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Uniquely individual, handmade, fine scale models for around the same price as those mass produced, pre-built, all look alike, Chinese toys. We will sell nothing until it looks so good we want to keep it.

12 Nov '16

Soundtraxx Tsunami Versus TCS Wow Sound Simple Easy Sound Installation for beginners?

Ready to move up from a simple DC transformer controlled locomotive to the wide wonderful world of DCC & Sound? Bachmann loves to tout its easy to use entry level Soundtraxx Tsunami DCC sound equipped locomotives. And, yes, to someone like me who has been installing DCC sound systems in various scale locomotives for 20+ years, they are extremely easy to operate. At least until something goes wrong. But, the ugly truth of the business is unless you have lots of extra cash to replace burned out sound units, DCC sound is not and probably will never be a beginner’s project.

Installation of a DCC sound system into any locomotive is rarely straightforward. It requires a lot of electronics knowledge and testing skills. Bachmann products are built in lots from various factories all over the world. While they are all supposed to be built to the same standards, I have never had two that were wired the same. So what about “Plug and Play?” All you need to do is plug the right sound system into the 8-pin plug, right?

Even if the locomotive is labeled "Plug and Play," they never are. NMRA 8-pin plugs wired backwards, diodes installed backwards, polarity reversals, PCB boards with extraneous resistors, cold solder joints and missing or broken wiring are all very common. Any one of these issues will blow up a DCC system. In the thousands of installations we have done, we have never had a single locomotive that was fully plug and play from any manufacturer.

If you are comfortable with simple DC transformer control, you will need to spend hours, possibly weeks watching videos on DCC Sound installations. Then you will need lots of practice with $100+ electronics that fry in a fraction of a second from as little as a split second burst of static electricity.

TCS systems are the best, but they are not at all beginner friendly except for the full proof warranty. But you will make mistakes the first several times and you will wait weeks, mostly from shipping, waiting for TCS to repair the system you fried. TCS is very good about free repairs with few questions asked. But, it still takes a couple of weeks to send in the system, have them do the necessary repairs, and wait for it to ship back. And, you will pay some of the shipping. Sounds like fun, right? Waiting.

Soundtraxx also offers a goof proof – no questions asked - warranty. We’ve waited up to 3 months for them to repair a sound system that was defective right out of the package. More fun. More waiting.


Just use the Acme XL2175. There. Done. Wouldn’t that be great? Unfortunately, there isn’t one sound system we can universally recommend. Send us an email with some info about what you’d like to install sound into, and we’ll do our best to suggest some options.

Posted by FineTrains on February 05, 2017

What is your suggestion for a sound system?

Posted by Robert Merker on February 05, 2017

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