MRC Decoders - Good or Bad?

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#1
I'm planning to buy a couple of Athearn Genesis SD60M's, DCC w/ sound but I've had several people warn me about the MRC decoders ... very limited ability to program and very poor quality control. Any thoughts?

Also, anyone have experience with replacement decoders, either SoundTraxx Tsunami versus QSI's newest chips?
 

UP2CSX

Fleeing from Al
#2
The warnings about MRC sound decoders are well founded. They not only have very poor quality control, they also don't sound very good. I personally like the QSI Revolution but you won't go wrong getting a Tsunami either. The Athearn engines themselves are very good, just get the DCC ready version and stick in your own sound decoder.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
#3
Some people report that their MRC decoders have performed well and that they were relatively easy to manage. On the other hand, there are many irate users who post over on Model Railroader's forums that the things left them permanently bald at age 26.

Their hairs didn't fall out on their own.

-Crandell
 
#5
I have not had very good experiences with MRC sound equipt Athearn engines for the same reasons you and others have stated. If you have an MRC DCC system, you'll be able to program them fine, but there is still no CV read-back which is very annoying.

MRC sound is OK, but Soundtraxx and QSI both sound far better. I'm not familiar with LokSound, so I can't offer any advice there.

The Athearn SD60M is a beautiful model and runs well. I have two of them. I put a QSI revolution in one and it sounds and runs great! I'd recommend getting the DCC ready and putting in your own sound chip. There is a place to fit a 1" round speaker in the frame, so you don't even have to worry about speaker size.
 
#6
Bought the MRC 1663 for my Atlas S2 since it was specifically designed for it. It was easy to install and okay for programming. The one complaint I have is that the sound levels are limited so you're sort of stuck between loud and waaaay too loud.
Dan
 
#7
I would have to agree with guys on the MRC Decoders. I have one in a Athearn F-3 that I am thinking of getting rid of. The loco is a Central of Georgia F-3. As much as I like it,I think it was one of too many locos I have.:eek:.As for the sound decoder, I am not impressed.William.
 

kjd

Go make something!
#8
If MRC could match the quality of their power packs to their decoders they would be very good. But they don't and they aren't. Two thumbs down on MRC sound decoders.
 
#9
i converted 15 older non dcc ready locos, to dcc PROTO, ATHEARN and BACHMANN using mostly MRC decoders and have had NO problems. in fact the only decoders i have had problems wirh were the early SOUNDTRAX 101lL models no longer made. but they made me leary of the newer tsunamis. may be unwarrented, but the price and difficult programming and the size keeps me leary still , the MRC sound decoders are compact, easy to install and work with any 8 ohm speaker, with minimul futzing. if you are a techy who prefers fiddling rather than running your trains the MRC may not be for you. i use DIGITRAX decoders for my non sound locos, and find they consist well with the MRC decoders.
 
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#10
MRC Decoders

:Jack from Star, Idaho. I usually use Tsunami decoders for reliability and sound but recently I put togeter a five locomotive consist and I used the MRC for the engine sound on four dummy loco's and I must admit to me they sound great and I have not had any problems. However, a couple of years ago I put four Loc Sound in different engines and all of them have failed even the replacements. I sent them back and replaced them with Tsunami. Tsunami well worth the money...Jack Strong:eek:
 
#11
They did have QC issues. After buying 5 tsunami and 2 QSI sound decoders I tried the MRC sound only units. Im happy with the sound but the first 2 units I bought I had to return after just 2 mins of running. I hear they have upped the QC but it is known that they had issues.

I used the Alco sound units in my P2K S1s and am very happy with them. but am still leary with the QC issues....
 
#12
Bachmann RS 3

Hello All,
I am from India ..& new to model Rairoading.I am going to purchase Bachmann's Alco RS3 Locomotive #64206, which is DCC equipped.I want to convert it into DCC sound equipped.
I was about to purchase MRC sound decoder Alco-244 but now quite worried about it's quality after reading threads on various forrums...:eek:

Can anyone please guide me a whether I should go for MRC or suggest any alternatives.

Thanks in advance...
 

ThoroughBreed

Dcc~detail~diesel freak
#13
I bought the early sound decoders for a couple of my sd70's, and have had no problems programming or reading back the cv's. I also have the Prodigy Advance2 with updated software so maybe that makes the difference. I can consist them with my tower55 units with digitrax sound in them and all functions work well.
I personally think that once you get 2 sound decoders together, you cant really tell the difference between them, and after 3 or more engines running on the layout, it all becomes overkill unless they are spaced far apart. But thats just my opinion.:rolleyes:

P.S.: If any of you want to get rid of your mrc decoders, pm me...lol
 
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beiland

Well-Known Member
#15
:Jack from Star, Idaho. I usually use Tsunami decoders for reliability and sound but recently I put togeter a five locomotive consist and I used the MRC for the engine sound on four dummy loco's and I must admit to me they sound great and I have not had any problems. ....
Are you saying you just utilized the sound function of those MRC decoders ....and not their motor functions (being that they were dummy units)?

