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Echotopia

Quickstart Guide

Table of Contents

Welcome

Welcome to the quickstart guide of Echotopia, the innovative immersive soundscape designer by SoundFellas.

In the following paragraphs, you will learn the basic concept of Echotopia and how to create your first project.

Have fun creating awesome sound!

Introduction

What is Echotopia?

Echotopia is a new kind of audio editor born from the fusion of interactive audio practices, gaming technologies, spatial sound methodologies, research into acoustics and psychoacoustics, and the growing need for creators of all kinds to be able to produce easily highly-immersive soundscapes for many types of projects.

A short history lesson

It all started more than a decade ago, circa 2011 when SoundFellas released DMDJ, a soundscape generator app for mobile devices, through SoundFellas’ in-house software development team titled Blueface Games.

DMDJ is still offered for iOS and Android mobile devices through the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and the Amazon Appstore.

DMDJ offered an innovative – at the time – set of features which still are proven very powerful when it comes to procedurally generated soundscapes from a mobile device, but through the years of getting feedback from our ever-growing user base, we saw the need for more.

During the last 10 years, we witnessed an explosion of creativity in all sectors and the rising of immersive audio boosted by the wave of new technologies such as virtual reality, the internet of things, and the convergence of all media industry sectors which is still moving towards unity.

It was clearly time for us to take the next step.

It took Panos Kouvelis, our founder and architect, more than a year to create the first drafts of the design document, and him together with Manolis Benetos our software engineer one year more of R&D to create the technology stack and the audio engine of Echotopia, our next generation soundscape designer.

And that was a big difference! Echotopia would not be another soundscape generator like the many that exist out there together with our own DMDJ, but a soundscape designer, an authoring environment that would make it easy for everyone to create dynamic and immersive acoustic environments.

Setup

Installation

Installing Echotopia on your machine is a straightforward process. It all happens through the installer/setup utility that will guide you through the steps.

Sometimes, depending on your system and settings, you might get a warning that you are trying to install software from an unknown publisher. We don’t sign our applications as we have a completely controllable environment to develop our software so there is no danger of some employee to inject malicious code in our software. You have the same level of security by choosing to continue despite the various alerts you might get from Windows User Account Control, Defender, or you antivirus and firewall software.

Image of Echotopia windows alerts for unknown publisher.
Here are some alert examples so you know how they look like. [Click image to enlarge]

When you run the installer, the first screen you see is the End User License Agreement. You should read this agreement as it defines the relationship you have with SoundFellas and Echotopia. To proceed with the installation you must agree with the rules of this agreement. If you agree press “I Agree”, if you do not agree press “Cancel” and end the setup process.

Image of Echotopia installer screen 01.
Read the EULA and if you agree select "I Agree" to proceed with the installation. By selecting "I Agree" you automatically agree to the term anf conditions of this agreement.

On the next step of the setup process, you will define where in your system’s storage devices Echotopia will be installed.

Image of Echotopia installer screen 02.
Choose the location to install Echotopia.

After finishing the installation, the installer will prompt you to finish the setup, and if you don’t change the option, it will automatically launch Echotopia.

Image of Echotopia installer screen 03.
Echotopia is installed and ready to run.

That’s it, you successfully installed Echotopia in your machine!

Activation

Echotopia is using a classic semi-automatic request-response activation mechanism to manage the licensing of the application on your machine(s).

If you have any trouble with any of those steps, you can contact us and we will assist you in the process.

When you launch Echotopia for the first time, you will see the launch hub, which will prompt you to activate the license in your machine.

Image of Echotopia launch hub license activation prompt.
Echotopia's launch hub.

To do that you will need to open the Windows Command Prompt utility and get the Physical Address of your machine’s network card, also known as the MAC Address.

It’s suggested to open the Command Prompt by right-clicking and selecting “Run as administrator” to ensure that you get access to the full palette of tools the utility has to offer.

