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ESU LokSound

Custom Sound File Creation

Last Updated 220130

Streamlined Backshop offers a variety of services including DCC decoder installations.

I have been blessed with more work than I can accomplish and simply don't have time to accept every opportunity I am presented.

One of my favorite proverbs is "give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

With these thoughts in mind, I present this information for those who want to give it a go but struggle with the how to.

For this group of modelers, this is how I do it.

Please note, this write-up is intentionally simplified and only focuses on the "tricky stuff".  There are tons of resources on my site and around the WWW that can clarify the common details of decoder installations.

The same basic products, tools and techniques can be applied to nearly any model of the same genre so be sure to look at the forest, not just the trees.


Be sure to visit my online train store, today where you can purchase this model and everything you will need to complete the decoder installation as described!


The ESU LokSound 5 DCC Sound Decoder

ESU LokSound 5 Sound Decoders are arguably the most powerful decoder platform available and are highly customizable.

Sure, they work great right out of the box but if you like to tinker... the phrases rabbit hole, time-sink, shiny hook, or Squirrel! all come to mind.

I do not have the space or time here to elaborate on that statement but this information highlights just one of a thousand instances of the capability and  flexibility of the design of this family of decoders.
Additionally, I am not smart enough to go into all of the details of sound file creation.  It took all of my MegaFLOPS and all of my Joules just to get this far in creating custom sound files.

If I have sparked your interest and you must have more, please don't ask me.  I am a rube and a hack at best.  This is it.  This is all I know.

I think there is an chatroom on the subject.  You might be able to ask on one of the ESU or other online forums for additional help.  

Just know there are a lot of people and resources out there if you dig around a bit.

Reference Documents

Here are a couple of resources I found along the right-of-way that might help you get further along than i have.

They are provided here with permission of the authors respectively.  They hope you will find them useful.

Recommended Tools and Supplies

About The Custom Sounds

The songs referenced in the tutorial and played in the video were downloaded from a copyright free media site and are titled... 

Collins and Harlan - When The Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves For Alabam 

Jackie & The Cedrics - Chattanooga Choo Choo Train

They seems like a couple of good choices, all things considered...

Editing Sound Files

First things first, I am not a digital audio file editor.  I really know nothing about except what I am writing here.  The sound file authors for ESU and other manufacturers are very knowledgeable and very skilled at their craft.  This is not a tutorial about editing digital audio files.  You will need additional knowledge and skills on this subject if you want to do more than I describe here.
To get started, you will need obtain software used to edit digital audio files.  I was directed to a freeware program called GoldWave some time ago and it still suits my needs.  You can use any software for this you are comfortable with.

There are three basic tasks you need the software for:

  • Converting file formats
  • Modifying the sound file fidelity and quality
  • Editing the audio file, specifically cutting the file into useable sound segments for use in a DCC decoder.
The first task to this project is convert you digital audio file to a .wav file format.  You can tweak the file fidelity attribute however you prefer. Higher bit rate and sampling frequency is better.  The current version of LokProgrammer will correct any issues when the file is imported so the actual value you choose does not matter beyond using the highest quality source recording you can get.
The first task to this project is convert you digital audio file to .wav format.  You can tweak the file fidelity attribute however you prefer. Higher bit rate and sampling frequency is better.  The current version of LokProgrammer will correct any issues when the file is imported so the actual value you choose does not matter beyond using the highest quality source recording you can get.
The only other "trick" I can offer on digital file editing is to try to tr

A sound decoder has hundreds if not thousands of trimmed "sound segments" that are combined in playback to create the audio output you enjoy.

The only other "trick" I can offer on digital file editing is to try to trim the sound segment at a point where the wav crosses the "0" frequency plane to avoid having an audible "pop" in the recording.

About The Decoder Sound Files

You can add a custom sound to any existing ESU sound file so long as there is an available sound slot and sufficient unused memory.

I am starting with the ESU files S0512 only because I know it is an easy place to start; the subject sounds use a small amount of available memory and it already contains a simple sound slot template I can modify.  

You can also create a file from scratch if you posses the skills, in which case you probably are not reading this!

I always begin by doing a "SAVE AS" file save to create a new working copy of the file, in this case... SBS4DCC Custom Sounds Demo S0512-LS5H0DCC-Diesel-Misc-Galloping-Goose-V1-R1.esux 

Using your working copy of the sound file, click on the "SOUND" icon in the file organizer panel on the left side of the window.

This will open the sound project sound slot templates overview page.

The Sound Project Overview page is divided into four quadrants.