To those folks that are experiencing 'failures', has anyone learned of what component on their circuit boards is causing these failures?
 
#16
Even if we knew what component was failing there's nothing the user could do about it to fix/replace. I have 3 Locos left with MRC decoders but not for long. One of these is an Athearn Big Boy which just runs all by itself, not responsive to throttle. It will accelerate but when you try to stop it just continues merrily along. Two Challengers are also erratic, but at least they will stop. I use NCE Powercab and decoder Pro. I'm tired of futzing with these and will replace with Tsunami's.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
#17
Even if we knew what component was failing there's nothing the user could do about it to fix/replace.
The reason I ask this sort of question is from an experience I had with a few Xerox monitors that turned out to be faulty. It turned out to be some faulty capacitors (Chinese ones) supplied to manufacturers of these monitors and utilized on the power boards in those monitors.....these bad capacitors were also spread into many other electronic equips manufactured in China...including TV's etc. So you ended up with a whole lot of electronics failing at a very eary age because of the faulty electronic components.


I have 3 Locos left with MRC decoders but not for long. One of these is an Athearn Big Boy which just runs all by itself, not responsive to throttle. It will accelerate but when you try to stop it just continues merrily along. Two Challengers are also erratic, but at least they will stop. I use NCE Powercab and decoder Pro. I'm tired of futzing with these and will replace with Tsunami's.
Did these locos run OK in the beginning?

I'm wondering if these MRC decoder problems exist thruout the fairly extensive decoder line?....they do make quite a number of different decoder models don't they? Or is it just particular models.

If they were having such problems with faulty items, would they still be building even more and different new decoders to market?
http://www.modelrectifier.com/train-controls/dcc-decoder-facts.asp

http://www.modelrectifier.com/resources/trainSound/Decoder%20Chart%202010-06.pdf
 
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#18
Don't know anything about the newer decoders. The ones in my Locos are in the 4-5 yr. old range. I think Athearn dropped MRC in 2009. The three engines I mentioned were ok runners in DC. When I switched to DCC and ran the Locos more is when the erratic business started. I was constantly resetting. I have around 50 sound equipped Locos including, 3 or 4 QSI, 2 BLI, and the rest Tsunami (and 3 MRC). MRC is not used by a single OEM that I'm aware of. I think that says something. I have also heard that the best part of MRC decoders is their promotional literature.

I'm not out to badmouth MRC or start any great crusade. I just know that the 3 I have are my worst performers and I'm switching these to Tsunamis. I've had great luck with this brand, I'm familiar with the settings etc and the sounds are great. Stated simply, I'd rather stick with a known than a questionable. Decoders are too expensive to experiment. I'm looking at ~ $300 to change these 3. Santa, are you listening?
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
#20
MRC stereo decoder 1902

The warnings about MRC sound decoders are well founded. They not only have very poor quality control, they also don't sound very good. I personally like the QSI Revolution but you won't go wrong getting a Tsunami either. The Athearn engines themselves are very good, just get the DCC ready version and stick in your own sound decoder.
I have heard numerous such comments about MRC decoders for a few years now,...and in particular about their motor control functions.

You made this posting of yours back in 2009, and I'm wondering if you had the opportunity to re-evaluate it at all over the years?? I see where MRC is still very much in the decoder market still (2013), and i wonder how that might be if their decoders were so poor? Have they made significant improvements over the years?

More specifically does anyone have experience with this new 'stereo' decoder they are offering??

E-8/9/PA
Drop In Stereo Sound Decoder:

Adjustable back EMF load control w/ Ultra Slow Speed Control

16 Bit Sound Control w/ 16 Levels of sound volume

Dual out of snych EMD 567B Prime Movers for realistic operation

1.5 amp capacity

2 Different Prime Mover Sounds; EMD 567B/Alco 539T

Probrammable for either 2 digit (1-127) or 4 digit (1-9999) addresses

Programmable start voltage & top voltage

Programmable acceleration & deceleration rates

Progammable 14,28/128 speed steps

Programmable user selectable 22 types of horns & 6 types of bells


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vD_f_VmtglA
 



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