User Guide

Welcome to the exciting world of Audio Import!

The audio importer allows you to record, edit and import sounds to Dreams.

In addition to this user guide, there are a series of How-To videos you can watch. Or, if you just want to dive straight in, you brave soul you, head over to the audio importer page.

Getting Started#

Before you start, note that the audio importer only supports .wav files. Make sure the files you want to import are either stereo or mono .wavs.

Open a fresh blank scene in Dreams, or the scene or element where you want this audio to be. You must be in Assembly Mode or Sound Mode, and the importer will warn you if you aren’t in Edit Mode.

Note: You cannot have any menus or tooltips open (e.g. more infos, options menu, search, etc) when you import audio.

Audio Importer warning if the user is not on Edit Mode

Audio Importer warning if the user is not on Edit Mode

Adding Files#

Method 1:

Drag and drop your .wav file or files onto the correct import panel, for instruments, sound effects or voices. Don’t worry if you use the wrong one - it can be changed later.

Audio Importer drag and drop user interface

Audio Importer drag and drop user interface

Method 2:

Record some new audio from the mic (or whichever sound source is set as the default) on your computer. Hit the Record button to record, hit it again to stop.

The importer will do a quick bit of analysis, and then show you a waveform display.

Audio Importer waveform display

Audio Importer waveform display

If you dropped several files, they will appear as individual slices.

Editing Your Slices#

You can chop up your audio files into smaller pieces. These will become slices in the Slice Mapper view of the sound gadget, and will be available to play as different notes in an instrument.

There are some automated tools to help you do this - note the sliders along the bottom:

Audio Importer slide editor buttons

Audio Importer slide editor buttons

Try dragging these to the left and back again. Don't worry if you make a mistake, you can use Ctrl+Z to undo. Other commonly-used shortcuts also apply - Ctrl+A selects all slices and Esc deselects them all.

Audio Importer waveform with silence trimmed

Audio Importer waveform with silence trimmed

Drag to trim silence will remove quiet bits of the sound, leaving only the sections above a certain volume level. As you drag to the left, this level gets higher, and louder and louder parts are removed. It’s a good way to quickly edit recordings with a lot of blank space in them.

Drag to cut into beats will create new slices that start where it finds sharp loud percussive sounds (e.g. the start of a drum hit) and/or obvious changes in pitch (e.g. a different note in a flute phrase).

Dragging to the left will make progressively more slices, with more sensitive detection.

Audio Importer waveform cut into beats

Audio Importer waveform cut into beats

Notice that when you slice with the ‘beats’ slider, no gaps are added between the slices.

You can also edit these manually with the mouse.

Double-click will add a new slice boundary - try doing this with a sound that has no slices yet. Remember - Ctrl+Z to undo, or Ctrl+A then Delete to remove all slices. Double-clicking will also select the slice to the right of where you clicked. When a slice is selected, you can fine-tune the start and end points in the lower zoomed-in panel. This focuses on showing you the beginning and end of the slice. Click and drag on the zoomed-in panel to move the edit points.

Note: Both sliders are a one-way operation. While you hold the mouse button you can drag back to the right to “uncreate” the regions, but once you’ve let go of the button they are set.

Audio Importer waveform slices

Audio Importer waveform slices

Notice that both the top and bottom displays adjust as you move the edit point. You can zoom in and out of both the top and bottom displays using the mouse wheel. You can select the next/previous slice with the left and right arrow keys.

Note: Audio gadgets can only contain 64 slices, so the audio importer is restricted to 64 slices. If you add another when the maximum has been reached, one slice will be removed to make space for the new one.

Editing Volumes#

You can drag the top edge of the central part of the slices up and down to increase or decrease their volumes. You can also use the ‘Drag to Normalise’ slider to make all the slices the same volume level (well, to be accurate, make them share the same peak level of 0dBFS). Notice that as you slide, the slices all gradually move towards their loudest possible level, but some difference is preserved until you slide all the way to the left.

