I think that there will be no true BEST system available. There are DIY Homebrewers that make their own systems, and there are probably five manufacturers that have their own systems. I think that every system has its flaws, but it is made up in other areas...
Many recommend the Digitrax systems, and many recommend the NCE Powercab.... I think that it really does not matter. In either system, you will find your favorite things, and unfavorite things about the systems.
Do yourself a favor. Go to a hobby shop that has a small selection of systems. Try and see if you can get some hands on experience with them. Perhaps you can visit a few friends' layouts that have those systems, and try them out. You will find that the larger layouts have rather elaborate systems, all revolving around the manufacturer's line of products. Digitrax has a very large selection of decoders, stationary decoders, signals, detectors, and they are all expandable by using their Loconet. NCE has the same offerings.
Last I heard, NCE is advertising their signal system, but so far have not seen it in action, so that will be a factor in deciding which system you want to utilize, and how long you want to wait for it.
So the simple answer is this -- there is no "best" system out there. Many prefer a particular system over another, but that does not mean that preferred system has to be YOUR choice. Do some research, because this is an investment that will pay off, and if you make the right decision after doing a large amount of research, you will be satisfied for years to come. If you allow yourself to make a hurried decision (peer pressure
), you may find that the choice was a wrong one, and may spend time putting up with the system, until when you decide to get rid of the system and try a different system.
That said, I prefer the Digitrax systems. I personally have a Zephyr, but when the time comes, I will be upgrading to larger, more powerful systems, sticking with the Digitrax line. I have already made some investments for the future, and intend to make more investments, such as in a Super Chief or an Empire Builder system in the long term plan. Also, the fact that our club's system is Digitrax is just a helping hand, since I am comfortable knowing that all my equipment is compatiable with the club's equipment, thus avoiding the need to spend a vast amount of money on a "backup" system just to be compatiable with the club.
RITMRC Vice President