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Which older sound decoders would you replace first?

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Which older sound decoders would you replace first?
Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, June 29, 2018 6:17 AM

I have around six factory equipped sound engines with decoders from that list as follows:

2 HO Atlas GP40-2's (QSI)

1 HO Walthers Proto F7AB (QSI)

2 Broadway RSD15's (Paragon)

1 Athearn Genesis GP40-2 (Tsunami 1 OEM)


I can upgrade two of the above via Soundtraxx up-grade program for June 2018.  Which of my engines would need the upgrade most based on your experiences with the sound they come with?

 

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:04 AM

 Whichever runs/sounds the worst?

On that list, I wouldn't consider a Tsu-2 an upgrade to a Wow or Lok 4.0

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Posted by tstage on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:12 AM

I totally agree with Randy.  And I have a couple of old QSIs (a v1 and a Revolution) and they still sound and run great.

If you like the Tsunamis and your list of loco decoders is disappointing, I would trade the old Paragon and the Tsunami 1.  Having said that, I would opt for a sound decoder with better motor-control and Loksound and TCS have that in abundance.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:23 AM

On that list, I wouldn't consider a Tsu-2 an upgrade to a Wow or Lok 4.0

I was a bit surprised to see Wow and Lok 4.0 on that list since they are pretty recent and should be high quality sound.  I can only guess that ST is trying to see if they can pull buyers of those decoders over to TSU2, but that seems like an unlikely or hard sell.

Randy, the SoundTraxx list wasn't what I was looking for feedback on.  It was the list of engines I have which are candidates for updates.  Atlas QSI GP40-2, Walthers QSI P2K F7, BLI Paragon 2 RSD15, Genesis TSU OEM GP40-2 (not sure about the last one)

 

tstage

I totally agree with Randy.  And I have a couple of old QSIs (a v1 and a Revolution) and they still sound and run great.

Tom

The only decoders I have heard people complain about running qualities are the Tsunami 1 type, which some say take some tweaking to get the running qualities to be good.

But I'm speaking maily from a sound perspective for upgrade purposes.

I have run my Atlas GP40-2's with QSI, and the sound was "ok" but not impressive. 

I haven't run my Walthers Proto F7's with QSI, but I have read a number of people not happy with the motor sounds.

I would be interested in an objective opinion on which of the loco's I listed as to which would be best candidates for an upgrade.

Worst case scenario I can just order EMD TSU2 PNP decoders as most of my engines are EMD type and there are lots of options on which could get the 4 TSU2's I'd end up with via the offer.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 29, 2018 7:50 AM

 That was only an afterthought. My first line was the answer to your question Big Smile

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Friday, June 29, 2018 9:01 AM

rrinker

 My first line was the answer to your question Big Smile

                              --Randy

Focus Randy, focus!

Your "answer" might have been fine if I had a layout set up with DCC to make a lot of comparisons, but I don't, which is why I am soliciting some feedback form those who do, if you get my drift. 

*hint hint.*

I've reworded the first post to make it more clear what kind of feedback is needed.

 

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, June 30, 2018 9:19 AM

riogrande5761

I have around six factory equipped sound engines with decoders from that list as follows:

2 HO Atlas GP40-2's (QSI)

1 HO Walthers Proto F7AB (QSI)

2 Broadway RSD15's (Paragon)

1 Athearn Genesis GP40-2 (Tsunami 1 OEM)


I can upgrade two of the above via Soundtraxx up-grade program for June 2018.  Which of my engines would need the upgrade most based on your experiences with the sound they come with?

Jim, I have been into the OEM onboard sound thing for about three or four years and have owned about every brand there is except Broadway Paragon. 

Which one is best for you would depend upon your priorities. 

 I think the consensus is...and I agree....that Tsunami 1 sounds more "authentic" than does QSI 1 (leaving out the Titan, which I think sounds as well as Tsunami 2, Lok, and WOW).  If they are RioGrande, I think your Atlas GP40-2s have the QSI1 and not the Titan.

But in addition to authenticity, simple pleasant sound is a demand for me.  If it hurts my ears or is annoying in some way, it discourages me from running the loco.  What is the point of owning it if I hate running it?

