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Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 11:49 am
by Gerry Bullock
MOG wrote:But why.... spend oodles of money on superduper sound units to get a steam loco sounding just like a real steam loco when you can't reproduce the steam and smoke?

Great photo Martin BUT even if you could reproduce that the signs are against you :wink: :lol:

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 12:33 pm
by Bob Taylor
Can you imagine a exhibition room full of sound and smoke effects :shock:


Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 1:14 pm
by Steve Bennett
Bob Taylor wrote:Can you imagine a exhibition room full of sound and smoke effects :shock:

Unfortunately yes :( .


Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 1:22 pm
by Coo
Martin Wrote
when I see a real steam engine - one of the most striking features is all the steam and smoke

And the smell when you are gnear enuf

mmmmmm hot oil :D :D :D

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 1:45 pm
by Jon Randall
Sound :?: Lights :?: Camera :?: Action :?:
Apart from the last one all the others are "optional extras" which can either enhance/detract from the layout depending on how well they are done.
Like most things it all comes down to personal preference.
Hell Bob proved you don't even need colour 8)

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 4:06 pm
by rue_d_etropal
it seems I am not going to convince many here as to the niceties of sound. We are al die-hard model railway enthusiasts. I am concerned at the increased average and reduced number of younger members of out hobby. Anything that attracts more into the hobby, is as far as I am concerned a good thing.
There was a small discussion outside Narrow Gauge North this year, and I thick it was Andrew who had observed the age of those operating American layouts, based on Bachmann's On30 products was getting younger, so maybe there is something different that appeals in this case.
DCC has been around for quite a few years(over 10 certainly) but it is only now that it is going beyond a few dedicated enthusiasts, at the same time as sound systems are also improving. I would rather see some type of digital sound system as standard, and if you don't want it it is easy enough to switch off. It is even possible to modify sounds, especially if you are one of the new computer literate people tempted into the hobby.
Computers have also entered the hobby via train simulation software, and it does seem to be very popular, even at exhibitions.
I spent 2 days at a DCC model railway exhibition with sound care of South West Digital, and it was like spending the weekend at end of platforms without getting cold and wet. The sound wasn't a distraction or irritation.

I think it is new ideas and technology that will temp more younger enthusiasts, and some might even wish to do some traditional model making.

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:07 pm
by John New
On the other hand how about NO sound and just use your imagination like we used to do in the old days.

Or am I missing the point

For home use do what you like it is your hobby but I am strongly against it in any exhibition hall with more than one exhibit on show. At exhibitions the overall sound from other layouts, video/DVD sales. general hall hubbub etc etc can just be too much. I heard one of the better train noise sound systems recently when viewing an O Gauge layout at the Weymouth show and it was Ok. However in an exhibition context it was just one noise too much for me. On the other hand what was realsitic was the wheel noise over the joints from the club O gauge test track.

I am old enough to remember when layouts were often operated to a taped sound and commentary gimmick. Those on neighbouring layouts soon clashed and drove everybody mad.

was looking at ways of presenting the layout as if there was a thunderstorm going on, with fulkl sound and light;

So in the aisle of an exhibition at some time in the future on one side of a model of quiet village with twittering birds is a canyon in a thunderstorm, on the other side we have sounds of a big city and accross the aisle steam engines thrashing up the lickey incline - nightmare city and is why I hope sound never catches on in a big way at shows. I stewarded once every other hour for three days alongside an American canyon layout with sound, I and all the other neighbouring stewards and exhibitors would willingly have trashed his sound system after the first couple of hours of incessant clanging. Sound in the home environment or in a one exhibit only setting Ok, on mass aaargh!

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 5:39 pm
by Steve Bennett
Perfectly put John and a lot more diplomatic than I would have been.
If sound enhances your enjoyment of your layout at home, go for it, I'm sure it can add to the atmosphere of your model. Please leave it at home though :) . Thats me being diplomatic, what I really think of sound at an exhibition cant be printed :lol: .


Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 8:23 pm
by Coo
I'll risk raising my head above the parapet on this subject. As it
is something I have been playing with for some time

The problem I have is finding a way of tackling the subject without
getting long winded and without unintentionally upsetting anyone.

In the context of a layout, sound has to be approached the same way
as the experienced modelers in this forum approach the use of light.

You manipulate it to fool the viewers brain into thinking they are
looking at the real thing......from a distance. On any layout
a multitude of techniques are used to achieve the illusion, but any
given model on the layout will only use a subset of those techniques.

The science of how the human brain deals with sound is called
psychoacoustics. You may care to have a look here for a primer

Consider a simple example which most people are familiar with -
a stereo system. Two speakers correctly positioned can fool the brain
into believing that sounds are originating from points between the speakers.

Physics must also be considered. :cry: Realistic on-board sound
from a diesel engined vehicle - forget it. The speaker is too small to
reproduce the low frequencies. Fortunately, electronics can help by
employing active motional feedback the low frequency range of the
speaker can be extended. Unfortunately, not sufficiently :evil:
However, the brain cannot locate the source of low frequencies so
these can be provided by a speaker under the layout whilst leaving
the on-board speaker to reproduce the high frequencies.

I will present one other example, Arc Welding. These are essentially
high frequency sounds, worse it is modified white noise. Given that
it is at a fixed location it could be fed through a stereo system.
That will work for one person whose
head is clamped in a fixed position. For some reason I do not think
this is practical :shock: . OK, so place a speaker at each corner of the layout.
Better, but only to on person at a defined location. So the
sound must come from a speaker located where the activity is taking
place on the layout. Now all viewers can match the sound to the activity.

Then there is..... no forget it, I'm missing the comedy show of the week
Top Gear :)

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2007 10:56 pm
by rue_d_etropal
there is a technical way of getting round the problem of too much sound, ie different layouts interfering with each other, as used in museums. Visitors have a special device which transmits the sound to headphones. Granted getting directional sound is difficult, but the brain will probably fill the gaps.

also in the context of the type of small layouts favoured here, I don't think there would be too much sound. one small loco pottering along a short piece of track. I personally find the distractions of mobile phones and cameras(with flash) far more distracting and annoying.

Martin's "Whole Picture" RE Sound + Steam + Smoke

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:37 am
by Prof Klyzlr
Dear Martin, Modellers,

Getting "realistic presentation" of stem powered operations is simply a case of knowing exactly what you want to achieve,

then "problemsolving" what is needed to achieve it :wink:

As an example, I submit my O scale WORKING 2 drum Harman "Pair of 8's" steam winch and Highlead snigging system, ... /Winch.jpg

This model, kitbashed heavily from a ILM winch kit, sported 2 independent motors. 1 drove the the crankshaft/pistons, and the other ran a weighted line to drive both the haulback and mainline drum, as well as scale rigging on the spar tree, (out of shot at left), and the tail tree.

The boiler is a scratchbuilt rendition of the Underfired multitube boiler used as the mill boiler on Rubicon Tramway's #2 mill, (built from a single side and end shot plan in Peter Evan's "Rails to Rubicon" book thru the Light Railway Research Society of Australia ).

The boiler houses a 35mm film canister (pre digital! ;-) ),
which holds around 30 ml of Seuthe smoke fluid.
(That lasts 3 X 8 hours days of a train show!)

The smokebox houses a Seuthe 503 gen, which exhausts up "draft style" thru the brass tube stack, (at lower than spec voltage, giving a pleasing low velocity "wafting" smoke effect of a self drafting boiler).

The firebox has 7 LEDs of various red/orange/yellow shades, powered by the headphone output of a regular FM radio, giving a suitable "firebox flicker".

The whole deal is sync'd to a CD spec playback sequence of a actual 2 drum winch, inc the correct "whistle codes" to instruct the winch driver,
(the cable running from the whistle parallels the haulage cable, and was controlled by a "whistle stringy", who shadowed the "swampy" as he attached downed logs to the rigging for haulage to the log loading/landing site).

