Decoders

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crazypotter
Posts: 63
Joined: Tue Nov 28, 2017 10:15 pm

Decoders

Postby crazypotter » Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:40 pm

Hi all. After some thought and seeing so many negative reports on cheap Hornby decoders I have decided to buy a DCC ready loco and purchase my own decoder (with sound). The loco I am buying is one of the Black five group. Can anyone recommend a good decoder at reasonable price which will suffice. If I buy a Hornby then presumably it will be 8 pin. Many thanks.

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Forfarian
Posts: 604
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:16 pm
Location: Forfar, Angus

Re: Decoders

Postby Forfarian » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:53 pm

Hi CP
I have a number of sound locos both steam and diesel, I have used Youchoos - Zimo decoders and found them very good.
I have no affiliation with this company, this is my own personal opinion
Tim
aka Forfarian

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Flashbang
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Re: Decoders

Postby Flashbang » Thu Mar 22, 2018 7:47 pm

Lenz Silver or Zimo are perhaps the best choices for bog standard motor only control. For sound the ESU or Zimo seem to be favourites.
There are many other standard decoders but the decoders physical size and its motor control quality will determine the best from the rest!
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Paul-H
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:00 pm

Re: Decoders

Postby Paul-H » Thu Mar 22, 2018 8:45 pm

If you want a sound decoder then you basically have a choice of 3 makes, ESU Loksound, Zimo and Hornby

The first two are usually supplied by the various sound producers with their own sound set loaded so there can be differences between the same decoder supplied by the different suppliers. The Hornby one only comes with Hornby sounds,although it is a third of the cost off the other 2.

In my case I have about 20 sound locos, 2 are loc sound with SWD sounds, 1 is a Hornby, and all the rest are Zimo from Youchoos so highly recommend them..

Paul

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Bigglesof266
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Location: Australia

Re: Decoders

Postby Bigglesof266 » Thu Mar 22, 2018 10:34 pm

crazypotter wrote:<snip> purchase my own decoder (with sound). ..<snip>.. Can anyone recommend a good decoder at reasonable price which will suffice.

For a "good" sound decoder, there are currently only have two options AFAIK, ESU or Zimo, neither of which are inexpensive. Whether you consider their prices reasonable is subjective. Both makes are good and come highly recommended by consensus. So far, I've only used ESU when I want a sound decoder.

Hornby's TTS is a crippleware 'sound' decoder. The budget option. It's not in the same class as ESU or Zimo. If you're going to buy this, you may as well buy the TTS onboard/installed or whatever Hornby's jargon for it is version of your black Five loco if you can. Whether it'll suffice is up to a subjective expectation.

My no brainer go-to for reasonably priced and that broad brief good DCC decoder otherwise, is anything from Lenz. I can recommend them as a quality, comprehensively featured with respective segments, reliable, safe buy. They still don't do sound decoders ...AFAIK?

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Peterm
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Location: Bribie Island. Australia

Re: Decoders

Postby Peterm » Thu Mar 22, 2018 11:10 pm

I've used a few makes of decoders, but over a couple of years or so I've changed over to exclusively using Zimo, sound and non sound. A MX600 from Zimo is a reasonably priced decoder with all the great running qualities and range of adjustments to get the best out of everything. It's not the smallest and you'd have to be reeeeely good at soldering to fit a stay alive if you wanted it.

For sound the 640 series (MX 644 thru' 648 and the 658) are the one's along with their sub classes. Speakers, depending on physical space, resistance,and power range from Sugar cube type through to bass reflex etc and then the EM2 Earth movers from DC Kits. I've used three of these so far and while being a challenge to fit, do sound good.

I go on the old adage of buy cheap, buy twice.
Pete.

Bigmet
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Re: Decoders

Postby Bigmet » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:22 am

Bigglesof266 wrote:...My no brainer go-to for reasonably priced and that broad brief good DCC decoder otherwise, is anything from Lenz. I can recommend them as a quality, comprehensively featured with respective segments, reliable, safe buy...

I standardised on Lenz, having trialled everything readily available retail in the UK in the early 2000s. That was an easy win for them, way better than anything else then on the market in the UK. Both the Lenz 100 system and all the 80 odd decoders in my locos are still trouble free, and bear in mind I operate the layout every day I am home. I now use the Lenz standard, as it has all the drive quality of the more featured Silver and Gold, but at a very competitive price.