Personally, I don't like the way any manufacturer replicates a turbocharged EMD prime mover, including Tsu, Lok, and TCS.  That's a lot of locomotives in HO scale that I won't buy.  The high pitched scream grates on me very quickly.  Since QSI sounds are computer generated and not recorded from actual sounds, like Tsu, ESU, and TCS, a simple CV49 to 14 then CV 52 to 0 eliminates the turbocharger.  This makes  a GP40 more like a GP38 of course, but there are enough high pitched frequencies coming from our little speakers that its not a stretch for it to sound turboee when running and pulling a train. (Tsunamis allow you to eliminate some high frequncies, but the result is horrible, IMO).

And QSI matches motor rev to speed steps very well right out of the box.

If it were me with my priorities, I'd keep the GP40-2s the way they are and mute the turbo.  The other locos, not turboed, I'd replace with Lok since they still have better motor control and rev matching than Tsunami 2.

Since the Titan is much more accurate sounding than QSI1, and has exceptional slow speed performance; ideally, I'd find GP40-2 QSI titans on ebay and do a simple shell swap.  Its easy to swap the shells.

 

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Posted by selector on Saturday, June 30, 2018 10:17 AM

What I see so far is that everyone has preferences and beefs about pretty much all the decoders, and it isn't limited to the older ones.  I happen to like the sounds of the old QSI's, especially the sound files for the Pennsy whistles....which I think BLI blew with their first Paragon series.  They just aren't even close.  Too bad, because I'm a big fan of BLI's steamers and have several of them.

To our OP, what would you consider to be an 'upgrade".  Motive control, sound..?

Remember that a decoder is as useful as a shovel without dirt if its speaker system or mounting are inadequate.  I have some installations that sound less than perfect, but I suspect it was an installation defect, maybe an inappropriate speakerer.  My early Lionel Challenger in HO, with an early QSI, has excellent sound. It has a metal shelled tender, the centipede, and it has two speakers firing downward at a 45 deg angle on a U-shaped mount.  Someone knew how to get the most out of that old QSI.

The newer tunable, with reverb, decoders have very rich sound...but if the speaker selection, mounting, and enclosure are bogus.......................................

As a responder has already asked, how about replacing the ones with the worst sound, provided you can be sure it's the decoder's fault and not the speaker or its installation.  Just sayin'...

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Posted by gmpullman on Saturday, June 30, 2018 1:14 PM

selector
To our OP, what would you consider to be an 'upgrade".  Motive control, sound..?

The OP is refering to the Soundtraxx "June Trade-Up Promotion" whereby you buy a Tsunami 2 decoder and send back a Tsunami or competetor's sound decoder. Soundtraxx will send a "free" second Tsunami 2 decoder to you for a $5 shipping fee: ($15 outside USA)

I am participating in the same program by purchasing two (the limit) and sending two Paragon decoders to Durango, as a "trade-in".

Overall a pretty good deal. I'll have four Tsunami 2s in my hand for about $51. each, total cost.

Cheers, Ed

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, June 30, 2018 3:21 PM

gmpullman
selector
To our OP, what would you consider to be an 'upgrade".  Motive control, sound..?

I am participating in the same program by purchasing two (the limit) and sending two Paragon decoders to Durango, as a "trade-in".

Overall a pretty good deal. I'll have four Tsunami 2s in my hand for about $51. each, total cost.

Cheers, Ed

Thanks Ed,

Hurray, you correctly comprehended why I started this topic what kind of comment and feedback I was shooting for.

The engines I listed qualify for the ST upgrade program.  I have already purchase two TSU2 decoders, so now I need to choose which of the qualifying loco's decoders to send back to ST for another two TSU decoders.

Two of my loco's are Broadway RSD15's which came with Paragon II decoders.

I do believe the QSI that are in my Walthers Proto F7's and Atlas GP40-2's are the pre-Titan QSI.

Doughless
I'd replace with Lok since they still have better motor control and rev matching than Tsunami 2.

