Author Topic: Sound in N-Scale  (Read 1778 times)

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6axlepwr

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Sound in N-Scale
« on: February 08, 2023, 10:02:37 AM »
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Is sound worth it in N-Scale?

I have watched a few videos where sound is being demonstrated in N-Scale locomotives. The sound sort of resembles something, but not really does it justice. The speaker chambers are just to small to allow the sound waves to do their thing. I know it is a personal choice to use or not use sound, but I wanted to ask here if you folks think it is really worth the effort to install it?

My original decision is to go without sound.

Brian

C855B

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2023, 10:15:29 AM »
+1
Oh, you opened a Pandora's Box. There are enthusiasts, and then there are folks like me. I have a missive I keep to myself of 20 bullet points, "Why I don't like sound". I don't like it so much I'm in the middle of yet another project, removing sound decoders from fairly expensive locomotives where there was no non-sound version offered.

I'll freely admit it has a place. Mainline running on a large layout like mine is not one, shuttling cars around a yard or industries with a switcher is one. F'rinstance, the sound-equipped Alco switchers I've heard do a credible job of capturing the characteristic burble. Those sort of work because they're not old EMD 645s with their deep rumble setup by the Roots blower.
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6axlepwr

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2023, 10:31:02 AM »
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Mike, after clicking on your link. I understand now who you are. Look forward to seeing your progress again this year.

I do understand that sound is a can of worms. When it first came out and up to just a few months ago, I was all in on sound. I really do not like it much even in HO. As you mention. witching is OK, but mainline running. They all sound like just a bunch a white noise. What is missing is the deep rumble and the "feel" of it all. I am not complaining about it, just that the whole sound thing looses it with me because the feeling of it is not there. It is more a novelty with me. I have talked to Tom about it a lot and he pretty much feels the same way.

What would be great is if the decoders would have bluetooth in them so you could send the sound to a set of really nice speakers or even a head set and really enjoy the full range of the sound. Speakers that you put in locomotives though just do not cut it for me. Not enough size to explore the range of sounds. I think what really did me in is when I listened to the sample sounds on the ESU web site on real speakers. WOW!!!!!!!!!! Then listen to the same sound file on the tiny speakers in your models.

CRR Chase

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2023, 10:33:43 AM »
+2
ESU is the winner for sound in nscale. but it takes work.. look at the dcc section

ednadolski

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2023, 10:34:54 AM »
+1
What would be great is if the decoders would have bluetooth in them so you could send the sound to a set of really nice speakers or even a head set and really enjoy the full range of the sound.

Do you mean like this?  Sound was recorded 'live' over the cellphone mic, but you will miss most of it if you are watching the vid on tiny speakers.


(Yes, this is ESU/Loksound.)

Edit - since this vid was taken I've re-tuned the locos for smoother slow-speed performance, and also now run things with the Protothrottle, which really adds a whole 'nother dimension to the experience.


Ed
« Last Edit: February 08, 2023, 10:39:38 AM by ednadolski »

Jbub

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2023, 10:45:39 AM »
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Do you mean like this?  Sound was recorded 'live' over the cellphone mic, but you will miss most of it if you are watching the vid on tiny speakers.


(Yes, this is ESU/Loksound.)

Edit - since this vid was taken I've re-tuned the locos for smoother slow-speed performance, and also now run things with the Protothrottle, which really adds a whole 'nother dimension to the experience.


Ed

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Maletrain

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2023, 11:12:52 AM »
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Personally, I like the sound when switching, because, along with the momentum setting being realistic, it is much more like dealing with something that is exerting power to move heavy objects.  Having used it, I miss it now when switching with a loco that just emits model whines and clicks. 

I also use the horn and bell when running, as per prototype, along with the lights.  It just seems to be a realistic part of the engineer's job.

On the other hand, I am not so happy to hear other people's locos, brakes, etc from the other side of view blocks, way off in the yards, etc.  That to me is unrealistic as well as distracting and just plain noisy.

The suggestion to put BlueTooth transmitters in the locos to send sound to a specific operators earphones seems like a really good idea for solving both the too much noise problems and the loss of pulling power that comes from removing metal mass to make room for large speakers.

But, to make that really work as more than a novelty for one or more vendors, there will probably need to be some standardization so that we can buy any loco and use any vendor's headphone set.  In particular, the headphone set may need to also have a communication channel in it to support the ops practices of many.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2023, 11:45:17 AM »
+1
I'll freely admit it has a place. Mainline running on a large layout like mine is not one, shuttling cars around a yard or industries with a switcher is one. F'rinstance, the sound-equipped Alco switchers I've heard do a credible job of capturing the characteristic burble. Those sort of work because they're not old EMD 645s with their deep rumble setup by the Roots blower.

This is the answer!

I hadn't really thought about it before, but yes, this is absolutely the answer.

I don't care so much about hearing prime movers as things are moving around the layout. But I LOVE hearing the equipment respond to your throttle inputs.
This goes even further if you get into the Protothrottle with it's legit notches and braking.

With a layout like the one you're planning, I would think sound would definitely help make the whole thing more "immersive" while operating it.

That being said, not EVERY locomotive needs sound. My current personal goal is to have the leader of most consists have sound for ops. This gives you the impression without being overwhelmed, AND it obviously helps cut costs.

It's important to think of ALL of this stuff in the context of "what are you trying to achieve?".

What are your layout inspirations? What are you trying to do?

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2023, 11:47:08 AM »
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As for solutions for piping sound through non-locomotive speakers, take a look at Virtual Sound Decoders.

https://conrail1285.com/getting-started-with-jmri-virtual-sound-decoders/

I haven't played with it yet, but you can probably pair a VSD with an on-board decoder for a pretty interesting experience. Let the VSD handle the prime mover bass, let the locomotive handle the horn, bell, and all the other stuff that is needs to sound like it's coming from the locomotive.

