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Soundscapes for Layouts


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So, I want to add sound to my Akihabara Station diorama, and eventually, to my entire layout. I don't dig the idea of trying to put sound decoders into my tiny trains, and the sound that would come from such small speakers just wouldn't really do it anyway. So my plan is to put larger speakers hidden in buildings near viewpoints on my layout (read: Under the station platform). This way, too, I can do more than trains, I can have crowd noise, auto traffic, ATOS (train annunciator) systems, etc. The trains sounds would be pretty much limited to arrival and departure, but that's OK.


So, I have some experience programming with Boodler, a Python module for composing soundscapes. It's a pretty cool tool. You feed it some samples, and then write small programs that put those samples together. One really convincing demo that comes with the program takes about a dozen small environmental recordings and puts together an hour-long thunderstorm, different each time it's played.


Moreover, I think I can rig it to work with JMRI automation software, so that DCC events can trigger Boodler soundscapes and vice-versa. We'll see. This post isn't about programming details, at least not yet.


I need two things for this to work. One problem is sound hardware. My laptop only has a two-channel analog out (and an optical SPDIF out, whose channel capacity I don't know). Ideally, I'd have several devices on the layout—one for each viewing area—handling sample playback, and I would instruct Boodler to orchestrate those things. I don't know what those things are, though: Does anyone have any good ideas about what sort of hardware might be good?


The second and more important problem is this: I don't have any good recordings of train sounds! (The internet is an amazing repository of ATOS sounds, and other sounds, though). I can get flange-squeal and joint clackety-clack sounds locally if I have to, but the paucity of electric locos and E/DMUs in North America means I need another source for recordings of Japanese trains. Does anyone know of a repository of such sounds? Youtube videos have some stuff, but the quality is pretty bad in most cases (ooh, narration, great.). This is the real limiting factor for the project.



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We have sound effect editors at work that do exactly what you are asking about. They work on Digital design or Soundtrack Pro (Mac) but these are probably more that what you need.

They also acculate a lot of sounds and make up their own sound libraries. But what I suggest is look for Sound effect CDs. I searched on google and this is what I came up with:




I hope this helps. Oh, and this process will require a mix down of all the effects you choose with setting all your levels.

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You can also get train departure sounds from the Konfabulator Japan Railway Station Melodies widget. The .widget file is just a zip file, so change the extension to zip and you will be able to see the contents.


I suppose it won't be all that useful unless you have multiple lines on your layout, but it's entertaining nevertheless.

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