As Ed commented, I am participating in the SoundTraxx upgrade offer so replacing with Lok is not an option per the Soundtraxx promotion.  If Lok sound was running a promotion, that might be a different story.  

The other info you provided really isn't of much help because it is pretty much unrelated to the promotion and how best to take advantage of it.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Saturday, June 30, 2018 3:59 PM

The video says the offer is for June.  You better get rolling.  July is here in 7 hours.

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Saturday, June 30, 2018 4:08 PM

I chose to upgrade my old OEM QSI units in BLI engines that are almost 15 years old.

They simply lack too much bass for me to be happy.  Even with the same speakers, newer decoders do a better job of capturing the diesel "rumble."

Unfortunately, the MRC decoder in first run Athearn MP15ACs is not eligible, which is too bad, because that thing is a decoder-shaped turd.

 

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

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Posted by selector on Saturday, June 30, 2018 5:33 PM

gmpullman

 

 
selector
To our OP, what would you consider to be an 'upgrade".  Motive control, sound..?

 

The OP is refering to the Soundtraxx "June Trade-Up Promotion" whereby you buy a Tsunami 2 decoder and send back a Tsunami or competetor's sound decoder. Soundtraxx will send a "free" second Tsunami 2 decoder to you for a $5 shipping fee: ($15 outside USA)

I am participating in the same program by purchasing two (the limit) and sending two Paragon decoders to Durango, as a "trade-in".

Overall a pretty good deal. I'll have four Tsunami 2s in my hand for about $51. each, total cost.

Cheers, Ed

 

Thanks, Ed, but I did understand the original post.  I still don't understand what improvement the OP is expecting, no matter how cheaply he acquires it.  Does he hope for better sound? Maybe not unless he also corrects any defect in the original speaker and its mounting.  Does he expect finer motor control than he currently gets in the A, B, or Y decoder he's contemplating sending in for exchange-plus-five bucks?  The original Tsunami had horrible motor control out of the box, but I found a way to tweak some nosebleed territory, high-numbered CV's that got my BLI 'Stealth' Class A 4-8-4 to run smoother than any other drive I own, including the vaunted LokSounds.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Saturday, June 30, 2018 6:11 PM

BigDaddy

The video says the offer is for June.  You better get rolling.  July is here in 7 hours.

All ready rolled sir.  I ordered one around the 12th and the other a couple days ago.  As long as the receipts are dated in June, thats good.  The qualifying decoders being upgraded need to be sent in post marked with the receipts and forms by July 20 according to a rep at Soundtraxx.

I was soliciting feedback regarding the 2nd step, which decoders to send back to be upgraded so the late date (end of June now) was/is not a problem.

 

selector

I still don't understand what improvement the OP is expecting, no matter how cheaply he acquires it.  Does he hope for better sound? Maybe not unless he also corrects any defect in the original speaker and its mounting.  Does he expect finer motor control than he currently gets in the A, B, or Y decoder he's contemplating sending in for exchange-plus-five bucks?  The original Tsunami had horrible motor control out of the box, but I found a way to tweak some nosebleed territory

It isn't that difficult to figure out.  The OP, Moi, expects better sound mainly.  Many have complained a lot about the quality of sound from pre-Titan. QSI  I've run mine and not been terribly impressed.  So, does he (moi) hope for better sound?  Yes and there is a consensus among sound users that TSU2 is much better than the older QSI.  Worst case scenario is I've bought two decoders and outfitted a couple more engines and two already equipped sound engines are maybe a bit better sound wise, but hopefully much better.

The TSU1s are also upgradable in the deal, and as you noted they are not so hot for motor control but can be tweaked so I'll leave the one TSU1 alone and plan on tweaking it.

 

I've gotten some helpful feedback and it pretty much confirms what I was planning.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, July 01, 2018 12:11 PM

 So I was on to the right answer anyway Big Smile

What sounds/runs the worse is highly subjective. I happen to like the one QSI I have (Atlas Trainmaster) but I goot rid of the one Tsu 1 I had because I hated the poor horns. Given the list of potential locos to replace, I probably would go with a different order than you. And you more or less answered the same way I did, when you said you don;t like the sounds in the QSI GP40. Don't like it? Use it as the trade up.

