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Wireless Ambient Sound For The Pizza Layout

| April 12, 2015 More

Bluetooth Ambient Railroad Sound

On our N scale pizza layout I wanted to add some fun, interesting elements beyond what we’ll be doing with scenery. The first two things that popped in to my head were lighting and sound. We’ll get to the lighting as we build the scene so for now I decided to start with the sound option. This pizza layout won’t be DCC but I’d still like to have some ambient railroad sounds to dress it up a bit. As it’s a small portable layout, I didn’t want any extra wires or power cords for the sound so I looked in to a Bluetooth wireless speaker option.

I spend lots of time in front of a trio of 24” monitors connected to a Mac and PC and as a result, when I’m away from the computers, I like to be away from the computers. No iPhone, Android or tablet of any description. Well, if I wanted some wireless ambient railroad sound on this pizza I figured I’d dip my toe in to the tablet waters and pick up some supplies.

Here’s the sort of ambient sound I’ll use for this layout

Without having a good feel for tablet brands or performance, I went cheap! I picked up an Acer Iconia 7 tablet for around $60. It’s a refurb directly from Acer and for my first foray in to tablets; it seems fine for my purposes. Next up were the speakers. I wanted to get a speaker small enough so I could bury it in the layout foam, hiding it from sight. The height of the layout foam (and of the round tin tray the foam sits in) is just a touch over 1.75 inches. There were 2 speakers I looked at that seemed to be good choices. First up is the (yellow) JTL-8 for around $12 and I have to admit, this thing is ridiculously small at just a bit more than 1 inch square. The other Bluetooth speaker I bought is the Anker A7910 coming in at just under $20 and a good deal larger (relatively speaking) at 1.75 inches square.

I’ll probably use the Anker A7910 for this layout as it does have a bigger sound to it with more bass but the little JTL-8, with no real bass, has kind of a “jangly” sound to it that makes a nice train noise as well. The Anker also has a long battery life for 12 hours of playtime. The JTL-8 has almost a keychain novelty feel to it while the Anker, surprisingly, actually feels like a (very small) piece of real audio gear, it feels well built. I had no problems pairing up with either speaker from the Acer tablet. Honestly, for the prices of these little guys, it’s tough to go wrong with either one.

As the Anker speaker is the same height of the layout, I’ll probably use a hole saw to cut down through the foam and also through the bottom of the layout base and have the speaker rest on a piece of wire mesh. This will give the layout something of a bottom bass port. Yeah, I know… a 1.75 inch speaker and I’m talking bass ports… it cracks me up too! I’ll make some sort or removable scenery so the speaker can be easily popped out to charge its battery via USB cable.

I know setting up an ambient audio system on a pizza layout may seem just a bit excessive, but it just seemed like too much of a fun idea for me to pass up!

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Category: Raildig Build Projects

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