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Discussion Starter #1
Planning an inaugural purchase right now and have been looking at Kato's latest CN F7A, but the pricing of the full DCC with sound seems high. >$C300 with LokSound (makes Rapido's F40PH at C$229 look like a bargain).

Where Kato's DC version of this loco is only C$95 and a LokSound 5 Micro is C$130, would I not stand to save almost $100 upgrading a DC myself or is there something major I'm missing here?

Thanks.
 

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Installing a sound decoder is a lot harder than plugging a non-sound version into a socket. MIT generally requires some soldering, and maybe modification of the frame / weight / shell, etc. If you have the skills and the time, it's always going to be cheaper to install your own. But is that what you want to spend your hobby time doing? Cost vs time vs quality is something you have to weigh, and only you can decide where your sweet spot is.
 

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I do lots of decoder installs in all scales and model in O and N myself. I rarely install decoders in my own stuff thesedays unless its special. From my dealer, Its actually cheaper for me to buy it installed. Even with a steep discount on decoders and parts, its far more beneficial to buy them factory installed
 

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I tried installing decoders in my N-scale Kato PAs, and burned up 2 decoders in the process. It's small pieces in small places, and clearances are tiny. I ended up sending them to Mike Fifer at Fifer Hobby Supply. He did a great job for me and didn't charge much.
 

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It’s a lot of work installing sound decoders into locos. A person can do a regular DCC decoder in most new Kato locos in about 20 to 30 minutes once you get the hang of it, a bit more with Atlas because of those stupid teeny tiny contact clips that go on the board. As for sound in N scale, almost always requires milling out the diecast from for speakers and wire channels and you can be looking at hours of work that requires a fairly high level of skill and knowledge
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks everyone for your thoughts on this.

I was perhaps mistaken by Kato's marketing that their DC locos are "DCC friendly", and that so called drop-in decoders are a thing?
 

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They are DCC ready and just installing decoders is fairly straight forward, takes maybe half an hour once you get a few under your belt and have the proper supplies. I just buy em installed as the street price from my dealer is like $65 more for sound and maybe $25 more for regular DCC. I can even buy the decoders for that
 
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