 It's hard to provide objective answers when the criteria is mostly subjective. I guess the objective answer would be, replace ALL the older ones, but that goes beyond the limits of the offier. And as others mentioned, it's not always just the decoder, the quality (or lack thereof) of the speaker and enclosure has a lot to do with the sound quality. And depending on the rating and wiring of the speaker(s), it might not be a simple swap of the decoder, you may have to change speakers. Should be OK for QSI or Tsu 1 to Tsu 2.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, July 01, 2018 2:41 PM

rrinker

 So I was on to the right answer anyway Big Smile

What sounds/runs the worse is highly subjective. I happen to like the one QSI I have (Atlas Trainmaster) but I goot rid of the one Tsu 1 I had because I hated the poor horns.

Judging by what I have been reading recently and over the past couple of years it is subjective, but there does seem to be a general consensus about QSI; I've read a lot more complaints about the quality of the prime mover sounds from QSI than TSU or Lok.  I haven't seen much feedback at all about Wow diesel.

Your comments about the TSU1 horns is pretty universal.  I only have two engines factory equipped with Sountraxx, 1) Genesis GP40-2 (per Athearns site - Onboard DCC decoder with SoundTraxx Tsunami decoder)and RTR SD40R (Per Athearns site - With Sound version features RTR Sound by Soundtraxx).  I'm not sure if they qualify for the replacement.

It's hard to provide objective answers when the criteria is mostly subjective. I guess the objective answer would be, replace ALL the older ones, but that goes beyond the limits of the offer. And as others mentioned, it's not always just the decoder, the quality (or lack thereof) of the speaker and enclosure has a lot to do with the sound quality. And depending on the rating and wiring of the speaker(s), it might not be a simple swap of the decoder, you may have to change speakers. Should be OK for QSI or Tsu 1 to Tsu 2.

                                      --Randy

So far the consensus seems to be to replace the QSI ones although there are a few people who disagree.  Yes, can only replace two.

I have a couple of BLI RSD15's and some feedback indicates ESU has better sounds for those so the ST should be good for the EMD engines.

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Posted by Doughless on Sunday, July 01, 2018 7:37 PM

riogrande5761

 

 

So far the consensus seems to be to replace the QSI ones although there are a few people who disagree.  Yes, can only replace two. 

I would also agree that the QSI EMD prime mover in your Atlas GP40-2 is not as authentic as any Tsunami, so those probably the ones to replace.

And if you already like the sound in your Athearn Tsunami GP40-2 better than your Atlas QSI GP40-2s, then the decision is easy.

Do the CV 49 to 14 then CV52 to 0 on the Atlas to see how you like it.  When people complain about QSI, I'm not sure if they are really complaining about the prime mover sound, or the awful turbo whine that's overlayed onto the 645 EMD.  The basic speed step control and rev matching on QSI is better than Tsunami, so that would give the QSI a slight advantage.

BTW, the weight that holds the 2 speakers in the Atlas GP40-2 is very big, and the OEM QSI decoder is quite stubby.  Not sure a new TSunami2 will fit directly without milling the weight and/or changing out the speakers.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, July 01, 2018 8:57 PM

If it's going to be that much trouble to replace with the TSU2, then maybe this upgrade excercise and expense may not be worth it.  I'll see if I can return to the ones I bought and forget about the whole thing.  Thx.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, July 02, 2018 9:20 AM

 What do they send yoou for the trade-up, the OEM booard type or the TSU-2200? Looking at pictures of the Atlas loco, there should be plenty of room for the TSU-2200, it's less than an inch and a half long. The board type designed for Athearn/Atlas won't fit.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, July 02, 2018 9:28 AM

Oddly, the GP40-2 is missing from Soundtraxx Atlas decoder selector.  So I emailed SoundTraxx to advise as to which was the correct decoder for the GP40-2 and got this reply:

"For that installation you will want the TSU-PNP for EMD diesels (Part No 885013) and speaker no 810113(35mmX16mm Oval)."

