The ESU LokSound 5 Sound Decoder
2019 is a very special year for ESU. Just about 20 years ago, during the Nürnberg toy fair back in 1999, the first LokSound Decoder was introduced to the Public. For the first time ever, a multiprotocol digital decoder with an integrated, flash memory based, user re-writable sound module was born. Right from the start, ESU also had the LokProgrammer that offers a comfortable, hassle-free, PC based programming solution for ESU decoders. Over the years, many things have happened and ESU has grown from a startup to a significant company within the model train industry.
Although the product range has extended very much since their very beginning, they have never forgotten about their very first and still most important product: The LokSound Digital Sound Decoders! For that reason, now in their 20th year, they are happy to announce the 5th Generation of these groundbreaking decoders!
The ESU LokSound 5 Sound Decoder
At DCC Solutions, our preferred choice of sound decoder is the ESU LokSound 5 Sound Decoder.
Why?..... Let us explain the benefits and why it is worth the extra dollars.
The question is often asked…”there are cheaper sound decoders on the market, so what warrants paying more?”
Well after working with ESU's predecessor sound decoder, the LokSound V4.0 for almost 9 years, which was discontinued in January 2019, it has proven itself worldwide as a leading sound decoder offering features and endless possibilities with what you could do with it so that we are able to bring locos to life providing maximum of fun and enjoyment.
At the end of May 2019 ESU LLC finally released the new LokSound 5 which is basically an upgraded version of the V4.0 which loads of additional improvements and features. So judging on what we have been able to achieve using the V4.0, DCC Solutions is excited with what the new LokSound 5 decoder offers, however commencing in June 2019, DCC Solutions will need to convert and upgrade every single V4.0 Custom Sound Projects in our library to be compatible with the new LokSound 5 Sound decoders.
In our opinion from the extremely low returns and warranty claims at DCC Solutions over the past years, the ESU LokSound decoders are the most robust and reliable decoder on the market that offers the user trouble free operations with all function outputs and the motor current output overload protected providing the lowest chances of destroying it and releasing the 'magic smoke' contained inside. ESU wants you to have fun with your decoder for as long as possible!
The LokSound 5 decoder is the flagship decoder for the serious railroad modelling enthusiast!
A fully programmable decoder allowing you to create, modify and add your own sounds to create your very own sound file. With this fantastic feature we are able to create the DCC Solutions Custom Sound Projects which can include recorded sounds from our own Australian Locomotives for a more authentic sounding model locomotive. One of the most important elements of the LokSound 5 is that the sound chip has been upgrade from the original 16-Bit controller with 32Mbit memory found on the V4.0 to now have a high performance 32-Bit microcontroller with 128 Mbit flash memory to save up to 550 seconds (around 9 minutes) of original sounds which allows for enough capacity to hold the even more sounds that DCC Solutions has in its sound recording library.
The old LokSound V4.0 used 8 channels, allowing the decoder to play up to 8 different sounds simultaneously, but the “New” LokSound 5 now has 10 channels to play 10 different sounds simultaneously with each of the channels reaching Hi-fi Quality level thanks to 16 Bit Resolution and 31250 Hz sample frequency. LokSound 5 decoders will bring your model trains to the next level and sound almost like the original.
LokSound 5 decoders have high power amplification due to Digital class “D” amplifiers with up to 3 watts of power output (or 13 watts for the LokSound XL 5) providing great sound using 4 or 8 Ohm speakers. When partnered with our range of DCC Solution Dynamic Speakers, you will have an impressive sounding locomotive.
There are hundreds of individual small sounds that make up the complete sound file and can be adjusted to sound different while the volume can go beyond the default of 100% and all the way up to 200%. This allows us to vary the individual sound volumes beyond the capabilities of the end user for each sound in order to get the best possible sound when using smaller speakers in installation where space is an issue. It doesn't mean you are going to have the loudest loco that is driving you crazy but a nice sounding loco.
We understand that when it comes to sound volumes, everyone has their own preferences. The sound volumes in our Custom Sound Projects are set at relatively realistic operating levels for this scaled model as a starting point and these are not maximum levels, so the user and make their own adjustments to suit their own ears and listening style.
