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How to Revive The Levelator in El Capitan

The Levelator Updated — The Conversations Network has now released an update to The Levelator that works in El Capitan, so the instructions in this article are no longer necessary. For details and a download link, see “The Levelator 2.1.2 Works in El Capitan” (1 December 2015).

Many people who record podcasts use a free tool called The Levelator to ensure that audio files use a consistent loudness, something that can be tricky to achieve otherwise with multiple people in the same podcast, and between podcast episodes. Because of this capability, The Levelator is part of our process for recording TidBITS articles for those who would rather listen than read (see “PodBOT Improves TidBITS Audio,” 7 May 2012). Unfortunately, as of the end of 2012, The Levelator is no longer being maintained, and worse, it displays an error when used in OS X 10.11 El Capitan. That in turn confuses PodBOT,
throwing a serious wrench into our audio automation.

We had thought The Levelator was just dead, and were trying to figure out how we’d maintain a Mac running 10.10 Yosemite to facilitate processing our audio, when I stumbled across a comment in a Mac Forums discussion that pointed to the solution. So if you want to use The Levelator in El Capitan, follow these steps:

  1. Control-click on the Levelator icon in the Applications folder, and choose Show Package Contents.

  2. Within the Levelator package, open the Contents folder, then Resources, and finally osx. You should see a file called libsndfile.1.dylib. If a full path would be helpful, it’s Contents/Resources/osx/libsndfile.1.dylib.

  3. Open a new Finder window, choose Go > Go to Folder (Command-Shift-G), type /usr/local into the dialog that appears, and press Return. The window should display the contents of that otherwise hidden folder, and it’s entirely likely there won’t be anything there.

  4. If there is a lib folder inside /usr/local, open it. Otherwise, choose File > New Folder (Command-Shift-N) to make a new folder, and name it lib exactly. You’ll need to enter an administrator password to create a folder there.

  5. Press the Option key, and drag libsndfile.1.dylib from the first Finder window into the second Finder window, which should be showing the path /usr/local/lib, to make a copy. Again, enter an administrator password when prompted.

  6. Restart your Mac.

That’s it — once your Mac comes back up, you should be able to continue using The Levelator as before.

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