Image of Echotopia windows command prompt utility launch.
Windows start menu with the Command Prompt utility selected to run as administrator.

Then, in the command line prompt that will open, you should input the command “ipconfig /all”.

If you like you can read more about this command on the official Microsoft documentation.

You can copy the command from the code widget below:

				
					ipconfig /all
				
			

The ipconfig tool will display the full TCP/IP configuration for all adapters.

To activate your copy of Echotopia in your machine we need you to send us the serial of one of the physical adapters, which is the serial located at the field titled “Physical Address” highlighted in the screenshot below.

IMPORTANT: Please make sure to not send us any serials from “Virtual” adapters, as we do not use them in the license manager and your activation will not work.

Image of Echotopia windows command prompt utility ipconfig output.
Screenshot of a common command line output of the ipconfig tool.

You will have to send us this serial number marked in green at the screenshot above and we will return you the activation code that will unlock Echotopia in your machine(s).

Please note that this is a manual process for now, so it might take a day or two to receive our response. Make sure to whitelist the “soundfellas.com” domain so that our messages don’t end in your spam folder.

Those who belong to a prerelease or beta testing program already have the email address they need to send the serial we request.

After we send you the activation code, you can paste it into the respective field. Also, unless you agreed otherwise with our support, please use the email that you use to register as a beta tester of Echotopia or your activation may not work.

Now that you have the activation code, you can fill all required fields and click “Activate” to activate Echotopia.

Image of Echotopia launch hub license activation response.
Echotopia's activation form right before activation.

Initial preferences

When you run Echotopia the first after activating your license, you will see the Echotopia Launch Hub.

The Launch Hub is a tool that allows you to access your recently opened projects, some basic global settings of the application, and useful links.

From the hub, you can also create a new project, open another project, or just open the application directly. don’t worry, you can access all those features from within Echotopia itself.

Image of Echotopia launch hub.
Echotopia's launch hub after activation, showing all options.

But first, you need to setup a very important global setting.

This is the location of Echotopia’s media library in your hard drives.

This is the location that Echotopia will unpack any sound libraries or other content that will be included together with the application. Also, when you import libraries, presets, or content form third parties, this is the place that they will be stored.

Think of this library as the main place that you will store any supported media that then will be imported in your projects. Those are going to be accessible directly form the library workspace in Echotopia, but more on that later in this guide.

For now, make sure to click “Settings” and set the path of the library in a location that will always be accessible and has enough storage space for future updates of content.

Keep in mind that media files usually have medium to large sizes, so choose a storage medium that has enough space available. Don’t worry, you can change the location in the future if you need to.

You can see in the screenshot below that I have chosen a folder titled “Echotopia Library” in my “D:” hard drive which I use to store the media assets I use for my projects.

You can ignore the Application Data Path” setting for now, as this is available for troubleshooting purposes only.

Image of Echotopia launch hub settings.
Echotopia's launch hub settings page.

That’s all you need to setup. Now Echotopia is ready, activated, and the basic setup is concluded.

Keep on reading to learn the basic concepts and start your first project!

Basic concepts

To achieve a high level of productivity and remain open to artistic expression, Echotopia needs to be a specialized audio authoring application, meaning that is highly opinionated in the way it organizes its interface and all its resources.

Let’s take a look at the interface and the basic structure of data, so you get a good idea of what can be found where and how asset files are handled.

Don’t worry about all this theory, you will see everything in action later in this guide, in “Your first project” section.

Application interface

Below you can see a screenshot of Echotopia open in the “Scene Workspace” on the “Editor Section”. Echotopia’s user interface uses the workspace paradigm meaning that you can switch to different workspaces depending on what you want to do, and each workspace has a set of sections to further organize its tools.

Image of Echotopia scene editor interface marked with numbers.
The Scene Editor section of Echotopia. [Click image to enlarge]

Here’s what you see in the screenshot above:

  1. Workspace selection column
  2. Workspace’s Section selection column
  3. Sound Source Areas (aka Areas)
  4. Main map editing area (aka the map)
  5. Element inspector (aka Inspector)

Projects, scenes, and media assets

Projects

The highest level entities in Echotopia are Projects.

