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Soundtraxx Tsunami

Soundtraxx Finally Delivers
Buy Here | Preliminary Review | Info and Pics

Soundtraxx has not as of 09-25-03 9:25AM EDT released this info to their website as promised by 9-24-03. We obtained this info from a friend.

Tsunami DSD Specifications: List Price $179.00, Delivery in Dec 2003.

Tony's is now accepting orders and special pricing, in the Tony's tradition, will be announced soon.

Tsu • na • mi (tsoo-nä'-mee) n. A huge wave of sound caused by SoundTraxx's newest and slightly unpronounceable product (with apologies to Webster).

The Tsunami sound system is SoundTraxx's new high-performance, on-board locomotive sound system. Like the DSD-150 it replaces, Tsunami integrates a full-featured sound system, four Hyperlight lighting effects, a motor controller and a DCC decoder into a single, integrated package and is compatible with the NMRA DCC standards and Recommended Practices. Unlike the DSD-150, the Tsunami sound system can also be used on 'Analog' layouts and controlled with a conventional power pack, hence its model designation now begins with DSS rather than DSD.

The purpose of this paper is to highlight some of Tsunami's newest features and to illustrate their benefits to the consumer.

Design Highlights
There were four principal design goals for the Tsunami project:

  • Improve the sound quality
  • Increase functionality
  • Improve the motor control
  • Reduce the size

In addition, there were many suggestions made by SoundTraxx customers themselves that were also incorporated into the design specification (Yes, we actually do read those warranty cards!).

Meeting these objectives required an all-new design taking advantage of the latest electronic components and technologies on the market today. At Tsunami's core is a true 16-bit Digital Signal Processor, or DSP, capable of executing over 40 million instructions per second. With this new level of performance, SoundTraxx was able to give Tsunami 14 functions, over 22 individual sounds, and 4 special effects including the ability to alter the exhaust sound automatically in response to changes in the engine load. The motor controller received numerous enhancements as well, including the use of high frequency PWM and back-emf based load compensation. To keep the size down, only components available in highly miniaturized packages were selected for use in the Tsunami resulting in a form factor that measures almost 30% shorter and 50% thinner than the DSD-150.

New Sounds
To take advantage of Tsunami's increased sample rate and dynamic range, all sound effects have been re-mastered and re-digitized for the best audio possible. Some of the many new sound effects added to the Tsunami repertoire include:

  • Multiple Whistles and Horns
    Each Tsunami will offer several horn or whistle selections within each model making it easier to select the right sound of your favorite model. And yes Mr. Lamont, the SP GS-4 will have an air horn too!

  • Short Whistle (or Horn)
    To supplement the primary whistle, a short whistle control has been added to produce a short, snappy toot needed for many common whistle signals.

  • Dynamo
    The dynamo sound effect has been improved to include the sound of the turbine windup when it is first turned on.

  • Brake Squeal
    This effect has been added to both steam and diesel models and may be activated manually using a function key or automatically when the engine is slowed to a stop.

  • Water Stop - The water stop effecft can be activated with a function key whenever the engine is stopped and begins with the sound of the tender hatch being opened followed by the sound of water filling the tender.

In all, there are over 22 steam sound effects including the bell, air pump, exhaust chuff, coupler, steam release, cylinder cocks, snifter valves, brake release, side rod clank, Johnson bar/power reverse, blower, injector, pop valve and Fireman Fred.

And there are over 16 diesel sounds including the bell, engine start, engine exhaust, engine shutoff, dynamic brakes, air compressor, brake release, coupler, and Fireman Ed.

More Functions = More Fun!
To help control all these sounds, Tsunami will respond to up to 14 function keys. Function assignments are similar to the SoundTraxx LC decoder series in order to maintain consistency across product lines. Of course, Tsunami's function mapping feature can always be used to change the control configuration to suit one's personal taste.

Function Steam Diesel
Backup Light
Backup Light
Short Whistle
Short Horn
Steam Release
Dynamic Brake
Water Stop
Brake Release/Squeal
Brake Release/Squeal

For those operators using cabs with fewer functions, Tsunami also provides the ability to configure some sounds for automatic operation.

Sound Effect Processor
Tsunami has four built-in sound effects that allow the individual sounds (i.e., whistle, bell, etc.) to be modified in a particular manner. Each effect is fully adjustable using the decoder's CV settings and each effect can be turned on or off as desired.

  • Mixer
    Tsunami's new mixer design incorporates several new innovations. To begin with, there are 24 individual volume settings allowing each sound effect level to be independently adjusted. A master volume control has also been added so that the overall audio level can be easily changed with a single CV. Finally, the mute function has been improved to provide a more pleasing fade-off/fade-on effect.

  • Dynamic Digitral Exhaust Processor (DDE)
    The DDE processor has been greatly improved over the earlier DSD-150 design and in addition to sensing changes in the throttle setting, it now factors in the actual load placed on the locomotive by measuring the motor's back-emf level. This data is then used to automatically adjust the timre, volume and other parameters of the exhaust sound to simulate what would be heard from a prototype locomotive under similar conditions.

