Brilliance Sound Decoders



- - - - - B I N G O !
Give that man a cigar! Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

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).
Dan Mitchell ===========
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However, not all of the plug 'n play kits offer the cam as an option. See the latest issue of MR for an article on equipping a Spectrum 2-8-0 with a pnp SoundTraxx decoder.
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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...
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Digital Railroader wrote:

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.
Dan Mitchell ===========
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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 us believe!
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Digital Railroader wrote:

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!
Dan Mitchell ===========
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wrote:
snippage---------------

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, even when it CLEARLY sux and everybody knows it.
http://www.lyricsfreak.com/l/leonard-cohen/82809.html
Try to dodge the pop-ups Froggy,
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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)
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On Wed, 21 Sep 2005 12:40:50 GMT, "Digital Railroader"
wrote:

Well, . . . yeah. That's what I meant. anybody who's not in this group isn't reading this stuff.<G> Although, there is a hobby shop here in town that is really big on toy trains. He has Lionel and MTH by the truckload, with all the attendant sound acessories. I have 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 on the shelf, and clear out until another day. Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

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.
Dan Mitchell ===========
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Digital Railroader wrote:

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 peace. :-)
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.
Hah!
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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???
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Digital Railroader wrote:

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 seconds.
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 mechanically.
HTH&GL
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That's just it - this is MRC we're talking about, and I really don't trust them...

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".
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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 > notches
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?
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

<snip>
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."
<snip>
Paul Welsh
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Paul Welsh wrote:

[...]
Cool!
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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 motor controls!
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 run them?
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Digital Railroader wrote:

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, separately.
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 programming.
Paul Welsh
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