More and more layouts seem to come with sound these days – even in the confines of N-gauge. It was different 15 years ago. I recall an early open day when we almost went mad as the Cha(I)rman was giving his Swiss layout atmosphere by playing authentic Swiss music – or was it cow bells? Whatever it was, it was awful (sorry Allan.)
Nowadays, sound isn’t much better. The latest copy of the BRNMRA’s ‘Roundhouse’ magazine has an article by Keith Webb entitled:
Sound in our Models – Why is it ‘Marmite’ to Modellers?
(Note for overseas readers – Marmite is a sort of yeast extract spread, equally loved or abhorred by UK residents. It is not Vegemite.) A few quotes from the article…..
Diesel locos can vary in sound levels, and the type and quantity can also have an effect. For instance: I am currently working in an office right next to a very busy UK main line, which supports freight and passenger sounds – many loco hauled. I used to live 3/4 mile from this line where it is on a very high embankment and quite frankly, apart from a ‘still’ day, most trains were barely audible – and I never, ever heard the steam excursions go through!
…. While sitting in the office (writing this), I am still surprised when a train rushes by with very little advanced warning. At a pinch, the horn can be heard a couple of miles away in the right conditions.
….. This brings us to the model and I must say that we all have the sound way too loud! Again, air blow, brake release, engine tick-over and other such localised sounds are really only heard within a few yards of the loco, and you may hear the engine (or engines) revving up for half a mile across open landscape, but that wouldn’t equal that your model is set at.
We perhaps forget the scale distance we are standing from our layout. The take home message – sound is far too loud – you don’t hear the prototype (except the whistle/bell/horn) unless you are on top of it. So apart from the whistle, wind down the volume on all the loco noises.