[podcasters] The Levalator - Last Call

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Doug Kaye

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Nov 12, 2006, 8:29:23 AM11/12/06
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We're getting ready to wrap up the next release of The Levelator, our
free software that solves all those nasty uneven-level problems in
your podcast. If you haven't already downloaded The Levelator, just
go to http://www.gigavox.com/. Did I already say, It's Free!?

If you've already used The Levelator and think it should be able to
do a better job on your show, please send me a test-case .wav
or .aiff file that illustrates the problem you think The Levelator
should be able to solve. I need short (<4MB) files *before* being
Levelated. Just the input/source files, not the output.

If you've had any other problems, questions or feedback, please visit
The Levelator Feedback and Support Forum at http://www.gigavox.com/
forum/viewforum.php?id=15

Thanks.

...doug

Doug Kaye
GigaVox Media (gigavox.com)
The Conversations Network (conversationsnetwork.org)
do...@rds.com

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Craig Patchett

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Nov 12, 2006, 7:40:37 PM11/12/06
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--- In podcasters@yahoogroups.com, Doug Kaye <doug@...> wrote:

> If you've had any other problems, questions or feedback, please visit
> The Levelator Feedback and Support Forum at http://www.gigavox.com/
> forum/viewforum.php?id=15

Hey Doug, the biggest problem I've had with the Levelator is the inability to define the noise
floor...it needs to either be more intelligent in recognizing the floor or offer some sort of
control to tweak it.

I'd post this at Gigavox but I haven't been able to get access to the forums.

Craig

******************************************

Craig Patchett <craig@godcast.org>
The GodCast Network at godcast.org
Behind the Scenes at btscast.com (it's back!)

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Michael W. Dean

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Nov 13, 2006, 4:20:28 AM11/13/06
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I LOVE the Levalator ! Thank you Doug.

One request for next edition: Drag and drop batch processing. Pretty
please?

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Joel Haasnoot

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Nov 13, 2006, 5:26:03 AM11/13/06
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A browse dialog would be great :) Also, it'd be nice to be able to name the
output file yourself. I love the drag & drop also though, so maybe if both
were availible that'd be great.

Joel



On 11/13/06, Michael W. Dean <kittyfeet70@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> I LOVE the Levalator ! Thank you Doug.
>
> One request for next edition: Drag and drop batch processing. Pretty
> please?
>
>
>

--
<=>< <=>< <=><
Joel Haasnoot
Blog: http://www.joelhaasnoot.nl
> Host of the TG^3 Review
> Geek & Programmer

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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Will Brown

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Nov 13, 2006, 6:43:06 AM11/13/06
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> On 11/13/06, Michael W. Dean <kittyfeet70@yahoo.com> wrote:

> One request for next edition: Drag and drop batch processing. Pretty
> please?

Hey Michael,
Drag and drop batch processing is already available.
Just select multiple files and drag them over. No need to drag one at a time!

Will

--
http://www.CloudyDayArt.com
Poetry - People - Podcast
--------------------------------------------
Member, Association of Poetry Podcasting
http://www.PoetryPodcasting.org

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ronharpervoice

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Nov 13, 2006, 9:06:39 AM11/13/06
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--- In podcasters@yahoogroups.com, Doug Kaye <doug@...> wrote:
>

> We're getting ready to wrap up the next release of The Levelator, our
> free software that solves all those nasty uneven-level problems in
> your podcast. If you haven't already downloaded The Levelator, just
> go to http://www.gigavox.com/. Did I already say, It's Free!?
>

Hey Doug: Did the file dissappear? I clicked on the link and got an
empty directory! I'd love to try the program
Ron

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houseofchic

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Nov 13, 2006, 12:17:21 PM11/13/06
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--- In podcasters@yahoogroups.com, "Craig Patchett" <craig@...> wrote:
> Hey Doug, the biggest problem I've had with the Levelator is the inability to define the
noise
> floor...it needs to either be more intelligent in recognizing the floor or offer some sort
of
> control to tweak it.
>
> I'd post this at Gigavox but I haven't been able to get access to the forums.
>
> Craig
>
> ******************************************
>

> Craig Patchett <craig@...>


> The GodCast Network at godcast.org
> Behind the Scenes at btscast.com (it's back!)
>

Hi Doug,

I'll second Craig's floor problem. The first few times I used the Levelator it worked like a
dream, but last week's show had it 'pumping' the noise harder than college kids in the
back seat. I presumed I'd messed up my noise reduction so went back and re-did it, but
that didn't work so I had to go back to the old fashioned pre-Levelator by hand method.

Between that show and my previous use I had performed some system tinkering which
meant i had to re-install the app so I don't know if you guys have made any changes since
the initial release?

Thanks anyway, I'll be giving it another whirl come Wednesday so fingers crossed.

