Ideas for Creating Realistic Model Railway Sounds

Premium Video Preview: Log in or become a member to get full access.
Duration: 9:48

Membership Options


Sign up for premium membership and get access to our best model railroad videos and step-by-step instructional projects. Learn new techniques and tips from friendly experts. Anytime. Anywhere.
Monthly $8.00
Annually $69.00


Upgrade to GOLD membership and get unlimited access to our entire library of premium model railroad videos, receive discounts on DVDs, video downloads, and classes in the shop. In addition, you’ll receive nine video downloads, access to GOLD member LIVE events, and so much more!
Annually $135.00

Conrail New Jersey’s builder/operator, Matt Snell, tells Model Railroad Academy’s Allen Keller that adding sound was a natural outgrowth of observations that his nighttime operations were too quiet. So he added various model railway sounds via modules with speakers spread throughout his basement and his layout came to life!

In a step-by-step tutorial, Matt shares his model railroad tips to adding sound modules, showing how they’re powered, wired and triggered three different ways – momentary push button (for whistles), toggle switch for constant background sound (like crickets or birds) and loop. Videotaped at the advent of DCC sound decoders with which he had not yet experimented, Matt created a portable sound modules box with which he could trigger his sounds as he followed his trains around his layout.

Here are some additional model railroad wiring tips.

Matt admits that he likes the added traffic the New Jersey Transit brings to his operations as much as the freight trains, and runs them both as prototypically schedule-wise as possible, using old NJT timetables. He runs operations twice a month in four-hour blocks using a 3:1 fast clock. Every ops session covers a 12-hour period of time, 7a-7pm, and 7pm to 7am, with the next session starting off where the previous one had ended. His daytime sessions call for seven-to-nine operators and two dispatchers; nighttime operations, four to five operators and only one dispatcher. All dispatchers control the block signals with a realistic-looking CTC board.

His sessions which replicate weekend operations feature the diminished traffic of both freight and commuter lines, just as on the real railroads. Wherever possible, Matt follows the Northeastern Corridor lines’ official rules and regulations to govern his operating sessions.