A project contains everything related to itself in the project folder. Actually, in Echotopia the project is the project’s folder. So, in contrast with other applications, i.e. Adobe’s Photoshop, who save all the project’s data in a single file, in Echotopia the project is saved in a project’s folder.

Inside that folder, you will find all media assets that are used in the project and other files that save the settings of that project and any related information.

Scenes

A project can contain many scenes.

Think of the scene as one map upon which you can position various sound sources and then experience the complete acoustic environment from a specific point in the map.

For example, if you create a project for a pen and paper DnD session, then you could create a project for all the campaign, and in there create as many scenes as the number of maps you want to have in that campaign.

Each scene needs an image file to use as the map upon you will position the sound sources.

Media assets

Media assets are the lowest level of entities supported by Echotopia.

Those are sound files, image files, impulse response files, etc.

Media assets can be found in Echotopia’s Library and imported in your project folder, or imported directly in your project folder to be used only for that project.

Reusable media is nice to be stored in the Library, while random media or media only for specific projects can be imported directly to the project folder from any location.

IMPORTANT: any media asset that gets imported in your project will be copied in the project folder. That means that the original files are not in danger from accidental destructive changes and that you project is fully portable as everything is contained inside the project folder. This means also that the project folder can grow fast in size if you don’t practice some housekeeping or you start importing assets you don’t really need in your project.

Areas and audio layers

Areas

One of the main objects that you will be handling all the time are the sound source areas you set on your maps. We simply call them Areas from now on and you use them to define the locations from where sound is emitted in your scenes.

In the screenshot below you see two areas titled “Fields” and “Deep Sea” respectively.

As you can see the Fields area has a rectangular shape, while the Deep Sea area has a circle shape.

Each area contains:

  • An Anchor point, the little dotted white circle in the middle with the area’s title below it.
  • The Main Zone which is tinted with semi-transparent orange color.
  • The Fade Zone which is tinted with light blue semi-transparent color.

The red icon with the human form is called the Explorer, and it is very important, as it defines the point from which you are experiencing the acoustic environment of the scene. For now think of the Explorer as your virtual set of ears, a “listener device” if you like.

By the way, the Explorer doesn’t have a set of two ears, it has an even better number of ears, matching your soundcard and speaker configuration, so you can listen to the surrounding acoustic environment in a fully immersive way. But more of that on the Echotopia User Manual.

Image of Echotopia two areas overlapping with explorer in their fade zones.
Detail of a scene featuring two areas with overlapping zones.

The roles of the Main and Fade zones are important to understand if you want to learn how to create realistic soundscapes.

Actually the clever combination of how those two zones together with the appropriate shape that you choose, can be used to create almost all of the natural behaviors of real-world sound sources.

Consider the following:

  • In nature, we have various types of sound sources and sound emitting scenarios: Point or small object sources, where the sound energy seems to start from a single point. And big object sources, where the sound comes from larger objects like a big train engine.
  • As each area emits sound, we need a way to simulate how sound energy dissipates as it reaches further from its source.
  • As the sound energy travels away from its source, it might find obstacles that change the area coverage.

To simulate all those, Echotopia features different shapes of areas and two zones for each area.

The first zone, called Main Zone, will playback the sounds you assign to the area (more on that later) without altering anything.

The second zone, called Fade Zone – if activated – will playback the sounds you assign to the area, but it will simulate how the sound energy dissipates over distance because of energy loss.

The dissipation effect starts where the Main Zone ends (the outer boundary of the Main Zone) and ends at the outer line of the Fade Zone (the outer boundary of the Fade Zone).

The dissipation effect includes both the loudness dissipation and the higher frequency damping that happens in the real world.

