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Quick Look: TCS WOWSound Steam Version 4 DCC sound decoder

Read this review from the December 2016 Model Railroader
TCS WOWSound Steam Version 4 DCC sound decoder
TCS WOWSound Steam Version 4 DCC sound decoder

Price: $129.95 (decoder with Keep-Alive), $109.95 (decoder only)

Train Control Systems
P.O. Box 341
Blooming Glen, PA 18911

Comments: The WOWSound steam decoder, first reviewed in the October 2014 Model Railroader, is now better than ever with this Version 4 release. Our test sample included the firm’s Keep-Alive (KA) capacitors. I wired the decoder to a TCS 28mm 8Ω 1W WOWSpeaker (sold separately for $19.95) and installed everything into an HO scale 2-8-2 USRA light Mikado.

As with the earlier release, the KA-equipped decoder kept the locomotive’s wheels turning and sounds chuffing through dead turnout frogs and over dirty track.

Mainline/switching momentum is a new feature. Function 15 toggled the locomotive momentum between switching (less) and mainline (more) momentum settings.

The biggest improvement with Version 4 is the Calibrated Proto Chuff feature. Using the decoder’s telephone-directory style Audio Assist menu I easily calibrated the decoder for prototype mode operation. After that, when the locomotive went uphill or started with a train, the chuffs got louder and heavier. When the locomotive headed down a steep grade, the chuffs trailed off to barely audible hisses, while the rod clanks got louder. I could manually control the chuff intensity using the Johnson bar up or down functions. Version 4 also features new prototype recordings taken from both standard and narrow gauge prototypes. The decoder has a total of 60 whistles, 40 bells, and 9 exhaust chuff options.

Version 4 is also available for the 21-pin and 5A large-scale WOWSound boards. TCS will update previous versions of the WOWSound decoders with the new firmware for $20.

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