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An Introduction to SoundTraxx UK Sound Decoders

Stuart Jordan

STUART JORDAN gives a brief introduction to the SoundTraxx Range, specifically their UK Sound Decoders.

One of the big announcements at our 2016 Open Weekend was that Gaugemaster would now be stocking and distributing the SoundTraxx range of DCC products in the UK.

It may have gotten lost in the many Gaugemaster own-brand announcements over the weekend (PM-20 Surface Mounted Point Motor, Multi-Scale Locomotive Tester, UNITY Layout Control System and OO Scale Lighting, just to let you know!), but it is definitely an exciting development for modellers in the UK.

SoundTraxx are based in Colorado in the USA, and produce DCC Sound decoders and accessories for a variety of different scales (OO, HO, N and Z). They have been in business since 1990, so have a lot of experience with model railway electronics – often at the cutting edge of sound production. Their latest Tsunami2 range has more sounds, smoother operation, and dynamic digital exhaust. Some decoders can even run running sounds on DCC layouts.

Of particular interest to British OO modellers is that they are producing DCC sound decoders in their Econami range based specifically on UK Locomotive sounds, in both Steam and Diesel. Each decoder has a variety of sounds from specific locomotive types, for example the UK Diesel decoder can cover the English Electric Class 20, Brush Traction Class 31, English Electric Class 37, Brush Traction Class 47, Alstom Class 66/67, and the BR Derby Class DMU. This wide variety means that even if your locomotive is not listed you have the option of programming it to a loco of a similar size or sound.

The decoders themselves are full of features, with more than forty sounds, with synchronised brakes and ‘Hyperlight’ lighting effects. Speakers are sold separately, which gives you the flexibility to choose the right speaker for the job, considering decoder type and fitting space available. The decoders either have to be hard-wired, or are 21-Pin for DCC Ready locomotives.

Fitting a SoundTraxx UK Decoder

There is plenty of space in the tender for both decoder and speaker.

Let’s have a look at how easy the 21 pin decoders are to install. We are putting the STX881106 Econami UK Steam 4 Function 21 Pin Decoder into a Bachmann 3000 Class that we had spare, which is DCC Ready. The speaker that we have chosen is the STX810103 which is 40mm x 20mm, and as you can see fits snugly into the space in the tender. The wires coming off of the speaker have to be soldered onto the output tabs on the decoder housing, and a small raised area on the underside of the tender body shell had to be carved away - but that was the extent of the work that was required.

Fitting a SoundTraxx UK Decoder

The speaker fits directly underneath the gap in the tender floor, underneath the cast metal coal load.

Although the 3000 Class is not listed on the sounds available on the decoder there is a Stanier 8F which has the same 2-8-0 wheel configuration, so we set it to that. It's this flexibility that makes the SoundTraxx decoders so useful. Let's hear what that sounds like:

As previously mentioned, the locomotive can also run on DC layouts using analogue control. You only get running sound, but it is a simple case of changing a few of the CVs.

Hopefully this introduction to SoundTraxx has been useful, there is obviously a lot more of the range and capabilities of the decoders to be explored, but I'll leave that up to you! If you need any help choosing a decoder and/or speaker just get in contact with us in the usual ways. There is also a wealth of SoundTraxx reference/instruction sheets, selection guides, and starter guides on our Downloads page.

CLICK HERE to browse the full SoundTraxx Range

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