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The decoders are all pretty much the same, it is just the sockets that are different. Unfortunately the manufacturers cannot just pick the best socket and stick to it, they have to use a whole load of different ones. You just need to buy the version of the decoder that has a plug on it to match the socket.

For sound you want to get locos that have either a PluX, MTC21, or Next-18s socket as these sockets have enough pins so that you can wire the speaker to the loco (if it does not come with a speaker already fitted). The PluX and Next-18 sockets define a space for the decoder so that you know that the decoder will fit, for MTC-21 you need to measure the space!

If you have a NEM652 8-pin, or NEM651 6-pin socket you will get a decoder with the speaker wired to the decoder and hope there will be some space for it, there usually will not be enough space for a sound decoder without some modification.
 

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Generally speaking if you are installing sound you don't have a lot of decoder choice since virtually all sound projects are for either ESU or Zimo.

For Zimo:-
MTC-21 - MX644D (for UK models, some foreign ones require MX644C)
PluX-22 - MX645p22 (normally for 00 or H0). The smaller MX648p16 will also fit but has less functionality.
PluX-16 - MX648p16 (normally for N)
Next-18s - MX658N18
Next-18 - MX659N18 (smaller decoder to fit in the non sound decoder space)
NEM652 (8-pin) - MX648R (short) or MX649R (narrow) for tight spaces. Use MX645R if when loads of space.
NEM651 (6-pin) - MX649L (plug straight in if the space works) or MX649F (on longer wires).

If your loco has lots of room but no socket fit a Zimo ADAPLU PCB and plug in a MX645p22 for maximum functionality.

Hopefully someone has the details for the ESU range.
 

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For ESU:-
MTC-21 - 58419 Loksound 5 DCC
PluX-22 - 58412 Loksound 5 DCC
PluX-16 - Nothing suitable, but 58814 Loksound 5 Micro might fit.
Next-18s - 58818 Loksound Micro
Next-18 - Nothing suitable, but 58818 Loksound 5 Micro might fit.
NEM652 (8-pin) - 58810 Loksound 5 Micro or 58410 Loksound 5 DCC if there is more space.
NEM651 (6-pin) - 58416 Loksound 5 DCC

Perhaps some of the older ESU products might fill the gaps in the range which is not as comprehensive as Zimo.
 

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If you go to a sound retailer like CoastalDCC you will have a choice of sounds, and often a choice of decoder. Just because there is no sound package offered already does not mean that Kevin cannot rustle something up based on what is available for similar locos perhaps with a different horn for example. There is a lot that a good retailer can do in the loading that you might not get if you go direct to a sound producer that can only offer his own range of sounds in a specific brand of decoder.

My experience with Zimo and ESU is the same as has been mentioned above - the Zimo decoders you just plug them in and they work, but the ESU ones take an awful lot of faffing about to get them optimised. Why the loco manufacturers persist in using ESU, and fitting a limited range of legacy sockets just to accommodate ESU decoders I don't know when they could standardise on the PLuX sockets and just use Zimo decoders and make us all happy.

I guess we just have to use our buying power and favour buying locos that have a PluX socket over the others! Next-18 and Next-18s is not too bad, but it is not as functional as the similar sized PluX-16, and why have two Next-18 standards when one will do!
 
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