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 ZIMO Sound File Information

"Ready-To-Use" Sound File

A "Sound File", sometimes called a "Sound Project", is a digital file that is composed of the individual sound sample files for each feature of the vehicle, as well as the instructions to play the files in the form of flow charts and the configuration data in the form of a CV list (volume, load dependencies, link between function and sound keys, random number generators, switch inputs, etc.).

The sound file always loaded into the flash memory of a ZIMO sound decoder.  This memory can only be accessed using a Sound Loading Device.  It cannot be overwritten or erased during normal operation and CV programming.  It is not accessed or affected by the ZIMO Decoder Reset Procedure.

ZIMO sound files are distributed in two formats, "Ready-To-Use" (.zpp files) sound files and "Full Featured" (.zsp files) sound projects.

"Ready-To-Use" (.zpp files) sound files are just that... ready to use and upload to a ZIMO sound decoder.  

"Full Featured" (.zsp files) sound projects are distributed as Compressed (Zipped) Folders (.zip files).  "Full Featured" sound projects cannot be loaded directly into the decoder.  "Full Featured" sound projects are unpacked and processed using ZSP (ZIMO Sound Programmer) software.  ZSP (ZIMO Sound Programmer) is used to edit and assign sound samples, develop flow charts and edit CV settings allowing you to create highly individualized sound projects or even develop your own.  The resulting "Sound Project" (.zsp file) is then complied and exported to a "Ready-To-Use" (.zpp file) sound file to load into the decoder.

All sound decoders shipped from ZIMO DCC are preloaded with the ZSP00278 US-prototype "Sound Collection" (a special type of sound project, see below). This preloaded "Sound Collection" can always be replaced with one of the "Ready-To-Use" sound files (.zpp Files) from the Sound Database or with a Sound Project created by the user.

Sound Loading Devices

The "Ready-To-Use" (.zpp file) sound file can be loaded into a ZIMO sound decoder using one of the following ZIMO products (current as of August 2016):

  • MXULFA (current decoder update device)*
  • MX10 (current ZIMO command station)*
  • Z21 (ROCO command station)

* Note: Data can be transfered from a computer to this device via a USB stick or ZSP (ZIMO Sound Programmer) or online via a USB cable.

Obsolete products capable of perfoming sond file and software updates include:

  • MXDECUP (old decoder update device)
  • MX31ZL ("System Cab" old-generation system)

The ZIMO Speciality "Sound Collection"

ZSP00278 US-prototype "Sound Collection" includes sound samples and CV parameters for several types of locomotives (ZSP00278 "US Collection", seven total - six steam and one diesel), in a single Sound File.  The user can change the active sound set in the decoder by editing the value of CV265.

The user also has the freedom to create a completely custom locomotive sound. The user can configure a new sound set using any of the chuff sets (for steam locos) in the collection along with any of the loaded whistles (or with several of them combined) and noises and functional sounds. Using the "CV300 Procedure" the user can choose between various bells, air pumps, coal shovelling, oil burner, brake squeal sounds etc to create their custom sound set.

It is worth noting that any sound project can have multiple whistles or bells to choose from. This is option is useful when the user has several locomotives of the same type and wants to customize them to match a specific era or prototype.

Sound Project Types

ZIMO has worked hard to develop a thorough, high quality sound file catalog covering many prototype models from many regions around the world.  ZIMO is a small company with limited resources and is simply not able to produce every possible sound through their own effort.  A network of so-called Sound File Authors has emerged as a result which has helps to grow and expand the ZIMO Sound Database.  This group of Sound File Authors are partners of ZIMO, not employees.  Each has their own specialty and area of expertise and work closely with ZIMO to ensure the files meet the high quality standards ZIMO users and fans have come to expect.

There are three type of Sound Files available in the ZIMO Sound Database, which can be quickly identified by their respective color code:

  • Free (Green) - Files available for download directly from ZIMO or ZIMO DCC for general use for no aditional charge.
  • Coded (Blue) - Third-party files created by Sound File Authors which require the purchase of a Load Code for use.  
    • Each Sound File Authors is assigned a uniquie number or Author Code that acts like a "lock" on the sound files they have developed.  Each ZIMO sound decoder has a unique serial number assigned when it is manufactured and it is stored in CV250, 251, 252, and 253.  A Load Code is a numeric key assigned to a specific decoder serial number and written into CV260, 261, 262, 263 that unlocks that decoder for use with sound files created by the Sound File Author for which the code was generated.
    • Coded files are limited to the decoder and author for which the Load Code was purchased.  Once a Load Code is purchased and the values written into the decoder (CV260, 261, 262, 263), you are free to load and reload any file offered by the author on the decoder for which the Load Code was purchased, i.e. the Load Code is specific to the author and decoder for which it was purchased, not the sound file.
    • Once the Load Code is written to the decoder, the process to load sound files and edit CV values is the same as any other ZIMO decoder.
  •  Pre-Loaded (Red) - Exclusive files developed by an author for their own distribution and use.  These projects are listed in the ZIMO Sound Database but are not available for download.  Contact the author directly for details and availability.


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