By using those Area properties you can create realistic areas that the Explorer will experience louder as it enters the Fade Zone and gets closer to the Main Zone, and on the Main Zone, the Explorer will be fully immersed in the Area fully experiencing all the sounds.

By combining various Area shapes and with clever use of the rectangular area zones that can be set individually, you can create areas to represent large buildings that emit sound only from one of their sides, cave or secret room openings that wind slips through giving away their existence, and many more.

Image of Echotopia scene editor detail of explorer entering an area at the fade zone.
In this screenshot you can see a detail from the scene editor. Here the Explorer (red icon) is shown entering the Fields Area, currently positioned in the Fade Zones of both the Fields Area and another Area.

This overlapping mechanism is very important in realism but also in sound design, as it provides the freedom to both add realistic transitions between locations on the map, and also offers the freedom to the storyteller or sound designer, to position the Explorer at any point on the map.

Imagine that in a pen and paper role-playing game scenario, the party can go exactly where they like on the map and explore, always getting the appropriate acoustic experience. The Dungeon Master can create hidden points that give away their existence with sound, like cave openings or dungeon entrances, and the party should explore the terrain to listen for those sounds.

It’s a whole new way to engage your audience and make them use all their senses, dragging one more sense into the experience for total immersion.

Audio layers

In the real world, sound comes from everywhere, but as we know from psychoacoustics, for our brain to make sense of the environment fast, specific mechanisms exist that create simplified versions of reality containing only the information we need to survive and make decisions in context.

This is why when you’re standing next to a city street you can experience the present with detail (cars, voices, birds, etc.) but as soon as the information is on the past it becomes an impression (the city was noisy today, there was more traffic than usual).

To keep this impression real (meaning believable) with pre-recorded audio material we need to simulate the behavior of the various events to be like in nature, almost random (the official term is stochastic) and somehow dynamic. That way, the brain doesn’t detect a repetitive pattern that will make it bring the sound out of context and into the foreground, where the information is subject to analysis and disbelief.

On the other hand, the designer needs an easy way to define and set the behavior in a controllable and predictable manner.

To solve this duality between natural behavior and productive predictability, Echotopia introduces the concept of “Audio Layers”.

Audio Layers are actually specialized instruments that can be used as layers to define the behaviors of the audio content playback of an Area. Different types of Audio Layers simulate different behaviors of sound events from nature.

For now, we have two kinds of layers (instrument types), but many more are coming in the near future. The layer types we will be talking about in this guide are the “Looper” and the “Randomizer”.

Image of Echotopia scene editor detail of an area and basic inspector properties.
In this screenshot you can see the Inspector showing the properties of the Lake area and in the Inspector's section titled "Audio Layers" you can find two Loopers titled Water and Wind respectively, and one Randomizer titled Lake Laps. [Click image to enlarge]
Loopers

If we open the Wind Looper you will see that this type of layer is made to simulate the behavior of continuous sounds that playback indefinitely in a loop (meaning when the playhead reaches the end it starts automatically from the beginning).

It can load only one sound file and the designer can set the volume of playback and, if needed, change the pitch/speed for creative or other reasons.

Image of Echotopia instrument layer looper Web.
The interface of a Looper instrument with all its options.
Randomizers

Randomizers are more complicated instruments as they simulate a more complicated behavior. Randomizers are used to simulate sound events that are triggered once every now and then and when the sound reaches its end the sound is not repeated. We call those types of sound files one-shots, as each file contains a single sample, and many are needed to create a realistic result.

The Randomizer instrument can load many sounds, usually, those are variations of the same sound event, i.e. bird chirping or car pass by sounds.

You can set the range between two volume levels, two pitch shift values, and two trigger ranges. Those are used to randomize the triggering and playback of each of the loaded files.

In the example below, when a sound is triggered, the instrument will way for a random time between 3 to 10 seconds and when the next sound is going to be played, it will have a random volume between 70 to 100 percent and a pitch shift between -2 to +3 semitones.

Image of Echotopia instrument layer randomizer Web.
The interface of a Randomizer instrument with all its options.

