One of the areas I am very interested in is the electronics they will include in their locomotives. Between the advanced sound decoders on the market and the advances that Lionel delivered, M.T.H. has a high bar to reach. Like Lionel, M.T.H.'s 2013 catalog items in the Locomotives area are being delivered in one of two ways -- either with a set of electronics to handle all sound and power needs, or delivered as dummy non-powered units.
From the M.T.H. 2013 catalog (starting on the inside cover), every powered M.T.H. locomotive will include their Proto-Sound 3.0 sound and control system. Specifically in the catalog their EMD F3A and F3B powered units will feature Proto-Sound 3.0 units which
"offers authentic EMD 567 prime mover sounds, a first generation diesel horn and bell, crew and station sounds, and the ability to maintain any speed down to 3 scale miles per hour".Again from the text on the inside cover page of the catalog:
"Our Proto-Sound 3.0 sound & control system enables M.T.H. locomotives to run in every S gauge environment: conventional AC or DC, NMRA-standard DCC, or our own DCS digital command system.
With a conventional AC or DC transformer, Proto-Sound offers diesel motor sounds that ramp up and down with engine speed...You'll also hear squealing brakes whenever an engine slows down or stops. In addition, the Proto-Speed control acts like the cruise control on an automobile, helping your locomotive maintain a constant speed regardless of hills, curves, or heavy loads -- at any throttle setting from a 3 mph crawl to full throttle.
Add an M.T.H. AC transformer equipped with whistle and bell functions, and you can experience a much larger range of locomotive sounds: horn or whistle, bell, passenger station announcements or freight yard sounds, crew conversations and typical engine sounds such as air pumps...
If you operate with Digital Command Control (DCC), you'll find Proto-Sound 3.0 locomotives take full advantage of the capabilities of DCC and are completely compatible with all DCC motive power. In fact Proto-Sound engines are already equipped to use DCC functions 0 through 28, to full advantage of newer DCC controllers that use the full range of NMRA standard functions.
To experience the full capabilities of Proto-Sound 3.0, add the M.T.H. Digital Command System (DCS) for full command control and an even larger range of sound and control features." (note: Pages 2 and 3 of the catalog provide a detailed view of Proto-Sound 3.0 features, along with a table of the DCC enabled features.)At several points on pages 1-4, it notes that more details can be found on their web site at www.mthSgaugetrains.com. The nice thing about the online catalog is that you can click on any catalog item number and get a detailed page for that item.
The Proto-Sound 3.0 system really seems quite comprehensive. As always I'm even more interested in the reality of the delivered models. Until the S locomotives are delivered, the best I can do is review written material.
One data point that I do consider very useful is what they are delivering with Proto-Sounds 3.0 in their HO engines. Model Railroader magazine in the July 2013 issue (pages 64-65) has a detailed review of M.T.H.'s new HO scale Proto-Sound 3.0 equipped GP35. While it might not be an exact match to the S gauge unit, I suspect it will be close to the capabilities of the Proto-Sound 3.0 units in the S gauge models. The Proto-Sound 3.0 system is noted in Model Railroader's review as a highlight of the model. Find a copy and read the review for more details.
Also in the same review it is noted that the M.T.H. GP35 user manual is downloadable from mthHOtrains.com -- here's the GP35 Owner's Manual direct link. This provides considerably more insight into the specific DCC features implemented in the Proto-Sound 3.0 unit for the GP35. Again the DCC implementation looks pretty comprehensive -- including a number of advanced DCC features like user-defined function mapping, user-defined speed curves, and active functions at the consist address that are found in many DCC Sound decoders along with some M.T.H. specific DCC controls.
A little more to think about while waiting for the delivery of the models!