the "art" of modeling "sound"

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by CCT70, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. CCT70

    CCT70 Member

    The problem *I* see with sound is that the speakers are WAY too small to sound decent, especially if you're cramming them into a diesel hood in HO. I have heard a lot of HO sound equipped engines, but they're so "tinney" sounding that it's nothing more than a novelty to me. Then again, you can't get decent reverb from a brace of SD40-2's out of a dime sized speaker and I don't expect to, at least not for another decade or so.
  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I dont have any sound on my engines(someday I will). I have listened to some on other layouts and I still think bottom line is they may not be perfect but they do sound nice.
  3. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I think it's going to be difficult to get good diesel sound, as Tom pointed out, because of the small speakers. Most of the sound I'm looking for is the gut-rumbling low frequencies, the Alco "chug" and the EMD "throb". Those itty-bitty speakers just can't cut it.

    Steam sounds a little better, because most of the sound is in the higher frequencies, and is reproduced fairly well.

    Another problem you may have assessing diesel sound is throttle posiiton. Most of the time, unless there's some serious momentum set, the diesel sounds are going to be representative of Run-1 or Run-2... unless you really wind it out.

    What most of us want to hear (I think) with a diesel is the run-up to a higher throttle setting, and then a backing off... or have it respond to a load (real or figurative) so that even though it's just creeping along, the engine's pounding along in Run-6 or so. I think between back-EMF, momentum, and some fancy function mapping, you can do this with SoundTraxx and LokSound decoders, although I haven't tried it yet.
  4. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    We look at the prototype to model detail, weathering, loads, paint schemes, etc.. We should also look to the prototype for modeling sound.
    Sound, dissipates with distance, is sometimes amplified by the surrounding topography, and structures, is sometimes reduced/muffled by the same factors.
    I remember running my N&W 2-8-8-2's on Gary Pfiel's JGL, and listening to the whistle from the opposite side of his layout, and hearing it properly reduced by the distance, and echoing off the hills......:cool: :cool:.
    In smaller spaces, what is delivered by the manufacturer, is too loud! The best way to judge this is simply...when a prototype loco "appears to be the same size" as your model locomotive, the sound level you can hear, should be matched by the model. This will take some getting used to, to effectively decide, but the effect will be far more pleasing, in the long run. Sound volume, will also aid in creating an audible "effect of distance", much the same way as forced perspective does visually. How close is the real thing before you can hear far, before the sound fades to silence...and how much effect does ambient sound have on hearing the loco. An old RADAR term, "signal to noise ratio", comes to mind here.
    So!, when you're out fantripping, add the perceived sound volume to the list of things you're seeking, and try it on the layout. You might be surprised, and , posting the results of whatever technique you use to re-create those levels in miniature, would make for an interesting thread.
  5. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    I've always felt sound was too loud also. This past weekend changed my mind on steam.

    I was watching ATSF 3751 climb the hill here in San Diego, at the time, she was slowing for a red signal at the top of the hill. A good 1/2 mile away, she was puffing HARD to keep the train moving slower & slower. Her "Bangs" were so loud that they shook the ground and made me sick to my stomach. 1/4 mile later she let up and let the Amtrak P42 do the work (which previously had not done anything up the hill). Much quieter.

    I doubt we'll EVER be able to recreate that level of sound, you'd need a sub-woofer the size of a computer, if not larger.
  6. ScratchyAngel

    ScratchyAngel Member

    To me, even if the sound is not ideal it's a good thing if it's loud enough to cover the motor noise in a little N scale engine. I think super-advanced/realistic for N will be a longer wait/harder work than in larger scales.
  7. logicman

    logicman Greybeard

    Just a thought.

    I have noticed lots of comments about lack of bass, especially for diesels.

    A friend who dabbles in electronics suggests using a low-pass filter followed by amplification. The filter could be electronic or acoustic. The amplifier could be a single chip.

    Low-pass filter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  8. riverotter

    riverotter Midwest Alliance Rail Sys

    Exactly. I have two locomotives that came with sound (I couldn't get them any other way) ---- I shut it off in both of them.
  9. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    The sounds in my train room come from my lips, larnyx and lungs :)

    Kinda like that guy from the police academy movies, but much, much crappier :)

  10. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    If the sound in your loco is too loud then you are able to turn it lower- I agree, having it softer doesn't make the sound destorted and also doesn't give you a headache when you have a few steam locos popping their saftey valves. :)
  11. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I remember, to this day, the sound and fury of what I believe was a LIRR G-5 4-6-0 on the "Cannonball Express", as it pulled in to the Bridgehampton, N.Y. station. That "fright" made me a steam lover. I also remember the UP Northern, on a fan trip, pulling out of Elmhurst, Il., from a 15 minute stop, and barely making a sound!
    Perhaps, some day, we'll get volume control "on the throttle", rather than a "set" CV. It would be nice to have the almost silent drift, and the deep boom of an engine starting, or working, under load, and anything in between, at the ease of moving a knob while the engine is operating.
    Sound manufacturers?.....hint...hint :wink::wink:
  12. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    It's a nice idea, but unless you can fit an 8" woofer into an HO locmotive, you're not going to get any bass with an on-board system, low-pass filter or no.

    I recall reading somewhere that there's a system in the works that will use the transponder feature of newer DCC decoders to note the loco's position on the layout, and use a series of below-the-scenery speakers to do the bass sounds, so that they appear to follow the loco around the layout. This should work, since bass is generally less directional than the higher frequencies.

    One of these days we'll get it right. ;)
  13. It can be much simpler in a yard on servicing facility, where you've got a cluster of motive power in one general vicinity; a single subwoofer can provide the lower frequencies to that entire area (still at relatively low volume), and the on-board sound systems will allow individual engines to stand out.
  14. Has anyone tried an external system with speakers located in buildings around a layout? I'm considering just such a system at the moment, but don't know of a good one. I would like one that has brake squeal, rail squeal, coupling, etc. any recommendations would be appreciated and considered. Thank's, Duane
  15. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    At the moment, I don't think there is one. MRC has diesel and steam sound units that do that, but to my ear, they sound pretty cheezy.
  16. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    One could go back to old ways and record the actual sounds- these days you could use your MP3 player instead of a tape recorder. Or you could use better equipment for a better quality recording.
  17. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Not to do only with sound but SMELL...

    I saw in a back issue of MR that one used top be able to buy different sounds of industries and it came with some kind of liquid that you would put on a small length of cloth and you'd get the smell.

    E.G.: A lumber mill will have a tape with half an hours recording of sounds and then the smell of pinewood that youd put in or near the building. Can one still get these??
  18. I plan to use small speakers (or huge ones, relative to those used inside locomotives) to playback industry-specific soundtracks at appropriate locations, as well as low-level 'neighbourhood' sounds where appropriate.
    As for smell, I've toyed with the idea of cutting off 6" of an old railroad tie in the yard early in the day, and bringing it in later to add the aroma of railroading to an evening operating session. Or maybe I'm just a little nuts...
  19. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Colton modeler- I see the method in your madness! :twisted:
  20. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    I've been waiting on "surroundtrax" from Soundtraxx for some time now. At least 5 years ago it was touted on their website, using decoder feedback to locate the engine and shifting the sound from block to block to follow the train. I'm in HO but think of how great that would be for the folks in the smaller scales!

    Unless, of course, you are in the 'scale distance above my train' camp...

    My steam memories are many and fond, but one particular sound incident stands out in my mind. V&T #25 at the Nevada State RR Museum, pounding up the slight grade on their loop. Just barking away like cannon shots about 2 per second and creeping along.

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