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DCC Sound speakers for the garden

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Up until now I've never been that great a fan of sound equipped locos. I've always found the sound at exhibitions to be overly tinny and, frankly, annoying. The sound has never lived up to the soundtrack I can add in my head. So why I've just ordered a sound decoder when I could have knocked another hundred off the mortgage instead I don't actually know.

I haven't ordered a speaker to go with it though and that is where I need help. What is decent to buy?

There isn't a thread on speakers yet so thought this could be a general discussion and recommendation thread.

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And for specifics, I've bought a legomanbiffo class 37/0 loksound v.5 decoder. I was thinking of putting the speaker in the fuel tanks. I probably don't want to have to butcher a decent loco too much to get the speaker in. I don't want to spend loads on a speaker but don't want poor sound either and certainly don't want a speaker that risks damaging the decoder, though I don't mind ebay as a source.



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I agree Barry, many of the sound projects out there just don't meet expectations, perhaps because our expectations are sometimes greater than what the current technology can provide. However, one thing is for sure and that's that speakers have come a long way since the early days of DCC sound and there's now a much greater choice.

If I can just return to the sound decoder itself, although Biffo generally get's good reviews I've found that the best 37/0 sound files are the ones from Jamie Goodman on Loksound v5.0, and Locoman Sounds on Doehler & Haass decoders. We all know the Loksound chips of course but D&H was an entirely new brand to me when I first tried them and the bonus with them is that they are currently selling for £95 which is a fair saving towards a decent speaker when compared to the prices of Loksound versions. I absolutely love my 37/0's from Jamie and Locoman - they blow the socks off almost all other sounds I have apart from maybe the work by paul Chetter with SLW class 24's and the Rail Exclusive class 47s. In the attic or the garden the 37/0 sounds really good and it's a pleasure to operate them.

As for my opinion on speakers, and this is just my limited experience of them as I'm far from being an expert, I've tried many combinations and currently have several different setups, but I would have no hesitation in saying that the fuel tank is the best location. My go-to speaker now is the Rail Exclusive Chunky Boom Box speaker available for £18. I usually get them from Coastal DCC as they are very prompt with delivery.


It's such a pity that you can't get these to simply fit inside the loco bodies as they 'don't half' enhance the sound.

The trouble with the fuel tank location is that you need to dismantle your class 37 in order to get them fitted in and that includes unsoldering the bogies and lights. Depending on your model there may also be the switches located in the fuel tanks for tail/cab lights and you'll probably have to lose them like I did, though it's not something that really bothered me. If you've got a model without the switches down there then it's a much easier decision to make. There's some hacking of the fuel tanks themselves in order to get the speaker to sit flat inside but that's easily done with the dremel.

I'm sure there are other options available and others may recommend something entirely different. I'm also sometimes running a bit blinkered once I find something that suits me and don't really listen to anything else so perhaps it's best to take a good look round before following my advice. 

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Hmm, my decision to buy is looking a little rash in light of what you have said.

This may be a case for using distance selling regs to send it back. I wasn't thinking of making substantial modifications to a perfect and very expensive model to fit speakers.

Looking on Roads and Rails I think I might try the iphone speaker option first before modifying anything. The speakers aren't that expensive so I can try a few options.
If they aren't enough in the garden then they'll do as upgrades for my Dad's standard TTS speakers and I'll have to start cutting.

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Drop Richard a line at Roads and Rails and ask him which speaker he recommends for fitting beneath the fan grills without needing any modifications. He's normally very helpful. I have iphone speakers in some of mine and they can sound pretty decent but I think he will recommend you try something other than those now. The fuel tank way is just an option and not the only way to go about it by any means. Wait until you start milling chunks out of the chassis to fit the biggest speakers!

Just be careful installing speakers with TTS decoders as those decoders require 8ohm speakers and iphone types are generally 4ohm. Again best to ask just to be sure - don't take my word for it!

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Thanks Mick. The iphone speakers are 8ohm, but he also supplies them as a double, wired in parallel which is 4ohm. The Loksound v5.0 can cope with anything between 4 and 16ohms.

I'll try the double iphone on its own (7mm depth) with the fan out. I'm wondering if I can pick up a spare fan assembly to cut as there is apparently a way to cut it down and retain the fan with minimal support.

I've ordered the smaller megabase one as well which would fit in half a fuel tank if I go down that route. That would mean I would only have to take the weight out, cut it in half and leave the switches alone, it could go in series with a single iphone speaker (4mm depth) up top. I'll compare the two setups before I make any changes at all to the loco.

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On 19/03/2021 at 01:51, Clay Mills Junction said:

...I'll try the double iphone on its own (7mm depth) with the fan out. I'm wondering if I can pick up a spare fan assembly to cut as there is apparently a way to cut it down and retain the fan with minimal support....

On one of my 37's the previous owner had separated the fans from their mounting and carefully glued just the fans directly to the rim of the fan grills. Looks very neat. I also remember on one of my models I fastened the fans on top of the speaker itself but directly below the grills. Where there's a will there's a way...

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  • 7 months later...

I never updated this thread after I fitted the speakers. So apologies.

I tried a small megabase speaker and a single iPhone speaker in series (links below) giving 12ohms on the circuit. 

The megabase speaker needed filed so the casing is less thick but hasn't affected sound. I had to cut down the fan housing but kept enough of it so it retains the fan in place and you can't tell from outside.

The iPhone speaker is so thin that it fits in the space above the PCB. It is currently pointing towards the exhaust ports, I suppose if I wanted more sound I could chop away the side of the ports but it seems loud enough.

The megabase speaker seems balanced with the treble of the iPhone speaker. I'll try to get a video of it at the weekend if I'm home in time.



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