Above photo is my Gosford complete with the Overhead. Click on the photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sugar Cube Speakers from SBS4DCC - Unbelievable.

I have previously used small speakers that were advertised as Sugar Cube but these ones from Streamlined Backshop are going to revolutionize sound installations in small HO locos like in my fleet of NSWGR locos. The sound is amazing and their small size (15L x 11W x 8H mm) including Enclosure make them so easy to fit in any model.

Recently I added sound to my Trainorama 48s and the 17mm internal width of the body makes fitting a Speaker difficult, except in the wider Cabin part of the body, many including me, used the supplied speaker, resulting in a volume too low and a really" tinny" sound.

I fitted a SBS4DCC Sugar Cubes with a MASSIVE improvement in the sound quality.

Discussion on the Yahoo groups and listening to the Speakers on Laurie McLean's Cube Speaker Sound Board at:

Not all Sugar Cube speakers are the same. Use the ones from Streamlined Backshop in the U.S. at:

I have experimented with a "stereo" installation, using a QSI Titan into a 22 cm (9") long HO Austrains C36, to see how the "stereo" effect sounded. The internal diameter of the C36's Smokebox is 20mm so I fitted a small QSI/Tonys round speaker that resulted in a really "tinny" Chuff and low in volume. Because of this "tinny" sound, I abandoned the idea of a "front" speaker for a stereo sound installation and went back to "mono" from the High Bass in the Tender.

Some time later I revisited the "front" speaker installation using a MRC 18 mm Round Speaker into another C36 and the sound from this speaker, compared to the previous "stereo" speaker, provided an adequate "front" speaker installation.

I fitted one of my new SBS4DCC Sugar Cubes to another C36 and compared the results using the same Tsunami Light decoders with identical "set up" CV values. The SBS Sugar Cubes sound much better and with the smaller overall size and format/footprint, makes them easier to install. These are the go for speakers in all my NSW loco fleet.

The video below compares the sound from a SBS4DCC's 15 x 11 x 8 mm Sugar Cube to Tony's 15 mm high 27 mm round High Bass, the photo below shows their relative size.

With the SBS Sugar Cubes, the Austrains C36 lends itself to an easy Smokebox speaker installation as the front is easily removed. Using my faithful form of of "re-useable" glue - Blu Tack, I "glued" the SBS Sugar Cube to the "inside" of the front of the Smokebox. I also added Blu Tack "around the Enclosure to reduce the vibrations, as shown below.

I wired up the speaker to the Tsunami Light decoder in the Tender via a changeover switch so I could switch between speakers while running the loco to demonstrate the two speakers for the video. I adjusted the volume a little louder than I usually have in my locos, to 100 out of 255 and  as usual I had adjusted the Tsunami's Equalizer to boost the higher frequencies, for the video.

The speaker did not distort when I adjusted the sound to the maximum and when the Whistle was blown, it was still clear with no distortion. I then adjusted the Tsunamis overall volume to where I normally have it for my locos (50 out of 255).

Unbelievable performance from such a small speaker.

My previous "go to" speaker due to it's great performance, was Tony's 27 x 15 mm High Bass speaker. It's size prevented it from being fitted to many locos, especially in my thin body Diesels but now with the SBS Sugar Cubes we can have great performance and volume with a much smaller package, so poor sounding sound locos are a thing of the past.

Plus these small SBS Sugar Cubes can be installed in the "front" (Smokebox/Boiler) of the Steam loco where many have wanted their sounds to come from - just like in the prototype.

What I have found, while operating with "loud/high" volumes and watching/following the loco, the "front" sound installation is very noticeable. Operating with low volumes is not so noticeable. With the loud loco sound that I witness on some of the layouts I visit and some visitors who bring their locos to the Main North, the "front" installation will be most beneficial. In any event I will be converting many of my steamers to be "front" runners.

A comparison of Sugar Cube Speakers at SBS4DCC, can be seen/heard at:

The below video compares the sound from the SBS4DCC speaker with a Tony's 27mm High Bass speaker. While the 27mm from Tonys sounded "bassier" and slightly louder, the much smaller SBS4DCC performed admirably with just a little less bass and volume.

The below video compares the 11 x 15 SBS4DCC Sugar Cube and a TVW Miniatures 11 x 15 Cell Phone speaker in my new Auscision 45.

For lots of DCC stuff, see my Main North web site at:


  1. Hi just looking at your Layout and it is fantastic.I am wondering if you can help me with a small issue I have.
    I have a HO DJH Streamlined 38 Class Loco. and the sound is very soft and I can't increase the volume. The Speaker is mounted in the Boiler and the funnel has been drilled out.I have not dismantled the Boiler at present but assume as the Loco was built a number of years ago it has an earlier model speaker.
    Can you please advise me on the correct speaker and mount for this Loco. and where could I source it.
    Many thanks for your time.

    1. Hi Ray. Your low volume will most probably be due to a combination of the installed speaker and the sound decoder. Many years ago I installed sound into a DJH C38 (not my loco) but if I was to install sound in one now, I'd use the 11 x 15 x 8 Sugar Cubes mentioned, if possible in the Boiler but if this is difficult, just mount it in the Tender as per a standard installation. Regards Marcus.