    The sound of the steam chuff, for example, will have a deep, booming quality while the engine is working a grade or starting a long train and a quiet, wispy sound while the engine is running light. The DDE processor can also be used to raise and lower the side rod clank volume with engine load as well!

  • Reverb
    A digital reverb has been included in the Tsunami system to add "spatial presence" to selected sound effects. By adjusting the reverb level and delay time, the user can simulate multiple prime movers for example, or the effect of operating in hilly terrain.

  • Multi-Band Equalizer
    Each Tsunami sound system incorporates a multi-band equalizer similar to the "graphic" equalizer found on many of today's home and automotive stereo systems. Tsunami's equalizer allows the user to cut and boost sound levels by +/- 12dB over seven selected frequency ranges(62Hz, 125Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1KHz, 2KHz and 4KHz) and providces the "ultimate" tone control.

    Using the equalizer, the user can easily compensate for deficiencies in the speaker installation to produce a flatter and overall, a more accurate frequency response. Similarly, the equalizer can be used to match the sound system's response to that of the speaker. Consider a typical 12mm speaker. Limited by the laws of physics, this speaker will produce very little bass no matter how big a signal is sent to it. If the low frequencies are too great, the speaker will distort and eventually burn out. In such an instance, the equalizer can be used to lower the bass levels resulting in a clearer and more satisfying sound as well as a longer speaker life.

HyperDrive Motion Control System
No, the Hyperdrive will not transport you to the next galaxy but it will make your locomotive run better! Tsunami's motion controller incorporates all of the most advanced motor control features found in the DCC marketplace today plus a few new ones:

  • Scalable Load Compensation
    Load compensation (a.k.a. back-emf control, or cruise control) is used to help maintain a constant locomotive speed and is useful for low speed operations. Steam modelers using auto-chuff will especially appreciate this feature, as the exhaust cadence will keep better time with the locomotive speed over a wider range of operating conditions.

    Tsunami measures the motor's back-emf voltage to determine the load on the locomotive and the amount by which to increase or decrease the motor speed. Thus, power to the motor is increased when going uphill and decreased when going down hill. The degree of load compensation can also be adjusted so the decoder has more or less ability to correct any given speed change.

  • High Resolution Speed Steps
    While most decoders topday can support 127 speed steps, Tsunami has 2048 speed steps! Admittedly, there are no DCC systems on the market as yet supporting this many speed steps; however, Tsunami interpolates between speed steps during acceleration and braking and as part of its load compensation algorithm. The result is micro-fine speed control regardless of the speed step mode selected on the DCC system.

  • High Frequency PWM Drive
    Virtually all DCC decoders used a form of PWM (Pulse-Width-Modulation) to control motor speed. At low frequencies, the PWM signal used to control the motor speed can result in an audible hum or buzz, especially in brass locomotives. To mitigate this problem, Tsunami uses an ultra-sonic PWM frequency adjustable to 39KHz, well beyond the range of human hearing and safe for coreless motors as well.

  • Torque Control
    Unfortunately, using a high PWM frequency also reduces the available motor torque. To correct for this loss, Tsunami employs a special torque control algorithm resulting in improved locomotive performance, especially at low speeds.

  • Speed Curves
    Like all other SoundTraxx decoders, Tsunami provides a user-customizable speed table and an adjustment for starting voltage as well as 14 preset speed curves.

  • Adjustable Momentum
    The acceleration and braking rates are independently adjustable and can be used to simulate the momentum of a heavy train. Additionally, in the event of a sudden direction change, Tsunami will first slow the motor to a full stop before changing directions and then accelerate back to the original speed.

  • Higher Amperage Ratings
    The Tsunami will be available in a 1-amp model suitable for use in most HO scale models. More powerful 3 and 5-amp models will also be offered for use in larger scale locomotives.

Hyperlight Lighting System
Tsunami provides four function outputs for controlling lights. Each output can be independently set to any of SoundTraxx's 14 different Hyperlight lighting effects including the on-off headlight, dimmable headlight, mars light, gyra-light, rotary beacon, stratolite, ditch lights, single and double pulse strobe lights, engine exhaust and firebox flicker. Tsunami also has a new effect for steam locomotives called the "Dyno-Light" which synchronizes the lamp brightness to the "output" of the dynamo such that the lamp brightness gradually increases as the dynamo builds up speed.

Another new feature added to the Hyperlight system is LED Brightness Correction. An LED exhibits a much different output response than an incandescent bulb. As a result, LEDs were historically not recommended for use with the lighting effects, as they tended to be over-bright and a bit life-less. Tsunami now provides a control mode that corrects for the output differences resulting in a more eye-popping effect regardless of which type of light is used.

And of course Tsunami also includes the other lighting features found on previous generations of SoundTraxx products such as choice of directional or Rule 17 lighting controls, grade crossing timers and an adjustable flash rate.

We welcome comments or suggestions from readers; please write or call.

  Phone: 800-978-3472 or 802-878-5005.
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