In the earliest days of podcasting, a company called The Conversations Network had a show that used volunteers to record segments for the show. An unfortunate side effect of having all these different contributors was that the volume of the recordings was very uneven. At the Podcast Expo in 2005, Doug Kaye of The Conversations Network demonstrated a tool they were using called The Levelator created by Gigavox Media to level out their audio before publication.
Gigavox Media transferred rights to The Conversations Network, and they eventually released The Levelator to the public for free as a way of helping all podcasts improve their audio quality. It was released for the Mac, Windows, and Linux. It became a favorite tool of podcasters because it was so easy to simply drag an uncompressed audio file onto The Levelator and watch the little animation show progress and then get a beautifully leveled audio file.
Over the years, as a public service, I would send podcasters I liked screenshots of how uneven their audio was between their hosts and then instructions on how The Levelator would instantly fix these problems. The SMR Podcast has great audio levels thanks to my incessant nagging of Chris, Rod, and Robb.
The Conversations Network dropped support of The Levelator in 2012, and when El Capitan was released in 2015 it was no longer compatible. A hack was figured out to keep it working though as documented by TidBITS at the time. Then in a surprise move, The Conversations Network released a slightly tweaked version that worked on the Mac and there was dancing in the streets of Podcaster Land.
But then it died again when macOS Catalina came out which allows only 64-bit software. The people wept.
But this week, rising yet again like a phoenix from the ashes, in another surprise move, The Conversations Network released a fully compatible 64-bit version of The Levelator in the Mac App Store! What a welcome surprise.
The Levelator is of course still free, and is just as easy to use as it ever was. Let me explain the steps to leveling audio with The Levelator:
- Open The Levelator
- Drag an uncompressed audio file onto the app
There’s one other optional step and that’s to watch the animation of a circle being completed while The Levelator does its magic. Seriously. Drag, drop, wait, done.
I put a screenshot in the shownotes to show how amazing this tool is. In the upper half of the image you can see the wave form from a recording Bart and I made together last week. My voice is significantly lower than Bart’s, by at least a factor of 5.
In the bottom half of the screenshot you can see the effect of The Levelator. It took The Levelator less than 2 minutes to transform this nearly 1GB audio file from practically unlistenable to awesome.
I did a bit of research on The Levelator so I was certain to get my dates right in this article. I came upon the Wikipedia article about The Levelator in which it described its death and rebirth with El Capitan and its second death with 64-bit macOS Catalina. I have to say it gave me great delight to be able to edit the Wikipedia article to add the rebirth yet again in 2020.
I have never seen an application appear to die off and rise again not just once, but twice like The Levelator. Podcast listeners everywhere should rejoice that The Conversations Network has brought The Levelator into the modern age with a Mac App Store app. To all of the podcasters to whom I listen who use Macs for their recording, don’t even think about not using The Levelator because you know I’ll remind you!