Zimo MX660 Narrow Sound Decoder

RBrodzinsky Feb 5, 2017

  1. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Just read, on Brian's of Streamlined Backshop newsletter that Zimo has come out with a 9.5mm wide decoder for narrow hood n-scale diesels. I am not at all familiar with Zimo's sound decoders, or how versatile they are, compared with ESU, so would be interested in comments from those who are.

    This might kick ESU into gear to get their narrow board released.
     
  2. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Rick,

    I too saw and read the poop about this decoder. Sounds intriguing. However, I have been told that Zimo's USA sound files are very limited. Perhaps, they are adding more in an attempt to compete with ESU in the sound world.

    I find the large solder pads to be interesting as well as the back side has nothing on it.

    I hope we see some more about these soon as I am interested in sounding a couple of my diesels. If the price shown turns out to be accurate, I think it is reasonable for a sound decoder. The Zimo motor control is excellent and probably one of the top notch motor control. If you did not see the info about the decoder, here is a link.

    http://store.sbs4dcc.com/ZIMOMX660MicroDCCSoundDecoder-UniversalDrop-InwithLargeSolderPa.aspx

    Always have fun,
    Carl
     
  3. RedRiverRR4433

    RedRiverRR4433 TrainBoard Member

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    Rick:

    I've been using Zimo non sound decoders in many of my locomotives for years. The motor control is just the best when you evaluate motor functions of decoders in N scale. Lately, I've been installing the six pin Zimo decoders in FVM and Arnold diesels.

    I've also hardwired some of the Zimo decoders in some of my older steam locomotives which originally were hardwired with Lenz 521W decoders. The results were gratifying.

    Staying cool and having fun with it.......:cool::cool:

    Shades
     
  4. papahnash

    papahnash TrainBoard Member

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    I installed a MX648 with a cube speaker in a Kato C62 4-6-4 Japanese steam loco. The install went very well, motor control and sound were excellant. The problem I incurred was being able to change CV values. Zimo uses a system that requires access to #'s 300+ to program the sound features. My Digitrax Zephyr+ would not program them. Bryan at SBS4DCC gladly changed the CV's for me. For that reason and the lack of USA steam loco files I have stuck with ESU. They are an excellent decoder and with Bryan's help I'm sure a very successful install is possible.
    Hope this helps.
    Harold
     
  5. papahnash

    papahnash TrainBoard Member

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  6. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Harold, Thank you sir for finding and posting that sound file page. I had looked but guess did not go far enough. I tried 3 or 4 of the diesel sounds and they were pretty good.

    Carl
     
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  7. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hmm, not sure I want to invest in ANOTHER programmer (already have PS3 and LokProgrammer). Will have to wait and see how this all plays out. Looks like a much better fit for narrow hoods; and suppose if push comes to shove, have Brian pre-load and then "that's the way it is" for that decoder.

    There are a lot of Zimo sound decoder config files available in JMRI, not sure I've ever seen much discussion about them either here or on the JMRI list.
     
  8. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

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    Here's my 2-cents.

    First, note that some Zimo sound files are "coded" - that means that you have to pay extra ($25-35) for that sound file. Unfortunately, the "coded" files are generally MUCH better in sound quality than the free ones. I met Heinz Dappen at Indy last summer, and he really knows what he's doing.

    Second, Zimo's documentation is even worse than ESU's. Good luck figuring out how to program the sound decoders on your own, or even figuring out which function keys do what! Fortunately, Bryan sent me a cheat sheet that I couldn't find on Zimo's web site listing the F-key assignments.

    Third, the range of sound files doesn't come close to what is available from ESU on the diesel side; on the other hand, Zimo's range of steam files is superior to ESU's, but most of these are extra-cost coded files.

    I installed a Zimo MX649 sound decoder in one of my Atlas GP9's. The decoder is 9mm wide by 4mm high, so it fit easily with just a bit of frame milling. As others have noted, Zimo's motor control is really the best in the industry - a bit better than ESU's, which I already consider superior to anything produced by US manufacturers (e.g., Digitrax or TCS). The sound, however, was notably inferior to ESU's EMD567 16-cylinder file. It isn't "bad" - just not as good. I grew up literally right across the street from an Illinois Central branch line that was switched by IC GP7's and 9's. When I hear ESU's EMD567 sound files, it's like I'm standing in our front yard, watching the IC units and hearing them throttle up and down as they did their switching moves. The Zimo file sounds "sort of" like an EMD567, but with nothing near the realism of the ESU file.

    The Zimo board is certainly a big deal - but it would be a much bigger deal if the sound files were (1) all "free" with a decoder purchase, instead of having some require an additional $25-35 fee; (2) if there was as wide a range of diesel files available as ESU has and (3) if those files were actually as good as ESU's.

    And yes, you'd need to invest in yet another programmer to do sound file downloading yourself; although I'm not sure you can even do this with the "coded" files (these may need to be installed by an authorized dealer only).

    I really admire Zimo's engineering, and their willingness to address this market. The folks I talked to at Indy were very knowledgeable, and they have a great product. I just don't think they are "there" yet with their selection of sound files, and I really believe their business model with the "coded" files is seriously flawed, at least for the US market.

    So I'll keep using ESU LokSound Select micros for the forseeable future, thinning shells if necessary (although I've found that if you remove the heavy plastic wrap on the Micro, it will usually fit inside a narrow-hood shell without any shell thinning; you do then need to be VERY careful to insulate the frame area where the decoder is with kapton tape).

    I wish I could say we had a perfect solution for sound in N scale. Unfortunately, not yet.

    John C.
     
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  9. N-Jineer

    N-Jineer TrainBoard Member

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    $25-35 for a sound file??? In that case, I'm so glad I live in the UK. I've just installed ZIMO MX645R decoders in my 3 best Hornby OO locos; 'Flying Scotsman' NRM 2016, a Gresley A4 and a 6MT 'Clan' - all 3 are 4-6-2 Pacifics, and I bought each decoder preloaded with the correct sound file for that particular loco. The sound files had to be bought with the decoder, they cannot be bought seperately, and only cost ... 1p each.

    The sound and motor control is amazing - I won't be using any other decoder in my British steam locos from now on, that's for sure...
     
  10. jdcolombo

    jdcolombo TrainBoard Member

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    The sound files for UK prototypes generally are pre-loaded by the dealer and don't cost an extra amount (unless the dealer charges for doing the pre-load). But if you look at the sound file list at the link provided in one of the posts above, you'll see the word "Coded" next to many sound files, particularly steam files, for US prototypes. These files cannot be used unless a special unlock code is programmed into the decoder in CV's 260-263. These files cost $25 or $35 depending on the complexity of the file.

    I'm all for independent programmers making money. I just think that they ought to be paid by Zimo, and Zimo should provide the files free of charge to the end user. Having high-quality sound files is a benefit to Zimo because it entices end-users to buy the product. So, obtaining those sound files ought to be a part of Zimo's cost structure; If that means a decoder costs $5 more to provide the funding infrastructure to pay for all this, well, so be it. I just think the "coded" file process is cumbersome and eventually will create ill-will when someone buys a decoder without realizing they need to pay an extra $25 for the sound file they want.

    John C.
     
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