Audio Guidelines

We're always looking for additional defect detector recordings! Older recordings of defunct railroads and antiquated detector models are highly desired as they get harder & harder to find as time goes on, but we certainly welcome recordings of contemporary detectors as well. Just as with locomotives, they'll all be retired some day; and with the advent of PTC & increased use of talk-on-defect only, their voices may become a thing of the past within our lifetimes.

If you have recordings on old cassette tapes, we can help. We have a cassette-to-USB converter and can convert them for you. If you prefer to convert them yourself, check out this link.

If you have recordings you would like to contribute, you can submit them via this form.

To see a list of defect detectors for which we need audio, click here.

Recording Tips

We have assembled some tips for producing the best possible audio recordings. We understand that circumstances may not always lend themselves to following these, but they are good general practices to try to follow:

Recording Tips

  • Minimize Background Noise
    Background noise (train horns, crossing bells, the train itself passing by, cars accelerating away after the train clears, wind, etc.) all degrade the audio quality. While we do possess software to help combat these, it isn't always possible - and frankly, it's much easier to start with a clean recording that doesn't require much (if any) work. Something as simple as recording inside your car with the windows up instead of outside the car can make a tremendous difference.
  • Turn Off The Scan Function
    One of the biggest reasons we decline to include a recording is that the beginning of the message is clipped off, or that scan priority is on which causes short burts of silence throughout the recording. Turn off the scan function and turn off scan priority to ensure you get a complete, uninterrupted recording.
  • Proper Volume Level
    Volume level that is so low that it can barely be heard, or completely blown out & distorted is very difficult to save. A little on the quieter side is fine provided there is no background noise to compete with. Audio that is blown out & distorted is virtually impossible to recover a natural sound from.
  • Don't Change The Volume Level
    A consistent volume level throughout the duration of the recording is much easier to work with. The position of your recording device matters too - if the device is facing away from your scanner/radio at the start, then is moved closer to it, the volume change is dramatic in the resulting recording. When possible, set everything up ahead of time and don't move it.
  • Stronger Signal Is Better
    A strong, clear signal is always going to be preferred to a weak, static-filled one. We understand that it's not always possible, but the closer you can get to a detector, the better. The added benefit of this is that you're much less likely for a stronger signal from a train or dispatcher to "step on" the detector's transmission.
  • Record Directly
    The single best way to produce excellent quality recordings is to record directly from your radio/scanner, either via an audio cable to a digital voice recorder, or on a scanner/radio equipped with a MicroSD card to automatically record audio. More information on this method is outlined below.

Recording Directly

The easiest way to produce audio recordings of excellent quality is to remove all the external factors and record the signal directly to a memory card. Many contemporary scanners & radios have this capability from the factory, a list of which can be found below.

Please note that integrated MicroSD cards with audio recording abilities are still generally considered a premium feature (and priced accordingly). A much cheaper alternative is to utilize a 3.5mm audio cable and a digital voice recorder with any scanner that has a 3.5mm headphone/speaker jack. We have personally used & had great success with the Sony ICD-PX370 for this purpose (the online manual can be found here).

When connecting a digital voice recorder connected directly to a receiver, it is important to get the settings right. Too much volume from the scanner can blow out the audio - on the Uniden BCT125AT, for instance, setting the volume to 5 produces optimal results. Ensure that the digital voice recorder is set to the Mic In or Device In input to capture the audio, and adjust the sensitivity of such as necessary. The VOR (VOX on some other devices) will enable the device to automatically start & stop recording whenever it detects an audio signal, the sensitivity of which can be adjusted.

To test this, we recommend utilizing the NOAA Weather Frequencies to check for proper volume and audio quality, as they transmit continually. To check the VOR/VOX function, any radio transmissions will do: other railroad radio chatter, public safety, etc.

MicroSD Recording Scanners/Receivers
Manufacturer Model Link Notes
AOR AR-DV10 Manufacturer
GRE COM PSR-700 RadioReference No Longer Produced
GRE COM PSR-800 RadioReference No Longer Produced
Icom IC-R15 Manufacturer To Be Released April 2024
Icom IC-R30 Manufacturer No Longer Produced
Radio Shack Pro-668 RadioReference No Longer Produced
Uniden BC436HP Manufacturer
Uniden BC536HP Manufacturer
Uniden HomePatrol-1 RadioReference No Longer Produced
Uniden HomePatrol-2 Manufacturer
Uniden SDS100 Manufacturer
Uniden SDS200 Manufacturer
Whistler TRX-1 Manufacturer
Whistler TRX-2 Manufacturer
MicroSD Recording Amateur/Commercial Radios

** Do not, under any circumstances, transmit on any railroad frequencies! **

Manufacturer Model Link Notes
Icom F3400D Manufacturer
Icom F5400D Manufacturer
Icom ID-50A Manufacturer
Icom ID-52A Manufacturer
Icom ID-4100A Manufacturer
Icom ID-5100A Manufacturer
Kenwood NX-5200 Manufacturer Paid Upgrade
Kenwood NX-5700 Manufacturer Paid Upgrade
Kenwood TH-D74A Manufacturer No Longer Produced
Yaesu FT3DR Manufacturer
Yaesu FTM-200DR Manufacturer
Yaesu FTM-300DR Manufacturer
Yaesu FTM-500DR Manufacturer