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729 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Fellow model railroaders,

I am returning to the model railroad hobby after a long hiatus, and am looking for some help.

I purchased a Bachmann Spectrum K27 and am ready to upgrade and install a sound system, but have been overwhelmed by the variety of vendors. I would be interested in any feedback by members of the group on which sound system they might recommend and what influenced their recommendation. As I am sure there are vendors as well as hobbyists here, I would welcome their input as well. As always, price is a consideration, however I am more interested in quality, durability, ease installation and compatibility.

I am currently running (and for the foreseeable future) track power on my club layout, but will be eventually moving to battery/rc for home.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Bob C.

Premium Member
2,910 Posts
Most people will tell you to go with Phoenix, and they are very good. I have one Phoenix card in a steam engine and it has a very wide range of prototypical sounds. I don't run on DCC, so I'm only touching what it can really do. It was easy to install. My soundcard went bad on me after four months, but I sent it in and they quickly fixed it.

The thing I don't like about Phoenix is the reverb they put on the sounds--they have a "processed" sound that bugs me. Some people don't hear it and if they do hear it don't care. I kind of drives me nuts. The whistle blows, and I hear a reverb that sounds like a big room, like a very big enclosed station. A nice sound, but not appropriate to a train running out in the open.

Here's an example--listen to the "tail" after the whistle stops blowing:

Also the chuffs sound odd to me, like they have been heavily processed

There was also a review of diesel sound on Garden Railways in December 2007, by Gary Raymond, that noticed exactly the same thing, the processing on the Phoenix diesel sounds. But if you don't hear it and it doesn't bug you then it doesn't matter.

These are minor quiblles, but they are enough to make me want to try a different sound card. I'm not sure if others would be better.

here's an earlier thread on the same subject
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