________
MarBelle

http://www.directorsnotes.com
The What, How & Why of Independent Filmmaking

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Stephen Eley

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Nov 13, 2006, 3:01:32 PM11/13/06
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On 11/13/06, houseofchic <houseofchic@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>
> I'll second Craig's floor problem. The first few times I used the Levelator it worked like a
> dream, but last week's show had it 'pumping' the noise harder than college kids in the
> back seat. I presumed I'd messed up my noise reduction so went back and re-did it, but
> that didn't work so I had to go back to the old fashioned pre-Levelator by hand method.

I've been meaning to write up a detailed review of the Levelator (as
Doug requested at PME) but haven't put it up yet. I've mostly just
been lazy on getting the right sample files together. Now that I know
there's a new version at the doorstep, I may just wait for that one so
that my review isn't obsolete as soon as I post it. >8->

Here's a summary: My impression of it so far is that it makes a great
machete but a flawed scalpel. On sources where the sound levels
really are all over the place, it works like a dream. E.g., the panel
presentation that Evo and I gave at the Expo. My iRiver and Giant
Squid mic were on the table, and picked me and Evo up great, but of
course didn't get audience questions very loudly. The Levelator
evened it all out so that the audience sounds as clear as the
speakers. And without any significant change in noise, too. That's
*very* impressive. (You can hear that here:
http://www.escapeartists.info/WrittenWord/index.html)

However, when I tried it on a few Escape Pod story readings from
myself and other people, the Levelator didn't help and actually made
them sound slightly worse. These were files that were already fairly
even in their sound levels, and just needed some final mastering. I
could hear distinct pumping in these files -- not the noise floor, but
the signal. There were volume transitions with distinct boundaries in
the middle of sentences of dialogue. (Doug, I'll get you a sample
file as soon as I get time to replicate my experiment again and chop
out a representative piece. The average WAV/AIFF files I work with
are around 200 MB, so I doubt you want the whole thing.) >8-> I can't
be sure what it's doing since it's a black box, but I suspect it has
too slow an attack, and that whatever it's doing to set the threshold
is kind of twitchy and kicks in when it doesn't need to.

I have some standard presets in Soundtrack Pro that I use for almost
everything. (Compressor with a 4:1 ratio and a -15dB RMS threshold
on auto-gain; then a limiter with no gain and a -0.3dB ceiling just to
prevent clipping.) These presets don't produce sound artifacts that I
can detect. The Levelator did. My conclusion is that the Levelator
-- at least in this iteration -- is an incredible rescue tool, but not
a mastering tool.

I also have issues with the round-tripping -- I *want* my intro/outro
at somewhat different levels from the story, so to use this tool
regularly I'd have to export the story into .AIFF, run it through the
Levelator, re-import it, then finish mixing and export the whole thing
again. That's too much work vs. my current process with real-time
effects.

And quite honestly, the total lack of parameters is a showstopper for
the way I like to work. I want to know what it did. I understand why
there's no ratio or threshold per se, but I want to be able to set the
noise floor level, attack/release times and knee shapes, the segment
size for the analysis, the degree of permitted deviation from the norm
(I guess you'd equate that to the compression ratio) and especially
the final RMS volume.

I understand that there is an official "correct" level and sound
envelope for IT Conversations and other Gigavox properties, and that's
great, but it's not necessarily the one I want to use. I have
different content. Everyone has different content. Mine might need
more or less dynamic range. If you want to hide the parameters for an
average user that's a fine idea, but the parameters should accessible
behind a menu or something for users like me. If they weren't needed,
sound processors wouldn't have any knobs. Just an on/off switch.

Anyway, that's my take. It sounds negative on balance, but I think
the Levelator has a lot of potential for the future (and immediate
practical worth for *some* kinds of files), and I look forward to
seeing what it becomes. I certainly agree that there's nothing else
quite like it on the market, and that for a free tool it has
incredible value.

...Hmmm. Okay. Maybe this wasn't so much a "summary." >8-> In any
case, Doug, I will get you those files soon. And I'll eventually put
my samples up for others to hear what I'm talking about, too.

--
Have Fun,
Steve Eley (sfeley@gmail.com)
ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
http://www.escapepod.org

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George L Smyth

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Nov 13, 2006, 5:18:12 PM11/13/06
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--- Stephen Eley <SFEley@gmail.com> wrote:

> On 11/13/06, houseofchic <houseofchic@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
> >
> > I'll second Craig's floor problem. The first few times I used the Levelator
> it worked like a
> > dream, but last week's show had it 'pumping' the noise harder than college
> kids in the
> > back seat. I presumed I'd messed up my noise reduction so went back and
> re-did it, but
> > that didn't work so I had to go back to the old fashioned pre-Levelator by
> hand method.
>
> I've been meaning to write up a detailed review of the Levelator (as
> Doug requested at PME) but haven't put it up yet. I've mostly just
> been lazy on getting the right sample files together. Now that I know
> there's a new version at the doorstep, I may just wait for that one so
> that my review isn't obsolete as soon as I post it. >8->

[large clip]


> Anyway, that's my take. It sounds negative on balance, but I think
> the Levelator has a lot of potential for the future (and immediate
> practical worth for *some* kinds of files), and I look forward to
> seeing what it becomes. I certainly agree that there's nothing else
> quite like it on the market, and that for a free tool it has
> incredible value.

