Author Topic: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1  (Read 2681 times)

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jdcolombo

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BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« on: March 18, 2016, 10:03:11 PM »
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Hi folks.

While I really like my BLI PA-1's for their overall smooth running and attention to detail, I've never really liked the Paragon 2 sound decoder in them.  They are complicated to operate (e.g., pressing F7 turns the Mars light OFF, instead of ON), and the prime mover sounds didn't seem to sync well with engine speed no matter what settings I tried.  Moreover, the sound just didn't have the ALCo "bucket-of-bolts, bucket-of-bolts" beat that I recall from hearing the Alco 244 V-16 prime mover in prototype videos.

So, I decided to see what I might be able to do to improve the sound.  When I removed the shell, I realized that one problem was the cheap 15mm round speaker used by BLI.  Fortunately, they did mount it in a nice more-or-less sealed enclosure.  And even nicer was the fact that I could fit an 11x15mm Knowles Donau speaker in this enclosure with a tiny bit of thinning of the sides.  But I also realized that replacing the Paragon 2 decoder board with an ESU LokSound Select Micro wouldn't be too difficult - there was plenty of space, the truck and motor wiring was all hard-wired, as were the front headlight and Mars light.  So I decided to do a full transplant: ESU LokSound with the Knowles speaker.

After I was done, I made a video comparing a stock BLI PA-1 to my modified PA-1.  The video starts by comparing horns, then lighting (the headlight and Mars light) and then has about a 1-minute segment with each engine accelerating from a stop to compare the prime mover sounds.   My own view is that the ESU-transplant version is far superior sound-wise to the factory Paragon 2, especially when it comes to the prime mover sound.  But I'll let you make up your own mind (if you want to skip directly to the segment of the video with the ESU LokSound in full roar, it is at the 1:41 mark in the video):


Sometime over the weekend I'll post photos of how I did the transplant in case any of you are interested in going this route for your own PA's (similar techniques probably could be used for other BLI cab diesels).   But this experiment cements for me the superiority of ESU's sound files.

John C.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2016, 12:56:38 PM by GaryHinshaw »

OldEastRR

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2016, 06:59:41 AM »
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Now you need to rig a plastic bag of graphite power to be squeezed and shoot a cloud of black up through the exhaust pipes every time the engine is notched up. THEN you'll have an Alco!

nstars

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2016, 09:23:13 AM »
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We did the same with the old Precission Craft Models E7's and replaced the old Loksound 3.5 (this was before the Paragon decoders) with a Loksound Select decoders and Knowles speaker. The difference is really great. Much better sounds and also much more clear.

Marc

Mark5

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2016, 09:44:55 AM »
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Impressed with the ESU. 8)

Gotta say, that's a good looking NKP PA. Looks much nicer than the good looking Kato unit.

Mark

jdcolombo

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2016, 12:59:19 PM »
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Photos of ESU installation posted in the DCC/Electronics section, here:

https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=38621.0

John C.

jdcolombo

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2016, 03:27:16 PM »
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Now you need to rig a plastic bag of graphite power to be squeezed and shoot a cloud of black up through the exhaust pipes every time the engine is notched up. THEN you'll have an Alco!

Hmmm . . . get a really tiny solenoid that you can control with a function output and . . .  :D

John C.

wmcbride

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 11:21:57 AM »
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John,

Awesome work and tutorial.

I was running my BLI PA last night and thinking (again) how the engine seems totally disconnected from what the engine is actually doing in terms of speed, load etc.

This a great change!

Thanks again!


Bill McBride

bdennis

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2016, 05:30:12 AM »
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Where is the like button..
Very nice.. The LokSound is just fantastic.
Brendan Dennis
N scale - Delaware & Hudson Champlain Division

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2016, 07:58:17 AM »
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Wow, that sound is just perfect with the ESU board. How are their GE FDL engine noises?
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

wazzou

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #9 on: March 28, 2016, 12:15:16 PM »
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John - Once again, an awesome referendum on N Scale sound possibilities.

