Being a train model hobbyist or an enthusiast doesn’t just simply mean ready-to-run set would be good enough. Lots of these passionate people won’t settle for a set and would rather form their own set and train model layout by purchasing train parts and accessories individually. However, most of them don’t come with a speed controller wherein one should really put some effort to find the best DDC controller they can have for their train mods.

Additionally, DCC starter set or a DCC starter system do not include train models, tracks and other train parts and pieces which could mean that it’ll be an extra expense for the totality of your train layout budget.

The first thing you’d need to do to get your train model up and running is to get a DCC starter set. Formerly, the starter set includes a booster and a command-station but there is now some starter set that was later on integrated as one.

Below is some of the best DCC Controller you can check out:

Top 3 Best DCC Controller Comparison Chart

Name
Top Pick
Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller
Runner Up
Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller
Budget Choice
MRC Prodigy Advance2
Image
Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller
Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller
MRC Prodigy Advance2
Functions
At least 10 programmable functions
Many programmable functions
28 different accessory functions
Compatibility
DC and DCC
DCC
DCC
Durability
Durable
Slightly durable
Slightly durable
Editor's rating
(5 / 5)
(4.8 / 5)
(4.7 / 5)
Top Pick
Name
Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller
Image
Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller
Functions
At least 10 programmable functions
Compatibility
DC and DCC
Durability
Durable
Editor's rating
(5 / 5)
Price
Runner Up
Name
Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller
Image
Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller
Functions
Many programmable functions
Compatibility
DCC
Durability
Slightly durable
Editor's rating
(4.8 / 5)
Price
Budget Choice
Name
MRC Prodigy Advance2
Image
MRC Prodigy Advance2
Functions
28 different accessory functions
Compatibility
DCC
Durability
Slightly durable
Editor's rating
(4.7 / 5)
Price

Best DDC Controller Reviews

1. Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller

This is a DCC starter set. It includes both the DCC booster and the DCC command center. Of course, there are some sellers that sell the controller alone and you can easily look for it but for this would be the best choice for those who want both.

Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller

Product highlights

The set features speed steps of about 14-28/128. The set comes with the booster and the command center connected by a UTP or telephone cable. The great thing about it is that you can actually and easily replace it with a much more durable connectivity such as the CAT-5 or CAT-6.

Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller
  • Two or four digit addressing; Program all CVs with ease
  • 14-28/128 speed steps
  • Program on the main or the program track without affecting active tools
  • Capable of 28 accessory functions, so it can handle multi-function sound systems
  • Reads all CVs

What's to like about the Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller

The booster offers a good speed boost and more power to the train locomotives attached to the system. It also has multiple functions and programmable features with easiness as it uses a 2 to 4 digital address. It could easily store up to 28 functions including sound and movement systems.

What's not to like about the Model Rectifier Corporation Prodigy Express DCC Train Controller

The product seems to be a bit fragile and needs to be dealt with care. Normal or average use isn’t really a problem but allowing kids or young children to play with it can damage it easily as kids tend to play rough at most times.

PROS

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    Includes both booster and command center
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    Programmable functions
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    Simple digit addressing

CONS

  • Might not work with larger or smaller radius
  • Not that strong and durable
  • List Element

2. MRC Prodigy Advance2

Another great DCC starter set for your DCC model trains is the Prodigy Advance-2 from MRC. The DCC set includes a command center and boosters. It saves you the trouble of looking for both and the price is lower rather than purchasing them individually. This is great for those who don’t have any command center and boosters.

MRC Prodigy Advance2

Product highlights

The same with most command center controllers; it features a 2 or 4 digital address for easy configuration. It makes it easier for users to set up functions without requiring too many addresses for each connected train parts or accessories. Additionally, it offers so many functions for all your DCC train model parts and accessories.

Sale
MRC Prodigy Advance2
  • Two or four digit addressing
  • All 28 NMRA accessory functions
  • Run up to 99 throttles
  • Program all CVs with ease
  • Program on the main or the program track without affecting active locos

What's to like about the MRC Prodigy Advance2

The controller can help run and maintain up to 99 throttles. That’s fairly high for any ordinary or regular controller can do so. Furthermore, with its digital address, users can easily program all or most of their CV’s easily. The controller also allows you to program your tracks without effective active DCC locomotives connected to the system.

What's not to like about the MRC Prodigy Advance2

Same with most DCC controller, it can withstand long hours of use but it’s not that durable with its components and structure. It might break with just a minor fall. If you ever plan on allowing your kids to play with the DCC starter set, make sure to provide supervision as kids can play roughly with it.