Advanced concepts

Acoustics

One of the major innovations of Echotopia in soundscape design technology is the inclusion of acoustics for each area you create, and the inclusion of those simulations in the final result through the virtual ears of the Explorer.

Acoustic phenomena like reflection and occlusion are the basic ingredients that define the sound of an acoustic environment.

Image of Echotopia scene editor detail of an area and inspector acoustics section.
Screenshot showing a detail from the scene editor and specifically the part of the area inspector showing the settings of the acoustics for the Cave Area. More on that in the next paragraph.
Reverberation

What is the main difference between a common city street and a long tunnel in a cave? Well, besides the first having cars and the second bats and water dripping. It’s the reflection of the sound on the different surfaces. Reflections are also known as reverberation and they are the basic elements of the sound that reaches our ears that gives our brain information about the size of a space and the distance of the sound sources within that space.

In Echotopia we use the most open and accurate standard for recreating the reflectivity style of a space, convolution processing using impulse responses.

To paraphrase Wikipedia, convolution-based reverb uses digital recordings of physical spaces (using impulse responses) to recreate the reverb of those places. Convolution-based reverb is often used in film production so sounds can be added in post-production with realistic reverberation.

Except recreating the reverberation of any space in a very realistic way, using impulse responses (also known as IRs) has the added benefit of availability, as you can search and find a lot of impulse response files from real places like i.e. Hagia Sophia, famous caves and castles, known canyons, awesome tunnels, hangars, and many more for free online. You can also go a step further and create your own using a simple audio editor and noise generators.

Reverberation in Echotopia is easy to set up. You just choose an IR file, set the amount of the effect that all the sound layers will be affected, and you’re set. You don’t need to tweak odd and arcane parameters, the convolution processor under the hood will transfer all the characteristics captured on the IR file to your Area’s Layers in the amount you set on the Wet/Dry parameter.

Occlusion

Occlusion’s importance in soundscape design is easily understood if you ask yourself “what is the sound of an apartment’s room on the 1st floor located downtown with the main balcony right above the main city street?”. The answer is that a major part of the soundscape experienced by a listener within that room, are the sounds of the city street outside the apartment, with the reverberation of the streets, as they pass through the building materials of the apartment’s structure.

Echotopia’s audio engine features the simulation of Inward Occlusion, meaning that the simulation can be set Area-wise. The only thing to set here is the type of occlusion and we price a range of basic wall material with future additions planned very soon.

The type of occlusion you set to an Area will affect the sound of all other Areas that are coming to that Area when the Explorer is in that Area. Usually, you set that to common indoor Areas and you have to plan accordingly to your design, based on the story you want to tell or the experience you want to create for your audience.

If you reached this point, you have learned a lot about Echotopia’s high-level functions, but also a lot about the elements of soundscape design.

How layers of sounds with different behaviors create the impression of an acoustic area. How filtering an acoustic area through reverberation and inward occlusion creates realism. And how using different areas with main and fade zones can finally create a complete acoustic environment that can be experienced through any position on a map.

For the final chapter of this quickstart guide, we will see the basic steps you have to take to create your first project containing a scene with a map and an area with a looper and a randomizer layer. We will also finish by switching to the workspace used for live performance “Live Mode”.

Your first project

This is a simple tutorial to show you the basic steps you need to take in order to create a rudimentary project in Echotopia.

The tutorial is presented with a series of images with numbered steps stamped on them and each image is followed with the corresponding numbers and a description of the step.

Let’s begin!

Open Echotopia

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 01 Web.

Open Echotopia and then,

  1. Select [Open Application].

Create a new project

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 02 Web.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. Select the [Project] workspace.
  2. Select the [Home] tab.
  3. Click the [+] sign to add a new project.
  4. Give your project a title, mine here is “A Most Excellent Adventure”.
  5. Click the folder icon to select the location the project will be saved.
  6. Click [OK] to create the project and open it.