If I didn't already have a list of things to work on a mile long I'd give that a try.

ednadolski

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2023, 12:05:40 PM »
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you can probably pair a VSD with an on-board decoder for a pretty interesting experience.

The reason that I went with the replicated Loksound decoder w/identical address & sound files is that the sound from the subwoofer is then identical to what comes out of the onboard decoder -- so all the changes in notches, timings, rate of revs, etc. match up and contribute to the overall effect. I think having anything else would probably create a conflicting/cacophonous effect, tho admittedly I haven't tried it first hand. I did find that combining a Loksound v4 with a v5 for a similar prime mover was noticeably different to me, enough to the point that I have standardized everything on the V5 (even in HO and P:48).

It is important for the subwoofer decoder to have all other sound channels muted aside from the prime mover. If you just had a Bluetooth transmitting from the loco, it would pick up all the other sounds.

And yes, you do need a separate stationary engine decode for each type of prime mover (unless you want to keep re-flashing the sound files).  OTOH JMRI/VHD approach likely means a dedicated PC anyway (with all the ongoing hassle that entails).

Ed
« Last Edit: February 08, 2023, 12:08:55 PM by ednadolski »

Atsf222

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2023, 12:28:19 PM »
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I have both on my layout, I enjoy some stock models straight out of the box with little tweaks. Others I won’t bash a manufacturer but needs a lot of work. To each there own, and I prefer ESU for everything

Tom

jdcolombo

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2023, 12:30:23 PM »
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I break the cases for sound down to three.

1.  Diesel mainline running.  Doesn't do much for me, except maybe activating the horn and bell at grade crossings.  Not much use for the drone of a prime mover (or even worse, the whine of a turbo) at track speed.  It's fun for about a minute, then gives me a headache.  Maybe this is why I backdated my layout a couple of years to run nearly all steam (see 3., below).

2.  Diesel switching, especially with first generation switchers and first generation diesel hood units, with the Alco 539T/244/251B prime movers or the EMD non-turbo 567.  Now we're talking.  Hearing the prime movers notch up and down on switching moves is interesting, and for me gives "life" to those moves that is lacking without sound.  It also helps make sure operators don't do their switching moves at 60mph.   

Example:


3.  Steam, whether mainline or switching.  I cannot imagine running steam these days without sound.  Unlike the drone of a prime mover, chuffs give a real indication of track speed; the whistles and bells become part of the operating experience, and the sounds of pop-off valves, air compressors, etc. even when an engine is just sitting at the terminal provides a background of "life" that is missing with a silent steamer.  No silent steam locos for me.  Ever again.  And it is virtually impossible to do switching moves at non-realistic speeds, because the chuffs are a tell-tale warning if you're moving too fast.  I've seen this phenomenon over and over again: operators who are inclined to do switching at 60 smph with a silent engine suddenly slow down to something approaching realistic scale speed when the sound is on. 

The main problems with sound are (1) installations (usually from the factory) that do not follow the rule that you must have a SEALED ENCLOSURE of adequate air volume to produce decent sound with the small speakers necessary for N-scale; and (2) failure to TURN THE VOLUME DOWN so that you are not assaulted by a cacophony of sound from all around the layout; sound should be just audible in the background unless you are five feet or less from the engine.  Note that (2) is more difficult with small layouts than large walk-arounds, but my experience is that folks tend to have the volume set too high.

John C.

6axlepwr

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2023, 12:31:03 PM »
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Yes Ed, that is what I would really like to do and after listening to yours, it is what I WILL do for my layout. My room is not very big. 20' x 9' so a speaker system setup for this would be perfect for this room.

I do not mind having to buy a set of sound decoders for a stationary position for each motor sound I need. It is worth it for me for the enjoyment of the hobby. I just need to find someone to show me how to set it all up.

Thanks for posting that.

Brian

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2023, 12:44:28 PM »
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Do you mean like this?  Sound was recorded 'live' over the cellphone mic, but you will miss most of it if you are watching the vid on tiny speakers.


(Yes, this is ESU/Loksound.)

Edit - since this vid was taken I've re-tuned the locos for smoother slow-speed performance, and also now run things with the Protothrottle, which really adds a whole 'nother dimension to the experience.


Ed

Of all the amazing things you do as a modeler, this is the best of them all.  GOSH THAT SOUNDED SO, SO GOOD.  The ONLY thing I was waiting for was the huge clunk of the couplers in that sequence I was literally anticipating that.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2023, 06:42:47 AM by Lemosteam »

Rivet Miscounter

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Re: Sound in N-Scale
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2023, 01:33:05 PM »
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I have been/had been on the fence about N sound.   The ESU units I'd heard over the past few years convinced me that it has reached "acceptable".   I'm still not blown away by the quality.  But the physics of sound and speakers, I'm sort of impressed that they've been able to achieve what we have now.

And now that I'm coming back to N--with a clean slate--I made the decision to buy sound-equipped if ESU was an option.   At one point that looked like it would be just about everything on my most-wanted list sans a few Katos that pre-dated "current tech" ESU.   But now Atlas is moving away from ESU so that foils my plans.   Thankfully, that's only a few locos.  And overall, my roster will be comparatively small versus the average model railroader...so that helped with formulating that "policy" of buying ESU-equipped.

Having the ability for horn/bell from the ops perspective is pretty cool, along with the passable representation of the engine drone.  I do think the phone-based//headphones/bluetooth option is where all this will end up for home layouts.   But the show/group setup aspect will still dictate radiated sound.   And since I'm doing Free-MoN now, that's how this thing is gonna go down...for my particular situation.
Doug