Great job as always.
Bryan

Member of NPRHA, Modeling Committee Member
http://www.nprha.org/
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Cajonpassfan

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2016, 07:47:22 PM »
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John, cutting edge stuff, as always, thanks for sharing this.
A question: disregarding the stock decoder behavior, how much of the sound improvement is in your opinion the better speaker, and how much is the decoder, especially the "rumble"? When it comes to diesels,  without a good speaker/enclosure combo, a superior board isn't going to make much difference, and I suspect the speaker replacement alone makes for a noticeable improvement? (The reason I ask is that I have quite a few Paragon boards in my many E's and PA's and don't look forward to replacing them, in fact paying twice for each board. Speakers on the other hand, are affordable).
Kind regards, Otto

wmcbride

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2016, 11:26:15 AM »
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John, cutting edge stuff, as always, thanks for sharing this.
A question: disregarding the stock decoder behavior, how much of the sound improvement is in your opinion the better speaker, and how much is the decoder, especially the "rumble"? When it comes to diesels,  without a good speaker/enclosure combo, a superior board isn't going to make much difference, and I suspect the speaker replacement alone makes for a noticeable improvement? (The reason I ask is that I have quite a few Paragon boards in my many E's and PA's and don't look forward to replacing them, in fact paying twice for each board. Speakers on the other hand, are affordable).
Kind regards, Otto

Like you, I have a fair number (8 or so) Paragon2 equipped engines. I use LokSound / Lokpilot decoders whenever I can in upgrading non-DCC engines but sure hate to replace the Paragon2 boards. I was planning on doing a speaker replacement first on both an E and PA unit and see. I know ESU has recently issued a new dual-prime-mover sound file for E units and I've heard it in an HO select direct-equipped engine.

If I can get the speakers replaced this weekend, I will try to report on the difference. I'm pretty much sold on ESU sound, though. My wallet isn't when it comes to replacement boards...
Bill McBride

powersteamguy1790

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2016, 03:10:53 PM »
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Like you, I have a fair number (8 or so) Paragon2 equipped engines. I use LokSound / Lokpilot decoders whenever I can in upgrading non-DCC engines but sure hate to replace the Paragon2 boards. I was planning on doing a speaker replacement first on both an E and PA unit and see. I know ESU has recently issued a new dual-prime-mover sound file for E units and I've heard it in an HO select direct-equipped engine.

If I can get the speakers replaced this weekend, I will try to report on the difference. I'm pretty much sold on ESU sound, though. My wallet isn't when it comes to replacement boards...

Don't try to replace the factory installed 50 ohm speaker with a 8 ohm speaker. You'll blow out the Paragon board. John told RedRiverRR4433 this on TB. I have a multitude of BLI units and just wanted to replace the factory installed speakers of the BLI units with eight ohm Donau speakers. He said the Paragon board will probably blow if you install an eight ohm speaker to replace the 50 ohm factory installed speaker on BLI Paragon boards.

Stay cool and have fun with it........ 8) 8)

powersteamguy1790

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2016, 03:19:27 PM »
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From TB thread on the BLI board replacement with an ESU board and speaker:


RedRiverRR4433 said: ↑

    Nice work John. I have too many BLI units to even consider replacing the sound decoder. I might just try to replace the speaker. I have a multitude of the Knowles Donau speakers and will try to replace several factory installed speakers to see how the factory installed decoders sound in various BLI units.

    Having fun with it........:cool::cool:

    Shades

Shades,

Notice that the round speaker I took out says "50 ohms" on it. The Knowles Donau is an 8-ohm speaker. It is possible that the audio amplifier in the Paragon will blow up trying to output to an 8-ohm load, which requires far more current than 50-ohm speaker. I probably wouldn't try just replacing the speaker unless I was prepared to go "all in" on an ESU transplant if the worst happens . . . (well, actually, if you DO blow up your Paragon, I know where you can get a used Paragon 2 decoder board cheap :) )

John C.

Cajonpassfan

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Re: BLI Paragon 2 vs. ESU LokSound in a PA-1
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2016, 03:27:00 PM »
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It can't ever be easy, can it... :facepalm:
Thanks for pointing the wattage differential out; I knew that, but that was a while back...
Otto K.