering 8 would keep the
amount of sampled sounds down. Granted, it seems to work better this way
with diesels, but it shows that MRC is not as "brilliant" as they would have
You have TWO very different items being discussed.
Diesels do indeed have eight (usually) distinct 'steps' of sound (with
minor variations within each step). Steamers do **NOT**!
A steamer has an exhaust 'beat' that is ABSOLUTELY synchronized with
it's driver rpm (speed). That exhaust 'sound', however, varys WIDELY in
sound quality with the load on the loco, throttle setting, 'cutoff', and
other factors at any one time. An only FAIR approximation of that might
be made in a cheap sound decoder with just eight steps of volume and
tone .. **IF** the individual 'cuffs' were synchronized!
And yet, I an continually astounded at the number of people who go ahead and buy
these cheap noisemakers anyway. I said cheap, not inexpensive.
I cannot but believe that they hear the same things we do. I am convinced it is
another case of "The Emperor's New Clothes" being flogged on the hobby again.
Nobody will admit that they spent a hundred dollars on a sound module that sux,
when it CLEARLY sux and everybody knows it.
Try to dodge the pop-ups
Look at it this way... folks who are spending $100 on a sound option would
probably have had to spend at least half that much for a decoder option.
That extra $50 is probably very close to what it costs to modify the
hardware, and it's an incentive to the manufacturer to stick with DCC and
make improvements. It sounds like a win-win to me.
Also, I don't think we can say that everyone knows the sound sux... everyone
in this group, perhaps... (grin)
On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 12:40:50 GMT, "Digital Railroader"
Well, . . . yeah. That's what I meant. anybody who's not in this group isn't
Although, there is a hobby shop here in town that is really big on toy trains.
has Lionel and MTH by the truckload, with all the attendant sound acessories. I
heard a number of individuals remark on how awful the sound is and how loud and
irritating it is. I agree, of course. There have been times when the din has
literally run me out of the shop. I just put whatever I was going to get back
shelf, and clear out until another day.
I hear you, I'm just more tolerant of poor sound than you are. It annoys
me, but so does silence! To me *NO* sound is also VERY poor sound
indeed. Still, we'd both like far BETTER sound to be sure.
Not at all, no problem. I realise that if one can't get close to the
real thing often, one's notion of what's realistic tends to get hazy.
It jumps: At every notch/run change, the engines rev up and noise level
increases. Takes a second or two. vrum-vrum-vrum ---> vruuuum --->
VRUUUM ---> VurAH-AH-AHM! (That's EMD 567s as near as I can phoneticise
them.) There's also generator whine and turbocharge howl that increase
at every notch. Who says diseasles are boring????
Plan your next vacation to take you near a busy main-line yard. It will
be worth it. If there's a shopping mall nearby, you can let the rest of
the goof off in air-conditioned comfort while enjoy your addiction in
Back in the late 50s days, before sound-abatement efforts, a triplet of
F7s accelerating the CN's Super Continental westbound from the old
Edmonton station nearly deafened me. I was standing under the 105th St
overpass (now long gone) one track over from him, and the engineer
notched them up just as the engines approached me. Wow! Couldn't hear
myself yell! There's an old record around of a similar notching up of a
trio of FTs, IIRC: played at _realistic_ levels it will shake your
house, assuming you've got the amp and speaker power to do it right.
The Huron Central (operating subsidiary of Genesee Wyoming, formed to
lease the CPR line between Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury) runs about 150
yards from our house, down the street and across the highway. Usually
has three units, and they rumble real nice as they go by. He usually
notches up eastbound about the time he gets level with our street.
There's a slight grade, and he's dragging 50 or so loads, mostly steel
and pulpwood. Nice.
Then, the sound does change incrementally as "the engines rev up and the
noise level increases. Takes a second or two". I don't see how that could
cause an absolute "jump" from one notch to the next, as if the sound became
completely different at each new setting???
Well, my attempt at writing down how it sounds represents four runs, not
the transition from one run to the next. The --> is the transition, and
it really does take only a second or so for the engine to rev up from
one run to the next. If I could've figured a way of doing it, I would've
written eight versions of vrum instead of four. :-) BTW, I've heard an
engine rev through four notches while standing in the yard, took about 2
From my trackside observations, when an engine is running in run 6,
say, it will sound pretty much the the same regardless of how fast the
train is actually moving. That is, a drag freight in run 6 may be moving
at 25mph, while a fast freight may be moving at 40. Run 6 produces a
certain amount of power, and that translates into different speeds with
different loads behind the drawbar. In fact, when the train starts,
first the engine revs up, and then the train begins to move. But I don't
know how tricky it would be to get that effect with a decoder.
Without actually hearing the sound in your decoder, I can't say how
realistic it is. But if it's based on actual sound recordings, I'd trust
the mfr, for the actual sounds at different run/notches, anyhow.
In any case, there should be eight steps, and it looks like the shift
from one level to another will just happen faster electronically than
That's just it - this is MRC we're talking about, and I really don't trust
Well, I still have my doubts, especially when it comes to steam, which has
no notches, and yet the Brilliance steam decoders are said to have "8 steam
chuffs", which, IMHO, is like saying it also has 8 notches, and that only
makes sense if you consider that MRC has always been behind the curve when
it came to supporting DCC's "speed steps".
Digital Railroader wrote:
> Well, I still have my doubts, especially when it comes to steam,
> which has no notches, and yet the Brilliance steam decoders are said
> to have "8 steam chuffs", which, IMHO, is like saying it also has 8
A two-cylinder simple steam loco will "chuff" four times per revolution
of the coupled wheels - perhaps this is what they were trying to say?
I have two decoders in each engine. I set the start voltage at zero on
my Soundtraxx decoder and the start voltage on the motor decoder at a
value lower than what it takes to actually atart the locomotive moving.
Open the throttle and the sound revs up before the loco starts to move.
I also program a slow acceleration into the motor decoder, so the sound
responds immediately to throttle changes, but the speed of the loco
changes relatively slowly. I know which throttle settings correspond to
each notch, so I can just jump from notch to notch like a prototype
engineer. The throttle notches are bunched up at the low voltage end of
the throttle so I can step through all 8 by the time the motor is at
about 70-80% throttle. Above that is all "run 8."
WOW - sounds like a masterful solution!!! I take it the SoundTraxx decoder
is the sound-only type? If so, it's interesting to note that it still offers
If the SoundTraxx decoder is sound/control, wouldn't you have to give both
decoders unique addresses, and then consist them together when you want to
Yes, DSX. They have sound only, no motor or light controls.
I don't like the idea of consisting them because sometimes my command
station "forgets" the consisting information and I don't want the
aggravation of having to re-consist all my locos. Also, it takes two
locomotive numbers. I program both decoders to the same address,
In one case, the electrical pickup for the sound decoder is a dummy unit
and the electrical pickup for the motor decoder is the powered unit
(they are permanently connected together by a drawbar). I place the
appropriate unit on the programming track when programming.
In the rest of my locos, I have installed plugs/sockets so I unplug the
decoder I don't want to program, then plug it back in after programming.
I have to take off the shells to do this (which is a pain), but I rarely
have to do it because I don't normally change CVS after the initial
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