Problems with MRC 1808 Decoder

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Good Afternoon everyone, Happy New Year:
I have an MRC 1808 sound decoder in my Kato SD90/43 MAC -- its never been all that good -- not real pleased with it. The original lost its sound within 1 hour of getting it, took them 2 months to decide to send me a new one. This one has been running softly, but "OK" it does not have a keep alive, and its REALLY sensitive to track conditions. However today a new problem developed. My Kato P40 with the 1810 decoder runs around the layout pretty well not much in the way of stopping and stuff, but the SD90, acts just like dirty track and wont stay running, except that even when sitting still and idling, the front headlight is flickering rapidly. it does NOT have any kind of effects available or enabled for the headlight. Im beginning to suspect a problem with this particular decoder, does anyone have any kind of suggestions or advice?
If it is indeed bad, Im going to cut my losses and replace the decoder -- probably with something from Tsunami, BUT -- I would like to hear your suggestions on a replacement decoder
San Luis and Rio Grande


AKA Gomez Addams
Staff member
Honestly, most of us have long given up on MRC for decoders, especially sound decoders. It seems not so much "if" as "when" they will fail.
I think your inclination to replace with a different brand would be best. There are several to choose from, Soundtraxx, ESU, and TCS are the most popular.

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
Consider the aggravation and disappointment that ya get when ya try to get by with the cheapest decoder on the market.
Now, ya have to pay the whole price of another decoder on top of what ya paid for the MRC.
That's what makes this hobby so expensive for some folks.
LOL -- ya, thats for sure, ive learned my lesson on MRC. SHould have done more research, but cleaning the the wheels and rails with alchohol has made a HUGE difference, so until I can afford to replace them, I'll enjoy the better running

San Luis and Rio Grande


Well-Known Member
I have ONE mrc decoder in my fleet. Just a Sounder. It recently died. I'm kind of okay with that.
I opted for the sound only decoder for my steamer as I was getting great performance from the TSC decoder I was using on the loco and didn't feel the need to swap it out. A replacement decoder is now the plan, but one that will be an all-in-one - sound and train control. And it will not be MRC.


Well-Known Member
Suggestions for a replacement: Two possibilities: Tsunami or Lok Sound. Both are well designed and pretty versatile. I have more experience with Tsunami, but I really like the Lok Sound units I have in the fleet.


Section Hand
Since experiencing my first Lok Sound decoder, I place them at the top of the list for performance and sound quality. And they have been well designed and are versatile like Alan stated prior to my post.

The higher price tag is worth the extra $$$.

I do have some MRC sound decoders that while gthey are are still working, they are not the quality of most other sound decoders.

My 2 cents worth.

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