Create a scene

To create a scene we need to add one more step in between, because a scene also needs to contain a map image.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 03 Web.
[Click image to enlarge]

We are still in the Project workspace. Here you can find all options to manage your project.

  1. Go to the [Assets] tab.
  2. Select the [Maps] asset type.
  3. On top of the main pane choose the icon to Import Files.

That way you import the map image files into your project folder.

When you select the import icon, the dialog window in the screenshot below opens and you can drag-and-drop files in the area marked (1) or click in the area marked (1) and a file explorer will open to choose files. The files you prepare for importing appear at a list on the right, and when you are ready press [Import] (2) to import them in your project.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 04 Web.
[Click image to enlarge]

Now that you imported your map images into your project, you can create a new scene and associate it with a map file.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 05 Web.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. On the [Projects] workspace, select the [Scenes] tab.
  2. Click the [+] icon to add a scene.
  3. Give your scene a title, mine here is “Giorannia”.
  4. Click on the [Folder Browser] icon to associate a map with that scene.
Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 06 Web.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. On the map selection dialog window that will open, you will see all your imported maps. Choose the one you like to associate with the scene you’re creating.
  2. Click [Add] to add it to your selection (you can add only one map for each scene).
  3. Click [OK] to associate the selected map image with your scene.

After the map image selection window closes you press [OK] in the Create Scene dialog box and your new scene is created.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 07.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. As you are still in the scenes tab, you can create more scenes the same way.
  2. Or select the scene you just created.
  3. And click [Open] to open your scene in the scene editor to add sound.

Add an area on the map

After you created your scene successfully, it’s time to add an Area and then populate it with layers and sounds.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 08.
The "Create Area" dialog box. [Click image to enlarge]
  1. Go to the [Scene] workspace. The editor tab opens as default.
  2. Click on the [+] icon.
  3. Give a title to your area.
  4. Select the shape of the area.
  5. Check the option if you like to have a fade zone.
  6. Click [OK] to create the area.
Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 09.
An "Area" on the map, at the right you can see the "Inspector" showing the properties of the selected are from the list of areas on the left, or when you select it on the map. [Click image to enlarge]
  1. Here you can see a list of all the areas of your scene.
  2. You can handle the areas and area zones using the area gizmos on the map.
  3. You can change the opacity of the areas to help you work with different map colors and styles.
  4. Those widgets can help you while editing on the map, check them all to see what each one does.
  5. The inspector pane always shows the properties of the selected area.

Add audio layers

Import audio assets

As with the map image, to use audio files we need to import them into our project first.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 10 Web.
The Project's Asset Manager tab, the place where you manage all the assets of your project. [Click image to enlarge]
  1. Go to the [Project] workspace.
  2. Select the [Assets] tab.
  3. Click on [Audio].
  4. From the [Search], [Import], and [Create Directory] buttons you can create folders and import audio files, so you keep your project’s assets organized.
  5. Breadcrumbs can help you navigate back and forth.
  6. Right-clicking on a folder gives you further options for that folder.

I went right ahead and added some files. Two loops, one for water and one for wind, and four oneshots for random lake laps to sound here and there.

Here’s a screenshot of the lake laps:

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 11 Web.
The audio assets of the project as viewed from the project's asset manager. Here showing the contents of the folder "Onshots/Water Lake Laps". On the right pane you can preview the file and see some extra information. [Click image to enlarge]

As I will also need an impulse response file later to simulate the acoustics on a lake, I also went over and imported one too.

Apart from commercial impulse response collections, there are also many places to find them for free. One of my favorites is the IR Data repository of the OpenAIR project. I found a great impulse response that captures the reverberation of a landscape very similar to the land around a lake, Troller’s Gill made by Andrew Chadwick and Simon Shelley for the OpenAIR project.

