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The Levelator - Neat tool for free

birdcat's picture
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am
Plus Member Moderator

Download link: http://www.singularsoftware.com/levelator.html

From their website:

What is The Levelator?

Do you believe in magic? You will after using The Levelator to
enhance your podcast. And you'll be amazed that it's free, now even for
commercial use.

So what is The Levelator? It's software that runs on Windows, OS X
(universal binary), or Linux (Ubuntu) that adjusts the audio levels within
your podcast or other audio file for variations from one speaker to the
next, for example. It's not a compressor, normalizer or limiter
although it contains all three. It's much more than those tools, and
it's much simpler to use. The UI is dirt-simple: Drag-and-drop any WAV
or AIFF file onto The Leveler's application window, and a few moments
later you'll find a new version which just sounds better.

Have you ever recorded an interview in which you and your guest ended
up at different volumes? How about a panel discussion where some people
were close to microphones and others were not? These are the problems
the post-production engineers of Team ITC
here at The Conversations Network solve every day, and it used to take
them hours of painstaking work with expensive and complex tools like
SoundTrack Pro, Audacity, Sound Forge or Audition to solve them. Now it
takes mere seconds. Seriously. The Levelator is unlike any other audio
tool you've ever seen, heard or used. It's magic. And it's free.

When we developed the IT Conversations component-based show-assembly
system, we realized all the components had to be of the same loudness or
the results would sound awful. We limped along for many months using
the RMS normalization functions in various applications, but the results
weren't satisfactory and it required tools and skillsets that some of
our post-production audio engineers didn't have. One of our best
engineers, Bruce Sharpe, offered to write a standalone software RMS
normalization utility, which we've been using as part of our production
system CNUploader since 2005.

The CNUploader's normalizer acts similar to an intelligent RMS-based
compressor/limiter combination, and it therefore affects primarily the
short-term (transient) sounds and the long-term overall loudness of the
file. It doesn't make the kind of adjustments that a skilled audio
engineer can perform in software or at a mixing console, riding the levels up and down to compensate for medium-term variations.

There are some hardware devices such as various AGC (automatic-gain
control) components that can do moderate leveling, but since they have
to operate in real time (i.e., without look-ahead), they can't
do much. And they aren't cheap, let alone free. Even a skilled human can
only react to changes unless s/he is lucky enough to be present during a
recording session and can use visual cues to anticipate coming
variations. Software can do better by performing multiple passes over the audio, generating a loudness map of where the volume changes. (It's not actually that simple, but the metaphor is helpful.)

Bruce, with help from his son, Malcolm, had proven that he knew how
to tackle these problems in ways that no one else anywhere in the
audio/software industry has done to date. So we asked him, "Bruce, do
you you think you can write a leveler that corrects for
medium-term variations in loudness instead of the short-term and
long-term variatons processed by compressor/limiters and normalizers,
respectively?" Bruce and Malcolm took on the challenge, and eight months
later we began testing The Levelator.

You'll believe in magic.


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

Will have to check this out. Sick of chopping all my video audio into
sections to normalize as I hate compression pumping unless I absolutely
have to. "Drawing" the audio changes in Vegas just takes way too much time. Thanks!


EarlC's picture
Last seen: 6 months 1 week ago
Joined: 10/15/2008 - 1:15am
Plus Member Moderator

Something like that for the Mac would be an awesome tool. Way to go Bruce, and Malcolm.


Chuck Zoots's picture
Last seen: 4 years 6 months ago
Joined: 04/21/2010 - 2:00am

I've been using the Levelator for about a year now. Another tool to use with it is the AOA audio extractor

I can take a sound track form a video file with a variety of problemsm plug it into the Levelator and get a new copy of the sound track (much improved) and plug it into the video timeline then delete the original soundtrack. I have not found any sound distortions or changes in the track length, this tool just plain works great


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

Probably not the best to use for a wedding ceremony? I tried this with my last wedding, and while 90% sounded great, there was quite a bit of pumping out the ambient noise. During readings etc, if there was more then a couple second pause it would cut out and clip the beginning of the new phrase, and even cut off significantly the end of the readings. Are there any settings to this I can tweak out or is it a set it and forget it program?


birdcat's picture
Last seen: 2 years 1 month ago
Joined: 10/21/2005 - 10:09am
Plus Member Moderator

Not sure about the settings - I have used this for some bad audio I had and it worked great (better than just a normalize). I'd suggest you play with it and see how it goes - You can't beat the price.

Bruce Paul 7Squared Productions http://www.7squared.com


doublehamm's picture
Last seen: 1 year 1 month ago
Joined: 11/29/2009 - 5:52pm

Not really a complaint about the program or the price - I was just wondering if there were settings. I see it could have uses for sure!