Audio importer volume changesAudio importer volume changes

Audio importer volume changes

Adding Fades#

You can add quick fades to the start and end of slices. Click and drag the top left or right corners of the slice in the top display to do this:

Audio importer types of fadesAudio importer types of fadesAudio importer types of fades

Audio importer types of fades

Click and drag up or down in the darker top border of the fade section to change the shape of the fade.

Note: These fades are applied to the slices before they are sent to Dreams, meaning they cannot be removed or edited inside Dreams.

Setting Up Note Information#

If you are making a pitched instrument, then you will want to define which slices contain which musical notes. Once the slices are sent to Dreams, the note assignment is used to decide which slice to play when you play a certain musical note.

The importer does some automatic pitch detection, so in cases where the musical note of a slice is clear, it will automatically assign the pitch it thinks it heard. Different pitches are written on the slices and also indicated by colour. An unpitched slice is grey.

Audio Importer waveform slices

Audio Importer waveform slices

Sometimes the automated pitch detection is wrong. This can happen when the sound is tonally complex or has a lot of harmonics, and it can’t tell which one is the right one to identify the fundamental pitch of the note. In this case we need to set the pitch of the slice manually.

To manually set the pitch of a slice, select it, then type the note letter and octave - e.g. for C4 type C, 4. To set up sharps (everything is identified by sharps, so Bb = A# in importer world) use the Shift key, so D sharp 3 is Shift+D, 3.

Audio Importer waveform slices

Audio Importer waveform slices

To fine-tune the selected slice, you can use the numeric keypad’s plus + and minus - buttons. You can remove fine-tuning by pressing the asterisk key *. You may need to do this if the instrument was slightly out of tune.

TIP: We sometimes use a guitar tuner app on a phone to double-check tunings - it’s a quick way to verify whether the importer is correct.

Slice pitch can also be edited after import, by using the Slice Mapper panel in the sound gadget, so don’t worry if something goes wrong!

If you want to remove pitch you can change a pitched slice to an unpitched one by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+0.

Note: If you send multiple slices of the same pitch to Dreams, it will randomly play them when you play the same note - this is known as round-robin in other synth instruments.

Saving Your Work#

It’s possible that you will do quite a lot of editing work in the importer. You may wish to import a sound, play with it in Dreams, adjust the source .wav and import it again. Once the slices are sent to Dreams, and you close the importer page, the editing work is lost, so it’s a good idea to save it if you have done quite a bit. You can do this by pressing the Save Slices button at the bottom - this will save the editing work as a text file, which will be downloaded to your browser’s download location, named slices.txt. We suggest renaming it and saving it alongside the .wav files you are importing. To recall a saved set of editing, first drag and drop the .wav onto the importer, then drag and drop the slices.txt file onto the importer. You should see all your edits restored.

Sending to the Console#

You’re just about ready to send your slices to your console, but before that, a word about what the limit numbers mean. There are limits to how much audio you can import - see “Importer Rules and Limits” later in this guide.

Audio Importer limits

Audio Importer limits

The limits numbers across the top of the importer are as follows:

  • Imports remaining today - this is the number of imports you have left in your allowance today. - Time used today - the total length of time you have used from today’s allowance for all imported audio.
  • Time used for this import - the length of time you have used from your allowance for a single import, i.e. all slices you currently have in the import window.

Note: These include recordings made using the in-game Sound Recorder tool. The importer and the Sound Recorder share the same limits allowances. So for example if you make five in-game recordings, you use up five of your ‘Imports remaining today’ limit.

When you are done editing, fading and applying note values, press the ‘Send to Console’ button.

Note: This is the point when your import will be deducted from your daily audio import limits (see later in the guide), so it’s a good idea to make sure you are completely happy with everything before you hit the button.

Imp with sound gadget

Imp with sound gadget

After a short delay, your sound should appear on the tip of your imp as a fresh new sound gadget.