Here’s a screenshot of the IR file in the project’s asset manager:

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 12 Web.
The impulse responses of the project as viewed from the project's asset manager. Here showing the contents of the root "Impulse Responses" folder. On the right pane you can see extra information if available and also click the [Test] button to play a short sample to preview the effect of the chosen IR file. [Click image to enlarge]
Add Looper layers

Now let’s add those audio assets to the area we created. Let’s start with the Water layer.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 13.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. Go to the [Scene] workspace.
  2. Select the [Editor] tab.
  3. Select the [Lake] area.
  4. Click the [+] to add a Looper layer.
Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 14.
[Click image to enlarge]

On the layer window that appears you can:

  1. Give a name to the layer.
  2. Add the loop for the water.
  3. Adjust the volume.
  4. Press [OK] to commit your layer settings.

Let’s also add the Wind layer the same way we did for the Water layer. Add another layer and the layer window appears.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 15.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. Give a name to the layer.
  2. Add the loop for the wind
  3. Adjust the volume.
  4. Adjust the pitch if necessary.
  5. Press [OK] to commit your layer settings.
Add Randomizer layers

To give our area a little randomness, let’s also add a Randomizer layer with some water laps recorded from the coastline of a lake. After you choose to add a Randomizer the appropriate window appears with the Randomizer settings.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 16.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. Give the layer a name.
  2. Add multiple files that will be played in random order.
  3. Choose the range of the random volume that will be chosen each time a sample is triggered from the file list.
  4. Choose the range of the random pitch that will be chosen each time a sample is triggered from the file list.
  5. Set a range of time gaps between the sample triggering to set the density of the triggers over time.
  6. Press [OK] to commit the layer settings.
Add Acoustics

And now the final step. To add the important element of realism, let’s configure the acoustics of the area.

The area we design here is a lake which is located in an open terrain, so we will not need any occlusion for that area, only reverberation.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 17.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. We’ll go ahead and add the IR file that we added before from the OpenAIR project.
  2. We can set the ratio between processed and unprocessed signals. This is the Wet/Dry setting.
  3. Inward occlusion is not needed in the area we are designing.

Final steps

There are also some useful tools on the audio layers section of the inspector to help you preview and tweak the audio settings of the selected area.

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 18.
[Click image to enlarge]
  1. The [Play/Stop] button will start and stop playing the area as if the Explorer (listener) was insider the center of the area.
  2. The [Sub Mixer] button will open a mixer containing the volume settings of all the layers included in the area.
  3. When the [Play] button is clicked and the area audio is playing, all layers feature solo [S] and mute [M] switches to help you troubleshoot or take creative decisions.

Finally, don’t forget the basics:

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 19.
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  1. Don’t forget to save your work by clicking [Save Scene].
  2. You can [Start Simulation] for the complete scene to test your work as you progress building your scene.
  3. By double-clicking on the map at any time you can move the Explorer.
  4. By selecting the [Live] workspace you can enter the Live mode used to perform your project.

Live mode

The Live workspace is where everything we created comes together. This is a specialized mode that strips down everything not needed for live performance, so you can playback your scenes and switch between them easily using a specialized interface.

For now, let’s see what we can do using Live mode:

Image of Echotopia quickstart guide for your first project screenshot 20.
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  1. Move the Explorer around the scene by double-clicking on the position you like to move it.
  2. Switch between the scenes of your project.
  3. Use some tools to make navigating easier.
  4. Stop the live mode and exit to edit mode.

Next steps

Congratulations! You finished the basic tutorial on making your first project with Echotopia, and on the way, you gained some useful knowledge on soundscape design.

From here you should continue your quest by:

  1. Creating projects with multiple scenes featuring areas with loopers, randomized, reverberation, and occlusion to amaze your audience.
  2. Let your imagination free! Maps can be other images than terrains and acoustic environments can feature other sounds from those found in nature. A soundscape doesn’t need to be realistic, listen to what the expressionist inside you has to tell you.
  3. Be active on our forums and report bugs, feature requests, or discuss your ideas and learn good soundscape design practices.

From all the team at SoundFellas, have fun creating!