Author Topic: Holy war time: best sound decoders  (Read 1080 times)

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peteski

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #15 on: October 02, 2018, 06:42:02 PM »
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John makes a very good point, steam is a weak point for ESU.
Most of you guys are diesel guys, and I agree, ESU is tops. But for steam, with its "different personalities", it's not so simple and at this time, TSU2 gets my top vote. I also like to throw in an ocassional WOW decoder and even a new generation MRC (oh the horrors🙀) to get away from the monotony of repetitious and predictable sound effects. Truly "playable" whistles are also key to anyone who's ever heard steam in action.
Otto K.

Because of the N scale bias here, I was looking at this from the N scale angle. Some of the decoders you mentioned are too large for N. QSI still makes decoders (for H0 and larger) which have a large library of sounds and the horn is playable too.  QSI Titan decoder even offers stereo sound (quite useful for larger scale models).
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ednadolski

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #16 on: October 02, 2018, 09:46:31 PM »
+1
I thought the Tsunamis were pretty good, then I heard the LokSound :D

Ed

nscaler711

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2018, 11:13:10 PM »
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TCS Wow Sound... only because of their built in programmer....  :D its super handy.
Audio Assist:
http://tcsdcc.com/sites/default/files/2018-05/Audio%20Assist%20Diesel%20V4.pdf


( But yes Loksound is amazing... )
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #18 on: October 02, 2018, 11:38:58 PM »
+1
The IM SD40-2 is what got me into sound. Before, I had a pair of BLI E8s, but that was because they were insanely cheap ($100 if I remember correctly). BLI sound can be quite good.... but it took nearly 10 HOURS to fine tune the sounds and map functions I wanted. Things like engine start bells would be several times the loudness of the engine itself. I think maybe they didn't fine-tune their sound for the smaller speakers of N scale.

But ESU - great from right out of the box. Crisp, clear sound, even on my own installs. Programing is fairly easy too.

One thing I did notice is that the sound files for creating your own profiles is limited. I was trying to build a profile for a F40PH-2C, but the 645 was not available on the list of engine noises (nor was the 44 tonner which I was hoping to use as the aux power plant). But both engine sounds are available profiles to download (you just can't use them to build your own).

I have enjoyed the sound of both Soundtraxx Tsunami but as mentioned before, these are not programmable and can only be hard wired. Both are non-starters for me. I certainly would consider getting an engine with it built in though.

I want to try Zimo, but their sound database is just too small to consider them right now.

Then there is Digitrax and MRC. Both have some serious issues. As everyone knows, MRC decoders are - inconsistent - I have an F40PH conversion that dosen't sound awful, and was able to dial in motor control pretty well. Then I tried a drop in on my Santa Fe SDP45 run though power only to find out that 1. the LEDs are yelow, 2. There is NO ADVANCED CONSISTING, and 3. They didn't make use of Athearn's frame ergonomics [there is a friggen speaker hole RIGHT THERE! THEY COULD HAVE MADE THE SPEAKER TWICE THE SIZE WITH AN ENCLOSURE!]. I also have an MRC Atlas GP40 drop-in decoder I use to test speakers. My god what an awful muddled mess of a noise that makes.

Digitrax is not much better. Dies at the sight of dust on the rail. Sound sound blown out and muddy, even with enclosures and new speakers.

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eja

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #19 on: October 02, 2018, 11:41:54 PM »
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I have no dog in this fight ... or a sound equipped locomotive ...

BUT,  ... my biggest issue with all of the decoders videos I have seen here on The Railwire is that none of them have a horn that sound anything close to realistic.  The engine and bells sound good but the horns all sound like toys. 

Yes,  I have had my hearing checked recently and I am a professional violinist so I do not suspect a hearing issue. :)
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 12:36:23 AM by eja »

tehachapifan

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #20 on: October 03, 2018, 12:28:33 AM »
+1
I have no dog in this fight ... or a sound equipped locomotive ...

BUT,  ... my biggest issue with all of the decoders videos I have here on The Railwire is that none of them have a horn that sound anything close to realistic.  The engine and bells sound good but the horns all sound like toys. 

Yes,  I have had my hearing checked recently and I am a professional violinist so I do not suspect a hearing issue. :)


You should hear the horns in mine (mostly ESU)....they're all quite loud (compared to the other engine sounds) and sound great. ;)

You're right in that a lot of videos seem to show locos with the horn volume way too low in comparison to the other sounds.

I like to set everything in mine so that the horn is the loudest sound by a pretty decent margin....just like the real thing! :D

I typically accomplish this by turning the other sounds down, which are often set high as a default, and adjusting the horn volume from there.

Also, I don't run master volumes at max when using 8x12 or 9x16 speakers, which are often only rated for .5W/.7W(max) or .7W/1W(max), so as to not overdrive the speakers.

I've had some decoders that were set at max volume as a default, which led to an early speaker and/or amp failure in a couple, so now I set the master volume quite a bit lower before I fire up the sounds for the first time.

Unfortunately, most of the decoder documentation I've found only talks about the required Ohms rating of speakers and not the watt rating, plus what the decoder is putting out is often not very clear, leaving a lot of guesswork/trial and error with how high volumes can or can't be set.

That's one thing I like about Zimo's documentation, which says something like setting "total" volume to 64 (out of 255) is the "mathematically" highest setting you can go without experiencing distortion (although it doensn't specify what wattage of speakers), then it goes on to say that you may be able to set it higher in a "practical" setting and shows a range up to 100, I think.


« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 01:23:53 AM by tehachapifan »
Russ

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2018, 01:25:38 AM »
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..You're right in that a lot of videos seem to show locos with the horn volume way too low in comparison to the other sounds...

