Anybody "heard" about MRC sound decoders?

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bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I've been toying with getting a handful of MRC sound decoders for some N scale locomotives I need to convert. Of course, MRC's info is not really what I want to know, and of course I would like to get an independent perspective before shelling out a couple hundred dollars for these things.
I know that the built-in speakers can't offer full range of sound, but:
Are the decoders reliable?
Do they at least "sound" like the locomotive they are designed to go in? (GE, EMD, EMD non-turbo, etc)
Will I spend more time tweaking to get them to operate well with non-sound units?

Thanks for any experiences you can share about them, good or bad.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
I bought a couple of MRC basic non-sound decoders about 6 or so years ago. They wouldn't maintain their programing options and then finally quit all together.
 
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B

bob_suruncle

Guest
we have installed a few at our store...... lets just say they aren't Tsunami's. In my opinion they sound very digital regardless of the speaker used. The diesel options aren't too bad but the steam just doesnt stack up to the Tsunami even with an MRC brilliance decoder.

MRC's are slightly cheaper than Soundtraxx but I don't think there is enough of a spread in the price difference for me to use them. My $0.02
 
Hey BNSF...

It comes down to price and how comfortable with installing them you might be... If you do not want to spend the extra for a micro tsunami or loksound then MRC's are ok. They are usually fairly easy to install compared to a tsunami which would have to be hardwired in. They do have there issues but a factory reset usually takes care of it.

Check the YouTub link in my sig... I have a few videos of N scale locos with MRC installed up there.
 

Espeefan

Well-Known Member
I find MRC decoders lack of ability to read back CV's on the program track very annoying. Unless you're paying 50 cents on the dollar or less, I'd say stick with Soundtraxx. Their Tsunami board is out now, and their sound & flexibility can't be beat. ESU Lok Sound comes in second, though you need their programmer to make full use of their decoder's capabilities, and I have this thing about wanting to be able to program/adjust or whatever without having to resort to a computer. Call me stubborn. Decoder Pro at home is fine, but I'm not always at home...at the club it's a different story.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
I am not sufficiently knowledgeable about the N Scale MRC decoders, but I have read many posts from angry and frustrated users of the company's HO scale decoder users across several model forums. Many posts. So many that I have elected not to purchase any Genesis models with sound provided by MRC decoders...which they all seem to be.

-Crandell
 

ThoroughBreed

Dcc~detail~diesel freak
I'll say this, as its my opinion; I have many locos with sound BLI's with QSI, BLI bluelines, Tower55 with Digitrax, and Genesis with MRC 1634 boards that I installed myself. After you get about 3 or more locos with sound going, they all start to sound the same, so it really makes no difference which one you use. I personally haven't had any problems with the MRC line of decoders, but I also use their Prodigy Advance2 dcc system, which has also not caused me any problems. I find the decoders work great in Athearn RTR, Genesis, and older blue box locos, and I even put one of the 1634's in an OMI brass SD60 and installed lighting into it. But this is just me and my opinion. :cool:
 

IronBeltKen

Lazy Daydreamer
I don't have any MRC decoders of my own. However, I've heard that one of their biggest weaknesses is longevity - they might do OK if you run your loco very briefly once or twice a week, but if you run them continuously for several hours (such as at a club open house session), they won't make it thru the day.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
I guess I should have been more specific. I was looking at the MRC N scale decoders with built-in speakers. I already have my own opinions about other brands of decoders based on my personal experience, but have zero experience with this particular type.
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
I have no clue about the longevity of the N scale MRC soundbugs. I've heard a few of them and they sound pretty good for N scale. As has been said, they do not have the range of a Locsound or higher end decoder but, to my half deaf hearing, they sounded good. They were all diesels so I have no information about any steam decoders. Given my experience with MRC HO sound decoders, I'd be concerned about build quality and how well they will hold up. How much this issue carries over into the N scale models I don't know.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
The longevity issue is something I'm concerned about. My initial plan was to get 6, though only half that number would actually be on line and making noise at any one time. I think instead of that, I'll get two, and torture test them for a while before deciding whether to get the other four.
Since it looks like no one has direct experience with these decoders, I'm going to be the guinea pig. I'm going to research MRC's warranty and return policy before getting any, I at least want to be able to return them if they emulate miniature versions of Chernobyl. Stay tuned to this thread for updates as things develop.
 

TaeOH

or just Tom...
Yea that video tipped me over the edge to N. I wanted sound in my trains, but N did not seem like the scale I should be doing that in, so I kept looking at HO track plans for my space. But every time I look at others layouts, it seems I always like what people are doing in N the most. If I get sound out of my diesel's like that video, I will be satisfied. I figure I will give a go with N for the next few years and then maybe switch to HO if I am having too much frustration with the size.

Now I am in the phase of trying to figure out what I want to model. I like too many different trains in different era's to get exited about a particular period or road. But I keep reading, keep researching, hopefully my vision will come through that.
 
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bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
Check the YouTube Link in my sig... I have a few videos with different N Scale MRC units installed...
Thanks, I watched and listened. Do you have any experience with the GE N scale versions of the sound decoders? For whatever reason, most, even in HO scale I've heard, haven't managed to capture the 4 cycle sound very well. The HO -9's I saw on Youtube sounded much better than what I've heard before.
 

upnick

New Member
I haved an MRC decoder fitted in a U.P. AC4400 CW its ok but the volume is not good more variance needs to be within the decoders CV settings, if this is one of the locos your intending to fit sound in dont believe the blurb it is a direct fit the exhaust on top needs filing down inside to fit the body back on correctly on the KATO loco.

If replacement mesh grilles were available over the speaker it would help the volume.
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
The MRC decoder for the Ho scale AC4400 (or GEs, I'm not sure) sounds like a cross between a dog barking, a duck quacking, and a vacuum cleaner. It plays, cuts out, then loops back. It sounds horrible.
 

bnsf971

Gomez Addams
Staff member
The MRC decoder for the Ho scale AC4400 (or GEs, I'm not sure) sounds like a cross between a dog barking, a duck quacking, and a vacuum cleaner. It plays, cuts out, then loops back. It sounds horrible.
I know the FDL is difficult to capture and play back realistically, as the rate, pitch, and resonance change with engine speed and load. The HO GE sounds I've heard have not been all that great, so I'll probably stick with the EMD 2 cycle for now. When I get them, I can post photos of the install, and any mods I have to make to get them to "fit". I also have a Youtube account, I can try uploading a short video as well.
BTW, I can understand the dog barking (4 cycle chug) and vacuum cleaner (turbocharger), but I'm not sure what the duck quacking would represent. I also am not adventurous enough to buy and install one to find out, I'll take your word for it.
 

diburning

AlcoHaulic
My friend owns the AC4400s. I listened to them again today. It's not that close to a dog, but rather a choking duck.

BLI's Blueline AC6000 sounds very good and it's the closest I've ever heard to a real GE. The K5LA is also the most realistic that I've heard so far.
 




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