PROS

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    Uses a two and 4 digit address
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    Can handle 99 throttles
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    28 different accessory functions

CONS

  • Materials used for is not that strong
  • Takes a long time for warranty and repair

3. Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller

This is a DCC controller from Bachmann Trains. It is a plug-n-play controller which is highly compatible with all and either DC or DCC train model systems. Unlike other controllers which can just be used in either one, this can work great for both systems. The only thing that this DCC controller is missing is a good booster to evenly provide power.

Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller

Product highlights

The controller comes with a 1-amp AC power pack supply. It has enough power to allow different DCC parts and accessories to function efficiently. All its components and wirings are easy-plug and it comes with a printed and DVD instructions for use. The greatest thing about this controller even though it can only cater few amounts of function, is its compatibility with both DC and DCC trains.

Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller
  • plug-and-play compatibility with all DC and DCC systems
  • Simple, on-track programming
  • 1 amp AC wall pack power supply
  • Plug-in wiring
  • DVD and printed instructions

What's to like about the Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller

The controller or command center is fairly easy to use compared to most command centers with so many buttons and confusing functions. It’s pretty simple and basic. Also, you’d have no problem converting DC to DCC models and vice versa using this device as it can do both.

What's not to like about the Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller

It is only capable of handling several functions making your layout limited as it can be. Using this DCC controller, it is best to prioritize train models that you want to run and control than with other layout functions such as lights, sound, and fake smokes.

PROS

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    Great compatibility
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    Can run both DC and DCC models
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    Simple and easy-to-use

CONS

  • Limited functions
  • Doesn’t include boosters
  • Underpowered

BUYER'S GUIDE

There are certain key aspects or key features you need to consider when buying a DCC controller or starter system. Those key features will allow you to maximize your layout as well as have a great time with it. The longer the DCC controller lives, the longer the fun and excitement would be.

Key Feature 1: Command center and booster

A great controller or starter system must at least have both. A controller is great for setting functions and allowing your models, parts, and accessories to run smoothly, perfectly and simultaneously all throughout the entire layout. However, without boosters, it can impact the speed and power of each part connected to the controller.

Key Feature 2: Compatibility

DCC and DC models are different and the devices don’t usually pair well if used in one of them either. Most of the products are more likely to have specific compatibility but there are some products that can work with DC and DCC models but loses some of its functions as a fair trade to the feature it provides.

Key Feature 3: Durability

Most of these controller or DCC starter systems have outstanding longevity. But make sure to check the durability of the components like how thick or strong the plastic case of the command center or booster as one might consider some accidents while having fun with their model layouts.

F.A.Q.

Is the DC different from DCC?

DC means a direct current which means the power is being sent to both the track and the train at the same rate and power. It is far cheaper compared to DCC but it has some disadvantages as well. DC can only provide simple and direct functions wherein all tracks, locomotives and other add-ons function the same way.

DCC, on the other hand, means digital command and control. By its name, you can actually perceive that the product can control the current going into each of the parts and accessories connected to the system. This allows you to orchestrate your train model and layout the way you want it and not running altogether. However, it is hard to operate and hard to set up. It requires a level of expertise or a long time just trying to connect and set each function of your accessories that need to be part of the system.

Which is the best between DC and DCC?

It really depends on what you have or what you can handle. DCC is a sophisticated controller and is not advised for newbies as it has so many functions and features involved. DC is great for starters of beginner’s who’s about to experience their first few train model experiences. But that doesn’t make it the best.

If you, later on, develop a skill and expertise in setting up and installing your own starter system or controller, the DCC controller will allow you to maximize and use your layout to its full potential, bringing you more joy and satisfaction which in most opinions, would make the best between the two (DC and DCC).

However, the definition or title of being the best solely relies on the purpose and capability of the user. A DCC won’t be that great for someone who doesn’t find it easy and comfortable to deal with and would rather choose DC all the way.

FINAL VERDICT

All these products are useful and really handy when it comes to DCC models. They can efficiently perform operations and functions you’ve set without any problems. The thing that would really come to mind is which controller is the best?

With some personal recommendation, it would be advisable for newbies and amateur to with the Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller. The E-Z actually refers to the easiness of use wherein there are also E-Z tracks and E-Z couplers made available by the manufacturer. It is pretty simple and basic and has only several functions which make it a great choice for starters.

Bachmann Trains E-Z Command Digital Command Controller
  • plug-and-play compatibility with all DC and DCC systems
  • Simple, on-track programming
  • 1 amp AC wall pack power supply
  • Plug-in wiring
  • DVD and printed instructions

The controller is fairly easy-to-use and comes with and well-illustrated manual as well as DVD. Not to mention that it is compatible with both DC and DCC models which allows you to alternately use it on different system platforms.

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