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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a lot of research and hemming and hawing I went ahead and gulped and bought a Phoenix 2k2 board for my Aristo Mikado. I have previously used the small scale railways soundcard, which is cheap and sounds good but has some limits--for example, the steam chuff stops when the whistle blows. The Phoenix is more easily controlled and can play multiple sounds at once. My conclusion is that it's more than I need and I'm kind of sorry I bought it.

Installation is pretty easy. It shipped with a speaker but I'm using the one that was already in the tender. All the connection points on the soundcard are clealry labled. In my case I ran two wires to the track power pickups in the tender, plugged the battery and the speaker in, and installed the reed switch to control the chuff sound. Later I added reed switches to trigger whistle and bell. It can be modified witha compputer ionterface, but I didn 't buy that--for one thing, I use an Apple and the PC world is alien to me. The phoenix software only works with PCs

Sound quality: sound is really good. But it has a good bit of reverb on it. I'm a semi-pro musician and do a fair amount of recording, and the reverb they added is very clear. Most of the time reverb makes things sound better. But it also adds an un-natural quality, because you're hearing reverb that isn't appropriate to the surroundings. I can see why they did it but I wish they hadn't. It's not a big deal, and probably most people will hear it as sounding good. It does sound good, I'd just rather not hear the sound of some other room when the whislte blows

It gets LOUD. Louder than I would ever want. It has excellent sounding brakes, blowdown, coupler clank, etc.

There are some confusing things about it, confusing to me at least. For example, It can be wired so that voltage triggers the chuff, which seems like it'd be a great way to go, excep that I'm using Aristo's onboard train engineer to control speed, and I'm not sure how to wire that. Aristo's manuals are comically slight and it's not all that clear in the Phoenix manual. I maybe will call Phoenix and ask.

aristo sells an accessory switch (55495) which can be used to truigger sounds. I've been thinking of using that to trigger some of the sounds manually--the whistle and the bell, nbut also (I think) things like the sound of water entering the tender or caol being shoveled. But here again directions are pretty unclear. I've also order Del Tapparo's Smart Sound trigger to randomize the reed switches, so they don't always blow the same way at the same place.

I think if you're running DCC or one of the more sophisticated remote systems, like Airwire or RCS, and have a PC, the Phoenix card is more fun than sex, but for what I'm doing it seems like overkill. And I don't like that reverb....

It's a high quality unit with a ton of options, but it's not cheap or easy to take advantage of all of them and I might have been better off buying something simpler. On the other hand, I might end up getting a more sophisticated setup and being happy I got the Phoenix



 
 

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lownote,

I have several Phonenix sound boards and I do agree that they can be overkill for some people. I haven't noticed the reverb you mention but I do like the other features of the sound card. Especially the fact it can be easily reprogramed for different loco sounds. Even if you don't have the programing kit, you might be able to have someone else reprogram it for you.

I have several of Del's SST modules. They work great. One word of caution, Talk to Del before you hook up a 55495 AND the SST to the same reed switches. I discussed doing this with the 55474 with him last year. There could be problems with that set up but I don't remember the details. I had not thought about using the 55495 for triggering other sounds. May give that a try myself.

While using the voltage to trigger the chuff works, a reed switch is much better. I even put a reed switch on my diesel equipment to trigger speed settings.

Thanks for the thorough write up.
 

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You mention the 55474 which is a 27 mhz unit and then mention the 55495 which can be used with the on-board receivers.

Which system do you have, 27 mhz transmitter in Black, or the 75 mhz transmitter which is grey?

I ask as the 27mhz on-board has not been available for years, but the relay board works with both onboard receivers. If newly purchased then the on-board would be the 75 mhz system.
 

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Hi Dan,
How's it going?
Yep, understand all of that. My experience was with the 27 mhz track side unit, which can be used on board. I know that lownote was talking about the on board relay. I was just trying to say that if he was was considering, and he did not specifically say he was, hooking up the 55495 in parallel with reed switches, he should ask Del about it. Some of the SST modules, as shipped, would like this setup.
 

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Without trying to do it in an anechoic chamber, it's hard to record something like a steam whistle with no reverb anywhere in it. That said, a lot of the earlier Phoenix sound sets have a LOT of "added" effects .... notably reverb. If it bugs you, you may find that some soundsets have cleaner recordings than others.

Phoenix tends to do a lot of "engineering" of their sounds ... you'll notice, for example, that the Porter sound is really the Pennsy sound with a pitch shift, etc to make it sound like a shrill whistle and a smaller locomotive..... and that several of their patches are "mix and match" of this kind of thing. Not good, bad, or indifferent... just what they do.

Without the computer interface, programming the Phoenix can be ... well, challenging. The manual lays out how to do it, with a combination of jumpers and power on/off ... most of the major features can be defined this way. It's all in there, and if you call them or e-mail them they're pretty good about helping you.

You might find, though, all around, that a Sierra by Soundtraxx solves a lot of your issues. The sound sets are less engineered, programming is very straightforward (and is all on-board, no computer link) and hookup is about the same as a Phoenix, as far as the wiring and terminals go, although some soldering is required if you're going to add the external charging jack. It can also be configured to work with whatever remote control you like, or Del's trigger module, etc.

If I can help, feel free to contact me off-board.

Matthew (OV)
 

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look at QSI QSI QSI QSI then make a decision! see compared to Phoenix at you tube 7485jerry comparison between Phoenix and QSI Take a look then decide Phoenix $160/$250 QSI $128 ???????????????????????????? Still have questions if i can help contact me email offboard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The Regal
 

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QSI is fine as long as you run DCC.  It does not have a provision for battery back up at this time if your using DC. I use it and run DCC and for the money it beats anything else out there.You will find cheaper systems out there but then you get what you pay for. I like the Phoenix system for the varity of sounds.  Some can be programed to operated without reed switches others need a trigger.  One of the easiest to hook up as compaired to a Sierra where soldering is required to install the on of switch.  The trigger for the whistle can be controled by increasing the track speed on the Phoenix and using the 27mhz AC system.  Later RJD
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I don't actually have any problems with the Phoenix card--it's a good unit. My review was just trying to be more even handed than what people typcially do when they get something new, which is more like "this is the greatest X ever!" I assume over time I'll get it to do what I need. I can't decide if I want to trigger the sounds manually, using the Aristo accesssory board and train engineer, or trigger the sounds with track magnets that I'll randomize using Del Tapparo's Smart Sound Trigger. I'll have to try them both and see what works best

I was told by QSI that they're planning to release a receiver card that will work with Train Engineer. Now if only they had sound samples on their site. I can't figure out why they don't. They have sound files but I can't get them to play despite having q bunch of pro audio applications on my laptop
 
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