Adding Sound to The Scene

Introduction

You can buy sound modules (very expensive) to fit inside model locomotives. It is possible however, to add sound to the scene completely free of charge, assuming you own a computer. This is made possible by generous web site owners who offer for personal use their sound tracks and audio editing and mixing programs.

The most pleasing experience on the model railway is to hear the sound of the real locomotive as our model train chases its tail around an oval track. Locomotive sound recordings you'll find on the web last 2 or 3 minutes and feature either trains starting from stations, trains passing by or, sound recorded on board trains in motion.

To apply sound to our model train it is usually necessary to edit the sound file, firstly to extract a sample that can be looped to give a continuous sound of the train in motion and secondly to extract the sound of a whistle or hooter so that this can be mixed with the engine sound and activated on demand.

Recommended Audio Editing Program

Wavepad Sound Editor by NCH Software.

wavepad sound editor

Open a train audio file in the program and extract a sample that has a consistent audio level and rhythmic beat of the wheels in motion with no other sounds overlaid.

Save your sample as a .wav file.

You also need the sound of the whistle or hooter and this might need to be obtained from a different audio file. Try to find one where either the locomotive is not in motion or the whistle is more dominant than the sound of the locomotive engine. If not then you'll need to use the filtering options of the program to suppress the sound of the locomotive engine.

So, now you have two new audio files, the sound of the engine and the sound of the whistle.

Recommended Audio Mixer Program

Mixere by Chris Korda

mixere

This great little program allows you to load your edited audio sounds for all your locomotives, loop the engine sound and play the whistle or hooter on demand.

With the model train in motion and the sound playing from your computer speakers the trick is to adjust the train speed so the motion of the wheels are in synchronism with the beat of the audio. Then give a blast of the whistle as the train speeds through stations and crossings.

I guarantee it will bring a smile to your face!

Add another track of town or countryside noises to play continuously in the background so that when the trains are stationary you hear the natural sounds of the landscape.

Sources of BR Southern Region Locomotive Audio Files

Railway Sounds. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, including SR Schools class 34028 Edystone.

Bluebell Railway MP3 Sound Files by Michael Taylor. Exclusively Southern Locomotives.

BR Diesel Web. Virtually every class of BR Diesel locomotive is represented.

Fleet Steam. Enthusiast steam specials on Southern metals in Hampshire. (Sound links are within website.)

Great Western Archive. Featuring Southern Locomotives!

Steam Sounds. A massive audio portfolio of all regions.