When Zimo became readily available their decoders were tried and found very good indeed. Extra adjustments in these decoders as compared to Lenz made them able to tame older 'rough' mechanisms, which was very satisfactory, Neat features like a set up that can match the useful Lenz shunt and intertia off modes only iced the cake. These have proved completely reliable and one recovered from an accident in which a mechanism caught fire destroying insulation and exposing the decoder to track power on a motor terminal, which is pretty robust. For a long time they were much more expensive than Lenz, but have now almost fixed that with the MX600 series, just a couple of pounds more than a Lenz Standard, so I have bought some of these.

You really get what you pay for from these two makers, I have compared them to most of what else is available thanks to fitting decoders for friends over the years, and they are consistently superior in aspects like smoothness at dead slow, good transition throughout the speed curve, extended and stable acceleration and deceleration, good range of adjustments on the Lenz, class leading adjustments on the Zimo.

One other brand to mention, CTE. An ex-Zimo designer who struck out on his own. Much like Zimo, more expensive, unbelievably robust. I used one on a friend's US brass model which has an animal for a motor with enormous spikes in current draw. The CTE just gets on with it. (Both the Lenz and Zimo decoders tried had regular short circuit protection trips in this mechanism and a good dealer suggested that the CTE design was very good in this application - at a price - and he proved right.
Bigglesof266 wrote:...(Lenz) still don't do sound decoders ...AFAIK?

No they took a different approach, the SUSI interface which allows a separate sound module to be slaved to a Gold decoder. Old hat now, but it was a good solution when decoders were physically large, and there were not that many locos designed to take decoders, let alone be sound equipped. Flexibility in using space inside the loco by having decoder in one location and sound module in another was then very useful.

Bigmet
Posts: 6310
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:19 pm

Re: Decoders

Postby Bigmet » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:22 am

Bigglesof266 wrote:...My no brainer go-to for reasonably priced and that broad brief good DCC decoder otherwise, is anything from Lenz. I can recommend them as a quality, comprehensively featured with respective segments, reliable, safe buy...

I standardised on Lenz, having trialled everything readily available retail in the UK in the early 2000s. That was an easy win for them, way better than anything else then on the market in the UK. Both the Lenz 100 system and all the 80 odd decoders in my locos are still trouble free, and bear in mind I operate the layout every day I am home. I now use the Lenz standard, as it has all the drive quality of the more featured Silver and Gold, but at a very competitive price.

When Zimo became readily available their decoders were tried and found very good indeed. Extra adjustments in these decoders as compared to Lenz made them able to tame older 'rough' mechanisms, which was very satisfactory, Neat features like a set up that can match the useful Lenz shunt and intertia off modes only iced the cake. These have proved completely reliable and one recovered from an accident in which a mechanism caught fire destroying insulation and exposing the decoder to track power on a motor terminal, which is pretty robust. For a long time they were much more expensive than Lenz, but have now almost fixed that with the MX600 series, just a couple of pounds more than a Lenz Standard, so I have bought some of these.

You really get what you pay for from these two makers, I have compared them to most of what else is available thanks to fitting decoders for friends over the years, and they are consistently superior in aspects like smoothness at dead slow, good transition throughout the speed curve, extended and stable acceleration and deceleration, good range of adjustments on the Lenz, class leading adjustments on the Zimo.

One other brand to mention, CTE. An ex-Zimo designer who struck out on his own. Much like Zimo, more expensive, unbelievably robust. I used one on a friend's US brass model which has an animal for a motor with enormous spikes in current draw. The CTE just gets on with it. (Both the Lenz and Zimo decoders tried had regular short circuit protection trips in this mechanism and a good dealer suggested that the CTE design was very good in this application - at a price - and he proved right.)
Bigglesof266 wrote:...(Lenz) still don't do sound decoders ...AFAIK?

No they took a different approach, the SUSI interface which allows a separate sound module to be slaved to a Gold decoder. Old hat now, but it was a good solution when decoders were physically large, and there were not that many locos designed to take decoders, let alone be sound equipped. Flexibility in using space inside the loco by having decoder in one location and sound module in another was then very useful.


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