DCC Solutions Custom Sound Projects
The LokSound 5 sound schedule and decoder settings are different to the old LokSound V4.0, and they include a number of additions and improvements that now requires DCC Solutions to modify, upgrade and conduct running tests for all of our Custom Sound Projects, which will take a considerable amount of time to do every project but in the end it will include a more sophisticated sound schedule with some addition features providing our customers now with an even more realistic authentic sound than ever before thus creating a more like-life operating experience when operating their model trains.
You would expect an excellent motor control from a LokSound Decoder, and deservedly so! It would have to have the best motor control of any decoder.
The LokSound 5 is equipped with the further improved 6th generation of load control. You now can adjust the control frequency of the motor between 10 and 50 kHz in increments of 1000 Hz to assure extremely silent, smooth motor operation, particularly with coreless motors. Your locos will crawl super slowly thanks to the new 10 Bit A/D converter technology. The load control can be easily adapted to different engine and transmission combinations with the addition of compensating for gearbox backlash. The decoder’s load control is suitable for all common motors, including ROCO®, Fleischmann®, Brawa®, Mehano®, Bemo®, Märklin®, Faulhaber® or Maxon®.
The LokSound 5 offers a motor current of 1.5 amps while the V5 Micro offers 0.75 amps, V5 L has 3.0 amps and V5 XL has 5.0 amps so there is a decoder for all gauges.
ESU offers load compensation (using B-EMF) resulting in a smooth and precise locomotive operation. ESU believes that good motor control is mandatory for model trains: Even the best sound is worthless if the locomotive running is not smooth! We have been able to get many motors, even older ones, running better and smoother with the old LokSound V4.0 and now with 4 new additional B-EMF settings added to the LokSound 5, it can get your loco running super smooth than ever before.
Here at DCC Solutions we have tweaked and programmed the decoder to provide super slow speeds perfect for those who like their locos to move off slowly. In Speed Step 1 some locos barely appears to be moving but it is allowing you to slowly reverse to couple on to your rolling stock, perfect for those who like to operate shunting.
The Lighting Outputs
New specifications for the LokSound 5 lighting outputs is really exciting as here at DCC Solutions we specialise in individual lighting control for more realistic light operations in your models.
The LokSound V4.0 decoders with 21 pins had 4 light function outputs with two more non-amplified outputs with logic level which are unable to operate LEDs on their own and needed the DCC Solutions Power Amplifier to be able to power those logic functions to operate LEDs for lighting. Over time, we were able to increase the light outputs to 8 on the 21 pin version. While the 8 pin decoder version only offered up to 6 light outputs.
The “New” LokSound 5 now offers 10 powered light outputs plus 2 logic outputs allowing DCC Solutions to offer you 12 light outputs with the addition of our own power amplifier. The LokSound 5 Micro now offers 6 powered light outputs plus 1 logic output allowing DCC Solutions to offer you 7 light outputs which is 3 more than it's predecessor which is perfect for us to separate more lighting on those Australian Models that use this decoder.
These outputs can be assigned to function keys F0 to F32 and controlled individually for the use of lights, smoke units, servos, etc. They provide full support for all lighting functions and brightness allow for multiply lighting options. There is an LED mode on the decoder that controls the right light effects when using LEDs. Output overload protection is also included to protect the decoder.
Depending on the command station, 32 function buttons are now supported, up from 28, and can be mapped to any output due to the superior ESU free flowing unrestricted function mapping which is not available on many other brands of sound decoders.
Three new brake functions will now allow us to set up 3 braking speed settings to control the level of braking.
DCC Solutions will add this new feature to our already brake squeal on deceleration/braking on a single function button to allow the user to apply the brakes with varying braking levels as needed to bring your loco to a stop. Light – Medium – Heavy braking.
We have also added user selectable brakes squeals so that you can customise your fleet of locomotives.
The “Full Throttle – Drive Hold” feature introduced later in the life of the LokSound V4.0 sound decoder was a great addition to simulate a hard-working locomotive. The LokSound 5 now includes a two-stage load simulation option, which will let you enjoy your model railroad even more by allowing varying amounts of drive hold applied to add to the realism of a hard-working loco.