Rather, all other sounds are way too high.  (Yeah, same thing, just different emphasis.)

But you're spot on.  First thing I do with a new sound unit is turn everything except the horn down to about 30%. 


I can agree that ESU's steam catalog doesn't match their diesels, but compared to my old Tsunamis, ESU steam is still a long way ahead of the game.  Of course, being old tsunami's as my base line, anything that doesn't sound like a machine gun is a win. 
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tehachapifan

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #22 on: October 03, 2018, 02:01:50 AM »
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Rather, all other sounds are way too high.  (Yeah, same thing, just different emphasis.)...
 

You must've missed line 4 of my reply! ;)
Russ

peteski

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #23 on: October 03, 2018, 03:46:18 AM »
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Unfortunately, most of the decoder documentation I've found only talks about the required Ohms rating of speakers and not the watt rating, plus what the decoder is putting out is often not very clear, leaving a lot of guesswork/trial and error with how high volumes can or can't be set.


ESU LokSound V4 Manual provides the amplifier output wattage (4 Watts - no speaker impedance stated).  It is on page 77 of 88. LokSound Select manual does not seem to provide that specification.  But the packaging insert for LokSound Select Direct Micro states 1.5W @ 4 Ohms load, acceptable speaker impedance 4-16 Ohms.

So for the latter one, if you are using 8 ohm speaker the maximum power the amp will deliver is 0.75W (by default).

I'm pretty sure Zimo decoder manual also gives the audio power rating (don't have it handy right now).
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rrjim1

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #24 on: October 03, 2018, 04:37:50 AM »
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Kind of a toss up with me between ESU and the Paragon 3. My new BLI SD40-2 sounds great, were my ScaleTrains GE ET44AC is about on par with the MRC decoders that I threw away. Zimo not really happy with there sound decoders probably never purchase another one.

nstars

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2018, 07:43:11 AM »
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Esu for diesels sound and Tsunami 2 for steam sound. ESU has improved their steam sounds, but the Tsunami 2 still has the better steam sounds. What you can do with the Tsunami 2 with things like cut-off is absolutely great, BTW for motor control the situation is different. In that case I would position Zimo above Esu and than the Tsunami 2 although the difference between the Esu and Tsunami 2 is not big anymore.

Marc

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2018, 01:54:26 PM »
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Because of the N scale bias here, I was looking at this from the N scale angle. Some of the decoders you mentioned are too large for N. QSI still makes decoders (for H0 and larger) which have a large library of sounds and the horn is playable too.  QSI Titan decoder even offers stereo sound (quite useful for larger scale models).

Umm, Pete, I am looking at it from "N scale angle". The decoders I mentioned are all capable to be installed in N scale steam. TSU2 with NCE are playable...
Otto

tehachapifan

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2018, 02:01:33 PM »
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ESU LokSound V4 Manual provides the amplifier output wattage (4 Watts - no speaker impedance stated).  It is on page 77 of 88. LokSound Select manual does not seem to provide that specification.  But the packaging insert for LokSound Select Direct Micro states 1.5W @ 4 Ohms load, acceptable speaker impedance 4-16 Ohms.

So for the latter one, if you are using 8 ohm speaker the maximum power the amp will deliver is 0.75W (by default).

I'm pretty sure Zimo decoder manual also gives the audio power rating (don't have it handy right now).

Thanks, Peteski! ;) Yeah, I sometimes forget the V4 Manual has a lot of extra info in it. Also, that passage you mentioned on the Loksound Direct Micro packaging is a lot clearer than what I've seen or at least recall previously. That 1.5W output at 4 Ohms load gives you something more solid to work with in just one sentence, even if you still need to figure out how to calculate changes if using, say, an 8 Ohm speaker instead. However, the 4 Watt output example is a bit more confusing to me. Ohms rating aside for a moment, If a decoder has 4 Watt amp output rating and I'm using a speaker with a .7W(1W max) rating, wouldn't that mean I should only be able to set the master(?) volume somewhere around 20-25% of max? I know higher settings are often possible, but wouldn't that be somewhere around the mathematical(?) max? Then there's trying to account for an Ohms rating when only a range is given, like 4-16, or not even given at all like in your other example. Since decoder-damaging errors can seemingly occur, I really wish some of the documentation was more detailed, all together in one section and written with your more average hobbyist in mind. ;)
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 02:21:28 PM by tehachapifan »
Russ

peteski

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #28 on: October 03, 2018, 04:12:31 PM »
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Umm, Pete, I am looking at it from "N scale angle". The decoders I mentioned are all capable to be installed in N scale steam. TSU2 with NCE are playable...
Otto

Ok, how about the TCS WOW decoders mentioned here?  Small enough to fit in N scale models?
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nscaler711

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Re: Holy war time: best sound decoders
« Reply #29 on: October 03, 2018, 04:24:17 PM »
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Ok, how about the TCS WOW decoders mentioned here?  Small enough to fit in N scale models?

Hmm I could swore I posted in the DCC/ Electronics forum.
*scrolls up*
 Yep sure did. I didn't see an N scale only aspect of this thread either, especially after the Tsunami 2 comments.  :D

 :trollface:

Though I am sure I can cut up my Wow 501 and jam the bits into a N scale boxcar... But that doesn't mean it'll work anymore.

Aside from that nonsense, I love the fact that the TCS Wow 501 uses a micro sd card for its memory was like 8gb if I remember correctly. On the contrary I hate I can't access it though...
Science isn't about why, it's about why not. Why is so much of our science dangerous? Why not marry safe science if you love it so much? In fact, why not invent a special safety door that won't hit you in the butt on the way out, because you are fired! Not you, test subject, you're doing fine.