However, several people now have warned me that the PNP circuit board decoder probably won't fit as the QSI factory installed board is smaller and there isn't enough room between the weights and there may be an issue installing the recommended PNP format TSU2 board.  Having conflicting information about what is going to work isn't giving me the warm fuzzies.  At this point I am, at minimum, going to try to return at least one and maybe upgrade one, if that.  I probably won't have an operating layout for at least a year so sound right now isn't a high priority for me; not a big deal if this falls through.

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, July 02, 2018 12:48 PM

riogrande5761

Oddly, the GP40-2 is missing from Soundtraxx Atlas decoder selector.  So I emailed SoundTraxx to advise as to which was the correct decoder for the GP40-2 and got this reply:

"For that installation you will want the TSU-PNP for EMD diesels (Part No 885013) and speaker no 810113(35mmX16mm Oval)."

However, several people now have warned me that the PNP circuit board decoder probably won't fit as the QSI factory installed board is smaller and there isn't enough room between the weights and there may be an issue installing the recommended PNP format TSU2 board.  Having conflicting information about what is going to work isn't giving me the warm fuzzies.  At this point I am, at minimum, going to try to return at least one and maybe upgrade one, if that.  I probably won't have an operating layout for at least a year so sound right now isn't a high priority for me; not a big deal if this falls through.

 

Slight correction, I think there is actually enough length to install a decoder, but you would have to find a different way to mount it.  As you can see from this ebay listing for an Atlas Gold GP40-2 chassis, the speakers take a lot of space.  Back when Atlas used QSI and had the dual 1 inchers, they shoved the decoder forward and screwed it into the weights instead of using the traditional motor frame tabs, which would cause soldering pads to hit the weight.  You can see Atlas used a shortened rear flywheel to accommodate the bigger weight.  Atlas also used plugs instead of pads, so you'd have to cut and strip the wires to hard wire a TSU2 

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Atlas-GP40-2-Power-Chassis-with-Factory-Sound-and-DCC/153079310052?hash=item23a43ce6e4:g:KjYAAOSwEfZbNbIA

 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, July 02, 2018 1:10 PM

Either way, the Atlas GP40-2 is apparently not the straight forward replace/drop-in using the PNP TSU2 that they tell me is supposed to be the choice for that engine.

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, July 02, 2018 1:16 PM

riogrande5761

Either way, the Atlas GP40-2 is apparently not the straight forward replace/drop-in using the PNP TSU2 that they tell me is supposed to be the choice for that engine.

 

Agreed. 

You may be able to mount the TSU2 by using double stick foam tape on those shelves on the weights after the wires are soldered to the pads.  Would want to keep the pads insulated from the weights of course.  It might not be that difficult to find a way to secure the decoder, but using the tabs on the motor mount would seem impossible.

Might be worth a thought before you decide to return it.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, July 02, 2018 1:54 PM

I'll look into it.  I only have one TSU2 actually received so far which is the PNP type,  but my wife is keeping me so busy I don't really have any hobby time during the week and only a little on the weekends.  I really miss my 4 day work-weeks I had before changing jobs.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, July 02, 2018 3:26 PM

 Don't fear the soolder. THe wiring should be rather obvious just based on where it comes from and where on the existing QSI it is soldered. Just mark them when you clip out the old decoder to send back, if they don't follow the NMRA color code.. 

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Monday, July 02, 2018 8:38 PM

rrinker

 What do they send yoou for the trade-up, the OEM board type or the TSU-2200? Looking at pictures of the Atlas loco, there should be plenty of room for the TSU-2200, it's less than an inch and a half long. The board type designed for Athearn/Atlas won't fit.

                               --Randy 

Randy, I believe you can request whatever TSU2 decoder type and format you want.  So if the Tsu 2200 is a better fit and easier upgrade than the ST recommended pnp (light board) type, that might be an option.  I cancelled the 2nd decoder but still can do a single upgrade.  (The promotion let's you upgrade up to two engines as long as you bought the 2 decoders in June.