While it WAS possible to manually drive the system, my operators flatly stated that they would not, and it would only operate inthat mode if I did the operating. Ergo, it was modified for "fully automatic" operation.
(the logs were removed from the rigging,
because I could think of plenty of reasons why the rigging would arrive at the landing "empty",
but could not think of a reason why the system would haul some logs in, and then immediately haul them back OUT to the bush again!?!?!?! :wink: )

Just found this 2nd pic inthe archives, showing the fire and the spar tree ... Winch2.jpg

I guess what I'm trying to illustrate is,
if you can "see (and hear) the scene",
you CAN build it,
and sound Done Well, can only enhance it... :wink:


Cumulative Volume at Train shows

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:58 am
by Prof Klyzlr
Dear Steve, Modellers,

I agree that it's pretty easy for a number of layouts soundsystems to sum together, and get "too loud" at a show,

(I've never said it should be Turned UP,
I Have said it it best Done Well! :wink: )

I personally DO take noise and frequency spectrum level readings at the shows I attend,
(perks/drawbacks of being a Pro Sound Technician :oops: ),

and I ensure that my layout's systems are NOT consciously audible at a distance beyond 3' from the crowd barrier,
(IE I WANT people to "Lean in" and be pleasantly surprised by the bird chorus, or the shout of the winch's whistle as it hauls in another turn of logs. This is subtle "Theatrical" Presentation, Not "Sledgehammer" presentation!!!).

In contrast, I have also worked on "Museum" and "Theme display" sound installations that very much Required "ground shaking" volumes and effects,

(The War Memorial installs mentioned earlier in the thread has a number of "Life size" walk thru displays, such as the inside of a Bomber, one of the WW2 "Hunslett" 4-6-0 locos, and a war-torn villiage, that had the design brief of "make the viewer feel like they are IN the situation").

I would not DARE run my layout sound systems at anywhere near those volumes, the application simply does not warrant that.
(In "show" conditions, that goes under the category
"Having respect for your fellow exhibitors",
in Home use, it comes under
"The solution must FIT the problem,
NOT stomp all over it!")

I'm happy to talk offlist about the hard tech data of SPL levels at the "average" train show, and some of the speaker techniques one can use to overcome them,

and I wholeheartedly agree that what a Modeller gets away with in their own private train room is probably significantly different than what should be "put forward" when presenting the "Public face of Model RailRoading/Railway Modelling" to the General Public,

I'll say it one more time,
If You are Enjoying YOUR trains,
then far be it from me or anyone else to take umberage,
(I don't believe that's what the original intent of the thread was about anyway),

but I fear it would be a generally Bad Thing to discount out of hand the idea that Well Done sound simply doesn't have any place in Model Railways, esp in the "Public Eye" of exhibitions,

Sound recording

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:13 am
by Oztrainz
Prof Klyzlr wrote: In contrast, I have also worked on "Museum" and "Theme display" sound installations that very much Required "ground shaking" volumes and effects,

(The War Memorial installs mentioned earlier in the thread has a number of "Life size" walk thru displays, such as the inside of a Bomber, one of the WW2 "Hunslett" 4-6-0 locos, and a war-torn villiage, that had the design brief of "make the viewer feel like they are IN the situation").

Hi Prof and all,
I was the fireman and shunter for the train that was used to record the soundtrack for the World War 1 Hunslet loco display at the War Memorial. As there are no operating Hunslet War Department 4-6-0's in Australia, an 0-6-0 Hudswell Clarke stood in and we put every accessible loose-coupled wagon we could get to roll behind it. It was a "fun" morning's work getting the wagons all together as there are at least 4 different styles of couplings in this consist, not all of which are mutallly compatible. It then took all afternoon to put them all away again after the recording was done.

Here's the view from the pointy end

and the other end

and the driver and the sound recordist discussing what comes next..

Some of the sounds recorded were: whistles, starting with cylinder cocks open, runby's, taking up the slack and bunching, loco working hard (simulated by running with the handbrake dragging), safety valves opening and injectors chirping.