Stamp it wherever you like with

If you have made an instrument, you probably want to test it out and see how it sounds. By default, new sounds are set to Sound Effect in Dreams, so you will need to change it to an Instrument to check everything is pitched correctly. To do this:

  1. Hover over the sound gadget with your imp.
  2. Hold down and press to tweak the Sound Gadget.
  3. On page one of the tweak menu, change the Sound Type to Instrument by pressing the Instrument button on the right - its icon is a musical note.
Sound Gadget options

Sound Gadget options

Now you can try playing it with the wireless controller!

  1. Hover over the gadget with your imp.
  2. Hold down the and press to open Freeform View.

Now you can use the wireless controller buttons to perform different musical scales. Try playing and see how it sounds (if you‘ve never done this before, check out the Music Performance tutorial in the Dreams Workshop). If all the note assignments are correct, it should sound like you’re playing the instrument you recorded. If there are some odd octave jumps, it may be that some slices don’t have the right octave - you can adjust this in the Slice Mapper.

Importer Rules and Limits#

  1. The importer is only for adding original audio you have made entirely by yourself to Dreams. This means:

    • Voice recordings you have made, your own original creations, not copied from any third-party source. You can’t sing and record someone else’s song, for example.
    • Instruments you have played. Phrases or individual notes to make new instruments in Dreams. This means real-world items like drums or guitars, NOT software synths, content from sample libraries, or samples from old or new records etc. Software synths and sample libraries usually have clauses in their user license that prevent you from making new virtual instruments or redistributing individual sounds.
    • Sound effects you have made. Can be made from banging or scraping things and so on. It does NOT mean importing from a sound effects library or recording things from films or TV or any distinctive sound effects/recordings. Again, those uses infringe copyright and can mean your content will be removed from Dreams.
  2. The audio importer is NOT for:

    • Importing whole tracks from outside Dreams. You can, if every bit of them is original and owned by you. However, it's not the intended use, not in the spirit of Dreams and not what we made it for - the engine doesn't do well with long files.
    • Importing voices that have been recorded from other media.
    • Importing instrument samples that come from software or sample libraries.
    • Anything which refers to any third parties or brands in a derogatory way.
    • Importing any audio which is not your original creation.

In short, anything you didn’t make and/or do not own yourself. As always, please use Dreams in line with our Software Usage Terms where this and your behaviour toward other users is concerned. If you breach those we are entitled to take certain actions against you (e.g. your content may be removed at our discretion, or we may remove your ability to use the Audio Importer tool).

  1. There are limits to how much audio you can import. For the initial launch, we’ve set these parameters to strike a balance between usability and Dreams software limitations:
    • You can only import a certain amount of audio per day.
    • Individual imports have a maximum size.
    • You can only import a certain number of times per day.
    • These amounts will get bigger the higher your Dreamer Level is - here’s a table showing how:
Dreams LevelMax upload length in secondsNumber of uploads per day
01510
301520
602030
903040
1203060
  • The audio importer is unlocked at level 30 - users below level 30 can only use the Sound Recorder tool.
  • If you import copyright infringing content, your content could be removed. Sorry - them’s the rules, and we’ve got to follow them, too.
  • Dreams isn’t so great with long audio files. They fill up the thermo quickly, and lots of custom audio in a level will make it slower for other people to play and download.
  1. The audio importer limits, as well as all of the rules stated above, now also apply to recordings made in-game using the Sound Recorder. This means that you now need to be online in order to use it.

We know the in-game recorder is important to a great many dreamers. Unfortunately it's not currently possible to apply the limits when offline, so for now the service is online only. However, we are looking into how it can be adapted to work offline, although we can't make promises right now on when that may be. On the subject of the limits themselves...

  1. We’re actively looking at the data behind these limits to ensure they support creators in the various ways they use audio in Dreams. We want to ensure that it is usable and respects the limits of Dreams. This means we may adjust the Dreamer levels the tool is available to, tweak import limits or make other changes. As always, we welcome feedback - but appreciate the understanding that this feature is in active development, and has unique challenges as the only feature that allows importing content into Dreams.

The Dreams User Guide is a work-in-progress. Keep an eye out for updates as we add more learning resources and articles over time.