Upper Left - Sound Project Sound Slots
Upper Right - ESU Sound Library File Explorer of ready-to-use Sound Templates
Lower Left - Windows File Explorer that works just like the desktop app to copy and paste data from your own files
Lower Right - .wav file table - this is a list of every .wav file currently copied into the sound project.

Every .wav file in this table gets written to the decoder when the file is uploaded whether it is used in a template or not.  The .wav file table also shows the size of the individual .wav files.

Also note that the decoder type, and current memory status is displayed at the bottom of window.

The LokSound 5 decoders have a good bit of memory to work with.  I was able to edit this project without any issues.  You may have to delete some of the .wav files in the project or even trim your own custom .wav file depending on what you are trying to do.

The sound slot template is a flowchart that contains the logic used by the processor on the decoder to combine and play the sound segments in a manner that simulates the sound of a train.

Here is the flowchart for the Galloping Goose engine sound.  This one is simple by the way...

Adding Custom Sound Files To A Sound Project

I look at the available slots in the project for a template with a single container with simple on/off logic.  The "Sound slot 9: Radio" template is perfect to use to play song.

You can also add a new template to an empty sound slot.  In this project I am going to start by adding new radio templates to Sound slot 10 and 11 from the Sound Library, the file explorer window in the upper right quadrant of the Overview tab.

I am only adding the new templates to preserve the original sounds of the Goose sound project.

Simply select/highlight the target Sound Slot in the Sound Slot window.

Navigate to the desired sound template in the Sound Library window and select the Template.

Then click the LEFT ARROW button to push the desired template into the desired slot.

The template and associated .wav files are automatically copied to the sound project.

*** PRO TIP ***

This is the same process for adding new horns and other sound to the file from the Sound Library.  The latest Template Pack 1.9 (as of this writing) has a ton of ready to use sound templates with nearly every version of bell and whistle (literally) used in other sound files.

You want an Alco RS-1 with a Nathan K5LA horn? No problem.  This is how you do it.

To add your custom sound to an existing container, use the Windows File Explorer to navigate to your custom sound file then drag-n-drop the file into the container.

Now click to select the container in the flowchart.  The State properties window will activate.  Look at the Sample drop-down box to confirm your new file is the selected object.

For this project, I simply repeated the process to copy both files to their respective slots and containers.


As a matter of good practice and housekeeping, I rename the container in the State properties text box and the slot in the Sound slot properties text box.

Assigning Sound Slots To Function Controls

We need to assign the new sound slots to a function control so we can turn them on and off with our throttles.

Start by navigating to the "Decoder" icon in the file organizer panel then select the "Function mapping" tab.

The function mapping table is probably the most important part of a sound project file to become familiar with.  This table defines which function control on your throttle is assigned to which function output in the decoder.

For this project I am using F10 and F11 only because they are available and to preserve the original sound project.

Select the F10 row in the Conditions column, open the associated drop-down box and select the "On" condition.

Select the F10 row in the Sounds column, open the associated drop-down box and select Sound Slot 10.

Repeat the process for F11 / Sound Slot 11.

Just for fun, you can also have light effects our otehr actions occur when the function control is activated by assigning a Physical output to the same function control.
In this project, I assigned AUX3 and AUX4 to F10 and F11 respectively then assigned a fun lighting effect to the output.

Now when F10 is activated on the throttle, a song will play and a disco gyra light will turn on.

*** PRO TIP ***

This is the same process for remapping Physical Outputs and Sound Slots as well as changing the Output mode (effect) assigned to a Physical Output using LokProgrammer.

You want the ditch lights on F4 instead of F5, just reassign the associated Physical Output on the function mapping tab.

You want the bell on F3 instead of F1, just reassign the associated Sound Slot on the function mapping tab.

You want AUX3 to be a Gyralight instead of a Rotary Beacon, just change the Output mode (effect) assigned to the Physical Output.

This is the same procedure for many of the common tasks we need to do with Function Controls, Physical Outputs, and Sound Slots in ESU LokSound decoders.

Installation and Final Assembly
Finally, save the file and upload it to the decoder.

Here is a copy of the file from this demo for you to review.  It really is that easy.

NOTE:  This file had to be modified to meet the maximum file size limitations of my website.  I have to delete the Chattanooga Choo-Choo .wav file from the Sound Project.  Sorry...

The Test Run and Demonstration

So with that,  the project is complete.  Time to pour a glass and celebrate.

Or, if you are like me, curse, swear and try to sort out everything that wasn't quite as easy as it sounded here.

Once everything tests out and the job is done, you should be able to enjoy the sights and sounds just like the project in this demonstration video.

N' Joy!



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