The only ambient noise drawbacks were that the track was next to the airport and several runs were lost when aircraft took off or landed (pretty hard disguising a Lycoming as a WW1 aero engine) and the cicadas were in full song as it was summer. I wonder if they edited the cicadas out or if they were magically transported to France in 1917???

John G's "Hunslett" cicadas???

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 4:22 am
by Prof Klyzlr
Dear John,

I got the hear the results "post live recording" before they were installed in the War Memorial,

I can confirm the cicadas were "surgically removed"...

:lol: :wink:

Happy Modelling,
Aim to Improve,
Prof Klyzlr

Re: Cumulative Volume at Train shows

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 12:24 pm
by Steve Bennett
Prof Klyzlr wrote:Dear Steve, Modellers,

I agree that it's pretty easy for a number of layouts soundsystems to sum together, and get "too loud" at a show,

(I've never said it should be Turned UP,
I Have said it it best Done Well! :wink: )

Sorry Prof, there is nothing you can say to convince me that sound equipped layouts are a good idea at a show, I have experienced far too many already. Even those that are done well, effect those around them, adding to the fatigue of a full day at an exhibition. Until the technology is found to confine all the sound to the immediate vicinity of the layout, they will add to the noise levels in any exhibition hall, otherwise the audience wouldnt be able to hear them. As sound waves travel, it is unlikely that a solution to this will be found.

Noise pollution, like any other form in a confined space, is something we shouldnt have to put up with. As with smoke from live steam loco's indoors or even from an inconsiderate cigarette smoker, it invades unwanted into others personnal spaces and is just as annoying. When it is constant and repetitive, as most sound units are, it is absorbed by the body and causes tension, which builds as the exposure continues.

If you want to get an idea of what it is like for those around you, find a CD with some modern dance music on it with a strong and repetitive bass line on it. Put it in player and hit the repeat button, then keep it near you for 6 or 7 hours, playing just higher than the background noise level, it doesnt need to be loud, just audible. That should give you an idea of what you are inflicting on your fellow exhibitors, the effect is very similar.

On a lighter note, to answer a couple of points raised by Simon. Yes I agree that mobile phones are annoying, but having said that, they are only really active for a few seconds, so the annoyance is pretty short lived. Camera flashes dont really bother me, my layouts have been photographed thousands of times at exhibitions, so I guess I am kinda used to it. It is nice to get a bit of warning though that a flash is going to go off in your face :) . Most people are pretty good and do ask before snapping away, giving time to avert your eyes so you dont get blinded temporarily. Again the duration is short, unlike the sound systems that are the heated topic here, which are pretty much constant for hours at a time.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:09 pm
by andrew milner
As I have never exhibited at an exhibition (yet :D ), I must admit I had never thought of the problems from the point of view of other exhibitors. As a visitor, I find sound on layouts intriguing from a 'that would be good on my home layout' standpoint. As an advert for sound on a layout they can be very good (although tinny speakers in loco's have put me off actual sound in those - general background sound interests me more in setting the scene). As for worrying about whether the sound is from a 2-10-0 or an 0-4-0, this is about as relevant to MOST showgoers as whether there are 5 rivets too many on a boiler, they just hear the chuff - chuff of a steam engine. Maybe exhibitions should group sound equipped layouts into one area (or room) and non-sound equipped in another, then everyone will be happy :twisted:

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:47 pm
by dr5euss
Warley is this coming weekend and I intend to be operating my layout with an MRC steam generator - I don't think it will matter in such a large venue, I'm interested to see how it goes :)

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 5:51 pm
by Gerry Bullock
Good luck George, I wondered what you'd been up to - so quiet for months :wink:

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 8:10 pm
by rue_d_etropal
good luck George. Interesting to see you have the MRC system, is that internal or external.

Steve, re mobile phones, its not the ring tones that I find a little annoying but hearing only one part of a phone conversation on bus :twisted:
I was also trying to make the point that what annoys one person does not necessarily annoy others.
With respect to sound traveling, I believe one layout a few years ago used to upset its neighbours with fully working signal box bells.
With the trend these days for layouts with a 'picture frame ' surround I wonder if it might be easier these days to restrict most of the sound to the immediate vicinity.

