Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
mick

Time to bin my DCC sound?

Recommended Posts

I'm not really sure where to start or even what exactly I'm trying to say but I've suddenly become very disillusioned (if that's the correct word) with my DCC sound locos. I've been a fan since day one but right now all I'm hearing is a load of old rubbish! A few weeks ago I had some DCC chips reblown by Howes and I was pleased enough with them to send away another small batch. They came back recently but I've only today had chance to put the chips back in the locos. What do I hear? Well not what I was hoping to hear. They're all class 37 recordings and they really do sound poor - there's just no 'drivability' with them. The sound builds up, the loco slows, but the sound just keeps spooling up even when the loco is at a standstill. I could possibly mess around with some CV's to improve the running qualities and sound coordination but the overall quality isn't too great. I'm very disappointed.

What's the reason for my change of heart - after all, it's only a few weeks ago that I was pleased with them? Well I've just had chance to run one of my Sutton Locomotive Works 'Rail Exclusive' class 24s. For the past 5-6 months it's resided untouched in its box and so I thought it was time to have a listen. It wasn't entirely trouble-free as there was an initial problem with the tail lights not extinguishing at the No.2 end but after communicating with Jamie at SLW I think that's now remedied.

As for the sound, well, press F1 and be transported to another land. It's all that DCC sound should be. It sounds absolutely brilliant and responds to every touch of the controller. The engine revs increase just when you need them and die away the moment you don't. You can coast, you can brake - yes, you can BRAKE just as a real loco would. This is a loco that you feel you are actually driving.

I've got a collection of factory sounds, Howes sounds and Legomanbiffo sounds but none of them are a touch on this class 24. 'Biffo's class 26 sounds good, in fact it's one of my favourite sound loco's, but this little 24 easily blows it away because of the way you can control it.

If you remember a while ago I spoke about my ViTrains class 47 pair in Northern Belle livery and how I was pleased with the sound. Well they're from the same stable, DCC sound compiled by the same chap, Paul Chetter, and based on ZIMO chips rather than the usual Loksounds.

I realise I've spent a lot of money on poor quality sound and reblows but I also understand that technology is continually improving and the stuff I purchased 5 or 6 years ago can't be expected to stand up against the standards we're seeing today. The trouble is that some of that older technology is still on offer even though it's now well past its sell-by date.

Right now I'm attempting to make the best of a poor combination by re-installing a Loksound chip, reblown with Howes sounds, in my class 37 'Loch Arkaig'. There's no space for a decent speaker without resorting to carving up the body or chassis. I've done this on a couple of Bachmann 37s already but whether it was actually worth all the effort I'm not so sure. We're told that in order to get decent sound we need to install decent speakers but really what we need is good quality sound in the first place. That's got to be the starting point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take it you haven't tried your APT-E yet? That is a model that is absolutely brought to life by sound. Perhaps gas turbine sounds are easier to re-create than steam or diesel. I do know what you mean about actions not synchronising with the sound. The Zimo sound decoders have the advantage that "Stay Alive" capacitors are more easily added, and less expensively than Loksound but some of the projects have so many different effects built into them that they take away the simple enjoyment of sounds happening naturally as you drive off and slow down. Having said that, the SLW Class 24 uses Zimo and you are obviously impressed with that, as am I after hearing it at York.

I guess some projects are much more impressive than others. How do you feel about Hornby TTS?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think part of the problem is our own expectations rise as we get more familiar with anything. When I heard an HO scale steam engine with a decoder I was really taken by the added experience of running with sound. At the same time my local hobby shop is one of the top shops in the country, so I was able to find out a lot about DCC and sound. One thing that came up was this issue with synchronization. I really didn't care that much about it and proceeded with doing a sound install without it. But I am pretty sure my decoder sounds are more generic since it is an earlier decoder. For all I know it's more like a sound synthesizer than an actual recording of my specific loco type.

And this also points to what older decoders are like compared to new, perhaps the lower quality approximation of sounds in some ways is better?

So this brings us to the whole issue of the newer decoders that use actual recorded sounds. This seems like something much more difficult to have synchronize. A steam engine is pretty easy, if it is moving, then it is making sound. A diesel gets a lot more complicated in this regard. Is it stopped, is it in idle, is it running and what mode is that, is it running and applying breaks?

I don't have any answers on this. I have personal feelings about it from my experience. I liked sound, it added a lot. But I am just not so picky. I would say that maybe you need to lower your standards and just expect less, as this is still a new technology that hasn't had all it's bugs worked out. And as you say, it may just require time fiddling the CV's to get it working better as each loco draws different amounts of power when running; it is a huge variable that will cause the same decoder to act differently in different locos.

Just give it some time and maybe read up on it on the web. Even if it isn;t right, it's still pretty darned cool. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Riddles said:

I take it you haven't tried your APT-E yet? ..... How do you feel about Hornby TTS?

No I haven't even removed the APT-E from its packaging yet so I've still got the sound to experience. As for the Hornby TTS range, I've never heard any in real life - only YouTube clips.

Griff's right - sound is a very cool addition to a loco and brings it to life but I get the feeling we've been taken for a ride for far too long now. Generally it's overpriced and of questionable quality. I'm not sure what's happened with my latest HOWES chip re-blows but they don't seem to be the same as the ones I had re-blown previously - in fact I'm left feeling the original factory sounds were superior. What on earth have I done?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Personally l think the old Triang/Hornby syncrosound or something like that from the 1970's is as hi tech as l go. Sounded like two bits of sand paper being rubbed together, which it probably was. I think sound has still away to go before being right, what was acceptable 10 years ago is scene, or heard as rubbish now. Manufactuers have soon got to make a descion, do they drop plain old DC models or concentrate on just DCC with all the bells and whistles designed to fit rather than shoehorned in afterwards or carry on with a two tear system. Its the VHS vs Betamax battle again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you do try your APT-E, be sure to try the surprise unpublicised Function 16. Truly an amazing feature!

I consider Hornby TTS locos are well worth £25 or so more than a DCC ready loco, but the fact that turning one sound on turns another one off, is a severe limitation.

I think most children's starter sets will continue to be analogue/DC for simplicity and cost although there are already several DCC starter sets from Bachmann and Hornby.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...