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 11:03 AM

 Since you have to take the loco apart to remove the QSi anyway, measure the space between the front of the speaker and the back of the upper light housing where the QSi board is. Soundtraxx has the dimensions of the TSU-2200 on their web site it's something liek 35mm long, plus you'd need to allow for the wires. If you have at least that much room, you're fine. It looks like there is well over that from the photo of the internals but it's hard to tell. 

 I see QSI had to put the caps in the back behind the speaker - which means without that you would also have plenty of room for a stay-alive.

 I wonder if the Silver (no sound) version of those came without the speaker towers? Other Atlas/QSI locos almost always had the speaker mounts in the non-sound version, usualyl with a weight clipped in there. Or else Soundtraxx is referring to an earlier or later release of the GP40-2 which would have the 'standard' Atlas internals in which case the OEM style board would clip right on - but it's definitely not the board for this QSI equipped loco.

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Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 11:43 AM

rrinker

 Since you have to take the loco apart to remove the QSi anyway, measure the space between the front of the speaker and the back of the upper light housing where the QSi board is. Soundtraxx has the dimensions of the TSU-2200 on their web site it's something liek 35mm long, plus you'd need to allow for the wires. If you have at least that much room, you're fine. It looks like there is well over that from the photo of the internals but it's hard to tell. 

 I see QSI had to put the caps in the back behind the speaker - which means without that you would also have plenty of room for a stay-alive.

 I wonder if the Silver (no sound) version of those came without the speaker towers? Other Atlas/QSI locos almost always had the speaker mounts in the non-sound version, usualyl with a weight clipped in there. Or else Soundtraxx is referring to an earlier or later release of the GP40-2 which would have the 'standard' Atlas internals in which case the OEM style board would clip right on - but it's definitely not the board for this QSI equipped loco.

                                                       --Randy

 

 

Randy, the Silver series has the same weight set up, but with a metal plug in the place of the speakers. When Atlas began to offer onboard sound in the GP38/40,40-2 series, they configured the innards to accommodate the two big speakers.  I believe the DC/silver series has a stubbier board that fits onto the motor tabs instead of the long board that screws into the weight shelves.

IMO, "drop in" means that the little holes in the green decoder board clip right onto the motor mount tabs, with plenty of room to solder wires to the pads.

Unless soundraxx made a special decoder board to screw into Atlas Gold/Silver, the typical decoder wont mount to the motor tabs since the rear weight will interfere with the soldering pads.  Not to mention no accomodation for the plugs Atlas uses. 

If Soundtraxx offered a picture of their Atlas drop in decoders, it might help.

BTW, when Atlas switched to OEM LokSound, they recofigured the innards again, (not to mention changed the motor to nonKato) so the current Sountraxx Atlas decoder talked about in this program might actually be a drop in for the current LokSound weight/motor configuration.

The QSI configuration is unique.

- Douglas

  • Member since
    June, 2007
  • From: Northern Virginia
  • 6,049 posts
Posted by riogrande5761 on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 11:51 AM

Didn't Atlas offer their GP40-2 with sound from the very start, somewhere around 2007/8?  The D&RGW version were available in early 2009 IIRC and were available in 3 numbers non-sound and 3 different numbers in sound, so I bought 3 non sound and 2 sound.  I have a 6th D&RGW GP40-2 which was sold by the Rio Grande Modeling & Historical Society unnumbered.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

Silly Aspie's, I have NT syndrome

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 25,015 posts
Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, July 03, 2018 4:03 PM

 I know other Atlas Silver/Gold locos with QSI were like this, but GP40-2s are too new for me so I never had one. Figured they'd be the same (why make 2 different chasiss). Also why I don't pay attention to the releases - most of the Atlas locos I'm interested in had releases that pre-date DCC and go through (sometimes) versions with DC/basic motor decoder, DC/QSI, and DC/ESU. So if the first GP40-2 from Atlas was the ones available with QSI sound, then Soundtraxx must mean the OEM board to fit the newe Loksound version. Or they are lazy about it and made an assumption that all Atlas locos have the same tabs to hold the decoder on the motor mounts. Don't think my TM has room for the OEM style board either, but I never had the shell off.

                                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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