I don't think it is going to be possible to get opposing sides to agree on sound, , but I would suggest anyone who has not tried out one of the DCC internal sound systems should try it. It does give a whole new feeling to model train driving.

just thought of something else exhibition managers should put on questionnaires. firstly does layout have sound , and secondly do you mind being near layouts with sound. Bit like opting for no smoking part of airplane :roll:

as I seem to have stirred up so much, maybe I should now go onto another topic, layout height at exhibitions :twisted:

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:38 pm
by Gavin Sowry
Steve Bennett wrote:
Bob Taylor wrote:Can you imagine a exhibition room full of sound and smoke effects :shock:

Unfortunately yes :( .

YES :!: and it was one of our own too (he's sidelining with 'toy' trains).
Day one, he was putting out oil burner type smell that was choking some of us at the other end of the hall. We sent out a lynching party at the start of day two....converted to coal scented smoke, not as bad. Now, imagine if every layout was doing the same.

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 9:38 pm
by Jon Randall
rue_d_etropal wrote:
just thought of something else exhibition managers should put on questionnaires. firstly does layout have sound

With this information they could then schedule a timetable so there is only one or possibly two layouts running with sound at any one time.
After all at a music gig you see possibly three bands but they don't all play on the stage at the same time :shock:

"Confining Sound" : For Jon and Steve

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:44 pm
by Prof Klyzlr
Dear Steve, Jon, Modellers,

Steve, far be it from me to "twist your arm" about sound,
(I am forever grateful that there's room on this here train for all Modellers,
and that being a "Modeller" has no real "minimum spec" qualification,
otherwise my inclusion would be scrapping the bottom of the barrel... :wink: )

but if we ever have the pleasure of meeting in person around a "sound equipped" layout of mine, please remind me to show you how

- sound CAN be contained within a layout while having respect for the "ambient noise level",
- can be prototypically accurate,
(down to the specific frequency of overtone harmonic in the flange squeal of a aussie log bogie VS a 4 wheel skip :wink: ),
- And can be "done well" without S.U.C. Processing, distortion, or other "otherworld" artifacting...

Jon, Modellers, Can I make the point that Sound on a layout CAN be accurately and predictably "confined" and "aimed"! This the bit that makes the difference between a

"plugging in some speakers, turning them up, and hitting Play" installation,

and genuinely "putting some THOUGHT and EFFORT" into the layout sound "sound design" and installation.

(For more details about HOW to do this, drop me a line, or alternatively, consider joining the Yahoo "LayoutSound" group ).

I'll say it one more time, (apologies for the "cracked record"),
Well Done sound encompasses
- the Concept of the layout
- the Sound Design to create EXACTLY the required "noises"
- some significant TIME and EFFORT to mix the various sonic elements into a appropriate pleasing "whole"
(NB Not necessarily SKILL, those can be LEARNED!!!)
- and then finally,
(and funnily enough, probably the part that most modellers focuss on, to their and the system's Detriment!),
selection of the playback system and speaker rig

Using the analogy of writing a symphony,
where you start with the sheetmusic and <some> idea of which instruments you'd like to include,

get each instrument's "part" or "performance" perfect,

then gather each of the performances together and meld them into a cohesive sonically pleasing "whole",

and finally perform/broadcast/transmit the performance to the target audience,

is actually a pretty accurate way to describe the "Layout Sound Production Workflow"...

NB that that "transmission" can be "Narrowcast" to a radii of 2/3 people "deep" at the crowd barrier, and focussed so as to ONLY be audible to that "viewer" position!!! This IS Do-able!!!
Furthur, in a small "home layout room", the collective "Din" of multiple "noisemakers" can also be significantly stressful. Ergo, these "focussing" and "sonic control" techniques are Just As critical under "home layout" conditions IMHO...

Can I also say, before anyone gets too far ahead of me,
that sure, it's "do-able",
but for myself, I put "Modelling Sound" on par with the "physical 3D modelling",
IE I put as much work into my "sonic" models as I do into my physical 3D models,

(I do not "sacrifice 3D/Physical model build quality/prototype accuracy" in order to give the sound "top billing",

unlike some of the current "electronics technology" layouts,
which give away modelling fidelity in deference to having the "latest/greatest/bigger/better/faster/more" control panel/system, for example :wink: ).

