Review published: 8 July 2015
Latest update: 12 July 2015
This review is from a point of view of a relative newbie to DCC. I purchased a digital system two months ago, and I only did one decoder install so far so I’m not experienced at DCC at all.
I heard many good things about the sound modules from PIKO, as apparently they’re dead easy to install and offer a nice sound. So I thought equipping my new V 20 diesel engine (Read my review here: Review: PIKO G 37550 V 20) with DCC sound using the PIKO #36224 sound module would be a good test.
PIKO offers seperate sound projects for each loco (e.g. V 60, BR 24, TEE …), the sound module for the V 20 is the same as the V 36. The sound module is for sound only, it needs to be connected to a driving decoder over a ‘SUSI’ interface.
The sound module can be connected to any DCC decoder with a SUSI interface, but I chose to use this sound kit together with the #36122 decoder from PIKO (Read my review of the #36122 decoder here: Review: PIKO G 36122 Loco Decoder)
Article Number: 36224
Product Description: Sound Kit for V 36 / V 20
Year of introduction: 2014
MSRP (2015): € 129,99 / ~ $ 145,00
The sticker on the box only mentions the V 36, but PIKO confirmed to me that it’s definitely aimed for use in the V 20 as well.
Inside the box we find the sound module, it’s ridiculously small haha… Included are two screws to mount the loudspeaker, and a piece of double-sided sticky tape.
Also included is of course a manual and a list of configuration variables (CV’s) in both German and English language.
The loudspeaker is a ‘FRS 5’ speaker from Visaton, and it comes with a resonating chamber.
I’ve published a complete step-by-step guide for the disassembly of the V 20 and the (sound) decoder installation here: PIKO G V 20 Disassembly & Decoder Install. I suggest reading that first if you’re interested in that particular install.
Installing the sound module was very easy, just a few steps are needed: attach the sound module with the piece of double-sided sticky tape, plug the SUSI cable into the decoder, and mount the speaker. Connect the cables to the speaker, and you’re ready for testing.
No additional programming was needed, although I decided to lower the speaker volume (CV 902) as I thought it was too loud. The manual is very good, and provides enough info for additional configuration.
According to the manual, it is possible to add a maximum of 4 custom sounds. Since PIKO develops their sound modules in cooperation with Uhlenbrock, you need Uhlenbrock’s ‘sound loading adaptor’ (#31010 or #31050) for configuration of additional sounds.
The sound itself is very nice, it has a nice depth in it. There are a lot of sound functions included, and you can add custom sounds as well. Here’s a sound demo:
The sound module costs € 129,99 (MSRP, street prices are lower), which is quite expensive, certainly because it requires a DCC decoder as well.
Installing the sound module was a pleasant experience. I can definitely recommend PIKO’s sound kits as they do exactly what you expect them to do, and the sound is nice.