DCC Solutions created its own version of Drive Hold making improvements on how it works compared to the factory ESU version offered and now “Drive Hold – Heavy Load” is added to our steam sound projects that work in the same way it did in our diesel sound projects also allowing for sound changes into an intense chuff, so this can simulate a hard-working steam locomotive.
The LokSound 5 is true multiprocessor protocol decoder and recognises DCC with RailComPlus, Selectrix®, and the Motorola® protocol.
As well as the Märklin® M4 format and will automatically log on to modern Märklin® stations.
It can be operated with 14, 28 or 128 drive steps.
You can assign the decoders to 2-digit, 3-digit (1-127) or 4-digit (1-9999) addresses as well as a consist address.
LokSound 5 decoders are also able to operate on digital DCC, analogue DC layouts plus AC layouts with some decoder versions. The decoders can switch automatically between all modes during operation. This is important if some parts of your layout works with analogue control (e.g. fiddle yards).
Atlas Quantum Engineer is now supported allowing DC operators to use certain functions that were only available to DCC users.
The LokSound 5 is able to determine a constant braking distance, so your locos stop in front of the red signal, no matter what the speed your loco.
A very important function of the LokSound 5 decoder is the integrated RailComPlus® function. Your locos will be recognised automatically by an appropriate digital command station, so you will never have to remember DCC addresses.
What is railcom?
It basically enables bi-directional communications between your DCC command station and decoder. In normal DCC, decoders can’t speak to or answer to the command station. So, the station sends orders, for example “Move forward” and the decoder does it and your loco moves forward.
With Railcom however, the decoder can speak back to the command station providing some information about the state of the decoder.
Future Proof Built-In
The LokSound 5 also allows updating the internal firmware, making it future-proof. This means, the internal software on the decoder’s memory can be replaced by new versions supplied by ESU when new features, improvements, or bug fixes are released. You’ll simply need the ESU LokProgrammer and a PC, or you can return your loco to us for the free upgrade. This means the decoder you buy today will not be obsolete when a new firmware version is released, unlike other brands, so you can enjoy all future decoder improvements in the years to come without the cost of a new decoder.
So in summary, the reason you might pay a little more for the LokSound 5 Sound Decoder is basically because it contains a completely advanced and complex software package compared to other sound decoders containing more than 2000 CVs that enables more advanced programming options and allows DCC Solutions to create a completely custom-built sound project to suit your locomotive that will operate and sound more prototypical than ever before bring enjoyment to your hobby of model railroading.
The LokSound 5 is a blank decoder that requires a sound file to be programmed onto the decoder.
So let DCC Solutions install a LokSound 5 Sound decoder with one of our own Custom Built Sound Projects designed especially for your Australian model locomotives today. You will be impressed with the results.
We have a very large selection of Custom Built Sound Projects to suit Australian locomotives that will make them sound like an Australian locomotive.
Also, available from ESU are all the sound files for other locomotive models from all over the world.
LokSound 5 Sound Decoders
The LokSound 5 Decoders will now be available in two main variants, with an additional version available within these variants.
LokSound 5 DCC
For the North American and Australian Markets, and will be providing a DCC ONLY protocol called the LokSound 5 DCC.
This will only speak the DCC Language (along with Analog DC of course)
LokSound 5 DCC with 8 and 21 pins,
LokSound 5 DCC Micro with 8 and Next18 pins,
LokSound 5 DCC Direct
LokSound 5 DCC L with adapter board or pin header.
For the European market including Marklin Users as this will be a Multiprotocol DCC 5 version.
This will speak, DCC, Motorola, Selectrix, and Marklin MFX/M4 (along with Analog AC/DC of course)
LokSound 5 with 6,8 and 21 pins, PluX22 and Marklin 21 pin.
LokSound 5 Micro with 6 and 8 pins, PluX16, Next18
LokSound 5 L with adapter board or pin header
LokSound 5 XL with screw terminals or pin header.
Starting from June 2019, ESU will begin replacing the LokSound V4.0 decoders with the LokSound 5 DCC and LokSound 5 in only 8-pin and 21-pin versions.
The remaining version like the Micro, L and XL with be released throughout the remainder of 2019 into 2020.