GigaVox Levelator – the most important thing to happen at Portable Media Expo 2006

I didn’t make it to the Portable Media and Podcast Expo down in Ontario, California this year. I went last year, and had a great time. Met a ton of people at various stages of their podcast careers. Some have faded away, and others have found success. I came home with lots of thoughts about my approach to podcasting, and ultimately, because of all that, shifted to an occasional podcast when appropriate, like Dave Winer’s Morning Coffee Notes, rather than holding myself to trying to do a regular “show” like Adam Curry’s Daily Source Code.

At any rate, I’ve been following PME via the blogosphere this year. Paul Colligan has provided pretty good coverage from the angle of someone interested in the commercial possibilities, and the “portablemediaexpo” tag on Flickr has had lots of photos to get a general feel for the event.

Even though I wasn’t there in person, I wanted to write about what I feel is the most significant thing to happen at PME this year – GigaVox Media released “The Levelator” – a free application for Windows and Mac that acts like a compressor/limiter, and does some fancy RMS normalization. Doug Kaye teased us with the promise of an app like this last year at PME, and the wait was worth it.

If you’ve ever recorded a podcast with two or more people, or various sound clips, and tried to get them all to sound equally loud (levels) using something like Audacity or Adobe Audition, then you know it’s a time consuming and frustrating process. The Levelator does all of that for you like magic. Really. Magic. Simply drop your audio file on it, and it will churn out a file with near perfect levels. Basically, it does in software post-production what it would take thousands of dollars of audio equipment and a skilled recording engineer to do “live”.

I’ve tried it on some audio files I had laying around, and hadn’t published because I needed to fix the levels, and hadn’t found the time to do it manually. The Levelator works like a charm. I’m really impressed so far, and I’m going to recommend it to all the people I know who produce podcasts.

If you do audio production, give it a try, and see if it earns a place in your workflow. It definitely has in mine. Many thanks to Doug, Michael, Bruce, Malcolm, Paul, and all the others that probably had a hand in this amazingly useful tool. And thanks for making it free. GigaVox Media and the Conversations Network continue to make enormous contributions to the world of podcasting. You guys rock! 🙂