TCS Wow Steam Sound versus SoundTraxx Tsunami Review: What's the Big Deal?

DCC Decoder Gauge HO HO Scale KA-2 Keep Alive Locomotive Locomotives Model O Gauge O Scale On30 On30 Scale Rail Railroad Railway Road Scale Sound SoundTraxx TCS Wow Toy Toys Train Trains Tsunami Versus VS

There's an updated version of this blog at TCS Wow V4 versus Tsunami 2.

If you've been around HO scale and On30 scale model trains for the last 5 to 10 years, you know how a SoundTraxx Tsunami DCC decoder sounds and performs. SoundTraxx was the leader in steam locomotive train sound and nothing could beat it. Not anymore. Train Control Systems (TCS) Wow Sound with keep alive technology blows SoundTraxx off the train layout map. TCS makes SoundTraxx sound like a cheap plastic whistle.

Unlike Tsunami, TCS Wow performance doesn't depend on speaker set up. That's right, no more hours spent fine tuning plastic baffles to cover up annoying squeals. Sound is just as strong throughout the ohm range whether you use a 1 watt or 8 watt speaker. No need for a high bass unless you want one. Side by side, you can barely hear the SoundTraxx whistle over the TCS Wow. With TCS you don't just get one locomotive type. You get dozens of different types, from light to heavy, articulated geared or not and enough different road name specific locomotive sounds easily accessed through the ingenious Audio Assistant feature to keep you busy for months. Plus every one of the hundreds of sounds are customizable. You can even tweak your whistle so it sounds unique to your engineer just like real railroads did. Now other railway club members will know it’s you operating that engine when they hear your whistle. And all these custom options come built into one sound decoder. But better sound quality & volume is not the best part. The DCC control system is incredibly advanced. That’s the part we can’t show in a video.

Unlike the SoundTraxx units, you have to “run” the TCS control system. You have to keep the locomotive under your control just like the engineer of a real steam locomotive is always pushing levers, applying brakes and twisting valves the whole time. If you let this locomotive get away from you it will crash just like a real loco (unless you cheat and use the stop button kill switch). What you can’t see in any of our videos is how much we are pressing buttons on the DCC controller while operating the locomotive. Sure you can cut the throttle like you do on a SoundTraxx unit and the SoundTraxx unit will stop. You cut the throttle on a TCS dcc unit and it keeps rolling just like a real locomotive with real time momentum driven by the laws of physics and weight. To stop a TCS equipped locomotive you have to estimate your speed and weight and then apply enough brake pressure to stop or slow down before you crash into a string of cars. No other DCC decoder sound system on the market has that experience. The only thing you don’t have to do is shovel coal.

TCS Wow acceleration is also prototypical. A real steam locomotive responds to how much you open up the throttle. Open it up fast or slow and the weight of the locomotive keeps it from accelerating any faster. Prototype steam locomotives accelerate at the same uniform speed regardless of how far or fast you open up the throttle. But if you pull it open fast you get a stronger, louder, heavier chuff as the real locomotive tries to accelerate to your commands. Unlike SoundTraxx units that just take off on you if you open the throttle up fast with the engine sounds lagging behind, TCS units accelerate the same as a real locomotive. You get the same stronger, louder, heavier chuff just like a real locomotive. It’s the most incredible operating experience we’ve ever had next to a real steam locomotive and we can’t show it to you. It’s something you have to “feel” to believe. This is no longer a toy train. This is the real deal.

So why should you care what we think? Because we are professionals? Perhaps because we’ve installed thousands of DCC control systems of every kind in the world since the 1980s when it all began. We are an authorized dealer installer for TCS, SoundTraxx, LokSound and many lesser known systems. That means we have no skin in the game. We don’t care which one you buy. We don’t have to sell any units if we don’t want to. It doesn’t matter to us whether we install a SoundTraxx Tsunami unit or a TCS unit in your locomotive. But we can’t keep the TCS systems in stock. TCS Wow is the difference between having a toy train that just makes noise – SoundTraxx Tsunami, or the most realistic operating experience of your life. One that will have visitors running into your train room to see the locomotive. Take it from FineTrains.Com, who has installed every type of DCC sound system ever created since the inception of DCC from every corner of the globe, you owe yourself this experience. Buy the TCS system and never look back.

If you have a comment or a topic suggestion you would like us to cover please feel free to contact us at FineTrains.Com.

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  • John West on

    If I understand your description of the TCS system, it would keep one operator controlling 3 trains at the same time very busy pushing buttons vs Soundtrax systems. Is that correct?

  • Fine Trains on

    Yes, Stanley, I’m told a properly programmed TCS Wow sound system will vary the chuff sound under load variations. Works for diesels as well.

  • Stanley Lins on

    Do any model steam locomotive sound systems take into consideration the chuff sound variation that occurs with different cutoff times of the steam. I am referring to the setting of the Walscheart expansion link sound. (I don’t expect the model linkage to actually change, although that might be nice). In some demo videos the engine is working too hard when starting and not loaded. Should be almost quiet when unloaded.

  • FineTrains on

    Hi Ron – I would contact one of the technicians at TCS. They should be able to tell you how to wire the cab lights if possible.

  • Ron Hebb on

    I bought the TCS sound conversion wowkit for an HO Southern Pacific SDP45. Installation looks pretty straightforward, but there doesn’t seem to be a place to attach the extra wires from the cab’s gyralights so they can work independently from the headlights. Any suggestions?

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