That's just my approach, but having had to do "commission modelling" for museums and suchlike,
(where the need to "Get It Right" in EVERY aspect of the model is far more Pervasive and Critical than anything we may build in our own layout rooms "for our own modelling enjoyment"),

I sincerely do believe that every part of a model,
- visual model itself (size, components, coloring/weathering, etc etc)
- scale movement/speed, inc animation behaviour
- both model and "display" lighting
- supporting sound design
- overal presentationof the layout/display

has to work Together to "put it's best foot forward".
This is even more critical of the "small" and "Micro" layouts class,
where there are scant sq inches of real estate to play with, and therefore EVERY element of the layout has to be designed/used to it's Best Advantage...

(And is a Good Approach when considering building a "Show Layout".
You are putting yourself and your layout "on show" to the General Public as an example of "what Model Railroading/Railway Modelling is",
to NOT "put your best effort forward" really isn't doing the promotion of te hobby any favours, is it?)

Modelling "Layout Sound" doesn't take up physical space,

doesn't have to be "ear bleedingly" loud or obnoxious,

(If it IS, you're either modelling something inherrently noisy like a steelworks from a scale perspective of a few feet :shock: ,
or you have FAILED to design and implement the sound properly,
see my above comments RE "Best Foot Forward")

and can enhance a model scene.

I've been proving it both "Professionally" and in my "Modelling Life" for over 15 years...

Just my $0.05c

PS: Steve, interesting comment about the "Doof Doof" being an example of "un-consciously annoying/disturbing noise". I agree, and would point to the WHO "Ambient Noise Limit" specs, which cover the subject quite well.

That said, my current project, a HO street switching layout representing a version of the corner of 41st and 2nd in Brooklyn NYC, on a cold and drizzly 03:00, has a underground "Rave Party" in full swing in the abandoned "Loft 20" building.

The sound design to create the sound of the rave, as "heard" from a "standing 40' accross the street, at footpath level, hearing the sound thru a warehouse double brick wall" perspective was a interesting challenge. The aim for the display will be to get all the air movement of the bottom end 100Hz and below "Doof",
at a volume that does NOT exceed 50dB SPL Peak,
(60 dB SPL is defined as "a small gathering of people talking in a confined space").

The aim is Also to achieve said "sound design" spec WITHOUT having any discernable "bleed" of the layout sound beyond the front 90degree viewer "arc" or vision,
IE if they can see the scene, they will hear the sound,
if they can't, they won't.

Tall order, but I'll let you know how I get on... :wink:

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 10:46 pm
by dr5euss
rue_d_etropal wrote:good luck George. Interesting to see you have the MRC system, is that internal or external.

Thanks :)

The MRC's got an external 'remote' with a volume for the chuffs, and then 12 odd buttons for all the different noises. Bell and whistle have to be my favourites 8) I can simulate the loco appearing from behind the trees, out into view and disappearing again quite well, I think you get more control than if the sound was within the loco.

It comes with a piddly little speaker, but I stole one from an old hifi and you can feel the house shake and the plaster fall from the ceilings below when you blast the whistle :twisted:

I have a diesel one too, but I'm not using diesels for the forseeable future (On30 geared steam is my thing at the mo...I know they don't really 'chuff', but oh well), so I'm sending the diesel unit to Prof as soon as I can find out what postage is :oops:

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:53 pm
by Steve Bennett
dr5euss wrote:It comes with a piddly little speaker, but I stole one from an old hifi and you can feel the house shake and the plaster fall from the ceilings below when you blast the whistle :twisted:

:lol: I rest my case :lol:
Hope you make it through the show alive George :) .

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:02 am
by rue_d_etropal
From your description George, it does not sound like the DCC version, which should have a lot more control, unless what you have is the MRC blackbox which runs the DCC version without DCC. :roll: