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I found the hobby again in January 2005, about seven months after I retired from the Canadian Armed Forces. The hobby shop owner, when I inquired, placed a BLI Hudson on some HO track and powered it up. I couldn't believe my ears. My previous experience had been in 1963 with a Christmas gift Marklin train set.

I left the store with some track, an MRC DC controller, and the Hudson. No cars. No kits. No scenery stuff. This was all about the steam locomotive, something I experienced close-hand in my youth.

Understandably from my comments, everything that has followed has been about steam locomotives. Their motion, their noises, their appearance. So, yeah, sound is big for me. I immediately turn down the factory default levels as soon as I make the correct address assignment to the decoder. I'm down near 40%, mostly, because the speakers are over-driven and because the noises compete too much with each other in the small layout space. Sound, like water, doesn't scale well. By turning down my master volume settings to the 35-45% range, I can often only hear the closest locomotive(s), just like in the prototypical world.
 

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Agreed with Stumpy.

The first engine I bought (Walthers SD9) had sound along with the dcc.
It actually sounds pretty good, but I found myself getting bored with the sounds after a while.

So... with just about all the engines I've gotten since, they're either dcc without sound (a few Atlas engines came this way), or they're DC or "dcc ready" engines in which I add a NON-sound decoder.

I've found that the best-running engines I have are those that run "whisper quiet" -- about all you hear is the sound of the wheels on the rail joints. Works for me.

(and I ran the big engines for 32 years, so I know what they're supposed to "sound like"...)
 

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For me, sound is fun, but also annoying.

What I like:
Horn/whistle
Bell
Primary mover

What I don't like:
Some sounds are too loud, while others are too low.
All the little sounds that manufacturers insist on making too loud. When is the last time a normal citizen heard the sound of someone shoveling coal into the burner? And why do they program random sounds like something that only happens at startup to play randomly while running? And when it does play the "coal loading" sound, it's way louder than the primary mover.... just stupid...

Sure, you can program each sound yourself, but unless you have a programmer or use JMRI, it is very clunky to set each CV manually using just your throttle interface, which is all that most of the entry level DCC systems have. And if you set the peak volume down to the point where you like all the misc sounds, then the horn, bell and primary movers are way too soft.

It's also cool to hear the brakes when decelerating... but other than that, I hate sound simply because it's too painful to adjust to my liking using just an NCE Powercab. And I'm not about to fork over $400+ for a more sophisticated interface I'll only use a few times.

I was all excited to acquire a MRC Prodigy Advance Squared system in an auction because it can work with JMRI. But you need a special cable that costs... $50 plus shipping. I'll eventually get into JMRI, but I have many higher priorities for that $50.

Sorry for the rant. I really want to enjoy sound, but find it very aggravating...
 

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I agree with Gunrunnerjohn that sound really adds a complete deimension to model locomotives. Of maybe 140 O-Gauge locos I have, perhaps a only a dozen have no sound, and all of those are somewhere between very old (pre-WWII Marx, and old - postwar Lionel classics, trains like that). Even the few modern locos I have that didn't come with sound, I added sound. Sound adds so much to a loco that I just don't want to run any modern ones without it.
Now, that is strictly for locomotives. I do not know about other scales, but in O-Gauge one can get boxcars and reefers with railsounds and such that make train-noises like squeaking breakes, shifting cargo, etc. That I find very annoying. I avoid buying those cars, or turn the feature off on the few I have with it installed.
 

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While I have limited experience with Sound locos owned by others, I have yet to install any on my fleet. I’m glad I waited.
At the outset, Tsunami(1) wasn’t even out yet. Also my fleet is Class II size, so the plan had been for all home road locos to have sound, but no visiting power would. But this had to be changed as some of my locos just won’t accommodate sound very easily due to older internal design (1980/90s Atlas/Kato RS3 i.e. will be very tight even with weights removed). So I am toying with the idea of adding two units to the roster for locals that will be more suited. Unless things get even smaller. Tomorrows announcement from Soundtraxx could change everything for me. But I doubt it.
I think of my locos as a cast of actors. Supporting actors (CR, N&W, PLE, etc) should not outshine the main cast, so only Oil Valley Ry locos get sound (along with the environment too). I’m also supremely picky about sound decoder reliability & sound quality.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sound quality has improved greatly over the last five or so years, but that’s not to say that it was poor on early versions. I do notice that some brands are better than others. Zimo’s sound files are excellent but you have to pay extra for them as opposed to having them installed on the decoder, which might annoy some.
I have four locos with sound, two factory fitted, this takes the hassle out but I do enjoy the challenge of fitting sound in a confined place.
 

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I have 8 HO DCC locomotives without sound as the plan was to upgrade those brand names and models of locomotives I felt were robust and not prone to failures. I was hearing a lot of negative reviews on some sound versions decoders too, so I figured, back in 2007 or so to wait till the technology worked itself out...then life happened and I put the layout on hold.
Fast forward to 2021 and I was seeing a leap in modeling HO with sound locomotives. The price was 40% lower than any locomotive with sound in I priced in 2007 so I sprang for my first locomotive with Loksound.
Seems to be a smart move as I love the features sound provides on these quiet smooth running Athern HO locomotives!
Material property Wood Musical instrument accessory Gas Box

So, now, I will be researching sound card installation on a few of my locomotives in the near future. Or I might even sell off my first decade locomotives and spring for newer locos with sound.
 

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Still Old school, some of the Revell had what I call a clacker box, it is around here some place, kind of cool , HO - I have others that are odd balls in HO
I have my S gauge smokers - my Lionel 0 with bells and woo-woo and smokers - and my Old Standard gauge, and my 1946 collection
I do how ever have flashing lights and circus / ride sounds for lay out and lights in my cars as it was then in HO - adding - building rides and working on animatronics
I can not justify converting a Vintage Or Antique train - a bit of a purest - I have weathered some of my junkers / slightly
So I guess - my answer would be no

I admit I do have MTH and others with all the bells and sounds you could want - they just sit in the boxes - I don't run them - I could not pass up the deals and some came in collections I purchased
My two cents for tonight.
 

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Most everything I do is for the pleasure & amusement of my autistic grandson. I started with straight DC EZ lock track from Bachmann kits but the DCC sound & realistic features was another excitement level for my grandson when we would go to shows. Now, on a tight budget I have 1 DCC with sound. He loves it but I also have 2 DC Bachmann smokers & he loves them more. He tries to make the DCC smoke but not happening so that will be my next investment but I gotta save a lot of pennies. We run the DCC on the DC layout & it does have sound & light but no horn or bells. He can control it to a slow crawl & lays on the floor as it passes in front of his face close up. Working on adding decoders to the other diesel engines to have sound.
 
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