Steve -

Thanks for the information. Your review did not sound negative at all to me.
I think that the takeaway here, as is usually the case, is that this is an
excellent tool for some things, and lacks in other cases. Few things do
everything well, so the key here is to understand when to use it, and when not
to. I have found success with it, but then I've only used it in cases where
things vary greatly, and it's pulled me out of a real hole in one instance.

Cheers -

george

-------------------------------------

Eclectic Mix: http://EclecticMix.com
One Minute How-To: http://OneMinuteHowTo.com
DRiP Investing: http://DRiPInvesting.org
Handmade Photographic Images: http://www.GLSmyth.com

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houseofchic

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Nov 14, 2006, 11:06:50 AM11/14/06
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--- In podcasters@yahoogroups.com, "Stephen Eley" <SFEley@...> wrote:
>
> I have some standard presets in Soundtrack Pro that I use for almost
> everything. (Compressor with a 4:1 ratio and a -15dB RMS threshold
> on auto-gain; then a limiter with no gain and a -0.3dB ceiling just to
> prevent clipping.) These presets don't produce sound artifacts that I
> can detect. The Levelator did. My conclusion is that the Levelator
> -- at least in this iteration -- is an incredible rescue tool, but not
> a mastering tool.

Sorry to jump in at a tangent with a question that I suspect will open me up to ridicule, but
if you don't ask...

You were saying that you apply your favourite presets in Soundtrack Pro for the show, do
you add them at the end to the final master output track or various shades of them to the
different tracks in your project before the mix down?

Also, as I record my interviews as a mixed minus, me and the guests on different channels,
before using the Levalator I used to export the mixed project before converting it to mono
as my voice is on the left and the guest's is on the right. Am I missing something in the
STP multitrack project that would enable each side to be sent to both left and right before
the mix down?

Cheers

________
MarBelle
Directors Notes


The What, How & Why of Independent Filmmaking

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David Van Nuys

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Nov 14, 2006, 10:51:08 AM11/14/06
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Doug,

I love the Levelator, too, but also agree with Doug's comment about
the noise floor. It brings up the noise where there was no
detectable noise before.

I don't know if that is a technical inevitability or if it something
that can be improved upon.

David

"Dr. Dave"
www.ShrinkRapRadio.com
shrink@shrinkrapradio.com

"It's all in your mind..."

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Stephen Eley

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Nov 14, 2006, 3:25:28 PM11/14/06
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On 11/14/06, houseofchic <houseofchic@yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
>
> Sorry to jump in at a tangent with a question that I suspect will open me up to ridicule, but
> if you don't ask...

Man, am I perceived as *that* prickly? You asked a fair question.
I'm tetchy about status games, not sound geekery. >8->



> You were saying that you apply your favourite presets in Soundtrack Pro for the show, do
> you add them at the end to the final master output track or various shades of them to the
> different tracks in your project before the mix down?

It depends. I *usually* apply the effects to the audio files (.stap
files) as I'm working with them, because I like to hear them at the
final volume while I edit. I do it in the effects tab and then
"Bounce Realtime to Action" as the final step after I'm done with
everything else.

If I'm not doing a lot of editing, though, I may not bother with that
and simply do it in the project. I wouldn't do it on the final
output, though. Instead I'd do it on each track *or* create a bus
with a few tracks for the effect, because there are some components of
my podcast -- my opening/closing music and the computer voice that
speaks the titles -- that are already as loud as I want them to be,
and I don't want them compressed.



>
> Also, as I record my interviews as a mixed minus, me and the guests on different channels,
> before using the Levalator I used to export the mixed project before converting it to mono
> as my voice is on the left and the guest's is on the right. Am I missing something in the
> STP multitrack project that would enable each side to be sent to both left and right before
> the mix down?

Possibly. Each track has a stereo pan control which you can use to
control the left-right balance. It's the little "L ---- R" slider
near the track name and volume slider. There's also a "Stereo Spread"
effect which can be used to simulate a stereo effect where there
wasn't one before by separating frequencies. It doesn't sound great,
but it does produce stereo.

How you'd use either one depends on whether your source was two
separate wave files, or one stereo wave file with absolute separation.
If the latter, you could also convert to mono in the waveform editor
before opening it up in your project, if mono's what you want. (I
prefer at least a little bit of stereo separation in interviews, but
that's largely just a matter of personal taste.)



--
Have Fun,
Steve Eley (sfeley@gmail.com)
ESCAPE POD - The Science Fiction Podcast Magazine
http://www.escapepod.org

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