What about sound?

Why am I asking this in the Beginners FAQ's?

Because it will make a big difference in not only cost, but what systems will support what you want.

Also, adding sound later to a system that had just remote control will be more expensive than starting with sound.

I have a strong opinion, no matter how bad your hearing is, sound adds a whole new "fun" dimension to the hobby. It might seem that it would cost too much, but I encourage you to hear a GOOD sound system first and see what you like.

A good system to listen to is a Phoenix system, it's not the best, but it is in the top 5. The reason for this recommendation is that listening to a garbage sound system is not going to let you know how much it adds to the hobby.

Levels of capability

There is quite a range in the levels of capability of sound systems.

With diesel systems, you want a system that "spools up" as you take off and remember that the diesel speed is NOT directly related to the locomotive speed. You want a system that allows you to have the engines work hard as the train accelerates.

You also need a selection of bells and horns that match your prototype.

The best systems simulate the notching of a real locomotive

Steam is even harder to do in a realistic manner, the chuff is the most noticed thing, and VERY FEW systems will do a realistic chuff. An additional difficulty is to have the chuff sound right at high and low speeds. The issue is that most systems just loop the same recording over and over, and when the loco goes faster they just play it more often.

This gives a very unrealistic result, because chuffs are longer and "deeper" at slow speeds and shorter and "sharper" at high speeds. Even the top 5 sound systems struggle to do this right.

In addtion electric locos and rail trucks are also hard to get right, and not all sound manufacturers make these versions.

How to choose:

Best is to listen to several different systems at a time, a club will help a lot.

Listen to steam and diesel separately

1. is the prime mover sound realistic?
2. bell and horn/whistle sounds good?
3. can you control the bell and horn to your liking?
4. is the prime mover sound ok to you or monotonous?

Weather Underground PWS KCACARLS78