Sound decoder question

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at
Wed Jan 30 15:05:44 EST 2019

My only experience with Tsunami decoders has been a handful of factory equipped Athearn diesels.  The Athearn Tsunami isn't a full blown Tsunami in that it has limited output functions but the motor controls and sound files are the same.  Can't say I'm a huge fan.  No real issues with the sound but motor control has been an issue with mine.  Throttle response is a little weak.  They work great for running in circles but when doing switching I've had several act like the transmission is slipping.  I've checked motor wiring and opened up the gearboxes to eliminate any mechanical or electrical issues so I've pretty much narrowed it down to the decoder.  The same locomotive with a replaced decoder runs silky smooth.

I'm not a steam guy, outside a potential 611 or 1218 excursion run, but I've heard a lot of people praise the steam TCS Wowsound decoders.  No personal experience with them however.  From what I've heard, sound quality on their steam is far superior to ESU and Tsunami.  One of their selling points has been better synchronization between the engine chuff and the driver rotation.
My personal choice for all sound decoders is the ESU LokSound.  Motor control is great.  I've replaced more than a couple Athearn Tsunamis with LokSounds and the performance difference is night and day.  The big selling point for me though is ESU decoders can be reprogrammed infinitely.  They are constantly updating their sound files so you can always upgrade to the newest file.  I have a test unit (Genesis GP40-2 with a replacement LokSound) that I have added new files into while learning the ESU programming software.  You can swap out horn files or prime mover files.  I've had everything from steam to Baldwin diesel to GE diesel sound files.  You can also upload your own sound files.  So if you had a way to strip the N&W whistle sound from a video or recording you could upload it to your ESU decoder.  There is a reason why all the major manufacturers (Athearn being the lone hold out) have switched to ESU.
Josh Blevins Charlotte, NC 

    On Wednesday, January 30, 2019, 12:05:41 PM EST, NW Modeling List <nw-modeling-list at> wrote:  
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I will soon purchase a CVP T5000 wireless/battery throttle to avoid layout wiring, etc and want to select the best sound decoders.  I’m leaning toward the Stanton S-Cab small batteries and re-wired TSU decoders that allow thru-the-track battery charging (the T5000 and S-Cab throttles use the same chip so are compatible and the T5000 has access to many more CVs without losing the track-charging option).


ESU/Loksound is gradually making advancements in sound decoders but Tsunami still seems to have the most versatility, especially when it comes to matching N&W whistles.  I’m looking for suggestions from those of you who embrace sound-equipped engines.  What do you use and why?


Jim King

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