Sound fitted DCC controlled locomotives are being more and more popular, effective and cheaper, especially since the introduction of cheaper sounds chips such as the Hornby TTS range of sound fitted decoders. However whilst the sounds of the locomotive themselves are achieved with a few add on sounds such as doors closing and guards whistles, what such sound fitted locomotives emphasise is that the ambient sounds of people, machinery, birds, water or waves (where appropriate) and sounds of the rolling stock, buffering wagons and flange squealing that is missing.
For Canute Road Quay I wanted to provide an overall immersive experience for the viewer at an exhibition by providing a mix of sounds to include not just steam locomotive sounds but those of the rolling stock and other typical background sounds that you would hear at a working quayside. I also wanted it to be reasonable subtle.
Hornby have recently partially addressed these requirements with their R6925TTS sound fitted vent van this has 29 separate sounds that covers some of the above ambient sounds including steam, locos, wagons being shunted, flange squeal, birds etc. However, this would not be suitable for use on Canute Road Quay for a number of reasons; firstly it requires DCC control requiring each sound to be activated, up to three at any time, using function buttons rather than just playing on a loop, , secondly it does not feature all the sounds I require such as Herring Gulls etc. and finally would really require the wagon, which is not quote the correct period for my usual 1946 to 1949 period to be located on the layout all the time which would hamper operation a bit.
I therefore having spent some time looking around for suitable sound clips to make my own file, came across a friendly and efficient small supplier called BigTrainSound.co.uk The guys here can supply a number of off the shelf sound files ranging from platform announcements to urban sounds from different eras and weather conditions including thunderstorms. Another service they provide is to produce bespoke soundscapes of either 30 or 50 minute duration tailored to meet a clients needs.
Paul at BigTrainSound.co.uk quickly gained an understanding of my requirements from looking at pictures of Canute Road Quay, reading this blog and from my own suggested required sounds. Within a couple of days I had a schedule of proposed sounds and timings for approval followed by a provisional sound file. By the end of the week I had the agreed completed 50 minute soundscape file, very efficient service!
The ambient soundscape file is built upon a base layer of breezes and lapping water sounds then with multiple other sounds layered over it at different times including the following: Herring Gulls, steam locomotives shunting at various times (actual sounds recorded of shunting at Bristol and Goole docks), wagon wheel squeals, ships hooters, distant fog horn, truck arriving and departing, conversations, unloading wagons, dogs barking etc.
Last month saw the first exhibition with the sounds being played via a Bluetooth speaker simply clamped underneath the layout. I was certainly very pleased with the overall effect and even though the locomotive / shunting sounds are not synced with the actual movements during operation, it became a bit of a fun challenge to try and get the movements to coincide, which we managed quite often so much so viewers often commented that they thought the locos were DCC Sound fitted!
The video clips above give a brief idea of some of the sounds. I can totally recommended the great service by Paul and his team at BigTrainSound.co.uk as a very satisfied client.
If you want to see Canute Road Quay and experience the ambient sound effect, Canute Road Quay is making an appearance this coming Saturday 23rd February at the excellent little RisEx exhibition organised by the Princes Risborough and District Model Railway Club.
The show is being held at the ,Community Centre, Wades Park, Stratton Road, Princes Risborough, Bucks, HP27 9AX and is is open between 10.00 and 17.00
Canute Road Quay at RisEx will also be in the company of my friend Simon Paley’s Norwood Road Layout, set in the West Croydon area circa 2000‘s along with eight other layouts. Some say… the show is worth a visit for the cakes alone…
If you planning to pop along to RisEx, please make sure you to say hello.
PS. if you are wondering about the title its a sneaky reference to one of my favourite bands, their 17th album in fact..