That's certainly the first thing that popped into my mind when I heard the word that Doug Kaye was declaring "Mission Accomplished" and shutting down the TCN websites and moving their content to other locations.
The "Levelator," in case you aren't aware, is a truly awesome piece of software for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux that can take an interview recorded with varying audio levels and turn it into something great for listening. As the bottom of the Levelator page says:
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.
For those wanting the gory details, the site contains a detailed description of the "Levelator Loudness Algorithms" that explains how it does its magic. The FAQ, also, includes some helpful information.
Normally, when I'm recording podcasts in my home office with my podcasting rig, I'm able to control all the audio levels, even if I'm interviewing someone over Skype. So in those cases I don't need the power of the Levelator.
But... if I'm recording an interview with multiple people over Skype, I only have one feed for Skype into my mixer and so I can't control the varying audio levels for the different speakers.
Similarly, if I am recording a panel session typically speakers are sitting at different distances from their microphones and they naturally have different levels of their voices.
In either of those cases, the Levelator has been a HUGE help in making my recordings sound that much better.
It's also insanely easy to use - just drag a file onto the interface and drop it. That's it.
Now it's now always on target. A time or two I've actually liked the original better, but that's often because I've got noisy backgrounds or other issues. But probably 95% of the time it does a truly wonderful job making the audio sound better.
So what is its future?
I don't know.
Doug Kaye's post about the future of TCN says only that they intend to continue to make the existing content available. It's not clear from reading that what will happen to the Levelator. Will it be updated? Will someone continue to maintain the software? Will it be open-sourced so that the community could maintain it? Or will it just fade away?
I do hope Doug and his team are able to find a way to keep the Levelator around. It truly is an awesome tool and it is and was a tremendously generous gift to the Internet community to make it available for free.
I look forward to learning its future... and meanwhile, I've made sure I've downloaded the most recent version so that I'll have my own copy around for a while.
Have you used the Levelator before? Has it helped you? What would you like to see the TCN team do with the Levelator?
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