Are the Digitrax Sound Decoders any more reliable than the MRC? (N Scale )

KenPortner Jan 17, 2012

  1. KenPortner

    KenPortner TrainBoard Member

    THat is my question. I have 3 locos equipped with MRC sound decoders. They only run fitfully.

    I understand Digitrax has now come out with sound decoders for N scale diesel locos.

    Are they any more reliable?

  2. Bob Horn

    Bob Horn TrainBoard Member

    Much More!! I have done 4 in various locos, SD-40-2 mid pro, GEVO, E-8 x2. Not just dropin, they require a little more work. Bob.
  3. seanm

    seanm TrainBoard Member

    There are reports that the decoders reset when the horn is blown. You might want to search on those reports. I am not sure if it has been resolved.
  4. Mark Watson

    Mark Watson TrainBoard Member

    I have found that when it comes to sound decoders, the following statement rings more true than ever.

    You get what you pay for.

    If you think the price of a sound decoder..(wait for it...) "sounds" cheap... it is.

    If you have patients (and the ability to invest in multiple components in order to fully customize the digitrax sound decoders), they can be fairly good after long hours of programming. I'd rather just get a Tsunami and be done with it. May be a few extra bucks, but it will save you several hours too.

    The most reliable way (if space allows) is to even dedicate a separate non-sound decoder for motor control alone.
  5. NIevo

    NIevo TrainBoard Member

    Does Tsunami make sound decoders that fit many N-scale diesels? I know that the Digitrax needs a speaker fix and a different capacitor added, anything else to make them work good?
  6. rrjim1

    rrjim1 TrainBoard Member

    I own three Atlas GP7s with the new MRC 16 bit sound decoder, I have ran them for hours without any problems. They run great, sound great, the only problem period is the volume could be just a little bit louder.
  7. ram53

    ram53 TrainBoard Member

    MRC decoders seem to be very hit and miss with sound volume, even with the same model of decoder. But they have a lot more sound effects than the Digitrax, although some of them are pretty useless. They also have only 2 functions, so adding lighting effects like ditch lights can be a problem. I have been disappointed in their newer 16 bit replacement for the 1644-2 (fits Kato SD70--, AC4400CW, GEVO, etc), the 1960--the sound volume is low, there is no GE prime mover, none of the 32 horns seems right, the bell ring rate can't be slowed down enough and the brake squeal sound has been shortened from about 3 seconds to less than half a second, and there's no more auto brake squeal on stopping which was kind of fun. The new 1960 decoder is worse than the old one, and they've stopped making the predecessor 1644-2.

    One thing about Digitrax besides the already mentioned issues (which are no small potatoes either-it's a lot of work to get them going properly), is that you often have to disable BEMF in order to get the loco to run properly. Otherwise, activating a sound function like the horn will cause the loco to slow down noticeably or actually stop. This is a known issue and Digitrax doesn't seem inclined to deal with it. The sound amp is drawing power away from the motor control.

    Digitrax decoders are more likely to be recognized and respond to JMRI programming, in case you use that.

    It would be nice if Soundtraxx made their Tsunami Micro board narrow enough to fit in N scale hood diesels. ESU Loksound Micro v3.5 was less than 10mm wide, the v4.0 is listed at just over 10mm I think--I don't have any experience with them but I think they are probably the best, just that they cost about double the other brands.
  8. rrjim1

    rrjim1 TrainBoard Member

    I purchased a Tsunami Micro, the plan was to install it in a dummy E8A and hard wire it to a powered E8A. The powered E8A's stall current was only .03 amps and the decoder would over heat in about 10 minutes. I have read that you need to install the decoder on a heat sink, but in doing so you void the warranty. The decoder is now a sound only unit install in the dummy E8A.
  9. Wal

    Wal TrainBoard Member

    I use the MRC sound decoders, and while in the main I am happy with them on a HCD layout, I recently installed a MRC HO sound only stationary decoder in one corner of my HCD layout which adds another level of sound on the layout. I have found this solution to be quite satisfactory albeit the sound doesn't travel around the layout as with a mobile decoder. I am planning on adding another stationary HO decoder, rather than pursuing any more of the n scale sound decoders.

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