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ESU Loksound Decoder Guide

Posted by on Jul 28, 2017 in Tony's Tips |

ESU offers several series of LokSound & LokPilot decoders in their current product line:

ESU Loksound Select Direct

Most hardware is identical. The only difference is in the firmware which is hard coded into the decoder. You cannot change a Select decoder to a V4.0, nor can you change a V4.0 to a Select. All LokSound CV’s, sound recordings, etc. are identical between the V4.0 and the Select series. It is important to note that all V4.0 LokPilot CVs are also identical to Standard Lokpilot decoders.

The only difference between Select and v4.0 decoders is the V4.0 sound file software is open. This means you can access the V4.0 sound file flow chart and individual .wav files. Having access to the V4.0 sound file flow chart allows you to edit and customize the sound file and add custom sounds like your own horn, bell, chuff, Prime Mover or any other recording you desire. You can also edit flow chart variables like notching rate transition points.

ESU 51955 will accept a Micro Next18 decoder

54898 Next18 decoder plugs to 51955 board








Conversely, the Select sound files are closed. You cannot access or edit the sound file flow chart in a LokSound Select sound decoder. Otherwise, Select files are identical to a V4.0 sound file. You can edit any CV for motor control, function mapping, sound volume, etc. The horn and bell can be programmed to one of the alternate options so long as it is available in the specific Select sound file.

ESU 73800 LokSound Select Micro Sound Decoder

ESU 56899 LokSound Micro V4.0 8-Pin Sound Decoder








ESU LokProgrammer

The primary tool for working with all ESU products is called the LokProgrammer. You do not have to own one of these, although it does make working with ESU decoders so much easier. The LokProgrammer can receive regular software updates from ESU making sure you always have the most current software available.

ESU 53452 LokProgrammer


While the LokProgrammer is not required to change a CV, the LokProgrammer  is required to update firmware and load sound files. The LokProgrammer hardware is the only way to establish a communication link between the decoder and a computer for downloading sound files and is also an easy way to edit CVs.

Programming CV’s can always be done with your DCC command station or via JMRI DecoderPro. You can also use the LokProgrammer software as a CV calculator even if you do not own the LokProgrammer hardware to aid in programming. There are a few caveats. LokSound decoders may have programming issues with certain earlier DCC systems and/or software that have known problems with programming CV’s 256 and higher. These include:

  • Digitrax Zephyr DCS50/51
  • Digitrax DT400 Throttle and earlier Digitrax throttles
  • Early versions [before 2016] of JMRI/Decoder Pro
  • The recent Digitrax EVO systems and DT500 throttle series have no issue with Programming ON Main [POM].